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62 years after death, Medal of Honor recipient Vera is laid to rest at Arlington

The caisson carrying the remains of Army Pvt. Miguel A. Vera arrives at the burial site at Arlington National Cemetery on Nov. 20, 2014. Vera, who was killed in the Korean War, was one of 24 soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor in March after being previously overlooked because of their racial or ethnic backgrounds. Vera was originally buried in Puerto Rico.

C.J. LIN/STARS AND STRIPES

By C.J. LIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 20, 2014

ARLINGTON, Va. — A Korean War hero was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday, eight months after he was awarded the Medal of Honor and more than 60 years after he was killed in action.

Army Pvt. Miguel A. Vera was among 24 soldiers from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars who received the Medal of Honor in March after being previously overlooked because of their racial or ethnic backgrounds.

Vera, who was born in Puerto Rico, was just 17 when he joined the Army. He was serving as an automatic rifleman with Company F, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2d Infantry Division in Chorwon, Korea, when he was killed at the Battle of Old Baldy on Sept. 21, 1952.

Even though he was suffering from injuries from a previous battle, Vera voluntarily left the aid station to join his unit in an assault on a well-fortified enemy position on a hill. When he and his men were within 20 yards of the spot, they were suddenly trapped by heavy mortar, artillery and small-arms fire, according to the official citation.

The company retreated, but Vera volunteered to stay behind to provide cover fire. When they returned later that morning, they found Vera dead in the same position, facing the enemy.

Vera was originally buried in Puerto Rico. His ashes were disinterred so that they could be reburied with full military honors at Arlington — a longtime goal of Vera’s nephew, Marine Corps veteran Jose Ramon Rodriguez.

An honor guard presented a folded U.S. flag to Rodriguez, who attended with other family members, some of whom carried the Puerto Rican flag.

“I was never thinking of the Medal of Honor,” Rodriguez said in an interview with Stars and Stripes in March. “My main mission was to get him buried at Arlington. As things went on and I did a little research, I found out what a hero he had been.”

Vera was previously awarded the Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, Combat Infantryman Badge, United Nations Service Medal, Republic of Korea-Korean War Service Medal, and Wharang Distinguished Military Service Medal with Silver Star.

lin.cj@stripes.com
Twitter: @cjlinSS

 

Army Pvt. Miguel A. Vera