U.S. Army Medal of Honor candidate Sgt. Victor H. Espinoza is being recognized for his extraordinary heroism during the Korean War.
While spearheading an attack to secure “Old Baldy” on Aug. 1, 1952, Espinoza’s unit was pinned down by withering fire from fortified positions. In daring succession, Espinoza single-handedly silenced a machine-gun and its crew, discovered and destroyed a covert enemy tunnel, and wiped out two bunkers. His actions inspired his unit and enabled them to secure the strong-point against great odds.
Tyronne Espinoza will be accepting the Medal of Honor award from President Barack Obama on March 18, 2014 on behalf of his father.
The following is an excerpt of an interview with Tyronne Espinoza as well as photographs of his father.
Q. What was your immediate reaction when you found out that your father, Sgt. Victor H. Espinoza, will receive the highest award given for valor in action against enemy forces?
A. I started crying. It rehashed a bunch of memories with my dad. I was thinking that it’s about time and it is well deserved.
Q. How did you find out that your father will be receiving the Medal of Honor?
A. I received a phone call from my relatives- my uncle and cousin. The news also played a part. In about 2005, my uncle read in the newspaper that there was an investigation about my father’s service. Because of that, my mother and I sent documentation of what he did for the Army. In about 2006, I knew that something bigger may be going on.
Q. Has your life changed, if any, since receiving the news?
A. The last two weeks have been emotionally exhausting. I feel so honored and so proud of him. There really aren’t words to describe everything that I’m feeling.
Q. How did your family members react?
A. The feedback from nearly everybody is that it’s about time that he’s getting what deserved.
Q. What mementos are in the family’s possession?
A. I have his Distinguished Service Cross, ribbons, discharge documents, military records and pictures from his time in the Army.
Q. How has your father’s service affected your life?
A. I live, eat and breathe the military. My father motivated me to consider serving my country. I actually joined the U.S. Marine Corps.
Q. What has been the most surprising thing that you learned about father as a result of the news coverage and research about his time in the military?
A. What stuck out the most in my mind is a story about my Uncle David who was also in the Army. They [Uncle David and my dad] were in foster homes before they joined. They eventually crossed paths for the first time in a long time while they were in a camp in Korea. They had enough time to talk and take a picture. That story about them reconnecting was a big thing for me. It was referenced in some news articles from El Paso Times.
Q. Will your Uncle David attend the White House ceremony? Also, what other family members will be there?
A. Yes, my Uncle David will be there and I’m grateful for that! Also attending will be my mother Nancy Alm, my cousin Patsy Espinoza and my dad’s sister Celia. We’re honored to accept the Medal of Honor and have plans to keep it in the family.