Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez

Alfredo Cantu "Freddy" Gonzalez (May 23, 1946 – February 4, 1968) was a United States Marine Corps sergeant who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for service in the Battle of Huế during the Vietnam War.

Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez
Sgt Freddy Gonzalez
Medal of Honor recipient Sgt Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez
BornMay 23, 1946
Edinburg, Texas
DiedFebruary 4, 1968 (aged 21)
Huế, South Vietnam
Place of burial
Hillcrest Memorial, Edinburg, Texas
(26°11′02″N 98°05′10″W / 26.184°N 98.086°WCoordinates: 26°11′02″N 98°05′10″W / 26.184°N 98.086°W)
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchSeal of the United States Marine Corps.svg United States Marine Corps
Years of service1965–1968
RankUSMC-E5.svg Sergeant
Unit1st Reconnaissance Battalion
3rd Battalion, 4th Marines
2nd Battalion, 6th Marines
1st Battalion, 1st Marines
Battles/warsVietnam War
 • Battle of Huế 
AwardsMedal of Honor
Purple Heart

Early years

Gonzalez was born on May 23, 1946, in Edinburg, Texas, the only child of mother Dolia Gonzalez.[1][2] He graduated from Lamar Grammar School in 1955, and from Edinburg High School in 1965.[3] Despite his small size, weighing only 135 pounds (61 kg), he was an All-District football player in high school.[2]

He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve from San Antonio, Texas, on June 3, 1965, but was discharged and enlisted in the regular Marine Corps a month later, on July 6. He completed recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California, the following September, and individual combat training at Camp Pendleton, California, that October.[3]

He then became a rifleman with Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, and served in that capacity until January 1966. Promoted to private first class on January 1, he served a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam as a rifleman and squad leader with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. He was promoted to lance corporal on October 1 and to corporal on December 1 before his tour ended in February 1967. Upon his return to the United States, he saw duty as a rifleman with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.[3]

He became an instructor at Camp Lejeune, teaching Marines the techniques of guerrilla warfare, and expected to serve out the rest of the war in that capacity. His plans changed when he learned that an entire platoon, including men who had served under him during his tour, had been killed in an ambush in Vietnam. Gonzalez requested to be sent back for a second deployment.[2] Ordered to the West Coast in May 1967, he joined the 3rd Replacement Company, Staging Battalion, at Camp Pendleton in California, for transfer to East Asia. On July 1, 1967, he was promoted to sergeant, and later that month arrived in the Republic of Vietnam. He served as a squad leader and platoon sergeant with the 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division.[3]

During the initial phase of the Battle of Huế in late January 1968, Gonzalez and his unit were sent by truck convoy to reinforce units in the city. When the convoy came under fire near the village of Lang Van Lrong on January 31, he led his men in clearing the area. Further down the road, he received shrapnel wounds while carrying an injured man to safety. When the convoy was halted by a machine gun bunker, he led his platoon towards the position and destroyed it with hand grenades. Eventually reaching the city of Huế, his unit became engaged in heavy combat there. Gonzalez was seriously wounded on February 3, but refused medical treatment. The next day, when a large North Vietnamese force inflicted heavy casualties on his company, he used anti-tank weapons to fire on the fortified positions. He successfully checked the North Vietnamese advance and silenced a rocket emplacement before being mortally wounded by a rocket. He took cover in the Saint Joan of Arc Catholic Church, where he died.[2]

For his actions during the Battle of Huế from January 31 to February 4, 1968, Gonzalez was awarded the Medal of Honor. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew formally presented the medal to Gonzalez's mother on October 31, 1969, during a ceremony at the White House.[2]

Medal of Honor citation

He is buried at Hillcrest Memorial Park in his hometown of Edinburg, Texas.[4]

Honors

Gonzalez and Fort
Dolia Gonzalez accepts a painting of her son from Commander Brian Fort during a change of command ceremony for the USS Gonzalez in 2009

The United States Navy guided missile destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG-66), commissioned in 1996, is named in his honor. His mother, Dolia, has an uncommonly close relationship with the ship and its crew. She attends many of the ship's major ceremonies, including departures and arrivals from deployments and changes of command. The crewmen exchange letters with Dolia Gonzalez, known as the ship's "mother," and call her during deployments.[2]

The Alfredo Gonzalez Texas State Veterans Home in McAllen, Texas is named in his honor.

Two biographies by former Edinburg resident John W. Flores; "When The River Dreams: The Life of Marine Sgt. Freddy Gonzalez," printed in fall 2006, and "Marine Sgt. Freddy Gonzalez: Vietnam War Hero," scheduled for release by McFarland Publishing Company, in fall 2013.

The Museum of South Texas History holds a permanent display containing Gonzalez's uniform and medals. At The Basic School in Stafford County, Virginia, where Marine Corps officers are trained, there is an Alfredo Gonzalez Hall.[2] In Edinburg, both an elementary school and a major east-west thoroughfare (Freddy Gonzalez Drive) are named in his honor.

Awards and decorations

Medal of Honor ribbon Medal of Honor
Gold star
Gold star
Purple Heart ribbon
Purple Heart with two Gold Stars
United States Navy Presidential Unit Citation ribbon Navy Presidential Unit Citation
U.S. Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal ribbon Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal ribbon National Defense Service Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal ribbon
Vietnam Service Medal with four service stars
Vietnam Military Merit Ribbon Vietnam Military Merit Medal
Bronze star
Vietnam Gallantry Cross, with palm
Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm and Bronze Star
Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon with 60- clasp Vietnam Campaign Medal
Texas Legislative Medal of Honor (Texas National Guard) Texas Legislative Medal of Honor

[3][5]

See also

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.
  1. ^ a b "Medal of Honor recipients - Vietnam (A-L)". United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Mink, Micheal (August 21, 2009). "The Mother of the USS Gonzalez". Digital Video & Imagery Distribution System. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
  3. ^ a b c d e "SERGEANT ALFREDO GONZALEZ, USMC (DECEASED)". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. United States Marine Corps History Division. Archived from the original on 2011-05-16. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  4. ^ Alfredo Gonzalez, Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients at Find a Grave
  5. ^ "CSHCR 121 resolves that the 80th Legislature of the State of Texas posthumously confer the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor on Sergeant Alfredo "Freddy" Gonzalez in recognition of his heroic service and expresses to his family its deepest appreciation on behalf of all his fellow Texans". Archived from the original on 2012-03-25. Retrieved 2011-07-07.
1st Battalion, 1st Marines

1st Battalion 1st Marines (1/1) is an infantry battalion in the United States Marine Corps based out of Camp Pendleton, California, consisting of anywhere from 800 to 2,000 Marines and Sailors, but the number fluctuates depending on the Battalion's mission. They fall under the command of the 1st Marine Regiment and the 1st Marine Division.

Alfredo Gonzalez

Alfredo Gonzalez may refer to:

Alfredo González Flores (1877–1962), president of Costa Rica 1914–1917

Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez (1946–1968), US Marine Corps sergeant, posthumous Medal of Honor

Alfredo Razon Gonzalez (born 1978), Filipino footballer

Alfredo González Tahuilán (born 1980), Mexican footballer

Alfredo González (baseball) (born 1992), Venezuelan baseball catcher

Battle of Huế

The Battle of Huế – also called the Siege of Huế – was one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War. Between 30 January and 3 March 1968, in the South Vietnamese city of Huế, 11 battalions of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), four U.S. Army battalions, and three U.S. Marine Corps battalions – totaling 18 battalions – defeated 10 battalions of the People's Army of Vietnam and the Viet Cong (VC).

By the beginning of the North Vietnamese Tet Offensive on January 30, 1968 – coinciding with the Vietnamese lunar New Year (Vietnamese: Tết Nguyên Đán) – large, conventional, U.S. forces had been committed to combat operations on Vietnamese soil for almost three years.

Highway 1, passing through the city of Huế, was an important supply line for ARVN, US, and Allied Forces from the coastal city of Da Nang to the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). It also provided access to the Perfume River (Vietnamese: Sông Hương or Hương Giang) at the point where the river ran through Huế, dividing the city into northern and southern parts. Huế was also a base for United States Navy supply boats.

Considering its logistical value and its proximity to the DMZ (only 50 kilometres (31 mi)), Huế should have been well-defended, fortified, and prepared for any communist attack. However, the city had few fortifications and was poorly defended.

While the ARVN 1st Division had cancelled all Tet leave and was attempting to recall its troops, the South Vietnamese and U.S. forces in the city were unprepared when the Viet Cong and the PAVN launched the Tet Offensive, attacking hundreds of military targets and population centers across the country, including Huế.The PAVN/Vietcong forces rapidly occupied most of the city. Over the next month, they were gradually driven out during intense house-to-house fighting led by the Marines and ARVN. In the end, although the Allies declared a military victory, the city of Huế was virtually destroyed, and more than 5,000 civilians were killed (2,800 of them executed by the PAVN and Viet Cong, according to the South Vietnamese government). The communist forces lost an estimated 2,400 to 8,000 killed, while Allied forces lost 668 dead and 3,707 wounded. The losses negatively affected the American public's perception of the war, and political support for the war began to wane.

Edinburg, Texas

Edinburg ( ED-in-burg) is a city in and the county seat of Hidalgo County, Texas, United States. The population was 74,569 as of the 2010 census, and in 2016 the estimated population was 87,650.Edinburg is part of the McAllen–Edinburg–Mission and Reynosa–McAllen metropolitan areas.

Freddy (given name)

Freddy (also Freddi and Freddie) is a diminutive used by both men and women whose names contain the Germanic element -fred, notable examples of such being Frederick, Frederica, and Alfred. In rare cases, it may be used a diminutive of any name containing -fred, regardless of origin, as with Freddy Adu and Freddie Benson, both Ghanaians named Fredua.

Freddy Gonzalez

Freddy González may refer to:

Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez (1946–1968), United States Marine Corps sergeant, nicknamed "Freddy"

Alfredo Razon Gonzalez (born 1978), Filipino football player, nicknamed "Freddy"

Freddy González (born 1977), Venezuelan long-distance runner

Fredi González (born 1964), Cuban Major League baseball manager

Fredy González (born 1975), Colombian road racing cyclist

González (surname)

González is a Spanish surname. In Spain, González is the second most common surname with 2.08% of the population having this surname. González is also a common surname in Latin America. It is one of the five most common surnames in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Paraguay, and Venezuela, making it one of the most common surnames in the Spanish-speaking world. In the United States, González ranked as the 13th most common surname in 2017.Variant spellings include Gonzales.

Hispanics in the United States Marine Corps

Hispanics in the United States Marine Corps, such as Private France Silva who during the Boxer Rebellion became the first Marine of the thirteen Marines of Hispanic descent to be awarded the Medal of Honor, and Private First Class Guy Gabaldon who is credited with capturing over 1,000 enemy soldiers and civilians during World War II, have distinguished themselves in combat. Hispanics have participated as members of the United States Marine Corps in the Boxer Rebellion, World War I, the American intervention in Latin America also known as the Banana Wars, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and most recently in the military campaigns of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Hispanics are also reaching the top ranks of the Marine Corps, serving their country in sensitive leadership positions on domestic and foreign shores, with generals such as Major General Angela Salinas and Lieutenant General Pedro del Valle. Many Hispanic Marines went on to distinguished careers outside of the military in different fields such as sports and space exploration.

Hispanics (sometimes also referred to as "Latinos") in the Marine Corps account for the largest minority group of that military institution. Hispanics comprise 18% of enlisted Marines today, up from 15% when the Iraq War began. The United States Marine Corps has implemented an aggressive recruitment program directed towards Hispanics, which is the nation's largest ethnic or minority race (2005 Census). According to the U.S. Census Bureau the estimated 2010 Hispanic population of the United States is over 50 million, or 16% of the U.S. population. The 2010 U.S. Census estimate of over 50 million Hispanics in the U.S. does not include the 3.9 million residents of Puerto Rico.

John Canley

John L. Canley (born 1 February 1938) is a retired United States Marine and recipient of the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for actions in January/February 1968 during the Battle of Huế. At the time of this action Canley was a Gunnery sergeant with Company A 1st Battalion, 1st Marines. Canley was originally awarded the Navy Cross, but this was upgraded to the Medal of Honor which was presented on 17 October 2018.

List of Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients

The Medal of Honor was introduced during the American Civil War and is the highest military decoration presented by the United States government to a member of its armed forces. The recipient must have distinguished themselves at the risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an enemy of the United States. Due to the nature of this medal, it is commonly presented posthumously.Sixty men of Hispanic heritage have been awarded the Medal of Honor. Of the sixty Medals of Honor presented to Hispanics, two were presented to members of the United States Navy, thirteen to members of the United States Marine Corps and forty-six to members of the United States Army. Forty-two Medals of Honor were presented posthumously.The first recipient was Corporal Joseph H. De Castro of the Union Army for his actions at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 3, 1863, during the American Civil War and the most recent recipient is Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry for his actions in Afghanistan. Corporal De Castro was a member of the Massachusetts Infantry, a militia that was not part of the "regular" army; however, Private David Bennes Barkley was a member of the regular army during World War I and has been recognized as the Army's first Hispanic Medal of Honor recipient. In 1864, Seaman John Ortega became the first Hispanic member of the U.S. Navy to receive the Medal of Honor and in 1900, Private France Silva became the first person of Hispanic descent in the U.S. Marine Corps to receive the medal.

President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to 17 Hispanics on a March 18, 2014 in a ceremony in the White House. The award comes through the National Defense Authorization Act which called for a review of Jewish American and Hispanic American veterans from WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to ensure that no prejudice was shown to those deserving the Medal of Honor.Fifteen recipients were born outside the United States mainland, one each in Chile and Spain, five in Mexico and eight in Puerto Rico. Seaman Philip Bazaar from Chile received the medal in January 1865 and Seaman John Ortega from Spain in December 1865. The first native Mexican recipient was Staff Sergeant Marcario Garcia and the first Puerto Rican was PFC Fernando Luis Garcia. 1st Lt. Rudolph B. Davila, of Hispanic-Filipino descent, was the only person of Filipino ancestry to receive the medal for his actions in the war in Europe during World War II. Private Joe P. Martinez was the first Hispanic-American recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for combat heroism on American soil during the same conflict. 1st Lt. Baldomero Lopez, is the only Hispanic graduate of the United States Naval Academy to receive the Medal of Honor. Captain Humbert Roque Versace was the first recipient of the Medal of Honor to be given to an Army POW for his actions during captivity in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.

List of people from Texas

The following are notable people who were either born, raised or have lived for a significant period of time in the U.S. state of Texas.

Tejano

Tejanos (Pronunciation: [teˈxano]; singular: Tejano/a; Spanish for "Texan") are the Hispanic residents of the state of Texas who are culturally descended from the original Spanish-speaking settlers of Tejas, Coahuila, and other northern Mexican states. They may be variously of Criollo Spaniard or Mestizo origin. Alongside Californios and Neomexicanos, Tejanos are part of the larger Chicano/Mexican-American/Hispano community of the United States, who have lived in the American Southwest (also known as Aztlán) since the 16th century.

Historically, the Spanish term Tejano has been used to identify various groups of people. During the Spanish colonial era, the term was primarily applied to Spanish settlers of the region now known as the state of Texas (first it was part of New Spain and after 1821 it was part of Mexico). After settlers entered from the United States and gained the independence of the Republic of Texas, the term was applied to mostly Spanish-speaking Texans, Hispanicized Germans, and other Spanish-speaking residents. In practice, many members of traditionally Tejano communities often have varying degrees of fluency in Spanish, with some having virtually no Spanish proficiency, though they are still considered culturally part of the community.Since the early 20th century, Tejano has been more broadly used to identify a Texan Mexican American. It is also a term used to identify natives, as opposed to newcomers, in the areas settled. Latino people of Texas identify as Tejano if their ancestors were living there before the area was controlled by Anglo Americans.

USS Gonzalez

USS Gonzalez (DDG-66) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the United States Navy. She is named for Sergeant Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez, a Medal of Honor recipient in the Vietnam War.

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