Medal of Honor Recipients
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force that can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. Recipients receive the Medal of Honor from the president on behalf of Congress. It was first awarded during the Civil War and eligibility criteria for the Medal of Honor have changed over time.
Recipients buried or memorialized here:
Staff Sergeant Lucian Adams (World War II). Lucian Adams, native of Texas, enlisted in the U.S. Army on February 25, 1943, during World War II. He served in Company I, 30th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division until September 7, 1945. On October 28, 1944, near Saint Die, France, Staff Sergeant Adams was tasked with reopening supply lines. His lone assault on German forces led to the destruction of three enemy machineguns and reopened the supply lines to his isolated battalion. Adams received the Medal of Honor on March 29, 1945. Adams died March 31, 2003, and is buried in Site AI, Site 555.
Master Sergeant Roy Perez Benavidez (Vietnam). Roy Perez Benavidez, native of Texas, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1955. Benavidez served with the Detachment B-56, 5th Special Forces Group, Airborne, 1st Special Forces during the Vietnam War. On May 2, 1968, Master Sergeant Benavidez volunteered to assist in the fourth effort to save a twelve-man reconnaissance team stranded west of Loc Ninh. Benavidez jumped from a hovering helicopter and despite his own wounds Benavidez recovered the wounded soldiers and classified documents. Benavides received the Medal of Honor on February 24, 1981. He died November 29, 1998, and is buried in Section AI, Site 553.
Colonel Cecil Hamilton Bolton (World War II). He received the Medal of Honor while serving in the U.S. Army, Company E, 413th and 104th Infantry, for actions at the Mark River, Holland, November 2, 1944. Bolton died in 1965 and is buried in Section PC, Site 22-J.
Staff Sergeant William J. Bordelon (World War II). He received the Medal of Honor posthumously for service in the U.S. Marine Corps, 1st Battalion, 18th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, in recognition of actions at Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, November 20, 1943. Bordelon is buried in Section AI, Site 558.
Specialist 4 Santiago J. Erevia (Vietnam). Santiago J. Erevia was born in Texas in 1946. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1968 and served for two years as a radio-telephone operator with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. On May 21, 1969, he neutralized four enemy bunkers, saving lives of wounded U.S. soldiers and rescuing his company from a precarious position. He joined the Texas National Guard after his army tour. Although he received the Distinguished Service Cross, among other citations, he had been recommended for the Medal of Honor for bravery in 1969. In March 2014, President Barack Obama awarded Erevia and twenty-three other veterans the Medal of Honor— all men who had been overlooked due to cultural prejudice. Erevia died March 22, 2016, and is buried in Section AD, Site 486.
Platoon Sergeant William George Harrell (World War II). He received the Medal of Honor while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, 1st Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division, for actions at Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, March 3, 1945. Harrell died in 1964 and is buried in Section W, Site 3247.
Second Lieutenant Lloyd H. Hughes (World War II). He received the Medal of Honor posthumously for service in the U.S. Army Air Corps, 564th Bomber Squadron, 389th Bomber Group, 9th Air Force, in recognition of his heroic decision to complete his mission regardless of the personal consequences during the Ploesti Raid, in Rumania, August 1, 1943. Hughes was killed when his plane crashed and he is buried in Section U, Site 53.
Boatswain Peter Johnson (Spanish-American War). He received the Medal of Honor while serving in the U.S. Navy for actions after an explosion of a boiler on board the U.S.S. Vixen on May 28, 1898. Johnson died in 1943 and is buried in Section F, Site 442.
Private First Class Milton A. Lee (Vietnam). He received the Medal of Honor posthumously for service in the U.S. Army, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, in recognition of actions near Phu Bai, Thua Thien Province, Republic of Vietnam, April 26, 1968. Lee was killed that day and is buried in Section X, Site 2475.
Master Sergeant Jose M. Lopez (World War II). Jose M. Lopez, native of Texas, enlisted in the U.S. Army in April 1942 during World War II. Lopez served in Company K, 23nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. In Krinkelt, Belgium, on December 17, 1944, Master Sergeant Lopez single-handedly held off a German attack allowing his company to withdraw. Lopez received the Medal of Honor on June 18, 1945. As a Medal of Honor recipient, Lopez was removed from combat duty but continued work as a recruiter until retiring in 1973. At the time of his death on May 16, 2005, Lopez was the oldest-surviving Hispanic Medal of Honor recipient. He is buried in Section AI, Site 542.
First Lieutenant James E. Robinson, Jr. (World War II). He received the Medal of Honor posthumously for service in the U.S. Army, Battery A, 861st Field Artillery Battalion, 63rd Infantry Division, in recognition of intrepid leadership near Untergriesheim, Germany, April 6, 1945. Robinson died of wounds received that day and is buried in Section T, Site 98.
Chief Warrant Officer Louis Richard Rocco (Vietnam). Louis Rocco, native of New Mexico, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1956. He served with Advisory Team 162 during the Vietnam War. On May 24, 1970, Rocco volunteered to accompany a medical evacuation team on a rescue mission northeast of Katum. Under fire, their helicopter crash landed. Ignoring his own injuries from the landing, Rocco extracted the survivors from the burning wreckage and sustained further injuries. He administered first aid until he lost consciousness, and received the Medal of Honor, in 1974, for his actions that day. Rocco retired from service in 1978 after twenty-two years, only to return when army medics were called back to active duty in 1990. Rocco died October 31, 2002, and is buried in Section AI, Site 549.
Master Sergeant Cleto Luna Rodriguez (World War II). Texan Cleto Luna Rodriguez enlisted in the U.S. Army on March 24, 1943. He served in Company B, 148th Infantry, 37th Division, during World War II. On February 9, 1945, Master Sergeant Rodriguez participated in the attack on the Paco Railroad Station in Manila, Philippine Islands. Rodriguez and a comrade worked to disorganize the defense, then he singlehandedly disabled a 20-mm gun. Rodriguez received the Medal of Honor for his actions. Rodriguez died December 7, 1990, and is buried in Section AI, Site 700.
Corporal Seth Lathrop Weld (Philippine Insurrection). He received the Medal of Honor while serving in the U.S. Army, Company L, 8th US Infantry, for actions at La Paz, Leyte, Philippine Islands, December 5, 1906. Weld died in 1958 and is buried in Section AH, Site 189.
Harry George Armstrong, native of South Dakota, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in October 1918. Pvt. Armstrong served during World War I and left in March 1919 to attend medical school. He graduated from the University of Louisville in 1925 and joined the U.S. Army Medical Reserves. In 1931 he was attached to the Air Corps as a flight surgeon. He established the Aero-Medical Laboratory in 1935, where his aero-medical research improved flight conditions and pilot safety. His research is credited with saving the lives of more than 2,000 aviators. Armstrong was appointed Command Flight Surgeon of the 8th Air Force (1942), named Air Force Surgeon General (1949), and Surgeon General of the U.S. air forces in Europe (1954). He received the Distinguished Service Medal and Legion of Honor, among other commendations. Gen. Armstrong retired from service in 1957 and died in 1983 (Section 2, Site 419).
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Cole (WWII) was born in Dayton, Ohio, on September 7, 1915. He flew as the copilot to Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle during the "Doolittle Raid," a B-25 attack on Tokyo, Japan, on April 18, 1942, as retaliation for Pearl Harbor. Cole and the crew bailed out over China after the mission, where Cole stayed until 1943 flying supplies between China and Burma. After a brief assignment in Oklahoma, he returned to the China-India-Burma Theater as an Air Commando and served there until he returned to the U.S. in June 1944, finishing the war as a test pilot in Kansas. Following WWII, Cole had several staff assignments and served as advisor to the Venezuelan Air Force from 1959 to 1962. He retired from the military in 1966. He died on April 9, 2019 at age 103 as the last participant of the Doolittle Raid. The cremains of he and his wife were interred on what would have been his 106th birthday (Section 60, Site 762).
San Antonio native and talented pianist Thomas M. Ellis (1920–2018) attended Samuel Huston College in Austin before he was drafted during World War II. Staff Sergeant Ellis served in the Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1945, joining the Tuskegee Airmen in Alabama and overseas. Ellis was the chief clerk for the 99th Fighter Squadron in Alabama and the 332nd in Europe. While stationed in Italy he earned seven battle stars. Ellis returned to San Antonio after the war; he worked for the U.S. Postal Service until 1984, and played in a jazz quintet until 1994. Ellis overcame institutional racism and helped others navigate military segregation during the war; his exemplary service, and that of the Tuskegee Airmen, hastened integration of the armed forces. Ellis is buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery (Section 124, Site 180).
North Carolinian James Johnson Kelly (1928–2018) was a legendary Tuskegee Airmen who served in the U.S. Air Force from 1946 to 1971. He registered for the draft while living in Lynchburg, Virginia. Kelly trained at the Medical Field Service School at Fort Sam Houston to become a surgical technician, then in 1948, a flight surgeon assistant. Technical Sergeant Kelly served at Lockbourne Army Air Field in Ohio; in 1955 he was commissioned as an officer and completed flight training here. His role as squadron commander was highlighted in Ebony magazine in 1969 and he retired with the rank of major. As a civilian Kelly earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio and raised his family in the city. He is buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery (Section 115, Site 374).
Twenty-seven Buffalo Soldiers from the 9th and 10th Cavalry who served during the Indian Wars are interred in Section PE. Their remains were initially buried in the frontier forts where they were assigned, such as Fort Clark, Fort McIntosh, and Fort Ringgold. As these frontier posts were closed, the remains were disinterred and brought to Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.
Captain William Randolph, for whom Randolph Air Force Base was named. He died in a plane crash in 1928. (Section Q, Site 133)
Raymond Hatfield Gardner, better known as "Arizona Bill," enlisted in the U.S. Army on August 16, 1888. He served as a scout during the Indian Wars. Originally from Logansport, Louisiana, Gardner claimed the Comanche kidnapped him when he was a child and later traded him to members of the Sioux Nation. Gardner's adventures continued with the Pony Express and Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show before his death in 1940. Surrounded by more lore than fact, Gardner's military service records were belatedly discovered and his remains were reinterred in Sam Houston National Cemetery on Veterans Day 1976 (Section AC, Site 287-B).
Frank Mariano Tejeda, Jr. dropped out of high school in Texas and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1963. He served during the Vietnam War when he was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. After leaving the Marines in 1967, Tejeda received his law degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Tejeda served the public in the Texas House of Representatives (1977–1987), Texas State Senate (1987–1992) and as a U.S. Congressman (1993–1997). Tejeda died January 30, 1997. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star (Section AI, Site 554).
Leon Van Autreve was the fourth Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA) and the highest ranking enlisted man. Van Autreve first joined the Army in 1941 and served overseas during World War II. After a break in service from 1949-50, he rejoined the Army serving with the 54th Engineer Battalion in Germany. Over the next 23 years, Van Autreve would serve in positions across the United States from Virginia to Alaska, in addition to assignments in Korea, Indonesia and Vietnam. He was selected as the fourth Sergeant Major of the Army (a position created in 1966) in July 1973, a position he filled until June 1975. As the SMA, he sought to increase the standards of the Army’s noncommissioned officer corps and oversaw the development of the Noncommissioned Officer Education System. (Section AI, Site 546)
Richard Edward Cavazos was born in Kingsville, Texas, in 1929, and grew up on the King Ranch where his father, World War I veteran Lauro, was the cattle foreman. Cavazos graduated from Texas Tech University in 1951, and as part of the ROTC program, also received his army commission. During the Korean War, 1st Lieutenant Cavazos served with the 65th Infantry Regiment (Borinqueneers) and for his actions in battle received the Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star. In Vietnam, Cavazos commanded the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, and received a second Distinguished Service Cross, among other medals, for his bravery. Cavazos became the first U.S. Army general of Hispanic heritage in 1976 and went on to command the III Corps based at Fort Hood. General Cavazos retired in 1984. He died October 29, 2017, and is buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery (Section PG, Site 51).
World War II prisoners who died in captivity at Fort Sam Houston and at seven other camps that operated in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas were buried in the cemetery's southeast corner. Treatment of POWs is determined by the laws of war (today set out in the various Hague Conventions from 1899 and 1907, Geneva Conventions of 1949, Additional Protocols of 1977, and customary international law). The graves of 140 Axis prisoners – 133 Germans, 4 Italians, and 3 Japanese – are marked with an upright General-style headstone. In December 2020, NCA replaced two historic government-issued headstones marking the graves of Georg Forst and Alfred P. Kafka, who had died and were initially buried at Camp Bowie, TX. Their headstones had been subsequently inscribed with German text, an Iron Cross, and a swastika. Fort Sam Houston is one of 23 NCA cemeteries containing the graves of more than a thousand world war enemy POWs.