Coloradan Joe Baldonado receives Medal of Honor posthumously for bravery in Korean War

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Colorado man will be honored posthumously for his extraordinary heroism in action during the Korean War.

Joe R. Baldonado's family will receive the Medal of Honor Tuesday.

Baldonado is one of 24 minority soldiers being honored after a review of Jewish American and Hispanic American veteran war records from WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, over concerns that those deserving the Medal of Honor were denied because of prejudice.

Baldonado was born in Colorado on Aug. 28, 1930. He joined the U.S. Army as a light weapons infantryman (parachutist) during the Korean War, according to the U.S. Army.

"Baldonado distinguished himself on Nov. 25, 1950, while serving as a machine-gunner in the vicinity of Kangdong, Korea," the army website said. "Baldonado's platoon was occupying Hill 171 when the enemy attacked, attempting to take their position. Baldonado held an exposed position, cutting down wave after wave of enemy troops even as they targeted attacks on his position. During the final assault by the enemy, a grenade landed near Baldanado's gun, killing him instantly."

Baldonado's remains were never found.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Baldonado received the Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, United Nations Service Medal and the Republic of Korea-Korean War Service Medal.

Baldonado's acts of bravery were briefly described in a book, "Disaster in Korea: The Chinese Confront MacArthur."

In 2002, Congress, through the Defense Authorization Act, called for a review of Jewish American and Hispanic American veteran war records from WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, to ensure those deserving the Medal of Honor were not denied because of prejudice.  During the review, records of several Soldiers of neither Jewish nor Hispanic descent were also found to display criteria worthy of the Medal of Honor.

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