The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients
Featuring Marine Medal of Honor Recipients From WWII-Korea-Viet Nam And Iraqi Freedom
Sergeant Alfredo Gonzalez
United States Marine Corps
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Platoon Commander, Third Platoon, Company A, First Battalion. First Marines, First Marine Division, in the Republic of Vietnam. On 31 January 1968, during the initial phase of Operation HUE CITY Sergeant Gonzales' unit was formed as a reaction force and deployed to Hue to relieve the pressure on the beleaguered city. While moving by truck convoy along Route #1, near the village of Lang Van Lrong, the Marines received a heavy volume of enemy fire. Sergeant Gonzalez aggressively maneuvered the Marines in his platoon, and directed their fire until the area was cleared of snipers. Immediately after crossing a river south of Hue, the column was again hit by intense enemy fire. One of the Marines on top of a tank was wounded and fell to the ground in a exposed position. With complete disregard for his own safety, Sergeant Gonzalez ran through the fire-swept area to the assistance of his injured comrade. He lifted him up and though receiving fragmentation wounds during the rescue, he carried the wounded Marine to a covered position for treatment. Due to the increased volume and accuracy of enemy fire from a fortified machine gun bunker of the side of the road, the company was temporarily halted. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Sergeant Gonzalez exposed himself to the enemy fire and moved his platoon along the east side of a bordering rice paddy to a dike directly across from the bunker. Though fully aware of the danger involved, he moved to the fire-swept road and destroyed the hostile position with grenades. Although seriously wounded again on 3 February, he steadfastly refused medical treatment and continued to supervise his men and lead the attack. On 4 February, the enemy had again pinned the company down, inflicting heavy casualties with automatic weapons and rocket fire. Sergeant Gonzalez, utilizing a number of light antitank assault weapons, fearlessly moved from position to position firing numerous rounds at the heavily fortified enemy emplacements. He successfully knocked out a rocket position and suppressed much of the enemy fire before falling mortally wounded. The heroism, courage, and dynamic leadership displayed by Sergeant Gonzalez reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Richard M. Nixon
President of the United States
Footnote: Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez was born on May 23, 1946, Edinburg TX to Andres Cantu and Dolia Gonzalez. He was an All-District football player at Edinburg High School in spite of his weight of 135 lbs. He joined the Marine Corps Reserve after graduating from high school in June of 1965. He then joined the regular Marine Corps on July 6, 1965. He served on tour in Vietnam as a rifleman and squad leader with Company L, Third Battalion, Fourth Marines, Third Marine Division. On January 1, 1966 he was promoted to PFC, in October to Lance Corporal and on December to Corporal. Upon his return to the States in January 1967 he served as a rifleman with the Second Battalion, Sixth Marines, Second Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, N.C.. On July 1, 1967 he was promoted to Sergeant and later that month he was transferred to Vietnam for his second tour of duty as a member of Company A, First Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division. He was serving as a Platoon Leader at the Battle of Hue City when as the only man was cited to receive the MOH.
He is buried at the Hillcrest Cemetery in Edinburg, TX and the Hidalgo County Museum houses various materials relating to his life. There are several notable locations named in honor of this great man. Among these are; The Freddy Gonzalez Elementary School , The Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez American Legion Post in Edinburg, The Alfredo Gonzalez Dining Hall at Truax Field. Edinburg named a street, Freddy Gonzalez Drive and the high school has the Alfredo Gonzalez Athletic Award. Camp Lejuene has Alfredo Gonzelez Boulevard. The Navy commissioned the USS Alfredo Gonzalez, a missile launcher, in 1997. It was the first ship named for a Hispanic Texan military man. His medals include the Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation, The National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Star, The Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm, The Military Merit Award and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign.
In 1997 there was a lot of press given to Mrs. Dolia Gonzalez's battle with the VA which claimed that they had overpaid her by $7000.00 in benefits for Freddy. Mrs. Gonzalez, still a waitress in Edinburg, agreed to repay them a small amount monthly until her Representative in Washington began working in her behalf for the VA to forgive the overpayment. The supermarket chain, Albertson's, based in Idaho, offered to pay the debt, but finally the VA dropped the claim.
Freddy Gonzalez was the child of Andrés Cantu and Dolia Gonzalez. He was raised by his mother in Edinburg, where he played on the Edinburg High School football team and graduated in 1965. On June 3 of that same year, Gonzalez travelled to San Antonio, Texas, to enlist in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. A little more than a month later, on July 6, he enlisted in the regular Marines Corps. Pvt. Gonzalez went through recruit training in September and individual combat training in October before being transferred to Vietnam in January 1966. That same month, Pvt. Gonzalez was promoted to a Private First Class.
Cpl. Gonzalez returned to the United States in January 1967. He was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to prepare recruits for guerrilla warfare; he ultimately wanted to be transferred to the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. Here he would be 150 miles (approximately a two hours' drive) away from Edinburg, where his mother, girlfriend (Delia Becerra) , and other friends lived. Cpl. Gonzalez's plan was to spend the rest of his time in Corpus Christi, then return home to Edinburg when his time with the Marines was over.
However, several months after Cpl. Gonzalez returned to the United States, he learned of an entire platoon that was ambushed and killed. Cpl. Gonzalez felt responsible for the deaths of some of these men as some of them had served under him while he was in Vietnam. Cpl. Gonzalez then volunteered for a second tour.
On January 31, 1968, Sgt. Gonzalez was the platoon sergeant of a platoon of marines that was bringing relief to Hue City, Vietnam via a truck convoy. As the truck convoy neared the village of Lang Van Lrong, Viet Cong soldiers, dressed as civilians, attacked. Gonzalez and his troops counter-attacked and drove the enemy soldiers away. One Marine who was atop a tank was hit and fell off the tank. Sgt. Gonzalez was wounded when he ran through heavy fire to retrieve the wounded Marine. Several days later, on February 3, he was wounded again, but refused medical treatment, ordering the medics to take care of the other Marines.
On February 4, Sgt. Gonzalez and his platoon engaged the Viet Cong, who were holed up in St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Hue City, firing at the Americans with rockets and automatic weapons. Almost single-handedly, Sgt. Gonzalez neutralized the enemy with a barrage of LAW rockets. When it became quiet, it was thought that all of the Viet Cong inside the church had been killed. However, one had survived, and he shot and killed Sgt. Gonzalez.
Sgt. Gonzalez is buried at Hillcrest Cemetery in Edinburg. The Hidalgo County Historical Museum, also in Edinburg, has his uniform and medals on display.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Sgt. Gonzalez also received the following military medals:
Sgt. Gonzalez's name can be found on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It is located on panel 37E, row 021.