Emilio Albert De La Garza, Jr. (June 23, 1949 – April 11, 1970) was a United States Marine who was posthumously presented the nation’s highest military honor — the Medal of Honor — for his heroism on April 11, 1970 in Vietnam.
Emilio Albert De La Garza, Jr. was born on June 23, 1949, in East Chicago, Indiana. He graduated from E.C. Washington High School in 1968. He was married to Rosemary Rejon and they have a daughter Renee (Lugo). He was employed by Inland Steel Company in East Chicago (Indiana Harbor), Indiana, before enlisting in the Marine Corps.
Marine Corps service
De La Garza enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on February 4, 1969, in Chicago, Illinois. He received recruit training with the 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment at the MCRD San Diego, California.
Upon completion of recruit training, he was ordered to the Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California, where he joined the 2nd Infantry Training Regiment (ITR) and underwent individual combat training with the 1st and 2nd Battalions, and weapons training with the Basic Infantry Training Battalion.
Promoted to Private First Class on July 1, 1969, he arrived in the Republic of Vietnam on the July 25, 1969 for duty as a machinegun team ammo carrier with Company H, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division. On September 29, 1969, he was reassigned to the 1st Marine Division and served as a Marine Corps exchange man with Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, until the following December. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on February 1, 1970.
LCpl. De La Garza joined Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. On April 11, 1970, LCpl. De La Garza was serving as a machine gunner on a squad night patrol with Company E, 3rd platoon, approximately four miles south of Da Nang. The Marine rifle squad took hit and run fire in the morning and pursued the enemy. De La Garza spotted one of the VC hidden in a deep pond and went into the water with his knife taking the VC prisoner. As the VC was being brought to shore the VC pulled a hidden grenade. De La Garza yelled “Grenade” and was killed by the blast.
Awards and honors
American Legion Emilio De La Garza, Jr. Post 508, East Chicago, Indiana
Ivy Tech State College, LCpl Emilio De La Garza Jr. Campus, East Chicago, Indiana
Medal of Honor citation
LANCE CORPORAL EMILIO A. DE LA GARZA, JR. UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a machine gunner with Company E, Second Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division, in the Republic of Vietnam on April 11, 1970. Returning with his squad from a night ambush operation, Lance Corporal De La Garza joined his Platoon commander and another Marine in searching for two enemy soldiers who had been observed fleeing for cover toward a small pond. Moments later, he located one of the enemy soldiers hiding among the reeds and brush. As the three Marines attempted to remove the resisting soldier from the pond, Lance Corporal De La Garza observed him pull the pin on a grenade. Shouting a warning, Lance Corporal De La Garza placed himself between the other two Marines and the ensuing blast from the grenade, thereby saving the lives of his comrades at the sacrifice of his own. By his prompt and decisive action, and his great personal valor in the face of almost certain death, Lance Corporal De La Garza upheld and further enhanced the finest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
/S/ RICHARD M. NIXON
|Medal of Honor|
|Purple Heart Medal||Combat Action Ribbon||National Defense Service Medal|
|Vietnam Service Medal||Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation||Vietnam Campaign Medal|