President Obama is preparing to right a military injustice next month, when he will award the Medal of Honor to 24 veterans whose service has been overlooked.
The White House announced Friday Obama would present the 24 medals to Army veterans of Vietnam, the Korean War and World War II on March 18. Three of the medals will be awarded in person and 21 posthumously.
Among the living recipients are Sgt. Santiago J. Erevia, a radio operator who distinguished himself after coming under fire during a search-and-clear mission. Sgt. First Class Melvin Morris braved enemy fire to rescue injured and fallen comrades, and Master Sergeant Jose Rodela led his company through a devastating 18-hour conflict, risking his life multiple times. All three men served in Vietnam. (Via U.S. Army)
Many of the recipients of the medal were initially passed over for the award due to racial discrimination. But in 2002, Congress passed the Defense Authorization Act, which required the military to review whether service members had unfairly missed out on their medal. (Via CNN)
The review process took 12 years, as the Army poured over 600 records which were marked as potential medal recipients. An unnamed defense official told The Washington Post trying to reassess that many candidates was a difficult process.
"It's hard to be awarded the medal for a single person, and to go back for all those potential candidates, that is a very demanding scope and record retrieval task. ... It was very time consuming. But we wanted to make sure that, as a process, we did it correctly and that the Medal of Honor process itself was honored."
All of the upcoming medal recipients had been previously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. That award will be upgraded to the Medal of Honor on March 18.