Medal of Honor

 

 

FERNANDEZ, DANIEL *

 

Rank and organization: Specialist Fourth Class, U.S. Army, Company C, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry (Mechanized) 25th Infantry Division

 

Place and date: Cu Chi, Hau Nghia Province, Republic of Vietnam, 18 February 1966

 

Entered service at: Albuquerque, New Mexico

 

Born: 30 June 1944, Albuquerque, New Mexico

 

Citation:

 

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp4c. Fernandez demonstrated indomitable courage when the patrol was ambushed by a Viet Cong rifle company and driven back by the intense enemy automatic weapons fire before it could evacuate an American soldier who had been wounded in the Viet Cong attack. Sp4c. Fernandez, a sergeant and 2 other volunteers immediately fought their way through devastating fire and exploding grenades to reach the fallen soldier. Upon reaching their fallen comrade the sergeant was struck in the knee by machine gun fire and immobilized. Sp4c. Fernandez took charge, rallied the left flank of his patrol and began to assist in the recovery of the wounded sergeant. While first aid was being administered to the wounded man, a sudden increase in the accuracy and intensity of enemy fire forced the volunteer group to take cover. As they did, an enemy grenade landed in the midst of the group, although some men did not see it. Realizing there was no time for the wounded sergeant or the other men to protect themselves from the grenade blast, Sp4c. Fernandez vaulted over the wounded sergeant and threw himself on the grenade as it exploded, saving the lives of his 4 comrades at the sacrifice of his life. Sp4c. Fernandez' profound concern for his fellow soldiers, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.


 

 

 

Thanks to Randy Kethcart for the above photo.

 


Terri Greer writes on 15 September 2005:

Hi. I recently found your website on Daniel by accident while looking for kids from Los Lunas High School. Thank you for doing this, Daniel was a good friend of mine during high school and although he was two years older than me, he was always someone you could count on. Daniel was kind, considerate and his death impacted many of our small group of high school kids a lot. I best remember Daniel doing the twist with me at a party at our house in Bosque Farms. We didn’t do it very well, but the picture I still have is amusing. I was not surprised by his gallantry to save his friends, he was always like that. Seeing your tribute brings him back to us one more time. 

Terri Greer (Clayton in high school)

----------------------

Liz Lopez writes on 26 August 2000: It was so wonderful to search for Daniel Fernandez' name, and to be able to find information on this hero. I'm from Santa Fe, New Mexico and I was only 6 years old when Daniel died. My Mom took us to his funeral. Although, he was born in Los Lunas, New Mexico, Daniel was buried in the military cemetery in Santa Fe, New Mexico I have never forgotten him nor his mom. I have kept Daniel in my thoughts and prayers all these year. I recently made a trip to Washington D. C and looked his name up on the Vietnam Memorial. What a site! Very sad... Like the sign read at the Korean Memorial, "Freedom is never free."

God Bless. Thank you for not forgetting our heroes!

 


Tropic Lightning News

24 November 1966

 

Sp4 Daniel Fernandez, who this week was  posthumously awarded the nations highest award, the Medal of Honor, was one of them rare young men who was admired and respected by his contemporaries.

He was quiet, competent, unselfish, cheerful, the type they choose as president of the senior class. When he died on February 18th of this year, he was a rifleman for Co. C, 1st Bn (mech), 5th infantry, and everyone who had known him mourned him. He was not a career soldier. He used to joke with his friends that he was in the Army for three years because he had flipped a coin with his draft board, and lost. Actually he had enlisted for three years. While he was in the Army he wanted to be a good Soldier. He spent hours at Scholfield Barrack in Hawaii pouring over infantry handbooks. His platoon leader, Lt. Joseph V. Dorso of Norwalk Conn. called him the type of guy I could always count on no matter the situation. SSgt. David M. Thompson of Belair N.Y., who used to go ski diving with him in Hawaii, said simply "Danny was my best man."

The members of his squad, a tight little group of 15 men, one subsection of a huge division, looked upon him as a father confessor. Even those who were older than he called him "Uncle Dan" and went to him with their troubles and their complaints. Specialist Fernandez had been in Vietnam once before as a volunteer machine gunner on an Army helicopter. So it was it was not surprising that he was one of 16 men who volunteered for an Ambush patrol that was sent out of Cu Chi just after midnight on February 18, 1966.

About 7 a.m. as the patrol lay in wait in a jungle clearing for the Viet Cong. Specialist Joseph T. Benton of Hetford N.C. spotted seven VC in the woods behind a burned out hut. He began firing his machine gun, then reached for a hand grenade. Before he could pull the pin out a Communist sniper killed him. Specialist Fernandez crawled to one side  of the hut to cover the right flank, and Sp4 James P. McKeown of Willingsboro, N.J. moved into place on the other side. Behind the hut PFC David R. Masingale of Fresno Calif. the platoons 18 year old medic bent over Specialist Benton. A moment later the Viet Cong opened up with machine guns, and a bullet smashed into the leg of Sgt. Ray E. Sue, knocking him to the ground.Sp4 George E. Snodgrass of Pomton Lakes N.J., who had come up with Sgt. Sue to get Specialist Benton out, hit the dirt. Now all five men were pinned down in an area no bigger than a living room. PFC Masingale treated Sgt. Sue, two flank men riddled the bushes and Specialist Snodgrass fired behind Specialists Bentons body. At that instant. a grenade fired from a rifle by one of the guerrillas landed by Specialist Fernandez' leg. He got up on all fours, trying to escape, but he hit the grenade with his ankle, knocking it to within three feet of the group around Specialist Benton and Sgt. Sue. Without hesitation , so quickly that PFC Masingale is sure he didn't have time to consider the consequences of his action, Specialist Fernandez shouted "move out" and threw himself onto the grenade.  When the others reach him after the explosion he was still conscious. Specialist Snodgrass helped make a litter from three shirts and a bamboo poles and dragged Specialist Fernandez to an open area where a helicopter could land. "It hurts" the wounded man said "I cant breathe"  Specialist Snodgrass a devoted Roman Catholic who often went to mass with Specialist Fernandez, told him to to " make a good act of contrition" because no priest was present. "I will" Specialist Fernandez said, and shortly after died.

For this action, his last, Daniel Fernandez was awarded the Medal of Honor. Specialist Fernandez' parents live at Los Lunas, N.M.

 


 

--- General / Personal ---

Last name: FERNANDEZ

First name: DANIEL

Home of Record (official): LOS LUNAS

State (official): NM

Date of Birth: Friday, June 30, 1944

Sex: Male

Race: Caucasian

Marital Status: Single

 

--- Military ---

Branch: Army

Rank: SP4

Serial Number: 18661777

Component: Regular

Pay grade: E4

MOS (Military Occupational Specialty code): 11B20

 

--- Action ---

Start of Tour: Thursday, January 6, 1966

Date of Casualty: Friday, February 18, 1966

Age at time of loss: 21

Casualty type: (A2) Hostile, died of wounds

Reason: Multiple fragmentation wounds (Ground casualty)

Country: South VietNam

Province: Unknown/Not Reported

The Wall: Panel 05E - Row 046

 



Back to Citations Page

Back to Home Page

 

Send comments and questions to: neil@mishalov.com