Soldier Spotlight: Private Joe Gandara

Private Joe GandaraBiography

Medal of Honor nominee Joe Gandara was born in Santa Monica, Calif., April 25, 1924.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army in between 1942-1943.

Gandara is being recognized for his heroic actions on June 9, 1944, in Amfreville, France. His detachment came under devastating enemy fire from a strong German force, pinning the men to the ground for a period of four hours. Gandara advanced voluntarily and alone toward the enemy position and destroyed three hostile machine-guns before he was fatally wounded.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Gandara received the Distinguished Service Cross (this award will be upgraded to the Medal of Honor on Mar. 18), Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one Bronze Service Star and Bronze Arrowhead Device, Presidential Unit Citation, French Fourragere, Combat Infantryman Badge and Parachutist Badge-Basic with one Bronze Service Star.

Citation for Distinguished Service Cross

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Pvt. Joe Gandara, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy, while serving with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, in action against enemy forces, June 9, 1944, in France. When his detachment came under devastating enemy fire from a strong German force, pinning the men to the ground for a period of four hours, Gandara advanced voluntarily and alone toward the enemy position. Firing his machine-gun from a carrying position as he moved forward, he destroyed three hostile machine-guns before he was fatally wounded. By his selfless devotion to duty and outstanding valor, Gandara prevented heavy casualties to members of the detachment.

His intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life, exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States, and reflect great credit upon himself, the 82nd Airborne Division, and the United States Army.

Medal of Honor

Gandara is set to receive the Medal of Honor posthumously in a ceremony at the White House on March 18.

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