Happy birthday, Fernando Luis Garcia!
Private First Class Fernando Luis García (October 14, 1929 – September 5, 1952), a member of the United States Marines, was the first Puerto Rican, from a total of five, to be awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
García was born in Utuado, Puerto Rico where he received his primary and secondary education. He moved to San Juan where he started to work for the Texas Company as a file clerk.
On September 19, 1951, García was inducted into the Marines; he received his basic (“boot”) training at Parris Island, South Carolina. After he graduated from his basic training he was sent to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina where he underwent advanced training before being sent to Korea.
García was a Private First Class when he arrived in Korea. He was assigned to Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, of the 1st Marine division. On the night of his death, he was posted about one mile from the enemy lines. The Korean enemies were attacking with grenades, bombs and other types of artillery. García was critically wounded, but he led his team to a supply point to get hand-grenades.
An enemy grenade landed nearby; García covered the grenade with his body, sacrificing himself to save the lives of his fellow Marines. García died instantly. For this heroic action, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor; on October 25, 1953, PFC García’s parents were presented his Medal of Honor at a ceremony held in the Utuado City Hall.
The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to
PRIVATE FIRST CLASS FERNANDO L. GARCIA
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 a member of Company I, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on September 5, 1952. While participating in the defense of a combat outpost located more than one mile forward of the main line of resistance during a savage night attack by a fanatical enemy force employing grenades, mortars and artillery, Private First Class Garcia, although suffering painful wounds, moved through the intense hall of hostile fire to a supply point to secure more hand grenades. Quick to act when a hostile grenade landed nearby, endangering the life of another Marine, as well as his own, he unhesitatingly chose to sacrifice himself and immediately threw his body upon the deadly missile, receiving the full impact of the explosion. His great personal valor and cool decision in the face of almost certain death sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country./S/ DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
- PFC Fernando Luis García’s remains were never recovered. There is a headstone with García’s name in the Puerto Rico National Cemetery in the city of Bayamón, Puerto Rico.
- On February 5, 1959 the United States Marines Corps named a military camp in Vieques, Puerto Rico, “Camp García” in his honor.
- His name is inscribed in “El Monumento de la Recordación” (Monument of Remembrance), dedicated to Puerto Rico’s fallen soldiers and situated in front of the Capitol Building in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
- His name is also inscribed in the “Wall of the Missing” located in the National Memorial of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii, which honors the Medal of Honor recipients whose bodies have never been recovered. A monument commemorating his actions stands in his hometown of Utuado, Puerto Rico.
- On November 11, 2008, the Government of Puerto Rico unveiled in the Capitol Rotunda the oil portrait of PFC Fernando Luis García.