The Medal of Honor Courtyard and Orange County Walk of Honor
The Medal of Honor Courtyard and Orange County Walk of Honor are tributes to veterans from Orange County who received the highest honors that the United State government bestows for acts of valor and heroism. There are 28 plaques celebrating the stories of these veterans; 11 received the Medal of Honor. These plaques are arranged on pillars that surround the Medal of Honor Courtyard. There are 17 plaques lining the Orange County Walk of Honor that include veterans that have received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Air Force Cross and the Navy Cross.
Each side of the five-sided pillar at the entrance of the Medal of Honor Courtyard has a plaque commemorating the following:
- World War I
- World War II
- Korean War
- Vietnam War (all Orange County residents who lost their lives in the war)
- Iraq War
AMVETS (American Veterans) commissioned the plaques in 1988. They were installed at the Civic Center in Santa Ana until they were removed in 2016 and brought to Heroes Hall veterans museum and education center. Names are added as new information becomes available.
MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS:
- John C. Baca: The Army Specialist 4th Class earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Vietnam War. During a night ambush mission, a platoon from Baca’s company was sent ahead. Upon hearing heavy fire from them, Baca led his company to aid the platoon and engage the enemy. A grenade was thrown into the midst of his company and he covered the grenade with his own helmet, absorbing the concussion and fragments with his own body. His actions saved eight men from serious injury or death.
- William E. Barber: The Marine Corps Captain earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Korean War. Defending a mountain pass along the main supply line, Barber and his command took up defensive positions and dug in. During the night the enemy attacked inflicting heavy casualties and surrounding their position. Barber, when ordered to fight his way back to safety, requested to stay and fight the enemy in order to protect the wounded and dead. Wounded himself, Barber continued to maintain control waging the battle throughout 5 days. In total his command accounted for 1,000 enemy deaths.
- Chris Carr: The Army Sergeant earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War II. Carr and his platoon were pinned down by heavy enemy small weapons fire. Undeterred, Carr crept to enemy lines to a machine gun and captured several prisoners. Carr advanced to a second enemy position, killing four of the enemy and capturing one, then moved to the third position, capturing it and four more prisoners. He again advanced to a fourth position, killing another four and capturing nine more. Carr single-handedly captured five enemy positions, killed eight Germans and captured 22 more.
- Clarence B. Craft: The Army Private First Class earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War II. With five of his comrades, Craft was dispatched ahead of his company to scout enemy forces. They were ambushed by small arms fire and grenades, wounding three and pinning down the others. Craft stood in full view of the enemy and began to advance, killing the enemy with rapid fire. Using two cases of hand grenades, he cleared out enemy trenches, allowing for his platoon to advance. When the enemy fled and took refuge in a cave, Craft pursued them and threw a satchel charge in to seal the cave.
- Walter D. Ehlers: The Army Staff Sergeant earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War II. In attempt to scout ahead of his squad, Elhers and his men came against heavy enemy fire. Personally killing four, Elhers proceeded to crawl forward under heavy small arms fire and destroy a machine gun position single-handedly. He then led his platoon to knock out a mortar and two other machine gun positions. The next day his platoon found themselves in an untenable position being ordered to withdraw. In constant fire, he stood up as a decoy, permitting the rest of his squad to retreat. Although wounded, he received medical attention and refused to be evacuated, returning to lead his squad.
- Donald A. Gary: The Navy Lieutenant earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War II. While stationed on the third deck of the USS Franklin, the ship was attacked by enemy aircraft. Several explosions rocked the boat causing several hundred men to be trapped. Gary risked his life, repeatedly leading groups out of the compartment to safety through fire, flooding, and additional explosions. He then organized a fire-fighting party to defend the ship and risked his life to raise steam in one boiler.
- Nelson M. Holderman: The Army Captain earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War I. While leading a battalion, Holderman’s company was surrounded by Germans. Badly wounded, he continued to lead and rushed through enemy fire carrying two wounded men to safety.
- Michael A. Monsoor: The Navy Master-At-Arms Second Class earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Iraq War. Part of a combined Navy Seal & Iraqi Army Sniper team, Monsoor was tasked with providing early warning and protection from enemy insurgents. In the early morning hours, insurgents began to attack, and as enemy fire increased Monsoor took position at a machine gun. The enemy threw a grenade that bounced off Monsoor’s chest and he threw himself on the grenade, saving two of his comrades’ lives.
- Tibor Rubin: The Army Corporal earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Korean War. While his unit was retreating to the Pusan Perimeter, Rubin was assigned to keep open the vital road used. During the battle, an overwhelming number of Korean soldiers assaulted a hill defended solely by Rubin. He inflicted an incredible amount of casualties during his personal 24-hour battle and single-handedly slowed the enemy advance. This allowed the 8th Cavalry to withdraw successfully. During this advancement Rubin helped capture several hundred North Korean soldiers. Throughout that night he manned a machine gun until his ammunition was exhausted and the remnants of his unit retreated. Rubin was severely injured and captured by the Chinese. He chose to remain in the prison camp, despite offers by the Chinese to return him to his native Hungary, risking his life every night to get food from the enemy storehouses and gardens to give to his fellow prisoners saving as many as 40 men.
- Kenneth A. Walsh: The Marine Corps First Lieutenant earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War II. Walsh repeatedly dived his plane into enemy formation outnumbering his own unit six to one and was able to shoot down three enemy planes. On a second occasion after stopping to replace his damaged plane and rejoin his flight, he was separated from his escort group and confronted by 50 Japanese Zeros. Attacking relentlessly, he destroyed four enemy fighters before shellfire forced him to land.
- Kenneth L. Worley: The Marine Corps Lance Corporal earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Vietnam War. As a machine gunner, Worley and his company set up an ambush position. After security was established the men in the company retired. In the early morning hours, grenades were thrown into the house by the enemy. Worley instantly threw himself on a grenade that landed by him and his comrades absorbing the tremendous force and saving five of his fellow Marines.
DISTINGUISHED MEDAL RECIPIENTS:
- Eugene R. Brady: The Marine Corps Colonel was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during the Vietnam War. As commander of a transport helicopter, Brady was assigned the mission of medically evacuating several seriously wounded Marines from a heavily saturated enemy territory. Upon arriving over the designated area, Brady was warned that the vastly outnumbered unit was surrounded by the enemy. Fully aware of the dangers and in spite of deteriorating weather conditions, Brady commenced to complete the mission unsteadily landing in heavy enemy fire. Brady steadfastly remained in the position until all wounded were aboard. Then he maneuvered the damaged helicopter back out of enemy fire and safely delivered wounded men to the nearest medical facility.
- Jacksel M. Broughton: The Air Force Colonel was awarded the Air Force Cross for his actions during the Vietnam War. While commander of a flight mission which attacked a heavily defended target in North Vietnam and despite dismal aircraft malfunctions and marginal weather, Broughton was able to illuminate the target for the following strike forces putting his own life in danger as a decoy.
- Thomas P. Clark Jr.: The Marine Corps Captain was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions during the Vietnam War. Clark was honored for leading the flight of two F-4 Phantom aircraft proving air support for a helicopter resupply of a reconnaissance patrol engaged in heavy combat. Clark’s flight executed repeated bombing runs and delivered all of its ordinance upon the target with pinpoint accuracy through deteriorating weather conditions, haze and heavy volume of enemy automatic weapons fire. As a result, the transport helicopter was able to land, discharge its supplies, and depart from the area.
- Roger C. Crow: The Navy Commander was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during World War II. As pilot of a scout bomber during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands Campaign, Crow participated in vigorous and persistent dive-bombing attacks against a Japanese aircraft carrier. Fighting through a hail of fire and violent aerial, Crow was able to contribute serious damage to the enemy vessel and effectively attack hostile aircraft while returning to his own carrier.
- Fred Leroy Dungan: The Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during World War II. On July 4, 1944, Dungan, while serving as pilot of a carrier-based airplane, was attacked over enemy territory by several float fighter planes. Although alone and outnumbered, through a tremendous act of bravery and heroism, Dungan did not break away from the fighter planes, but with provided assistance shot down four of the enemy planes. After leaving the aerial battle severely wounded, he was able to complete a successful carrier landing.
- William W. Eldridge, Jr.: The Marine Corps Colonel was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during World War II. In action against enemy Japanese forces during the assault on Okinawa Shima, Eldridge flew as a member of a 12-plane combat air patrol. In response to a distress call, Eldridge and his fleet located a flight of approximately 25 enemy aircraft attempting to destroy a United States fighter director ship by suicide attacks. Boldly engaging in hostile formation he was able to destroy four planes aiding materially in repulsing the Japanese attack and saving the ship.
- Sidney Goldstein: The Army Major was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during World War II. Goldstein, then a Second Lieutenant, exemplified extraordinary heroism and bravery when tasked with a mission to take an enemy held hill in the Gothic line with a small force of 24 men. Met with fierce fire and opposition, Goldstein was able to reorganize and lead his men into overtaking several enemy dugouts. He captured a German officer who then led him to another enemy camp and that day capturing three German officers and a total of 67 Germans affecting a break-through in a sector of strong enemy lines.
- Ernesto Gomez: The Marine Corps Corporal was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during the Vietnam War. Gomez, the Crew Chief aboard a CH-46 Transport Helicopter, was assigned an emergency medical evacuation mission on Hill 881. Upon landing, the entire zone was subject to intense enemy fire while two Marines were leading a blindfolded, bandaged casualty to the helicopter. The two Marines dropped to the ground upon fire, leaving the blindfolded casualty attempting to reach the aircraft unassisted. Corporal Gomez unhesitatingly left the helicopter to help aid his injured comrade by shielding him with his own body. Both were able to make it back to the helicopter and back to the medical facility.
- Willis W. Hardy: The Navy Commander was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during World War II. While participating in the interception of a large force of Japanese aircraft attached to the U.S.S. Hornet, Hardy attacked an enemy fighter plane causing it to crash into the sea. Then sighting two other hostile dive bombers, he shot both down in a quick succession, centering his fire on a third dive bomber, skillfully exploding it in midair. After which he pursued a fourth dive bomber which crashed into the sea.
- Donald Hogan: The Marine Corps Lance Corporal was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions in Afghanistan. While on a dismounted patrol in Helmand Province, Lance Corporal Hogan’s squad came under attack from an enemy fighter attempting to command-detonate a directional fragmentation improvised explosive device. Without hesitation, Lance Corporal Hogan hurled his body into the nearest Marine in an effort to keep him from the effects of the imminent explosion. He then turned in the direction of the improvised explosive device and placed himself in the road so that he could effectively yell verbal warnings to the rest of his squad-mates. This desperate effort to warn the rest of the patrol bought the remaining Marines valuable seconds to begin moving away from the improvised explosive device before it detonated.
- Vernon C. Jordan: The Army Captain was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during World War II. After patrols had made unsuccessful attempts to cross open ground and reach a fortified house where defending Germans were holding up the company’s advance, Jordan voluntarily advanced alone. Demonstrating extraordinary bravery, Jordan crawled into the open clearing, then ran through a hail of crossfire to reach the house where he would capture two of the enemy and force the remaining soldiers out of the house allowing the Company to advance and take its objective.
- Michael M. Kurth: The Marine Corps Colonel was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during the Persian Gulf War. As commanding officer of Marine Light Attack Helicopter during Operation Desert Storm, Kurth provided fire support to embattled Marines aiding in collapsing Iraqi defenses. With visibility nearly impossible due to hundreds of burning oil fields, Kurth flew continuously for 10 hours during the most intense periods of combat, while having to control crash his aircraft twice. He led flight after flight of rearmed gunships to units remaining dangerously exposed. Kurth’s extraordinary bravery aided in the destruction of more than 70 Iraqi armored vehicles that day.
- Donald Lewis: The Navy Lieutenant was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during World War II. Lewis participated in a daring strike against the main Japanese fleet, where he selected an enemy aircraft carrier as a target, and through skillful maneuvers to evade fierce enemy fighter opposition, executed a dive-bombing attack on the enemy vessel and scored a direct hit. This direct hit severely damaged the hostile ship.
- Kazuo Masuda: The Army Staff Sergeant was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during World War II. While his advanced observation post was the target of heavy mortar and artillery barrages, Masuda crawled 200 yards to the mortar section, secured a mortar tube and ammunition and returned to the observation post. Masuda single-handedly directed effective fire upon the enemy for 12 hours, inflicting heavy casualties and repulsing two major enemy counter attacks. Near Florence, Italy, Masuda voluntarily led two men on a night patrol across the Arno River and all and through the heavily mined North Bank. Hearing movements to his right, he ordered his men to cover him while he crawled forward and discovered that a strong enemy force had surrounded them. Realizing he was trapped, he ordered his men to withdraw while he engaged the enemy with automatic weapons. At the sacrifice of his life, he enabled his comrades to escape with valuable information which materially aided the successful crossing of the Arno River.
- Paul F. McLellan: The Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during World War II. In action again enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, when his Company Commander was killed in an attack against strongly fortified positions, McLellan immediately assumed command and, in the face of intense hostile fire, skillfully led the attack to overrun an enemy strong point near the second airfield and annihilate the Japanese who previously held up the advance of three Marine divisions. Following this extraordinary act of bravery, McLellan continued to lead his Company bravely destroying enemy grounds.
- Scott C. Montoya: The Marine Corps Sergeant was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during the war on terrorism. During the Battle for Baghdad, Montoya’s sniper team arrived within Company F’s position and upon arrival came under heavy small arms fire. He immediately encouraged Marines to deploy and return fire. Noticing a wounded Iraqi civilian wounded in crossfire, Montoya risked his own life to move him to safety. Then noticing three other Marines severely wounded, Montoya disregarded enemy fire and carried each out of harm’s way and ensured medical attention.
- Vincent Okamoto: The Army 2nd Lieutenant was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during the Vietnam War. While serving as a platoon leader with an infantry unit near doubting on August 24, 1968 a ground attack was launched against Okatoma’s battalion night location by three reinforced North Vietnamese and Vietcong’s companies. The initial assault destroyed a strategic section of the perimeter. Under heavy automatic weapons, small arms and rocket propelled grenade fire, Okatoma moved with five of his men to restore this vital position. Realizing the need for supporting fire he ran to a partially destroyed armored personnel carrier and manned its machine gun. After the weapon malfunctioned, he dashed through the full barrage of enemy fire to a second and then third carrier to place suppressing fire on the aggressors. Spying a group of enemy soldiers maneuvering toward the unit’s lines, Okatoma crawled under cover of small arms and automatic weapons fire to less than 10 meters from the Communists and destroyed them with a fragmentation grenade. He was injured by a hostile concussion grenade, but refusing aid, he kept fighting until the North Vietnamese Vietcong force was defeated.
- Louis A. Staff: The Army 2nd Lieutenant was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during World War II. While serving as a forward observer for a platoon of chemical mortars, Staff and his troop came under heavy enemy cross fire and he and his party were pinned for hours. Under the cover of darkness, Staff was able to evacuate his men into nearby woods, evading enemy patrol through the night. The following morning, Staff was able to reconnect with supporting artillery and heroically and bravely led his party back through enemy lines and captured numerous prisoners on the way.
- Robert E. Thomas: The Navy Captain was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during World War II. For distinguished service and exceptional courage during the attack on The Fleet in Pearl Harbor despite heavy enemy bombing and severe wounding, Thomas was able to maintain a highly effective fire from his battery. Ensign Thomas reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.
- Richard D. Wandke: The Army Lieutenant Colonel was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during the Vietnam War. While commanding his company on a search and destroy mission of a landing zone, Wandke and his company were surprised by seven enemy soldiers and opened fire. Upon fire he immediately deployed the remainder of his unit to assist. Hostile reinforcements persisted and began to place tremendous firepower on the company’s perimeter. Wandke’s company sustained substantial casualties, so he directed every man who was able to withdraw from the area to establish a medical evacuation zone. Wandke remained for three hours directing artillery fire, although critically wounded himself, to protect the dead and critically wounded.
- Leon M. Williamson: The Marine Corps Reserve Captain was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during World War II. During the initial attack upon an enemy aircraft carrier, Williamson, in the face of tepid enemy fire, dove his plane to the perilously low altitude of four hundred feet before releasing a bomb to damage enemy territory. The following day, the participated through extraordinary heroism, took part in an assault which resulted in the severe damage of an enemy battleship.