When former Green Beret, SFC Jose Rodela, who had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry in Vietnam, learned that his award was being upgraded to the Medal of Honor, many years later in 2014, he didn’t react very well. In fact, he wished that the government hadn’t brought up that fateful day at all. 

The war, and the memory of close friends who didn’t survive that 18-hour battle, still haunted the veteran. He preferred to leave the battle and its aftermath behind.

“I’m a little disturbed,” Rodela said at the time when he found out his medal was being upgraded. “I don’t like it, but I go along with it because of service to my country. I really wish they had left me alone, but I’m here and I’m going to give you the best I know.”

In 2002, Congress began scanning records of Black, Hispanic, and Jewish troops. It wanted to examine if there was any bias that would have prevented them from receiving the Medal of Honor in actions performed in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. 

The same year, Congress passed the Defense Authorization Act. It prompted a review of Latino and Jewish service members who had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second-highest honor, but not the Medal of Honor.

There were 19 men that fell into that category. Two were Special Forces veterans from the Vietnam war: One of them was Rodela.

He was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama at the White House on March 18, 2014, along with fellow Green Beret Melvin Morris. 

Rodela was born in Corpus Christi, TX in 1937. He left school in his sophomore year because he was bored and looked for the discipline that the military offered. He joined the military in 1955.