Today is the 58th anniversary of the Battle of Incheon - the United States' landing deep behind Communist enemy lines on the Korean peninsula. I had intended for Their Finest Hour to honor the entirety of Operation Chromite, but while reviewing the Wikipedia entry for the event, I noticed the above picture. The Marine leading his men over the sea wall is reportedly 1st Lieutenant Baldomero Lopez. Lieutenant Lopez gave his life for his Nation and his Marines very soon after the picture was taken. From Medal of Honor citations:
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.). Place and date: During Inchon invasion in Korea, 15 September 1950. Entered service at: Tampa, Fla. Born: 23 August 1925, Tampa, Fla. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a marine platoon commander of Company A, in action against enemy aggressor forces. With his platoon 1st Lt. Lopez was engaged in the reduction of immediate enemy beach defenses after landing with the assault waves. Exposing himself to hostile fire, he moved forward alongside a bunker and prepared to throw a hand grenade into the next pillbox whose fire was pinning down that sector of the beach. Taken under fire by an enemy automatic weapon and hit in the right shoulder and chest as he lifted his arm to throw, he fell backward and dropped the deadly missile. After a moment, he turned and dragged his body forward in an effort to retrieve the grenade and throw it. In critical condition from pain and loss of blood, and unable to grasp the hand grenade firmly enough to hurl it, he chose to sacrifice himself rather than endanger the lives of his men and, with a sweeping motion of his wounded right arm, cradled the grenade under him and absorbed the full impact of the explosion. His exceptional courage, fortitude, and devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon 1st Lt. Lopez and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
For all our Nation's bravest during Operation Chromite and the rest of the Korean War - thank you for your service, sacrifices, and defense of Freedom. Baldomero Lopez, September 15, 1950 was your finest hour!