This Veterans Day, we are featuring the diverse descendants of Medal of Honor recipients to showcase the fact that our military heroes truly come from everywhere.
Here are a few of their stories.
Christopher Langlois – Descendant
Christopher Flynn – Medal of Honor Recipient
“I was named after him. I try to live up to it every day” Christopher says of his great grandfather, Christopher Flynn, a Civil War veteran, who arrived in Boston August 1, 1844, from Ireland, just missing the Potato Famine that would bring so many other Irish Immigrants to the Boston area.
“At 34 he volunteered to join the North, because he knew it was the right thing to do.” Christopher received a Medal of Honor for his extraordinary heroism during the battle of Gettysburg, where while serving with Company K, 14th Connecticut Infantry, he captured the flag of 52d North Carolina Infantry (Confederate States of America).
“He is not only American hero but a personal hero of mine” says Christopher.
Jennyl Calugas – Descendant
Jose Calugas – Medal of Honor Recipient
“He went from a mess hall duty to American hero in a matter of hours,” says Jennyl of her grandfather. On January 16, 1942, Jose Calugas was in Baatan, Philippines, working as a mess sergeant in charge of a group of soldiers who were preparing the day’s meals.
From the mess hall, Jose heard that one of his unit’s field guns was no longer firing. Without orders, he ran the 1,000 yards across the shell-swept area to the silenced gun. Once there, he organized a squad of volunteers who returned Japanese artillery fire. The position remained under constant and heavy fire for the rest of the afternoon. While Calugas and his squad held off the enemy, other soldiers had time to dig in and defend the line. As the day ended and combat subsided, he returned to the mess hall to feed his fellow soldiers.
After a long career in the Military and becoming a naturalized US citizen, Jose moved his family to Seattle where he started a new journey at University of Puget Sound to earn a degree in Business at age 54. “He received the highest military decoration, but his degree was his most cherished accomplishment.”
Glenn Hajiro – Descendant
Barney F. Hajiro – Medal of Honor Recipient
Glenn Hajiro’s father – Barney F. Hajiro – was born on the island of Maui to Japanese immigrant parents. Two months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Barney was drafted into the U.S. Army. In March 1943, Hajiro volunteered to be part of the Army’s all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team – which became the most decorated battalion in American history. The Regiment was made up of 1st or 2nd Gen Japanese Americans, they felt they had to prove their loyalty to America by going above and beyond the call of duty. Their motto was “Go for Broke.”
In a series of heroic acts in October of 1944, Barney went above and beyond the call of duty. He exposed himself to enemy fire, ambushed the enemy, and, in an attempt to rescue another group of soldiers known as “The Lost Battalion,” ran 100 yards across a field of mines under fire while taking out enemy snipers. As a result of his heroic actions all three attacks were successful, but Barney was shot in the shoulder and wrist leaving his left arm partially paralyzed. Due to the extent of his injury he was sent back to the United States to recover.
“He became a type of person that you wanted out there, because he was fearless.” says Glenn. “He taught me to always stand up for myself. He used to say, “No one can tell you what to do, but you can do the right thing.” He continues: “He told me this medal is not for me. This medal belongs to the guys who didn’t come back.”
Tina Duran Ruvalcaba – Descendant
Jesus S. Duran – Medal of Honor Recipient
“He was born in Juarez, Mexico and moved to Riverside with his family after my grandfather got a job there,” says Tina of her father Jesus Duran, a veteran of the Vietnam War and a Medal of Honor recipient.
On April 10 1968, Duran and his company were on a reconnaissance mission. “He wasn’t supposed to engage but he and his fellow soldiers were being overtaken. He jumped up on a bomb crater and started to defend the soldiers he was fighting with. He wanted to make sure they all got out alive.” That day he saved the lives of 22 fellow soldiers. “I think my father did what he did to get home to me and my mom.”
After the war, Duran pursued a career as a corrections officer at a juvenile detention center in San Bernardino, California. He took this position so he could dedicate his time to mentoring young people. “He died before he was able to get his citizenship, but now there’s a California library with his name on it. That small eastside community really took in my dad as their own.”
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