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Santiago Erevia, Medal of Honor recipient, dies at 70

March 23, 2016 (Photo Credit: Mike Morones/Staff)

Erevia was one of three living Medal of Honor recipients out of the 24 service members celebrated at the White House on March 18, 2014. Each received the award after a review of records ordered in 2002 by Congress aimed initially at undoing potential discrimination against Jewish- and Hispanic-Americans who received valor awards during World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The review eventually expanded to include troops of other backgrounds. 

On May 21, 1969, then-Spec. 4 Erevia was aiding wounded soldiers in C Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, in Tam Ky when his unit came under heavy fire from four nearby bunkers, according to his award citation. The radio telephone operator armed himself with ammunition taken from his wounded comrades, as well as two M16s and several hand grenades, and charged his attackers.

He eliminated three bunkers before running out of grenades. When he reached the fourth bunker, he "silenced the occupant ... at point-blank range" with his rifle, the citation reads.

"Through his heroic actions the lives of the wounded were saved and the members of the Company Command Post were relieved from a very precarious situation," it continues.

He was awarded the DSC in 1969 and left active service the next year, according to a biography at Army.mil. He served 17 more years with the Texas National Guard, overlapping with time as a U.S. Postal Service employee. He retired from the USPS in 2002.

A cause of death was not immediately available. Erevia's passing was reported by the Bexar County (Texas) Veterans Service Office; Erevia frequently crossed paths with VSO staffers during veterans-outreach events, said Queta Marquez, the county's veterans service officer.

Retired Master Sgt. Jose Rodela, another San Antonio resident honored in 2014 as part of the so-called "Valor 24," told MySanAntonio.com that Erevia "was really humble. Obviously, he got a lot of attention after getting the Medal of Honor, but he was always very humble."

Erevia, Rodela and retired Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris received their medals from President Obama during the Valor 24 ceremony in what the president called "a remarkable moment." 

“Some of these soldiers fought and died for a country that did not always see them as equal,” Obama said. “With each generation we keep on striving to live up to our ideals of freedom and equality.”

Senior reporter Michelle Tan contributed to this report.

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