The Medal of Honor is the highest award for bravery in combat that a member of the U.S. military can receive.
According to U.S. Code, the President of the United States may award a Medal of Honor to a member of the U.S. military who “distinguishes himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”
We think those words perfectly describe the actions of longtime Fox Lake resident Loren Duke Abdalla.
While serving in the Marines during World War II, Abdalla, a corporal, was ordered to take his 12-member squad and destroy six Japanese machine gun nests as part of a platoon effort to secure a ridge on Okinawa, senior reporter Kevin Craver wrote in Friday’s Northwest Herald.
“At the start of the attack, he rescued a fellow squad leader who had been hit by a phosphorus grenade and carried him under heavy fire to safety,” Craver wrote. “By the time his squad had reached and destroyed the fourth nest, Abdalla realized that all of his men were either dead or wounded. So he destroyed the remaining two nests by himself, allowing the rest of the platoon to reach and destroy a larger gun in a cave and clear a path for a larger advance.”
Three members of Abdalla’s squad were honored for their bravery. A platoon sergeant received the Navy Cross, the Marines’ second highest medal for valor. Two others received Silver Stars.
Abdalla was not recognized.
Family, friends and other who have come to learn Abdalla’s story believe he was passed over because of his Sioux heritage. And for the past decade, they have been fighting to right that wrong.
There is precedent for awarding Medals of Honor decades after the fact to individuals who didn’t initially receive them because of discrimination.
Earlier this year, President Barack Obama awarded 24 Medals of Honor after a Pentagon review concluded former Army soldiers were denied on racial or religious grounds. Sadly, all but three were awarded posthumously.
Abdalla, who is 89, deserves an expedited review of his case.
He deserves to receive the award while he still is with us.