Ken Harbaugh tells the stories of service members who have distinguished themselves through an act of valor. These stories feature recipients from the Civil War to present day, including a few who were originally overlooked for the medal.
Private First Class Fernando Luis García Ledesma was born in Utuado, Puerto Rico before enlisting in the Marines in 1951. García was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine regiment and eventually deployed to fight in the Korean War. While engaged with forces from China’s People's Volunteer Army, García gave his life to protect his fellow Marines, for which he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Welcome to the Medal of Honor podcast, brought to you in partnership with the National Medal of Honor Museum. I’m Ken Harbaugh. In each episode, we’ll learn about a different service member who has distinguished him or herself through an act of valor.
Private First Class Fernando Luis García Ledesma was born on October 14th, 1929 in Utuado, Puerto Rico. Before joining the U.S. Marine Corps, García worked as a file clerk in San Juan.
On September 19th, 1951, García enlisted in the Marines and was promoted to Private First Class after recruit training. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.
In March 1952, García deployed to Korea. By 1952, the Korean War had entered a stalemate. The notable battles of the United Nations counteroffensive and China’s People’s Volunteer Army intervention were already in the past. When García arrived in Korea, much of the fighting was concentrated around the 38th Parallel, which demarks the present-day boundary between North and South Korea.
García fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill, a series of skirmishes on the frontlines that lasted months. After the PVA seized Bunker Hill, they were able to accurately target the Marines’ positions using artillery. García’s division fought for four days, and finally reclaimed Bunker Hill, but the enemy was determined to seize it once more.
On the night of September 5th, 1952, as PVA forces attacked, they launched a diversion on Outpost Stromboli, defended by García’s battalion. He was wounded from the combined arms attack which included grenades, mortars, and artillery. Under enemy fire, García moved to resupply hand grenades to his fellow Marines when an enemy grenade landed near him and another Marine. Without hesitation, García dove on it and absorbed the blast, killing him instantly. His body was never recovered.
On October 25th, 1953, García was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, presented to his parents in his hometown of Utuado. García’s other awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon. He was the first Puerto Rican to receive the Medal of Honor.
García’s legacy lives on with several buildings and monuments built in Puerto Rico in tribute to his actions. The US Navy named a class of frigates after him. He is one of the names on the Wall of the Missing in Hawaii, honoring Medal of Honor recipients whose bodies were never recovered.
The Medal of Honor podcast is a production of Evergreen Podcasts.
Nathan Corson is our producer and engineer, León Pescador is our associate producer, and I’m Ken Harbaugh.
We are proud to support the National Medal of Honor Museum. To learn more, and to support their mission, go to mohmuseum.org. Thanks for listening.