Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and top Army leaders held their own ceremony Wednesday at the Pentagon honoring the 24 soldiers who were just awarded the Medal of Honor, including 1st Lt. Donald Schwab of Hooper, Neb.
The medals were awarded after Congress ordered a review to ensure eligible recipients had not been overlooked due to prejudice. That review turned up others eligible for the award, including Schwab.
“We are here this morning to celebrate the heroism of twenty-four selfless individuals, twenty-four soldiers whose acts of gallantry in battle merit our highest recognition,” Hagel said at the start of Wednesday’s ceremony. “We’re also here to correct an injustice of history, to help right twenty-four wrongs that should never have occurred.”
The Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes induction ceremony came a day after President Barack Obama presented the medals at the White House. Only three of the recipients are still alive, so most of the medals were accepted by family members.
Terry Schwab accepted the Medal of Honor on behalf of his father, who died in 2005 at the age of 86. At the Pentagon ceremony, he accepted the Medal of Honor flag.
Hagel is a former Republican senator from Nebraska and himself a decorated army veteran of the Vietnam War.
During his remarks Wednesday, the old infantry sergeant lauded the sacrifice of those who served.
“The names that grace the walls of the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes belong to soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who represent the essence, the finest, the best of military service, the essence, the willingness to sacrifice your life for the lives of those around you,” Hagel said.