Baldomero Lopez (August 23, 1925 – September 15, 1950) was a first lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for smothering a hand grenade with his own body during the Inchon Landing, on September 15, 1950.
Baldomero Lopez was born in Tampa, Florida
. He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy
, and upon graduating June 6, 1947, was commissioned a Second Lieutenant
in the Marine Corps
He attended The Basic School at Quantico, Virginia, after which he became a platoon commander in the Platoon Leaders Class Training Regiment.
In 1948, 2LT Lopez went to China, where he served as a mortar section commander and later as a rifle platoon commander at Tsingtao and Shanghai. On his return from China he was assigned to Camp Pendleton, California.
He was serving there when, shortly after the outbreak of the Korean war, he volunteered for duty as an infantry officer in Korea. He was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant on June 16, 1950.
Lopez was forever immortalized in a picture of him leading his men over the seawall at Inchon shortly before his death.
News of his death spread quickly among fellow Marines on the battlefronts. A Scripps-Howard war correspondent, Jerry Thorp, said in a news story on 1stLt Lopez's deed that he "died with the courage that makes men great."
In addition to the Medal of Honor, 1st Lt. Lopez's decorations include the Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze star, China Service Medal, and Korean Service Medal with two bronze stars.
Medal of Honor citation
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.). Place and date: During Inchon invasion in Korea, September 15, 1950. Entered service at: Tampa, Fla. Born: August 23, 1925, Tampa, Fla.
- For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a marine platoon commander of Company A, in action against enemy aggressor forces. With his platoon 1st Lt. Lopez was engaged in the reduction of immediate enemy beach defenses after landing with the assault waves. Exposing himself to hostile fire, he moved forward alongside a bunker and prepared to throw a hand grenade into the next pillbox whose fire was pinning down that sector of the beach. Taken under fire by an enemy automatic weapon and hit in the right shoulder and chest as he lifted his arm to throw, he fell backward and dropped the deadly missile. After a moment, he turned and dragged his body forward in an effort to retrieve the grenade and throw it. In critical condition from pain and loss of blood, and unable to grasp the hand grenade firmly enough to hurl it, he chose to sacrifice himself rather than endanger the lives of his men and, with a sweeping motion of his wounded right arm, cradled the grenade under him and absorbed the full impact of the explosion. His exceptional courage, fortitude, and devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon 1st Lt. Lopez and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
- 1st Lt. Baldomero Lopez (T-AK-3010) is one of the Military Sealift Command's seventeen Container & Roll-on/Roll-off Ships and is part of the 36 ships in the Prepositioning Program it is assigned to Maritime Prepositioning Program Squadron Two under the operational control of MSC Far East and operates out of Diego Garcia.
- A room in Bancroft Hall, the Naval Academy dormitory, is dedicated to him, with a display including his photo and a bronze plaque of his Medal of Honor citation. (Room 4353)
- The Korean War memorial under construction in Tampa, Florida was opened on November 11, 2007 and dedicated to 1st Lt Lopez.