During Caribbean-American Heritage Month, today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Juan E. Negrón, a Korean War Medal of Honor recipient.
Born in Corozal, Puerto Rico, in 1929, Juan E. Negrón enlisted in the Army in March 1948. He served in the 65th Infantry Regiment, which was a segregated unit composed predominately of Puerto Ricans. Attached to the 3rd Infantry Division, the regiment went to Korea in 1950. Once in Korea, Negrón and the 65th Infantry were among the first American troops to engage with North Korean forces. In November 1950, the Chinese launched a massive effort to support the North Koreans. This resulted in Negrón and his unit fighting with the Chinese virtually every day.
Negrón and his fellow soldiers endured substantial hardships. They battled not only unrelenting Chinese attacks, but also the cold because they did not have proper clothing for the climate. In 1951, the 65th Infantry participated in Operation Killer, which was a coalition offensive to pressure North Korean and Chinese troops out of South Korea. Negrón and his comrades led the charge, inflicting great casualties and forcing back the enemy.
In April 1951, Chinese forces penetrated the defensive line of the 65th. Negrón positioned himself on the exposed right flank with his men, the most exposed section of the line. Even though he saw his men retreating, Negrón refused to withdraw and ignored his own safety. In spite of intense enemy fire and his wounds, Negrón held his ground. He threw hand grenades that halted the attack through the night until a counteroffensive could stabilize his position. In the morning, 15 enemy soldiers were dead just feet away from his position, demonstrating the intensity of the fight. His actions were some of the most distinguished in the Korean conflict. Negrón initially received a Distinguished Service Cross.
He continued to serve in the military for 23 years, reaching the rank of master sergeant. Negrón retired from military service in 1971 and entered federal service in Puerto Rico. He passed away in March 1996.
During his service, he received two Purple Hearts, a Combat Infantrymen’s Badge, an Army Good Conduct Medal and a Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation. His family received a Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama in 2014.
We honor his service.
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Writer: Michael Veronda
Editor: Julia Pack
Fact checker: Latesha Thornhill
Graphic artist: Katie Rahill