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First Name: Mike

Last Name: Pena

Birthplace: Newgulf, TX, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: El Paso, TX
Middle Name: Castaneda

Date of Birth: 06 November 1924

Date of Death: 05 September 1950

Rank: Master Sergeant

Years Served:
Mike Castaneda Pena

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


Mike Castaneda Pena
Master Sergeant, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient, Korean War

Pena joined the U. S. Army as an Infantryman in 1941, when he was 16-years-old. He fought in both World War II and the Korean War.

Master Sergeant Pena was a member of Company F, 2d Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment (Infantry), 1st Cavalry Division. He was Killed in Action while fighting the enemy in South Korea on 5 September 1950.

Medals, Awards & Badges

Medal of Honor *
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Army Good Conduct Medal with Bronze Clasp and 2 Loops
American Theater Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 4 Bronze Service Stars and Bronze Arrowhead Device
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal with Japan Clasp
National Defense Service Medal
Korean Service Medal with Bronze Service Star
Presidential Unit Citation
Philippine Liberation Ribbon
Philippine Independence Ribbon
United Nations Service Medal
Republic of Korea War Service Medal
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation
Combat Infantryman Badge (2nd Award)

He also received Gold Bravery Medal of Greece Unit Citation and Honorable Service Lapel Button- World War II.

* Medal of Honor

Seeking to correct potential acts of bias spanning three wars, and following a Congressionally-mandated review to ensure that eligible veterans were not bypassed due to prejudice, the Medal of Honor will be awarded to 24 Army veterans. The unusual mass ceremony, scheduled for 18 March 2014, will honor veterans, most of Hispanic or Jewish heritage, who had already received the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second-highest military award for valor. Only three of the recipients are living.

The Army conducted the review under a directive from Congress in the 2002 National Defense Authorization Act. The law required that the record of each Jewish American and Hispanic American veteran who received a Distinguished Service Cross, during or after World War II, be reviewed for possible upgrade to the Medal of Honor.

The Army reviewed the cases of the 6,505 recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and found an eligible pool of 600 soldiers who may have been Jewish or Hispanic. The Army also worked with the National Museum of American Jewish Military History, the Jewish War Veterans of the USA and the American GI Forum, the largest Hispanic-American veterans group, to pinpoint potential medal recipients. Of the 24, seven fought in World War II, nine in the Korean War, and eight in the Vietnam War.

Since the award of the Medal of Honor is an upgrade to the Distinguished Service Cross already received by MSG Pena, it is based on the valorous actions in the Citation for his DSC.

Distinguished Service Cross Citation:

The President of the United States of America, under the provisions of the Act of Congress approved July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Master Sergeant Mike C. Pena (ASN: RA-18009659), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving with Company F, 2d Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment (Infantry), 1st Cavalry Division. Master Sergeant Pena distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces in the vicinity of Waegwan, Korea, on 4 September 1950. On that date, at approximately 2300 hours, an enemy battalion moved up to within a few yards of Master Sergeant Pena's platoon under cover of darkness and an obscuring mist. Observing the enemy, Sergeant Pena and his men immediately opened fire but the sudden, point-blank fire of the hostile forces made it necessary for the friendly troops to withdraw. Rapidly reorganizing his men, Sergeant Pena led them in a counterattack, regained the lost positions, and attempted to hold back the enemy. Despite the devastating fire laid down by the friendly troops, the enemy continued to hurl themselves at the defenses in overwhelming numbers. Realizing that a scarcity of ammunition would soon make the positions untenable, Sergeant Pena ordered his men to fall back, manning a machine-gun to cover their withdrawal. Single-handedly, he held back the enemy until the early hours of the following morning when his position was overrun and he was killed.


Master Sergeant Mike Castaneda Pena is buried at Cedarvale Bay City Cemetery in Bay City, Matagorda County, TX, in Section 8, Row 15.

Honoree ID: 219540   Created by: MHOH




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