SANTA MONICA—On Friday, November 4, Santa Monica celebrated the life and service of Medal of Honor recipient Private Joe Gandara with the dedication of the 26th St/Bergamot Expo Line station to him. Born in the Pico neighborhood of Santa Monica, the fallen World War II veteran enlisted in the Army at the age of 18 and was fatally wounded while serving in northern France at the age of 20.
Present at the dedication were government officials from Metro Los Angeles, Mayor Tony Vazquez, and relatives of Gandara. A plaque located at the 26th St/Bergamot station not only commemorates the “valor and gallantry of Private Joe Gandara,” but also celebrates all of Santa Monica’s “military heroes,” according to a post from the city’s Facebook Page.
Gandara was awarded the Medal of Honor on March 18, 2014. He received the Medal of Honor as part of the Defense Authorization Act which reviewed Jewish and Hispanic American Veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War to ensure “that no prejudice was shown to those deserving the Medal of Honor.”
According to Army.Mil, Gandara’s recognition comes from his heroic actions on June 9, 1944. On that day his “detachment came under devastating enemy fire from a strong German force, pinning the men to the ground for a period of four hours. Gandara advanced voluntarily and alone toward the enemy position and destroyed three hostile machine-guns before he was fatally wounded.”
In addition to being awarded the Medal of Honor, Gandara received a Bronze Star Medal, a Purple Heart, an Army Good Conduct Medal, an European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one Bronze Service Star and Bronze Arrowhead Device, a Presidential Unit Citation, a French Fourragere, a Combat Infantryman Badge and a Parachutist Badge-Basic with one Bronze Service Star.
To view photos from the dedication ceremony, visit https://www.facebook.com.