SAN BERNARDINO • The military community joined with college students in a reception to recognize seven Medal of Honor recipients at California State University, San Bernardino on Tuesday morning.
Fort Irwin Garrison Commander Col. Kurt Pinkerton, local Staff Sgt. Rafael Machuca and almost 600 people attended the event, according to CSUSB Veterans Success Center Assistant Joshua Jones.
The medal of honor is the country's highest military decoration and awarded to a member of the U.S. Armed Forces who distinguishes himself or herself through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty," according to the Medal of Honor Society website.
The award is generally presented to the recipient by the U.S. President in the name of Congress.
"It was amazing there were that many there," Machuca said. "It was my pleasure listening to those men talk."
Machuca said the message presented by the men centered on education, with the recipients encouraging the students to continue in college.
"The one thing I got was just to tell all young people, students especially, to focus on reaching their goals and don't quit," he said. "They said to look, listen and learn."
The Medal of Honor recipients recognized were: Harvey C. "Barney" Barnum Jr., U.S. Marines; Salvatore A. Giunta, U.S. Army; Robert J. Modrzejewski, U.S. Marines; Robert M. Patterson, U.S. Army; Ronald E. Ray, U.S. Army; James A. Taylor, U.S. Army; and Jay R. Vargas, U.S. Marines.
The event was part of the 6th Annual Stater Bros. Charities Dave Stockton Heroes Challenge Golf Tournament. Machuca was invited by the CSUSB Veterans Success Center and has earned two Purple Hearts for injuries he incurred while deployed in Afghanistan. In two separate incidents he was struck by shrapnel on the battlefield and shot in the head, resulting in the loss of his left eye in 2010.
"Having been wounded I would still say look, listen and learn," Machuca said.
Visit www.cmohs.org for more information on the Medal of Honor recipients.
Contact the writer: BSelf@DesertDispatch.com or (760) 256-4123.