Lopez school receives Medal of Honor display

Medal of Honor

After more than a year of negotiations, the U.S. Department of the Army finally agreed to present Lopez Middle School with a replica of the Congressional Medal of Honor.  The display, which was presented during a special ceremony Wednesday, Dec. 17, is a symbol of remembrance for the bravery and courage of the school’s namesake and Medal of Honor recipient, Jose M. Lopez.
 
Lopez, who died at his daughter’s San Antonio home in 2005, was awarded the military’s highest decoration for valor in combat shortly after his heroic actions during World War II’s Battle of the Bulge.  According to the citation, the Medal of Honor was awarded to Lopez for the “seemingly suicidal missions in which he killed at least 100 of the enemy…allowing Company K to avoid being enveloped, to withdraw successfully and to give other forces coming up in support time to build a line which repelled the enemy drive.”
 
Past news reports describe Lopez’s heroic actions on Dec. 17, 1944 near Krinkelt, Belgium in which he single-handily fought off a German Tiger tank and hordes of foot soldiers from a shallow hole in order to protect his fellow troops.     
 

“This is a very important day for all of the Lopez community and this is a way we can proudly display the medal that our namesake so valiantly earned,” said Lopez Middle School principal Dr. Barry Lanford. “To date, there are only 99 living recipients and Lopez is honored to pay tribute to those men and women who have served and are currently serving our country.”
 
Lopez, an Army Master Sergeant, was born in Mexico and orphaned by the age of 8. A lightweight boxer, he enlisted in the Army during World War II and landed at Normandy a day after the June 6, 1944 invasion. Lopez also fought in the Korean War and retired from the military in 1973.  He died of cancer on May 16, 2005 at the age of 94.
 
Wednesday’s presentation was held within the middle school’s cafeteria and included student performances by Lopez Theater Arts, Band, Orchestra and Choir members, as well as an appearance by Reagan High School’s JROTC Color Guard.  The replica of Sgt. Lopez’s Congressional Medal of Honor will be permanently displayed in the main office of the campus for public viewing.   Lopez Middle School, located at 23103 Hardy Oak Blvd., first opened at the start of the 2007-08 school year.    
 
Just over 3,400 Medals of Honor have been awarded to the nation's bravest soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen since the decoration's creation in 1861.