Michael Casteneda Pena MOH

b. 06/11/1924 Newgulf, Texas. d. 05/09/1950 Waegwan, Korea.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 04/09/1950 Waegwan, Korea.

Michael C Pena MOH

Pena was born near Corpus Christi, Texas on November 6, 1924, into a Mexican American family. He joined the U. S. Army as an infantryman in 1941 when he was 16 years old. He served in both World War II and the Korean War. The bestowal of the Medal recognized Pena’s actions on the evening of Sept. 4, 1950, near Waegwan, Korea during the Battle of Tabu-dong, when his unit was fiercely attacked. During the course of the counter-attack, Pena realized that their ammunition was running out, and ordered his unit to retreat. Pena then manned a machine-gun to cover their withdrawal and single-handedly held back the enemy until morning when his position was overrun and he was killed. He was not awarded the Medal until 2014.

The award came through the Defense Authorization Act which called for a review of Jewish American and Hispanic American veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to ensure that no prejudice was shown to those deserving the Medal of Honor. His son Michael David Pena was presented the Medal of Honor in behalf of his father by President Barack Obama at the White House on March 18, 2014.



Master Sergeant Mike C. Pena distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a member of Company F, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Waegwan, Korea, on September 4, 1950. That evening, under cover of darkness and a dreary mist, an enemy battalion moved to within a few yards of Master Sergeant Pena’s platoon. Recognizing the enemy’s approach, Master Sergeant Pena and his men opened fire, but the enemy’s sudden emergence and accurate, point blank fire forced the friendly troops to withdraw. Master Sergeant Pena rapidly reorganized his men and led them in a counterattack which succeeded in regaining the positions they had just lost. He and his men quickly established a defensive perimeter and laid down devastating fire, but enemy troops continued to hurl themselves at the defenses in overwhelming numbers. Realizing that their scarce supply of ammunition would soon make their positions untenable, Master Sergeant Pena ordered his men to fall back and manned a machinegun to cover their withdrawal. He singlehandedly held back the enemy until the early hours of the following morning when his position was overrun and he was killed. Master Sergeant Pena’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.