US & Canada

US Medal of Honor for 24 veterans after prejudice review

A US Army officer holds a medal case before President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Honor posthumously to the nephew of US Army Chaplain (Captain) Emil Kapaun, for heroism during the Korean War while in the East Room of the White House, 11 April 2013 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Medal of Honor is awarded to military members who have shown "gallantry above and beyond the call of duty"

US President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor to 24 veterans who were potentially overlooked because of discrimination.

Veterans of Hispanic and Jewish heritage are among the recipients. All 24 were previously given the Distinguished Service Cross.

Only three of the recipients are still alive, all of whom served in Vietnam.

The awards, to be held at a White House ceremony on 18 March, follow a 12-year Pentagon review.

The Medal of Honor must usually be given within three years of the action described in the citation.

But a 2002 law mandated a review for Jewish-American and Hispanic-American soldiers who might not have received the honour because of bias.

The law was later amended after the review found other soldiers whose actions merited the medal.

The three-year time limit has been waived in recent years for Emil Kapaun, an Army chaplain and Catholic priest who saved the lives of fellow US soldiers before perishing in a North Korean prison camp in 1951.

And the widow of Specialist Leslie Sabo was given the honour by Mr Obama in 2012, four decades after his original recommendation was lost.

Mr Obama will also award the Medal of Honor posthumously to five Vietnam veterans, nine Korean war veterans and seven World War Two veterans, said a White House press release.

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