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First Name: Daniel

Last Name: Fernandez

Birthplace: Albuquerque, NM, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Albuquerque, NM
Middle Name: D.

Date of Birth: 30 June 1944

Date of Death: 18 February 1966

Rank: Specialist 4

Years Served: 1962 - 1966
Daniel D. Fernandez

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Daniel D. Fernandez
Specialist Four, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
Vietnam War

Specialist Four Daniel D. Fernandez was a U.S. Army soldier in the Vietnam War who received the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor. Fernandez was awarded the medal for his actions in Hau Nghia Province, Republic of Vietnam, in February 1966. He threw himself on a live grenade, thereby sacrificing his life to save the lives of the soldiers around him.

Daniel D. Fernandez was born on 30 June 1944, in Albuquerque, NM, and grew up in nearby Los Lunas. He had two younger brothers, Peter and James.

Fernandez joined the U.S. Army from Albuquerque and in 1966 was on his second tour of duty in Vietnam. During that deployment, he was a Specialist Four in Company C, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment (Mechanized), 25th Infantry Division. On 18 February 1966, in Củ Chi, Hậu Nghĩa Province, his 16-man patrol was ambushed by a Viet Cong rifle company and forced to fall back. Fernandez and two others volunteered to follow a sergeant back to the ambush site and rescue a wounded soldier who had been left behind. After reaching the injured man, the sergeant was shot in the knee and Fernandez took over command of the patrol. All five men were pinned down by heavy fire when a rifle grenade landed in their midst. In the scramble to get away from the device, Fernandez accidentally kicked it closer to the rest of the group. He then shouted "move out," jumped over the immobile sergeant, and threw himself on the grenade. He was killed in the resulting explosion, but saved the lives of his fellow soldiers.

For this action, Fernandez was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in November 1966. He was the first of nine Mexican Americans to receive the medal in Vietnam.

Medal of Honor

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp4. Fernandez demonstrated indomitable courage when the patrol was ambushed by a Viet Cong rifle company and driven back by the intense enemy automatic weapons fire before it could evacuate an American soldier who had been wounded in the Viet Cong attack. Sp4. Fernandez, a sergeant and 2 other volunteers immediately fought their way through devastating fire and exploding grenades to reach the fallen soldier. Upon reaching their fallen comrade the sergeant was struck in the knee by machine gun fire and immobilized. Sp4. Fernandez took charge, rallied the left flank of his patrol and began to assist in the recovery of the wounded sergeant. While first aid was being administered to the wounded man, a sudden increase in the accuracy and intensity of enemy fire forced the volunteer group to take cover. As they did, an enemy grenade landed in the midst of the group, although some men did not see it. Realizing there was no time for the wounded sergeant or the other men to protect themselves from the grenade blast, Sp4. Fernandez vaulted over the wounded sergeant and threw himself on the grenade as it exploded, saving the lives of his 4 comrades at the sacrifice of his life. Sp4. Fernandez' profound concern for his fellow soldiers, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Daniel D. Fernandez's name is inscribed on Panel 05E, Row 046.


In Fernandez's hometown of Los Lunas, a number of structures have been named in his honor. In March 1966, the newly-opened Los Lunas Junior High School was renamed Daniel Fernandez Junior High School. It has since been reorganized as Daniel Fernandez Intermediate School. A park and recreation facility, Daniel Fernandez Memorial Park, was dedicated in 1972. The local Veterans of Foreign Wars post bears his name, as does a road, Fernandez Street.

Students at Daniel Fernandez Intermediate School wrote a biography of him, titled Man of Honor: The Story of Daniel Fernandez, which was published in 2009 by Author House Publishing.

Death and Burial

Specialist Four Daniel D. Fernandez was killed in action on 18 February 1966. A Requiem Mass was held for Fernandez at Los Lunas High School prior to his burial at Santa Fe National Cemetery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in Section S, Grave 246.

Honoree ID: 942   Created by: MHOH




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