|The following was posted in the Tampa Tribune and was passed to us by Cam Bosworth of the Alumni Association|
Medal Of Honor Winner Honored (Lopez ’48)
25Sep09 - SEMINOLE HEIGHTS - U.S. Marine Lt. Baldomero Lopez is seen in an iconic Korean War photograph leading his troops over a seawall at the Battle of Inchon, moments before his death.
The 25-year-old Hillsborough High School graduate was killed Sept. 15, 1950. A year later he posthumously received the Medal of Honor for bravery. He had smothered a live grenade and saved the lives of nearby troops.
"He was an absolute leader," said his 86-year-old, brother Manuel Lopez. "He had never been in combat before. Nothing ever stopped him."
At 10 a.m. Tuesday a memorial will be held at Hillsborough High, 5000 Central Ave., sponsored by the Korean War Veterans Association, the school's alumni association and its R.O.T.C. A display case with memorabilia and a video will be on display in the school's lobby. Among those invited to attend are Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, Murdoch Ford of the Korean War Veterans Association and retired Lt. Col. John R. Stevens, Lopez's commanding officer at Inchon. The school's band and orchestra will perform.
Lopez, a class of 1943 graduate, had been the regimental commander of Hillsborough High's R.O.T.C.
But as a young man, Lopez was told he wasn't military material - too scrawny. That only fueled his determination, Manuel Lopez said.
He read up on bodybuilder Charles Atlas, who marketed a program to make "97-pound weaklings" into strong men.
"For two years he did that at home. He got himself built up and qualified for the physical requirements of Annapolis," said his brother.
He reached his goal and was selected, not appointed, as a U.S. Naval Academy cadet, said his brother. He went through three years of accelerated military training in the midst of World War II and graduated in 1947 as a Marine second lieutenant.
His first assignment was in China on a patrol boat in the Yangtze River. Stateside later, he found himself at Camp Pendleton in California.
With the outbreak of the Korean War, Lopez volunteered to be assigned to a Marine unit headed into harm's way on Korean beaches at the Battle of Inchon.
"He felt he was a Marine, and Marines are trained to fight. He wanted to be a part of it," his brother said.
He is buried at the Centro Asturiano Cemetery on Ola Avenue.
The memorial at Hillsborough High is the latest of many honors bestowed posthumously on Lopez, including a namesake state nursing home, a military resupply ship and a Seffner school bearing his name. A room in a Naval Academy dormitory is dedicated to him.
In 2007 the Korean War Veterans Association, Baldomero Lopez Chapter 175, raised $13,000 for a monument at the Ed Radice Sports Complex. Additional money was raised for similar memorials at Hillsborough and at Baldomero Lopez Elementary School.
Lopez's nephew, J. Michael Lopez, remembers the picture in his grandmother's living room of his uncle in Navy whites. He has his uncle's Medal of Honor in his den.
Baldomero - "Baldy" to family and friends - grew up in Ybor City.
"My dad and my grandfather always used him as an example to inspire me and my brother," the nephew said. "It's almost like you can't disappoint anybody."
Manuel Lopez remembers his younger brother as an average student with high Bs or low As. He had a paper route and loved baseball.
"He batted cross-handed which would break most people's hands," Manuel Lopez said. "But he punched the ball out."
He was a quiet unassuming person. "He didn't brag or carry on," Manuel Lopez said. "I think he would be embarrassed by all these honors. I just wish he were here."
Donations to the Lt. Baldomero Lopez Memorial Fund can be made to the Korean War Veterans Assoc., 819 Sydney Washer Rd., Dover, Florida 33527.