WASHINGTON -- President Obama will award the nation's highest military honor to 24 mainly Hispanic and Jewish soldiers in conflicts going back to World War II in a congressionally mandated initiative to overcome past discrimination.
One of the recipients, Sgt. Candelario Garcia, was born in Corsicana, Texas, near Fort Worth.
A second honoree, Pfc. Leonard M. Kravitz, has ties to Hollywood, Fla. Sen. Bob Nelson, Rep. Ted Deutch and former Rep. Robert Wexler, all Florida Democrats, pushed for recognition of Kravitz, who died while protecting members of his platoon against a Chinese attack during the Korean War.
"The heroic actions of Pfc. Kravitz clearly merit the highest honor the nation can bestow," Nelson said.
The honoree was the uncle of singer and songwriter Lenny Kravitz, who is of African-American and Jewish descent.
Among more than 3,400 Medals of Honor awarded since 1861, only 17 have gone to Jews, according to Sy Brody of Delray Beach, Fla., author of "Jewish Heroes of America."
Garcia destroyed two enemy machine-gun positions after his unit had taken casualties and helped lead an assault on other enemy forces during the Vietnam War.
Abraham H. Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League, hailed the decision to honor heroic solders from the past.
"In this instance, justice was delayed but not denied," Foxman said.
The 2002 National Defense Authorization Act required the Pentagon to conduct a review of personnel records from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
In a separate Medal of Honor controversy, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Friday that an Iraq war hero would not receive the medal despite the urging of lawmakers and veterans groups.
Backers of Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta say he died in the Second Battle of Fallujah after pulling a live grenade under his body to shield members of his unit from the blast.
Peralta received the Navy Cross, the second-highest honor a Marine can receive, in September 2008.
The 24 soldiers named Friday by the White House had previously received the Distinguished Service Cross.