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Puerto Rico Profile: Carlos James Lozada

October 22, 1999
Copyright © 1999 THE PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

This article is the third in a series of four profiles on Puerto Ricans who have been recognized by the most distinguished award offered to military service personnel by the United States government.

"I would rather have that medal than be president of the United States."
-President Harry S. Truman

Throughout the years, the Medal of Honor, for extraordinary bravery in battle, has become increasingly more difficult to earn and the esteem given its recipients has dramatically increased. President Harry S. Truman said, "I would rather have that medal than be president of the United States," and General George S. Patton said, "I'd give my soul for that decoration."

Carlos James Lozada, born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, was awarded that decoration. He is remembered for his bravery while serving as private first class during the battle of Dak To, Vietnam, in 1967.

In order to receive the honor, petitioners must supplement Defense Department records with eyewitness accounts. Claims cannot be submitted by the intended recipient, and recommendations have to be made within one year of the performance of the act.

The act that merited Carlos James Lozada the Medal of Honor began at 2:00 p.m., on November 20, 1967, along a well defined path in Dak To, Vietnam. Lozada was serving as part of a 4-man early warning outpost, located 35 meters from his company's lines. Lozada was the first to see the North Vietnamese army company approaching the outpost. He alerted his comrades and then open fired on the enemy who had advanced to within 10 meters of the outpost.

His "heavy and accurate" machinegun fire completely disrupted their initial attack. He killed 20 North Vietnamese soldiers while remaining in an exposed position. He ignored his comrade's pleas for him to withdraw and fired on the enemy as they continued their brutal assault. The enemy's intent was to cut the Americans off from their battalion. Company A was given the order to withdraw, but Lozada was unwilling to abandon his position because there would be nothing to hold back the enemy and the entire company would have been jeopardized.

He shouted for his fellow soldiers to retreat and planned to stay and provide cover for them. He was already hemmed in on three sides and any delay in the soldiers' withdrawal at that point would have been a death sentence.

It wasn't until he was mortally wounded that he ceased his continuous delivery of heavy suppressive fire against the enemy and he had to be carried during the withdrawal. He was an example and an inspiration to his comrades throughout the ensuing 4-day battle.

Lozada died Monday, November 20, 1967, leaving behind his wife. He is listed as having died in hostile circumstances in Kontum Province, Vietnam.

Carlos James Lozada was 21 years old.