New MCA&F Award Honors Lieutenant Baldomero Lopez

For many years, The Marine Corps Association & Foundation (MCA&F) has provided the honor graduate of each Basic School company with an award to recognize their excellent performance in a demanding course. The association wanted to name an award after a...

The amphibious landing of the U.S. Marines on September 15, 1950, at Inchon, on the west coast of Korea, was one of the most audacious and spectacularly successful amphibious landings in all naval history.”

~Bernard Brodie

Author of The Absolute Weapon: Atomic Power and World Order and Known as "the American Clausewitz.

For many years, The Marine Corps Association & Foundation (MCA&F) has provided the honor graduate of each Basic School company with an award to recognize their excellent performance in a demanding course. The association wanted to name an award after a Lieutenant who epitomized the courage and leadership expected of all Lieutenants. This upgraded award is now The Lieutenant Baldomero Lopez Honor Graduate Award, which is presented to the Marine of each graduating company from the Basic School who demonstrates the highest potential for future leadership and responsibility in the Marine Corps.


1stLt Lopez leading his Men over the seawall in Inchon, South Korea

On 15 September 1950, Rifle Platoon Commander of A Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced), First Lieutenant Baldomero “Punchy” Lopez honorably gave his life for his country.  1stLt Lopez took part in the amphibious invasion of Inchon, and was killed in action (KIA) at Inchon, South Korea.  After landing with the assault waves, he was captured in an iconic photograph leading his men over the seawall. Moments later, while preparing to throw a hand grenade into a North Korean bunker, 1stLt Lopez was struck by automatic weapon fire in the chest and right shoulder, causing him to drop the activated device. Although wounded, in critical condition, and unable to grasp the hand grenade, 1stLt Lopez chose to sacrifice himself rather than endanger the lives of his men. He cradled the grenade under him and absorbed the full impact of the explosion. 1stLt Lopez posthumously received the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. He risked his life and went above and beyond the call of duty, in action against enemy aggressor forces. 


Sculptor, Mark Byrd with his work of art, the Lt Baldomero Lopez Honor Graduate Award

Sculptor, Mark Byrd, a Marine Corps veteran and renowned artist, brought this iconic photograph to life. He shows his appreciation and gratitude for all Marines through his art.

 “I find beauty in all life, even on the battlefield - no, especially on the battlefield - in men and women willing to lay down their lives for the life and freedom of others!  I now strive to capture that essential beauty in my art!

~Mark Austin Byrd

MCA&F provides over 10,000 awards annually, recognizing the professional achievements of Marines and sailors serving with Marines. You can support the MCA&F Marine Excellence Awards Program simply by joining MCA&F. Membership dues and retail purchases at The MARINE Shop provide funding to MCA&F programs that directly support Marines. As a member, you will have access to our flagship magazines, Marine Corps Gazette and Leatherneck, to stay informed on issues affecting Marines as well as unfolding Marine Corps history. Members receive other benefits including discounts with name brand affinity partners and member value pricing at MCA&F retail locations.