A plaque honoring U.S. Army Private and Medal of Honor recipient Joe Gandara was unveiled by The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) today at the Expo Line 26th St/Bergamot Station. Private Gandara grew up in the Pico neighborhood near the rail station and was fatally wounded during the World War II Allied invasion of Normandy in 1944.
Private Gandara’s heroism, valor and sacrifice in defense of freedom was recognized in 2014 when he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama after years of receiving little recognition.
Private Gandara enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and was deployed to Europe with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. On June 9, 1944, his detachment came under devastating enemy fire and was pinned down for four hours. Private Gandara voluntarily advanced alone toward the enemy position, destroying three machine guns before he was fatally wounded. Private Gandara also received other awards, including a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
“Today, Metro honors Private Gandara’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty,” said Metro Board Chair John Fasana. “His acts are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service.”
A motion to honor Private Gandara with a plaque was approved by the Metro Board of Directors in 2015. The plaque was installed at the west entrance to the station and was unveiled at the ceremony today that included Hannah Adams, great-niece of Private Gandara.
“As a retired 24-year active duty U.S. Army veteran, I’m familiar with the sacrifices military families have made on behalf of our nation,” said Metro CEO Phillip Washington. “The sacrifice made by Private Gandara and his family remind us that freedom is not free.”
The 26th St/Bergamot Station is one of seven new stations on the Expo Line extension to Santa Monica. The Expo Line includes 19 stations and runs between downtown Los Angeles and downtown Santa Monica, with trains running every six minutes between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays and every 12 minutes on weekends.
For information about the significance of the Valor 24 Medal of Honor and Valor 24 Medal of Honor recipient Private Joe Gandara, visit the following sites: