USNS 1st Lt. Baldomero Lopez (T-AK-3010) proudly bears the name of U.S. Marine First Lieutenant Baldomero Lopez, who received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroic actions during the Korean War in 1950.
Lopez was born on 23 August 1925 in Tampa, Florida. He attended Hillsborough High School, where he was an accomplished basketball player and a regimental commander in the school’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on 8 July 1943, shortly after graduating from high school, and served enlisted until 11 July 1944. After his discharge, he was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in the midst of World War II, and under the accelerated three-year program, was commissioned on 6 June 1947 as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. In 1948, Lopez was sent to China, where he served as a mortar section commander and later as a rifle platoon commander. Upon his return from China, he was assigned to Camp Pendleton, California. Shortly after the outbreak of the Korean War, Lopez volunteered for duty in Korea as an infantry officer. He was promoted to first lieutenant 16 June 1950.
On 15 September 1950, during the invasion of Inchon, Lopez was the rifle group commander of Company A, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced). His platoon was engaged in the reduction of immediate enemy beach defenses during the assault waves. Exposing himself to enemy fire, Lopez moved forward alongside an enemy bunker whose fire was pinning down that sector of the beach. As he lifted to throw a grenade, he was hit by enemy automatic weapon fire in the right shoulder and chest, causing him to fall down dropping the grenade. Lopez dragged himself in an effort to retrieve the grenade and throw it forward, but due to loss of blood, was unable to grasp it firmly enough to throw it. In a moment of exceptional courage, Lopez decided to sacrifice himself rather than endanger the lives of his men. With a sweeping motion of his wounded right arm, he cradled the grenade under him absorbing the full impact of the explosion.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Lopez received the Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze star, China Service Medal, and the Korean Service Medal with two bronze stars. Several structures have been named in his honor to include a nursing home and an elementary school in Seffner, Florida; a state Korean War memorial at the Ed Radice Sports Complex in Tampa; and a public swimming pool also in Tampa.
Military Sealift Command. "Lopez given hero’s welcome.” Retrieved 24 February 2020.
U.S. Naval Academy Memorial Hall. https://usnamemorialhall.org/index.php/BALDOMERO_LOPEZ,_1LT,_USMC Retrieved 24 February 2020.
USNS 1st Lt. Baldomero Lopez (T-AK-3010)
- The first ship to bear his name.
- Built by General Dynamics Quincy Shipbuilding Division, Quincy, Massachusetts.
- Acquired by the Navy under a long-term charter: 20 November 1985.
- Purchased by MSC and redesignated USNS 1st Lt. Baldomero (T-AK-3010): 17 January 2006.