Bill would rename VA hospital for Philadelphia's only Medal of Honor recipient from the Vietnam War

Michael J. Crescenz was killed in action in 1968.
Michael J. Crescenz was killed in action in 1968.
Posted: February 06, 2013

Joseph Crescenz called it "humbling."

Pennsylvania's two U.S. senators, Pat Toomey and Bob Casey, introduced a bill Monday to have the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center renamed after Michael J. Crescenz, the city's only Medal of Honor recipient from the Vietnam War.

Joseph Crescenz was 12 when his brother Michael, 19, was killed while single-handedly taking out enemy machine-gun bunkers on Nov. 20, 1968, in South Vietnam.

U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) also introduced a bill Monday to change the facility's name to the Cpl. Michael J. Crescenz Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

"It's still a little surreal that it's happening," said Joseph Crescenz, now 56 and living in East Fallowfield Township.

The effort began in late 2010 when Frank Tacey, a Vietnam veteran from Philadelphia, asked Crescenz whether he would support a campaign to rename the medical center for his brother. Crescenz agreed.

"I think his story should be told," said Tacey, 65, who lives in Florida.

Michael Crescenz's unit was ambushed by machine-gun fire that killed two point men and pinned down the lead squad.

Crescenz, who had shipped out just two months earlier, grabbed a machine gun and charged 100 meters by himself up a slope into enemy fire and wiped out three machine-gun bunkers.

He was five meters from a fourth bunker when he was mortally wounded.

Crescenz, who graduated from Cardinal Dougherty High School in 1966, was engaged to his high school sweetheart when he died.

President Richard M. Nixon presented Crescenz's Medal of Honor to his family at the White House on April 7, 1970.

Crescenz was buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Cheltenham until 2008, when he was reinterred in Arlington National Cemetery.


Contact Robert Moran at 215-854-5983 or bmoran@phillynews.com, or follow @RobertMoran215 on Twitter.

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