TAMPA (WFLA) – Baldomero López grew up in Ybor City. He went on to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy in a shortened program because of the ongoing Korean War.
After graduation, Lt. Lopez served in the Marine Corps and then went into combat in Korea.
One moment was captured by a photographer that has become one of the most iconic moments in Marine Corps history.
The photo shows Lt. Lopez, with an M-1 in his hand leading his men over a sea wall during the Incheon landing in Korea in 1950. Lopez was later hit by automatic weapons fire as he prepared to throw a hand grenade.
The grenade fell to the ground and Lopez who was severely wounded rolled on top of the grenade to save the lives of Marines around him. Lopez was killed, but was presented the Medal of Honor after his death for his bravery in combat.
A group of active-duty Marines came to the Centro Asturiano Cemetery in Tampa on Thursday to spruce up his grave.
“It’s important to the Marines and Marine Corps forces, Central Command because he is part of our legacy,” said Major General Paul Rock Jr. who was part of the clean-up effort. General Rock is the commander of MARCENT at U.S. Central Command.
General Rock says he and the other Marines at the cemetery are well aware of the photo of Lt. Lopez.
“Hard to find a photo that better exemplifies the sort of follow me spirit of leadership that Lt. Lopez exemplified,” said General Rock.
For him, remembering the actions of those like Lopez is part of what being a Marine is all about.
“I think I, and all the Marines who came out today are honored to be a part of the organization that has heros such as Lt. Lopez,” said Rock.
Many of the Marines who came to the cemetery are very young, but they say the example of Lt. Lopez is one they can follow.
“Knowing about the people that did their heroic things in the past, that when we’re in stressful situations, it really sets a standard for us,” said Lance Corporal Ashley Beckers.
The Marines also did work around the rest of the cemetery, caring for the graves of other veterans.
“As Marines, we will always take care of our own and that doesn’t just mean Marines now, here that we are serving with here in Tampa, that means Marines that have served before. We will always will come back and honor them and remember what Marines in the past have done,” said Corporal Tyler Lewis.