Two brothers from Augusta who served in the United States Army have received recognition, one of which is known by many, while the other was known only to a few.
The 35th U.S. Infantry Division Hall of Fame is designed to recognize individuals who have had or have a service connection with the 35th Division at any time, beginning in 1917 with the initial activation of the 35th Infantry Division. Descendants of the late Frank Gonzales witnessed his posthumous induction into the division’s Hall of Fame this past weekend in Kansas City.
Gonzales was a standout example of a Hall of Fame selection. For his heroic actions, Gonzales earned the Silver Star Medal, which is the United States military's third-highest personal decoration for valor in combat. The Silver Star Medal is awarded primarily to members of the United States Armed Forces for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States.
Gonzales, who is the first Hispanic American to be inducted into the 35th division’s Hall of Fame, was killed in action while serving in WWII. He was a 2nd Lt. who died August of 1944.
Frank’s brother Sus Gonzales earned a completely different type of medal. Robert Hoskins, a nephew in Gonzales’ family line, attended the Hall of Fame ceremony with Aunt Esther. She is the last remaining sibling of eight kids that included Frank and his brother Sus.
Sus was a part of Operation Market Garden, which involved a large parachute drop in Holland. Sus got lost during that, though, but he later connected with a group from Great Britain. While he was with them, he came across a conflict during which he shot down two dozen German soldiers.
For his actions, Sus eventually received the Distinguised Conduct Medal. This decoration was instituted by Queen Victoria on Dec. 4, 1854, during the Crimean War, as a means of recognition for acts of gallantry in action performed by Warrant-officers, non-commissioned officers and men.
The decoration was recommended by the Commander-in- Chief and the D.C.M. was the second highest award for gallantry in action, after only the Victoria Cross, for all ranks below commissioned officers. It’s the equivalent of the United States’ Distinguished Cross.
Sus was wounded during combat Jan. 24, 1945. He died from those wounds six days later on Jan. 30.
Both Sus and Frank are buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Augusta. Their other siblings, along with Esther, included Margaret, Beatriz (who also served in the armed forces), Guadalupe, Rosie and Robert, who recently died in Arizona.