An Albuquerque man and U.S. Marine who was killed in Iraq has been nominated for the Medal of Honor, the U.S. Military’s highest honor for bravery on the battlefield.
Chris Adlesperger was nominated after killing at least 11 enemy soldiers while recovering the body of a friend and fellow soldier, said his stepgrandmother, Lynda Adlesperger, who has known him since he was six years old.
“It makes you proud, but at the same time, it makes you sad,” she said today. “You don’t want to think of your grandson out there shooting all these people and killing all these people. . . . It’s just kind of one of those things.”
Adlesperger was killed in December 2004 while serving in Iraq in an incident separate from the one leading to his nomination. He was 20 years old.
“He was a very well-mannered, polite young man, and he cared about everybody, and he was very active in sports when he was in high school,” Lynda Adlesperger said. “He excelled at taekwondo.”
The last time a U.S. Marine received a Medal of Honor was for the Vietnam War, said Staff Sgt. Christina Delai with U.S. Marine Corps. Headquarters Public Affairs.
She said there is no timeline for giving the award to a nominee, but Chris Adlesperger’s grandmother, Wanda Adlesperger, said she was told the process takes about two years.
“Everything he did, he did perfectly,” Wanda Adlesperger said. “He was outstanding.”
Delai said a commanding officer from a soldier’s unit makes the initial nomination for any type of award. From there, it goes through any number of officials before an award is given, if at all.
According to the U.S. Military, the criteria for the Medal of Honor includes:
- A member of the Armed Services who displays bravery and life-risking actions above and beyond the call of duty while battling an enemy of the United States.
- Eyewitness statements verifying the actions leading to the award.
Lynda Adlesperger said the first time she met Chris, he came into her house and headed straight for the refrigerator.
“He opens up the refrigerator, says, `What have you got eat? I’m hungry!'” she said. “He was comfortable with everybody. He was never a standoffish person. He was an awesome, awesome kid, and young man.”