EDWARD "BABE" GOMEZ
Class of 1950
Inducted in 2024
Edward "Babe" was inducted into the SHSAA Hall of Fame in 2024.
Edward “Babe” Gomez was the third child of 13 born to Modesto and Matiana Gomez. Babe attended South High and was one quarter shy of graduating with his class in 1950. Although Babe did not officially graduate from South, he is, without a doubt, one of our most decorated students. During his high school years, he played football and competed in track. Babe was sent to a reform school in Kearney, NE after getting into some trouble. Once there, he became involved with boxing and, also decided he wanted to join the Marines. He signed his enlistment papers and 3-year contract a day after his 17th birthday. Beings that he was only 17, his parents also had to sign.
Standing only 5 foot 2 ½ inches, and weighing in at 121 lbs., he was small in stature, but a scrapper, never backing down from a challenge. He was a golden gloves feather-weight fighter for the Marine Reserves. He traveled to Chicago in 1950 to compete. He was called up to active duty in October 1950, four months after the Korean War broke out. He sailed to Korea on the Aiken Victory with a machine gun unit assigned to Easy Company and Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment as a Private First Class.
Babe was injured on June 25, 1951, and received his first Purple Heart. After being patched up, he was sent back into action. Before he left on his next assignment, (known as the Battle of the Punchbowl, Korea) he wrote his mother saying that he might be killed. His final day was September 14, 1951.
On that day, Babe and his troop were assigned to take Hill 749. As a machine gun supplier, he was charged with looking for a place for the machine gun to be placed to defend and protect his troop. A grenade was thrown by the enemy. He picked it up and threw it back. They were under heavy fire and couldn’t get a good spot to counter all the bullets raining down on them. Again, he tried to locate a good place for his squad so they could drive forward and seize their objective. Sadly, another grenade landed, and this time, Babe grasped it to himself, shouting warnings to those around him. The grenade exploded, killing Babe. His brave act allowed his fellow marines to advance and take Hill 749.
Babe was the first Hispanic to receive the Medal of Honor along with a purple heart with a Gold Star (in lieu of a second Purple Heart), the National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with three bronze stars, Presidential Unit Citation awarded to the 1st Marine Division for service in Korea for the period of April 21-26, May 16-30 and Sept 11-25, 1951, Good Conduct Medal for service from Oct 19, 1950 to Sept. 14, 1951, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation awarded to the 1st Marine Division for the period of October 26, 1950 to July 27, 1953. The United Nations Medal and a Rifle Marksman Badge.
In his final letter home, Babe wrote, “I’m writing this on the possibility that I may die in this next assault. You will hear about it before getting this letter and I hope you don’t take it too hard…I am not sorry I died, because I died fighting for my country and that’s the number one thing in everyone’s life, to keep his home and country from being won over by such things as communism. I am proud to have done the little that I have done…be proud of me, Mom, because even though I’m scared now, I know what I’m doing is worth it. Tell Dad I died like the man he wanted me to be. I hope this doesn’t break your heart – I love you. The kids, remind them of me once in a while and never forget, kids, fight only for what you believe in – that’s what I’m fighting for. All my undying love, Babe.”
Upon his mother’s insistence, Babe Gomez was brought home to South Omaha, where his funeral mass was held at Guadalupe Church. He is buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery. Upon his mother’s insistence, Babe Gomez was brought home to South Omaha, where his funeral mass was held at Guadalupe Church. He is buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery. Named in his honor, the Edward “Babe” Gomez Elementary School, located in the neighborhood where Babe grew up, opened in 2004. Babe also has an avenue named after him in South Omaha, situated near the Metro Community College South Campus and the Livestock Exchange Building.
Babe also has an avenue named after him in South Omaha, situated near the Metro Community College South Campus and the Livestock Exchange Building.