Rep. Charlie Rangel, a raspy-voiced 18-term legislator from New York City, has long been a leader among House Democrats. But long before his first election to Congress, Rangel demonstrated his leadership skills as a soldier in the Army’s 503rd Field Artillery Battalion 2nd Infantry Division during the Korean War.
Caught up in the Battle of Kunu-Ri in what is now North Korea, Rangel led 40 members of his decimated unit to safety from behind enemy lines. He would be awarded a Purple Heart for injuries suffered in the campaign and a Bronze Star for the valor needed to escape near death.
Rangel returned to the Korean peninsula in 2000 as a leader of the U.S. delegation sent to mark the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the war.