On a July day in 1944, Capt. Benjamin Salomon, a dentist working as a medic in the U.S. Army, lost his life holding off enemy fire during a surprise attack on his base in Saipan. His sacrifice allowed more than 30 wounded soldiers to escape to safety, but went unrecognized in the military's records.
Fast-forward almost six decades, to Memorial Day 2002. It is the annual holiday program at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills Memorial Park and Salomon, who has no surviving family or friends, is finally being honored for his service to his country, thanks to a determined group of local veterans. The veterans, like Salomon, are USC Dental School alumni, some of whom had been petitioning for a medal for Salomon since the early 1960s (see accompanying story).