SAN DIEGO -- On Saturday, the city of San Diego dedicated a monument and park in Linda Vista to a local war hero.
In February of 1970, during the Vietnam War, Army Specialist Fourth Class John Baca and his team were about to engage the enemy when a grenade landed in front of them. Baca threw his helmet and body on top of the explosive, saving eight of his fellow soldiers.
Baca sustained serious injuries to his torso and legs in the blast but survived.
"I remember saying, 'Jesus, forgive me for everything I've ever done.' I put my helmet on it. It was like slow motion falling on it," Baca said. "Another Lieutenant next to me was trying to keep me awake. I said, 'I want to go to sleep and the angels are going to take me to heaven and my mom when she finds out I got myself into a situation, she's going to be really upset and I'm going to break her heart,'" Baca said.
Forty-two years later, the Medal of Honor recipient watched as the park near the home in which he grew up was named after him.
"It's deep. It's hard to put into words to express what everybody has done, how they got all this together," Baca said.
Baca says although it was a proud moment, he can't help but think of the others who weren't as lucky as he was to return home.
"Some of the people say, 'John, we know you got your medal in your pocket. Take it out and wear it for us.' So I wear it for the other people, especially parents whose sons didn't come back."