Michael J. Crescenz is the only Philadelphian to receive the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War, but it was only in recent years that he has begun to receive widespread public recognition.

Crescenz, 19, a West Oak Lane native, died in 1968 charging North Vietnamese machine gun bunkers during an ambush that could have wiped out his squad if not for his gallantry.

On Monday, the House approved a Senate bill to rename the Philadelphia VA Medical Center after Crescenz. It awaits the signature of President Obama.

"Wow. Un-freaking-believable," said Crescenz's younger brother, Joseph, who is now 58 and lives in Chester County.

"To me, it's honoring all the Vietnam-era veterans," he said.

The sponsor of the House version of the bill, Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), said the recognition was "long overdue" for Crescenz, who was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously in 1970.

"This is a fitting tribute for a revered son of Philadelphia and a declaration that his legacy and story will continue to live on," Fattah said.

The legislation would rename the center on Woodland Avenue the "Cpl. Michael J. Crescenz Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center." The Senate passed the bill to rename the facility by unanimous consent last week.

"I realize this is a small gesture on our part, given the nature of his great actions," Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), who sponsored the Senate version, said after that chamber approved the measure.

Joseph Crescenz credited Frank Tacey, a Vietnam veteran from Philadelphia who now lives in Florida, with leading a four-year effort with fellow veterans to get the center renamed.

Michael Crescenz was recommended for the Medal of Honor by his battalion commander, Robert L. "Sam" Wetzel, now an 84-year-old retired lieutenant general living in Georgia.

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