Pedro Rodríguez (soldier)
Master Sergeant Pedro Rodríguez
Earned two Silver Star Medals in one week
January 3, 1912|
Lajas, Puerto Rico
|Died||October 19, 1999
|Buried at||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1937–|
|Unit||65th Infantry Regiment|
|Battles/wars||World War II
|Awards|| Silver Star (2)
Rodríguez was born Lajas, Puerto Rico into a poor family. Rodríguez did not have a formal education. His father owned an ox cart and earned a living by delivering goods to the town's merchants. Rodríguez rose early in the morning to help his father. Together they went to the railroad station, where they loaded the goods onto their ox cart and then delivered them. When he was 14 years old, his father died and he had to take over the ox cart and the financial responsibility of his family. The economic situation became so bad that in 1937, when he was 25 years old, he joined the U.S. Army.
World War II
Rodríguez was assigned to the 65th Infantry, the all Puerto Rican Regiment and was stationed in Panama. When World War II broke out, the 65th Infantry was sent to North Africa. On September 1944, his company landed in Marseilles, France and marched north into Germany without any major incident.
After the war, the 65th Infantry was stationed in Puerto Rico. The 65th was deployed to Korea, upon the outbreak of the Korean War on August 26, 1950. By the time the "Borinqueneers", as the 65th was known, reached Korea, Rodríguez had been promoted to the rank of sergeant.
- First Silver Star
Sgt. Rodríguez was a member of Company F and on March 24, 1951, he led his unit to secure Hill 476. A camouflaged enemy machine gun opened fire on them and Sgt. Rodríguez led a squad with fixed bayonets on an assault on the area from which the gunfire came from. The enemy fled leaving their supplies behind. For his actions, Sgt. Rodríguez was awarded his first Silver Star Medal.
- 2nd Silver Star Medal
A week later on March 31, his company was attacking Hill 398, near Choksong-Myon, when they came under an enemy mortar barrage. The enemy pinned down and inflicted heavy casualties on the lead platoon. Sgt. Rodríguez was ordered to assist the stalled unit and led his platoon in an assault that routed the enemy. Sgt. Rodríguez was awarded a second Silver Star Medal.
Silver Star citations
Organization:HEADQUARTERS 3D INFANTRY DIVISION
G.O. # 196 – 17 June 1951
MASTER SERGEANT PEDRO RODRIGUEZ, RA6674697, Infantry, Company "F", 65th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division, United States Army. On 24 March 1951, near Kopi-Dong, Korea, Sergeant RODRIGUEZ, acting as platoon leader in the absence of a commissioned officer, was leading his unit to secure Hill 476, when the enemy opened fire from a well camouflaged machine gun nest. Although he did not know the exact location of the gun, Sergeant RODRIGUEZ ordered one squad to fix bayonets and assault the general area from which the fire was coming. After the enemy weapon fired again, Sergeant RODRIGUEZ charged the position, yelling and shooting his rifle demoralizing the enemy and causing him to flee in haste, taking his gun with him, but leaving ammunition and rations behind. The gallantry and extreme devotion to duty displayed by Sergeant RODRIGUEZ reflect great credit upon himself and the military service. Entered the military service from Puerto Rico.
Organization:HEADQUARTERS 3D INFANTRY DIVISION
G.O. # 261 – 8 July 1951
MASTER SERGEANT PEDRO RODRIGUEZ, RA6674697, Infantry, Company "F", 65th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division, United States Army. On 31 March 1951, near Choksong-myon, Korea, Company "F" was attacking Hill 398, defended by a firmly entrenched enemy supported by mortars. At some distance from the top of the hill, the lead platoon was halted by intense machine gun fire and fragmentation grenades, suffering several casualties. When Sergeant RODRIGUEZ received the order to move his platoon to assist the stalled unit, he ran forward and led his troops in a furious assault, causing the enemy to retreat hastily, thereby relieving the besieged lead platoon. Continuing his charge, Sergeant Rodriguez pursued the fleeing enemy and covered by friendly machine gun fire, he personally searched the area to rout any enemy troops which might have been left behind. The aggressive leadership and personal gallantry exhibited by Sergeant Rodriguez reflect the highest credit upon himself and the military service. Entered the military service from Puerto Rico.
Sgt. Rodríguez retired from the Army with the rank of Master Sergeant and went to work as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Puerto Rico. In 1979, Rodríguez went to live at the Soldier's and Airmen's Retirement Home in Washington, D.C. He suffered a stroke and lost his left leg in 1997.
Master Sergeant Pedro Rodríguez died on October 19, 1999, at the age of 88, from a heart attack. He was buried with full military honors at the Arlington National Cemetery. He was married to Asuncion Toro with whom he had five children.
Military awards and decorations
Among Rodríguez's decorations were the following:
The Bravery Gold Medal of Greece was given by the Government of Greece to the 65th Infantry Regiment and to the members of the regiment who fought in the Korean War.
- Chryssoun Aristion Andrias (Bravery Gold Medal of Greece)
Congressional Gold Medal
|You can see a video of President Barack Obama awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Borinqueneers on YouTube|
On June 10, 2014, President Barack Obama, signed the legislation known as "The Borinqueneers CGM Bill" at an official ceremony. The Bill honors the 65th Infantry Regiment with the Congressional Gold Medal.
- "Puertorriquenos Who Served With Guts, Glory, and Honor. Fighting to Defend a Nation Not Completely Their Own"; by : Greg Boudonck; ISBN 1497421837; ISBN 978-1497421837
- List of Puerto Ricans
- List of Puerto Rican military personnel
- 65th Infantry Regiment
- Puerto Ricans in World War II
- Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal
- Puerto Rico Herald
- Korean War Double Hero Reflects on Life
- Puerto Rico's 65th Infantry
- Rodríguez's 1st Silver Star medal citation
- Rodríguez's 2nd Silver Star medal citation
- Arlington National Cemetery
- Obama honors Puerto Rican Infantry Regiment with Congressional Gold Medal, Washington Post, June 10, 2014.
- Dan Friedman, "Puerto Rico's Borinqueneers recognized with Congressional Gold Medal," New York Daily News, June 11, 2014.
- Obama awards Borinqueneers Congressional Medal of Honor, NBC News, June 10, 2014.
- Richard Payerchin, "President Obama to honor Army's Puerto Rican regiment the Borinqueneers," The Morning Journal, June 9, 2014.