Ysmael R. Villegas

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Ysmael Roger Villegas
Ysmael Villegas.jpg  Army Medal of Honor.jpg
Staff Sergeant Ysmael Roger Villegas, Medal of Honor recipient
Born (1924-03-21)March 21, 1924
Casa Blanca, California
Died March 20, 1945(1945-03-20) (aged 20)
Luzon, Philippines
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1944 - 1945
Rank Staff Sergeant
Unit Company F, 127th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War II
*Battle of Luzon
Awards Medal of Honor
Silver Star
Purple Heart

Staff Sergeant Ysmael Roger Villegas (March 21, 1924 in Casa Blanca, California – March 20, 1945 in Luzon, Philippines), was a United States Army soldier who posthumously received the Medal of Honor - the United States' highest military decoration for his actions during World War II. On March 20, 1945, at age 20, Staff Sergeant Ysmael R. Villegas was killed in action during the Battle of Luzon in the Philippines. Villegas single-handedly cleared five enemy foxholes that had his squad pinned down.

Early years[edit]

Villegas was a Mexican-American born and raised in Casa Blanca, the Hispanic section of Riverside, California. There he received his primary and secondary education and joined the United States Army in July 1944.[1] After he finished his basic training, he was assigned to Company F, 127th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division which was assigned to the invasion of the Philippines.

World War II[edit]

On March 1, 1945, Villegas' company found itself engaged in combat against Japanese forces at Villa Verde Trail on Luzon Island in the Philippines, in what is known as the Battle of Luzon. His squad was attacked by an enemy machinegun nest. Villegas took it upon himself to save his squad by destroying the nest and its occupants. For his actions he was awarded the Silver Star medal.[2]

On March 20, 1945, Villegas was ordered to lead his squad in an advance which would result in the taking of a hill. They confronted an enemy which was entrenched and who attacked them with heavy machinegun and rifle fire. He led his men towards the crest of the hill and then upon his own initiative attacked five enemy foxholes, killing all of its occupants. Villegas was mortally wounded when he attacked the sixth foxhole.

On October 19, 1945, President Harry S. Truman, posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to Villegas, presenting the medal to his surviving family.

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

He was a squad leader when his unit, in a forward position, clashed with an enemy strongly entrenched in connected caves and foxholes on commanding ground. He moved boldly from man to man, in the face of bursting grenades and demolition charges, through heavy machinegun and rifle fire, to bolster the spirit of his comrades. Inspired by his gallantry, his men pressed forward to the crest of the hill. Numerous enemy riflemen, refusing to flee, continued firing from their foxholes. S/Sgt. Villegas, with complete disregard for his own safety and the bullets which kicked up the dirt at his feet, charged an enemy position, and, firing at point-blank range killed the Japanese in a foxhole. He rushed a second foxhole while bullets missed him by inches, and killed 1 more of the enemy. In rapid succession he charged a third, a fourth, a fifth foxhole, each time destroying the enemy within. The fire against him increased in intensity, but he pressed onward to attack a sixth position. As he neared his goal, he was hit and killed by enemy fire. Through his heroism and indomitable fighting spirit, S/Sgt. Villegas, at the cost of his life, inspired his men to a determined attack in which they swept the enemy from the field.[3]

Honors[edit]

Villegas was buried with full military honors at the Riverside National Cemetery located in Riverside, California. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) named Post #184 in Riverside the "Ysmael R. Villegas Memorial Casa Blanca Post" in his honor. A statue by sculpture Gary Coutrer, called Villegas Memorial, was dedicated on May 27, 1995, and is located on Main Street Civic Center Courtyard in Riverside. The Ysmael R. Villegas Middle School in Riverside is named in his honor.[4]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Among Staff Sergeant Ysmael R. Villegas' decorations and medals were the following:

A light blue ribbon with five white five pointed stars
Medal of Honor
Silver Star Purple Heart American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal Philippine Liberation Medal

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]