Manuel V. Mendoza
Manuel V. Mendoza
|Born||June 15, 1922|
|Died||December 12, 2001|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Army|
|Years of service||1942–1945|
|Unit||Company B, 350th Infantry, 88th Infantry Division|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Manuel Verdugo Mendoza (June 15, 1922 – December 12, 2001) was a United States Army master sergeant who distinguished himself in World War II fighting the Germans in Italy. Nearly 70 years later and 12 years after his death, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Mendoza, who was of Mexican American descent, joined the Army from Phoenix, Arizona in November 1942 and served in World War II, during which his actions in Italy earned him the Medal of Honor. He later served in the Korean War as a master sergeant and was wounded in battle. He was honorably discharged and left the Army in 1953.
Medal of Honor action and citation
Mendoza is credited with single-handedly breaking up a German counterattack on October 4, 1944, at Mt. Battaglia, Italy. He was originally awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery.
Nearly 70 years would pass before his heroism was properly recognized with the Medal of Honor. That belated recognition came through the Defense Authorization Act, which called for a review of Jewish American and Hispanic American veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War who had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to see if they had been denied the Medal of Honor by prejudice. Mendoza was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama in a March 18, 2014, ceremony in the White House. As Mendoza had died in 2001, his widow accepted his award.
His citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
Staff Sergeant Manuel V. Mendoza distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Platoon Sergeant with Company B, 350th Infantry, 88th Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy on Mt. Battaglia, Italy on October 4, 1944. That afternoon, the enemy launched a violent counterattack preceded by a heavy mortar barrage. Staff Sergeant Mendoza, already wounded in the arm and leg, grabbed a Thompson sub-machinegun and ran to the crest of the hill where he saw approximately 200 enemy troops charging up the slopes employing flame-throwers, machine pistols, rifles, and hand grenades. Staff Sergeant Mendoza immediately began to engage the enemy, firing five clips and killing ten enemy soldiers. After exhausting his ammunition, he picked up a carbine and emptied its magazine at the enemy. By this time, an enemy soldier with a flame-thrower had almost reached the crest, but was quickly eliminated as Staff Sergeant Mendoza drew his pistol and fired. Seeing that the enemy force continued to advance, Staff Sergeant Mendoza jumped into a machinegun emplacement that had just been abandoned and opened fire. Unable to engage the entire enemy force from his location, he picked up the machinegun and moved forward, firing from his hip and spraying a withering hail of bullets into the oncoming enemy, causing them to break into confusion. He then set the machinegun on the ground and continued to fire until the gun jammed. Without hesitating, Staff Sergeant Mendoza began throwing hand grenades at the enemy, causing them to flee. After the enemy had withdrawn, he advanced down the forward slope of the hill, retrieved numerous enemy weapons scattered about the area, captured a wounded enemy soldier, and returned to consolidate friendly positions with all available men. Staff Sergeant Mendoza's gallant stand resulted in thirty German soldiers killed and the successful defense of the hill. Staff Sergeant Mendoza's extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.
Honors and awards
Mendoza received the Medal of Honor, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with five Bronze Service Stars, Presidential Unit Citation with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Combat Infantryman Badge (Second Award), Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II, United Nations Service Medal, Republic of Korea Korean War Service Medal, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, Italian Cross for Merit of War Unit Citation.
Civilian life and death
Mendoza, who worked as a foreman at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generation Station until he retired because of ill health.
He died December 12, 2001 and is buried in Section B, Lot 50 in the Mountain View Funeral Home and Cemetery in Mesa, Arizona.
- List of Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients
- List of Medal of Honor recipients
- List of Medal of Honor recipients for World War II
- Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients
- Hispanic Americans in World War II
- Hall of Valor
- "Manuel Verdugo "Arizona Kid" Mendoza (1922-2001)". Retrieved June 13, 2016.
- "Master Sergeant Manuel V. Mendoza". Army.mil. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
- WWII Army Enlistment Records
- Service profile
- Chris Carroll (June 12, 2014). "'We have the chance to set the record straight'". Stars and Stripes.
- Daniel Rothberg (2014-02-21). "Obama will award Medal of Honor to 24 overlooked Army veterans". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-02-21.
- "Master Sergeant Manuel V. Mendoza: Medal of Honor Citation". www.army.mil. United States Army.
- Arizona Republic