Manuel V. Mendoza

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Manuel V. Mendoza
Born(1922-06-15)June 15, 1922
Miami, Arizona, US
DiedDecember 12, 2001(2001-12-12) (aged 79)
Mesa, Arizona, US
Mountain View Funeral Home and Cemetery, Mesa, Arizona
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branchUnited States Department of the Army Seal.svg United States Army
Years of service1942–1945
RankMaster sergeant
UnitCompany B, 350th Infantry, 88th Infantry Division
Battles/warsWorld War II
Korean War

Manuel Verdugo Mendoza[1] (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.[2]

Military service[edit]

Mendoza, who was of Mexican American descent, joined the Army from Phoenix, Arizona, in November 1942[3] 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.[4]

Medal of Honor action and citation[edit]

Mendoza is credited with single-handedly breaking up a German counterattack on October 4, 1944, at Mt. Battaglia, Italy.[2] He was originally awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery.[5]

Mendoza's wife Alice accepted the Medal of Honor on his behalf during a White House ceremony.

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.[6] 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:

A light blue neck ribbon with a gold star shaped medallion hanging from it. The ribbon is similar in shape to a bowtie with 13 white stars in the center of the ribbon.

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.[7]

Honors and awards[edit]

Mendoza awards include:[2][8]

Bronze oak leaf cluster
American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg
Bronze star
Bronze star
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg
Silver star
Bronze star
Ruban de la croix de guerre 1939-1945.PNG
Croce di guerra al merito BAR.svg United Nations Service Medal Korea ribbon.svg Republic of Korea War Service Medal ribbon.svg
Markesman Weapons Qual Badge.png
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Korean Presidential Unit Citation.png
Badge Combat Infantryman Badge with Star (denoting 2nd award)
1sr row Medal of Honor
2nd row Bronze Star Purple Heart w/ 1 Oak leaf cluster Army Good Conduct Medal, 2 awards
3rd row American Campaign Medal European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal w/ 2 Service stars World War II Victory Medal
4th row National Defense Service Medal Korean Service Medal w/ 1 silver and 1 bronze Service star French Croix de Guerre
5th row War Merit Cross (Italy) United Nations Korea Medal Korean War Service Medal
Badge Marksmanship badge with rifle, bayonet, and pistol component bars
Unit awards Army Presidential Unit Citation w/ 1 Oak leaf cluster Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation

Civilian life and death[edit]

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 the Mountain View Funeral Home and Cemetery in Mesa, Arizona.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hall of Valor". Archived from the original on 2014-04-19. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  2. ^ a b c "Master Sergeant Manuel V. Mendoza". Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  3. ^ WWII Army Enlistment Records
  4. ^ Service profile
  5. ^ Chris Carroll (June 12, 2014). "We have the chance to set the record straight". Stars and Stripes.
  6. ^ Daniel Rothberg (2014-02-21). "Obama will award Medal of Honor to 24 overlooked Army veterans". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-02-21.
  7. ^ "Master Sergeant Manuel V. Mendoza: Medal of Honor Citation". United States Army.
  8. ^ "Mendoza, Manuel Verdugo". Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  9. ^ Arizona Republic
  10. ^ Austin Daily Herald