Home / Trending / Commentary: Utah’s only Latino recipient of the Medal of Honor held off 200 Nazis — and died just months before the end of the war

Commentary: Utah’s only Latino recipient of the Medal of Honor held off 200 Nazis — and died just months before the end of the war

This Memorial Day, allow us to recall the sacrifice of Private First Class Jose F. Valdez. Let us commit it to memory no longer as a result of he’s one of only six Utahn Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, nor as a result of he stays Utah’s only Latino recipient. Let us commit it to memory as a result of, as Americans, we will have to.

On Jan. 25, 1945, Valdez was once phase of a patrol of six GIs on outpost responsibility in the neighborhood of Rosenkrantz, France. The GIs had been contributors of Company B, 7th Infantry, threerd Infantry Division. They had been about 500 yards past American strains.

Valdez had enlisted at a recruiting station in Pleasant Grove, Utah, in 1944, at the age of 19. Like the different males in the staff, he had observed the global alternate very much in his quick lifestyles.

Two many years of fascist rhetoric, fearmongering, xenophobia and the conflating of nationalism with patriotism had ended in a conflagration in Europe and Asia that had prolonged to America and engulfed the global.

On this chilly, snowy day, which was once to be one of his closing upon the Earth, Valdez was once 3 weeks previous his 20th birthday.

By all accounts he was once a succesful, dependable soldier — person who was once all the time there for his comrades. At a 2002 commemoration for Valdez, Abundio Castro, who served with Company B, described him as “a soldier you would want to be in your outfit.”

“He was the type of fellow to stay awake all night, guarding,” Castro stated. “That keeps up the morale of the rest of the troops in the front line [because] your life is at stake.”

Valdez and the different GIs complex towards a line of woods. As one of the squaddies recounted the tale later, a rabbit broke from the woods, then a deer. Then there emerged a German tank, about 75 yards away.

Of the six GIs, it was once the quiet, alert Valdez who engaged it, raking the tank with automated fireplace till it withdrew.

When 3 Nazi scouts approached stealthily via the woods, it was once once more Valdez who detected and engaged them. From a distance of about 30 yards the males exchanged murderous bursts of gunfire. Valdez killed all 3.

But now two infantry firms of Nazi squaddies had been zeroing in on the six GIs, focusing an intense barrage of automated and rifle fireplace at the patrol.

Crucially, the enemy looked to be pursuing an encircling motion. Valdez’s platoon chief ordered a withdrawal.

It was once Valdez who volunteered to offer overlaying fireplace for the retreat. He fired burst after burst as the patrol contributors dashed to protection. Although 3 had been wounded of their get away, all controlled to go back to American strains.

However, whilst offering this cap, Valdez was once hit. A bullet ripped via his stomach and exited his again, paralyzing him from the waist down.

Somehow Valdez summoned the energy to deal with center of attention, calling through box phone for mortar and artillery fireplace. Weakened through blood loss and combating to stay aware, he revised coordinates till American artillery shells had been brought to inside of 50 yards of him, halting the Nazi advance.

Valdez’s Medal of Honor quotation states that he held off 200 of the enemy for 15 mins, breaking apart the Nazi counterattack, before dragging himself again to American strains.

He died of his wounds 3 weeks later, only a couple of months before the end of the war in Europe.

At the 70th-anniversary observance of the demise of Valdez, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes stated, “My hope … is that through the example of people like PFC Valdez … we will continue to be the great light of this world that we have always been.”

In a time of violent rallies, of literal and metaphorical partitions, of torches and racist chants and the freshly spun perception that we aren’t a country of immigrants, allow us to recall that Jose F. Valdez laid down his younger and unlived lifestyles no longer just for his pals, however for the nice gentle of this global that Reyes spoke of.

This Memorial Day, recall the sacrifice of Private First Class Jose F. Valdez and all who died for democracy. Recall no longer just what they fought for, however what they fought in opposition to.

Because even the biggest of lighting fixtures can flicker out.

David M. Thomas is a former army historical past researcher for the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs and a profession editor and creator who lives in Monterey, Calif.

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