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First Name: Manuel

Last Name: Perez

Birthplace: Oklahoma City, OK, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Chicago, IL

Date of Birth: 03 March 1923

Date of Death: 13 February 1945

Rank: Private First Class

Years Served: 1943-1945
Manuel Perez, Jr.

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Manuel Perez, Jr.

Private First Class, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Private First Class Manuel Perez, Jr. (3 March 1923 - 13 February 1945) was a U.S. Army soldier who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions in the Battle of Luzon during the Philippines campaign of World War II.

Manuel Perez, Jr. was a Mexican-American born on 3 March 1923 in Oklahoma City, OK. There he received his primary and secondary education. He moved to Chicago, IL, where he worked before joining the U.S. Army upon the outbreak of World War II. After his basic training, the Army sent him to paratrooper school.

Japanese forces had invaded the Philippine islands and had under its control all of the U.S. Military Installations including Fort William McKinley which was located just south of Manila the capital. Fort William McKinley was where USAFFE (United States Army Forces - Far East) had its headquarters for the Philippine Department and the Philippine Division. The bulk of the Philippine Division was stationed here and this was where, under the National Defense Act of 1935, specialized artillery training was conducted.

In 1945, Perez was sent to the Philippines and assigned to Company A, 511th Parachute Infantry, 11th Airborne Division whose mission was to take Fort William McKinley. On 13 February as the 11th Airborne Division approached the fort, it encountered a strong enemy fortified sector. The sector was composed of cement pillboxes armed with .50-caliber dual-purpose machine guns which defended the entrance to the fort.

Upon the realization that the pillboxes (blockhouses) were withholding the advance of his division, Perez took it upon himself to charge the fortifications and blast them away with grenades. He killed 18 of the enemy before he was mortally wounded. Due to his actions his unit was able to advance successfully. For his heroism, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company A, 511th Parachute Infantry, 11th Airborne Division.

Place and date: Fort William McKinley, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 13 February 1945.

Citation: He was lead scout for Company A, which had destroyed 11 of 12 pillboxes in a strongly fortified sector defending the approach to enemy-held Fort William McKinley on Luzon, Philippine Islands. In the reduction of these pillboxes, he killed 5 Japanese in the open and blasted others in pillboxes with grenades. Realizing the urgent need for taking the last emplacement, which contained 2 twin-mount .50-caliber dual-purpose machineguns, he took a circuitous route to within 20 yards of the position, killing 4 of the enemy in his advance. He threw a grenade into the pillbox, and, as the crew started withdrawing through a tunnel just to the rear of the emplacement, shot and killed 4 before exhausting his clip. He had reloaded and killed 4 more when an escaping Japanese threw his rifle with fixed bayonet at him. In warding off this thrust, his own rifle was knocked to the ground. Seizing the Jap rifle, he continued firing, killing 2 more of the enemy. He rushed the remaining Japanese, killed 3 of them with the butt of the rifle and entered the pillbox, where he bayoneted the 1 surviving hostile soldier. Single-handedly, he killed 18 of the enemy in neutralizing the position that had held up the advance of his entire company. Through his courageous determination and heroic disregard of grave danger, Pfc. Perez made possible the successful advance of his unit toward a valuable objective and provided a lasting inspiration for his comrades.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor

Purple Heart

American Campaign Medal

Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal

World War II Victory Medal

Parachutist Badge


The State of Illinois honored the memory of Perez by naming a plaza located in Chicago's Little Village Square, and a school, after him.

The Department of the Army re-named the reserve center at the 221st Unit Army Hospital in Oklahoma City as the Manuel Perez Jr Reserve Center.

Death and Burial

Private First Class Manuel Perez, Jr. was killed in action on 13 February 1945. Perez was buried with full military honors at Fairlawn Cemetery in Oklahoma City, OK.

Honoree ID: 1593   Created by: MHOH




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