Rank Insignia Previous Honoree ID Next Honoree ID

honoree image
First Name: Cleto

Last Name: Rodriguez

Birthplace: San Marcos, TX, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: L.

Date of Birth: 26 April 1923

Date of Death: 07 December 1990

Rank: Master Sergeant

Years Served:
Cleto L. Rodriguez


Cleto L. Rodriguez

Master Sergeant, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Master Sergeant Cleto L. Rodriguez (26 April 1923 - 7 December 1990) was a U.S. Army soldier who also briefly served in the U.S. Air Force (1952-54). For his actions in Manila, the Philippine Islands, during World War II he received the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor.

Cleto L. Rodriguez was born on 26 April 1923 in San Marcos, TX, and lived there until his parents died when he was nine years old. After the death of his parents he was sent to live with relatives in San Antonio, TX. As a boy he worked for the Gunter Hotel as a newsboy. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in early 1944, where he served as a Private in Company B, 148th Infantry, 37th Infantry Division.

In Manila on 9 February 1945, Cleto's platoon was ordered to initiate an offensive assault against the Paco Railroad Station that was being held by the Japanese. While crossing an open field in front of the railroad station, his platoon was stopped 100 yards from the station by intense Japanese gunfire. Without being ordered to do so, Cleto and a fellow soldier, Private First Class John N. Reese, Jr., left the platoon and continued forward under heavy Japanese gunfire until they made it to a house 60 yards from the railroad station. The two soldiers remained in their position for an hour while firing at targets of opportunity, killing 35 Japanese soldiers and wounding many others. After an hour the 2 soldiers moved forward towards the railroad station where they discovered a group of Japanese replacements attempting to reach pillboxes. Cleto and his fellow soldier opened heavy fire and killed more than 40 Japanese soldiers and stopped any other attempts to reach the pillboxes. The enemy fire increased as the two soldiers came within 20 yards of the railroad station. Cleto's comrade provided cover fire while he moved up to the railroad station where he threw 5 grenades through a doorway killing 7 Japanese soldiers and destroying a 20-mm gun and wrecking a heavy machine gun. With their ammunition running low the 2 soldiers made their way back to their platoon while each took turns providing cover fire for the other to move. During the return back to their platoon PFC Reese was killed. During the 2½ hours of fighting the two soldiers killed more than 82 Japanese soldiers and completely disorganized the defense of the railroad station which paved the way for U.S. soldiers overwhelming the railroad station in victory. Two days later Cleto again enabled his platoon to advance when he single-handedly killed 6 Japanese soldiers and destroyed a well- placed 20-mm gun. As a result of these actions, both Rodriguez and Reese were presented with the Medal of Honor (Reese's was awarded posthumously) for their determination to destroy the enemy and courage in the face of tremendous odds.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant (then Private), U.S. Army, Company B, 148th Infantry, 37th Infantry Division.

Place and date: Paco Railroad Station, Manila, Philippine Islands, 9 February 1945.

Citation: He was an automatic rifleman when his unit attacked the strongly defended Paco Railroad Station during the battle for Manila, Philippine Islands. While making a frontal assault across an open field, his platoon was halted 100 yards from the station by intense enemy fire. On his own initiative, he left the platoon, accompanied by a comrade, and continued forward to a house 60 yards from the objective. Although under constant enemy observation, the 2 men remained in this position for an hour, firing at targets of opportunity, killing more than 35 hostile soldiers and wounding many more. Moving closer to the station and discovering a group of Japanese replacements attempting to reach pillboxes, they opened heavy fire, killed more than 40 and stopped all subsequent attempts to man the emplacements. Enemy fire became more intense as they advanced to within 20 yards of the station. Then, covered by his companion, Pvt. Rodriguez boldly moved up to the building and threw 5 grenades through a doorway killing 7 Japanese, destroying a 20-mm. gun and wrecking a heavy machinegun. With their ammunition running low, the 2 men started to return to the American lines, alternately providing covering fire for each other's withdrawal. During this movement, Pvt. Rodriguez' companion was killed. In 2 l/2 hours of fierce fighting the intrepid team killed more than 82 Japanese, completely disorganized their defense, and paved the way for the subsequent overwhelming defeat of the enemy at this strongpoint. Two days later, Pvt. Rodriguez again enabled his comrades to advance when he single-handedly killed 6 Japanese and destroyed a well-placed 20-mm. gun by his outstanding skill with his weapons, gallant determination to destroy the enemy, and heroic courage in the face of tremendous odds, Pvt. Rodriguez, on 2 occasions, materially aided the advance of our troops in Manila.

Rodriguez and his wife, Flora, had 3 kids: Betty, Joe, and Mary.

Rodriguez served in the U.S. Air Force from 1952 to 1954, and he again served in the U.S. Army from 1955 to 1970. He retired with the rank of Master Sergeant.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor

Silver Star Medal

Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster (2 Awards)

Purple Heart

Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 2 Bronze Service Stars

World War II Victory Medal

Philippine Liberation Medal


In 1975, the elementary school that Rodriguez attended during the 1930s in San Antonio was re-named to Rodriguez Elementary in his honor, becoming the only school in the San Antonio school district to be named in honor of a former alumnus.

An 8.5 mile stretch of Texas highway 90, from I-410 to I-35, has been named in his honor.

A small arms firing range at Ohio National Guard Training Site, Camp Perry, OH, has been named in honor of Private Rodriguez. Camp Perry is the home of the National Rifle and Pistol Championships.

Death and Burial

Master Sergeant Cleto L. Rodriguez died on 7 December 1990 in San Antonio, TX. He is buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, TX, in Section AI, Grave 700.

Honoree ID: 1619   Created by: MHOH




Honoree Photos

honoree imagehonoree imagehonoree image

honoree imagehonoree image

honoree image