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First Name: Ysmael

Last Name: Villegas

Birthplace: Casa Blanca, CA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Riverside, CA
Middle Name: R.

Date of Birth: 21 March 1924

Date of Death: 20 March 1945

Rank: Staff Sergeant

Years Served: 1944 - 1945
Ysmael R. Villegas

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Ysmael R. Villegas

Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Staff Sergeant Ysmael R. Villegas (21 March 1924 - 20 March 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 during World War II.

Ysmael R. Villegas was a Mexican-American born on 21 March 1924 in Casa Blanca, the Hispanic section of Riverside, CA. There he received his primary and secondary education and joined the U.S. Army upon the outbreak of World War II. After he finished basic training, he was assigned to Company F, 127th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division, which was assigned to the invasion of the Philippines.

On 1 March 1945, Villegas' company found itself engaged in combat against Japanese forces at Villa Verde Trail on Luzon Island in the Philippines, in what is known as the Battle of Luzon. His squad was attacked by an enemy machine gun nest. Villegas took it upon himself to save his squad by destroying the nest and its occupants. For his actions he was awarded the Silver Star medal.

On 20 March 1945, Villegas was ordered to lead his squad in an advance which would result in the taking of a hill. They confronted an enemy which was entrenched and who attacked them with heavy machine gun and rifle fire. He led his men towards the crest of the hill and then upon his own initiative attacked five enemy foxholes, killing all of its occupants. Villegas was mortally wounded when he attacked the sixth foxhole. For his heroism he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company F, 127th Infantry, 32rd Infantry Division.

Place and date: Villa Verde Trail, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 20 March 1945.

Citation: He was a squad leader when his unit, in a forward position, clashed with an enemy strongly entrenched in connected caves and foxholes on commanding ground. He moved boldly from man to man, in the face of bursting grenades and demolition charges, through heavy machinegun and rifle fire, to bolster the spirit of his comrades. Inspired by his gallantry, his men pressed forward to the crest of the hill. Numerous enemy riflemen, refusing to flee, continued firing from their foxholes. S/Sgt. Villegas, with complete disregard for his own safety and the bullets which kicked up the dirt at his feet, charged an enemy position, and, firing at point-blank range killed the Japanese in a foxhole. He rushed a second foxhole while bullets missed him by inches, and killed 1 more of the enemy. In rapid succession he charged a third, a fourth, a fifth foxhole, each time destroying the enemy within. The fire against him increased in intensity, but he pressed onward to attack a sixth position. As he neared his goal, he was hit and killed by enemy fire. Through his heroism and indomitable fighting spirit, S/Sgt. Villegas, at the cost of his life, inspired his men to a determined attack in which they swept the enemy from the field.

On 19 October 1945, President Harry S. Truman presented the Medal of Honor to Villegas' family.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor

Silver Star Medal

Purple Heart

American Campaign Medal

Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal

World War II Victory Medal

Philippine Liberation Medal


The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) named Post #184 in Riverside the "Ysmael R. Villegas Memorial Casa Blanca Post" in his honor.

A statue by sculpture Gary Coutrer, called Villegas Memorial, was dedicated on 27 May 1995 and is located on Main Street Civic Center Courtyard in Riverside.

The Ysmael R. Villegas Middle School in Riverside is named in his honor.

Death and Burial

Staff Sergeant Ysmael R. Villegas was killed in action on 20 March 1945. He was buried with full military honors at the Riverside National Cemetery located in Riverside, CA, in Section 5, Grave 1178 (next to Grave 585).

Honoree ID: 1689   Created by: MHOH




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