Jun 28 , 2022
Battle of the Bulge: Sergeant Jose Lopez Takes a Heroic Stand: Acknowledged with Medal of Honor Jose Mendoza Lopez, born in Santiago Atitlán, Mexico, was orphaned at 8 years old. Jose then went to live with relatives in Brownsville Texas where he developed an interest in boxing. As a young man Jose traveled the world as a competitive boxer. In 1934 while competing in Melbourne Australia, Jose joined the Merchant Marines and spent the next 5 years traveling the world once more.
According to the National World War II Museum: "In 1942, Lopez had returned to Brownsville, Texas, and married his girlfriend, Emilia Herrera. The couple had little time together before Lopez was drafted into the US Army. Lopez was stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas for a short time before he was transferred to Camp Roberts in California for basic training, and was eventually assigned to M Company, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. The 2nd shipped out to the United Kingdom, where they trained in preparation for the Normandy invasion.
The Division landed on June 7, and Lopez was wounded that day. He refused evacuation. The 2nd Division fought in the breakout in Normandy and through to Belgium, where it was located on December 16, when German forces broke through the Allied lines in the Ardennes." During the Battle of the Bulge on December 17, 1944 Sergeant Lopez took a heroic one man stand against an advancing enemy near the town of Krinkelt, Belgium. For this action Jose was acknowledged with the medal of honor.
⭐ Sergeant Jose Lopez's Medal of Honor Citation reads as follows: "Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, 23d Infantry, 2d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Krinkelt, Belgium, 17 December 1944. "On his own initiative, he carried his heavy machinegun from Company K's right flank to its left, in order to protect that flank which was in danger of being overrun by advancing enemy infantry supported by tanks. Occupying a shallow hole offering no protection above his waist, he cut down a group of 10 Germans. Ignoring enemy fire from an advancing tank, he held his position and cut down 25 more enemy infantry attempting to turn his flank. Glancing to his right, he saw a large number of infantry swarming in from the front. Although dazed and shaken from enemy artillery fire which had crashed into the ground only a few yards away, he realized that his position soon would be outflanked.
Again, alone, he carried his machinegun to a position to the right rear of the sector; enemy tanks and infantry were forcing a withdrawal. Blown over backward by the concussion of enemy fire, he immediately reset his gun and continued his fire. Single handed he held off the German horde until he was satisfied his company had effected its retirement. Again he loaded his gun on his back and in a hail of small arms fire he ran to a point where a few of his comrades were attempting to set up another defense against the onrushing enemy. He fired from this position until his ammunition was exhausted.
Still carrying his gun, he fell back with his small group to Krinkelt." "Sergeant Lopez's gallantry and intrepidity, on seemingly suicidal missions in which he eliminated at least 100 of the enemy, were almost solely responsible for allowing Company K to avoid being enveloped, to withdraw successfully and to give other forces coming up in support time to build a line which repelled the enemy drive." - US Army Center for Military History Jose Lopez was awarded the Medal of Honor by Major General James Van Fleet in a ceremony on June 18, 1945 in Nuremberg, Germany. "Jose returned to a Hero's welcome in New York where Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia greeted him. During a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Lopez was awarded Mexico’s highest military award, la Condecoración del Mérito Militar.
Lopez credited his return home to his beloved Virgin of Guadalupe, the Patron Saint of Mexico, to whom he had prayed for protection throughout the war. Struggling to find decent work in Texas, Lopez reenlisted in the US Army in 1949. He retired from the Army in 1973 with the rank of Master Sergeant." (National World War II Museum) Master Sergeant Lopez and his family relocated to San Antonio Texas where he worked at the Veterans Administration. The José M. López Middle School in San Antonio Texas is named in his honor in addition to a bronze statue which stands in the Brownsville Texas Veterans Park. Master Sergeant Jose Mendoza Lopez passed away on May 16, 2005 at the age of 94. He lies in rest at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas. Lest We Forget.