b. 26/04/1923 San Marcos, Texas. d. 07/12/1990 San Antonio, Texas.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 09/02/1945 Paco Railroad Station, Manila, Philippines.
World War II Medal of Honor Recipient. He was issued the award on November 1, 1945 for his actions as a private in Company B, 148th Infantry, 37th Infantry Division, US Army, on February 9, 1945 in Manila, Philippine Islands, during World War II. Born in San Marcos, Texas, his parents died when he was nine years old and he was sent to San Antonio, Texas to live with relatives. In early 1944 he joined the US Army during World War II and was sent to the Pacific Theater of Operations. While assaulting a Japanese stronghold at the Paco Railroad Station in Manila, he and fellow soldier Private First Class John N. Reese, Jr., overcame tremendous odds and captured the position which enabled US forces to achieve victory. Both Rodriguez and Reese were awarded the Medal of Honor for their efforts. Discharged in 1945, he later served in the US Air Force from 1952 until 1954 and again in the US Army from 1955 until 1970. In addition to the Medal of Honor, he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star (with one oak leaf cluster), the Purple Heart, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (with two campaign stars), the World War II Victory Medal, and the Philippine Liberation Medal. He died in San Antonio, Texas at the age of 67.
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Technical Sergeant Cleto L. Rodriguez, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty on 9 February 1945, while serving with Company B, 148th Infantry Regiment, 37th Infantry Division. Technical Sergeant Rodriguez 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 two 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, Private Rodriguez boldly moved up to the building and threw five grenades through a doorway killing 7 Japanese, destroying a 20-mm gun and wrecking a heavy machinegun. With their ammunition running low, the two men started to return to the American lines, alternately providing covering fire for each other's withdrawal. During this movement, Private Rodriguez' companion was killed. In 2 1/2 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, Private Rodriguez again enabled his comrades to advance when he single-handedly killed six 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, Private Rodriguez, on two occasions, materially aided the advance of our troops in Manila.
BURIAL LOCATION: FORT SAM HOUSTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS.
Section AI Site 700
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