b. 03/03/1923 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. d. 14/03/1945 Luzon, Philippines.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 13/02/1945 Luzon, Philippines.
Pérez was a Mexican-American born in Oklahoma City. As a young boy, he moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he was raised by his father, Manuel Pérez Sr., and his paternal grandmother. There he received his primary and secondary education. He worked for Best Foods, Inc. before joining the United States 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, Pérez 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 February 13, 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 machineguns which defended the entrance to the fort.
Upon the realization that the pillboxes (Blockhouses) were withholding the advance of his division, Pérez took it upon himself to charge the fortifications and blast them away with grenades. He killed 18 of the enemy while helping to neutralize the position. Due to his actions his unit was able to advance successfully. A month later, Private Perez, while on the road to Santo Tomas in Southern Luzon was killed by sniper.
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.
BURIAL LOCATION: FAIRLAWN CEMETERY, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA.
Catholic Section, Block 12, Lot 4
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