It's Veterans Day and there are many men and women to honor today.
I want to tell you about one: Manuel Pérez Jr.
He was a Private First Class in the U.S. Army, Company A 511th Parachute Infantry, 11th Airborne Division and served during World War II in the Philippines. He fought in the Battle for Luzon in 1945.
According to Pérez’s Medal of Honor citation:
“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. … 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. Pérez made possible the successful advance of his unit toward a valuable objective and provided a lasting inspiration for his comrades.”
Shortly after this battle, he was fatally shot by a sniper on March 14, 1945. He was 22.
Born in Oklahoma and raised in Chicago, Pérez attended Goodrich and Jackson Elementary Schools and Crane Technical High School on the West Side.
In Chicago, a school, a plaza and an American Legion post are all named for Pérez. The Illinois General Assembly honored him with a resolution in 1995.
The Manuel Pérez Jr. American Legion Post 1017 will hold a Veterans Day ceremony today at 10:30 a.m. at the Manuel Pérez Jr. Memorial Plaza, 26th Street and Kolin Avenue in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago.
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration and 43 Hispanics have received this honor since the Civil War. We remember their bravery on this Veteran's Day.