October 23, 2012

Macario Garcia

Macario García, recipient of the Medal of Honor during World War II, was born on January 2, 1920, in Villa de Castaño, Mexico, to Luciano and Josefa García, farm workers who raised ten children. In 1923 the family moved to Texas; they eventually settled in Sugar Land. Like the rest of his brothers and sisters, he contributed to the family's support by picking crops. He was working on the Paul Schumann Ranch near Sugar Land when he was drafted into the army on November 11, 1942. García distinguished himself on the battlefield. He was wounded in action at Normandy in June 1944, but after his recovery he rejoined his unit, Company B, First Battalion, Twenty-second Infantry Regiment, Fourth Infantry Division.

On November 27, 1944, near Grosshau, Germany, he singlehandedly assaulted two German machine-gun emplacements that were blocking his company's advance. Wounded in the shoulder and foot, he crawled forward alone towards the machine-gun nests, killed six enemy soldiers, captured four, and destroyed the nests with grenades. Only after the company had secured its position did García allow himself to be evacuated for medical treatment. He was awarded the Medal of Honor with twenty-seven other soldiers at a White House ceremony on August 23, 1945, by President Harry S. Truman. García also received the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the Combat Infantryman's Badge, as well as the medal of Mérito Militar, the Mexican equivalent to the Medal of Honor, during a ceremony in Mexico City on January 8, 1946. After three years of active service, one of which was overseas, García received an honorable discharge from the army with the rank of sergeant. He returned to Sugar Land and found that he had become a celebrity around the state. Newspapers published accounts of his heroism, and he was asked to appear at meetings and banquets. The League of United Latin American Citizens Council No. 60 in Houston, presided over by president Fernando Salas Aldaz and vice president John J. Herrera, honored him at a special ceremony at the courthouse.

In September 1945, shortly after his return to Texas, García again attracted media attention when he was denied service at a restaurant in Richmond, a few miles south of Houston, because he was Hispanic. Outraged that he was treated like a second-class citizen after having risked his life for his country, García fought with the owner until police were called in. He was arrested and charged in the incident. His case immediately became a cause célèbre, symbolizing not only the plight of Hispanic soldiers who returned from the war, but the plight of the Hispanic community as a whole. Numerous groups and private citizens rallied to his aid. LULAC Council No. 60 and the Comité Patriótico Mexicano sponsored benefits in his honor to raise money to pay for his defense. Garcia’s legal defense was headed first by John J. Herrera and later, James V. Allred. During 1945-46, the case was repeatedly postponed, until all charges were finally dropped.

On June 25, 1947, García became an American citizen. He earned a high school diploma in 1951, and married Alicia Reyes on May 18, 1952. They raised three children. Like other GIs who returned from the war, García encountered many difficulties in finding employment. He eventually found a job as a counselor in the Veterans' Administration, and remained with the VA for the next twenty-five years. In 1970 García and his family moved to Alief. He died on December 24, 1972, in a car crash and was buried in the National Cemetery in Houston. At the graveside ceremonies an honor guard from Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio performed the military rites. In 1981 the Houston City Council officially changed the name of Sixty-ninth Street to Macario García Drive. This 1½ mile thoroughfare runs through the heart of the city's east-side Mexican-American community. In 1983 Vice President George Bush dedicated Houston's new Macario García Army Reserve Center, and in 1994 a Sugar Land middle school was named in García's honor.

Citation
While an acting squad leader of Company B, 22d Infantry, on 27 November 1944, near Grosshau, Germany, he single-handedly assaulted 2 enemy machinegun emplacements. Attacking prepared positions on a wooded hill, which could be approached only through meager cover, his company was pinned down by intense machinegun fire and subjected to a concentrated artillery and mortar barrage. Although painfully wounded, he refused to be evacuated and on his own initiative crawled forward alone until he reached a position near an enemy emplacement. Hurling grenades, he boldly assaulted the position, destroyed the gun, and with his rifle killed 3 of the enemy who attempted to escape. When he rejoined his company, a second machinegun opened fire and again the intrepid soldier went forward, utterly disregarding his own safety. He stormed the position and destroyed the gun, killed 3 more Germans, and captured 4 prisoners. He fought on with his unit until the objective was taken and only then did he permit himself to be removed for medical care. S/Sgt. (then private) Garcia's conspicuous heroism, his inspiring, courageous conduct, and his complete disregard for his personal safety wiped out 2 enemy emplacements and enabled his company to advance and secure its objective.
 
GPS Coordinates
29° 55.858, -095° 27.066

Section Ha
Houston National Cemetery
Houston

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