Honorable Immigrants: World War II

I recently wrote and published a post about immigrants from World War I who served in the United States military and were awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor. You can read it here.

It really moves me that a person who was born in another country would give so much loyalty to the United States, but they did.

In today’s post, I am going to share the immigrants who fought in World War II and were given the Medal of Honor.

World War II Medal of Honor Immigrants

Chief Watertender Peter Tomich: United States Navy (1893-1941)

He was born in what is now Herzegovina and was Austria-Hungary. Peter, whose Croatian name was Petar Herceg Tonić, was aboard the USS Utah when it was docked at Pearl Harbor. When the first torpedo hit, Peter volunteered to work the boilers below deck so the other sailors could escape. He gave his life doing so.

Captain Jose Calugas: United States Army (1907-1998)

Jose was born in the Philippines. It was also in the Philippines that Jose performed the act that attained him the Medal of Honor.

When Jose was 23 years old, he joined the Philippine Scouts of the U.S. Army. When World War II broke out, Jose was the mess sergeant at Bataan. Jose noticed 1 gun not firing so he sprinted to it. Discovering the soldiers had been killed, he grabbed volunteers and held the Japanese forces back while other soldiers dug in.

The Commander said he was going to recommend him for the Medal of Honor, but just hours later, the Army had to surrender. Jose was a part of the Bataan death march. But after his release as a POW, he did receive the Medal of Honor.

Private Nicolas Minue: United States Army (1905-1943)

Born in Poland and immigrating to the United States, Nicolas joined the U.S. Army in New Jersey in 1927. When World War II started, Nicolas held the rank of Sergeant. Wanting to serve in combat, Nicolas willingly gave up his rank of Sergeant and was demoted to Private so he could be deployed to Northern Africa.

It was fighting the Germans in Tunisia when Nicolas charged with his bayonet killing many of the enemy before being fatally shot.

2nd Lieutenant Robert Craig: United States Army (1919-1943)

Born in Scotland, Robert’s parents emigrated to Toledo, Ohio. Robert joined the Army in 1941 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. During the invasion of Sicily, Robert, and his soldiers destroyed 1 gun nest and as they worked their way down, they were under heavy enemy fire. Robert told his men to take cover. While they did, he drew the fire and losing his life. But Robert’s troops carried on with their mission.

Tech 5 Eric Gibson: United States Army (1919-1944)

Eric was born in Sweden. He came to Chicago, Illinois and joined the United States Army. While in Italy, Eric was put in command of a squad. Eric led from the front and several times he attacked German positions. While charging another German outpost, Eric was killed. For this action, Eric was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Staff Sergeant Archibald Mathies: United States Army Air Forces (1918-1944)

Born in Scotland, Archibald’s parents emigrated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1940, Archibald enlisted in the U.S. Army. Archibald found himself attached to an Army Air Force Bombardment Squadron. He was deported to England as an Engineer/Gunner.

It was Archibald’s 2nd combat mission. He was the gunner on a bomber that was to drop its load on Leipzig, Germany. In the process, the pilot was shot and the assistant pilot was killed. Mathies and a navigator flew the plane back to England. The crew parachuted out and Mathies and the navigator were ordered to jump too. Mathies wouldn’t do so since the pilot was still alive. He and the navigator attempted to land the plane but crashed killing all on board.

Because of his selfless sacrifice, Archibald was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Staff Sergeant Marcario García: United States Army (1920-1972)

Marcario was born in Mexico and his family traveled to the U.S. seeking a better life. When World War II started, Marcario joined the Army immediately. In 1944, Marcario was a squad leader of a platoon and they were at combat with Germans near Grosshau, Germany. With his troops pinned down, Marcario snuck through on his own and destroyed 2 German posts and captured 4 Germans. This allowed his platoon the ability to complete their mission.

Private Pedro Cano: United States Army (1920-1952)

Born in Mexico, at 2 months old Pedro was carried by his parents to Texas. At a young age, Pedro worked as a farm laborer. Leaving his wife and children was hard, but Pedro knew that he should join the Army during World War II. He was deployed to the European Theater.

Pedro showed extreme courage while battling in the Hurtgen Forest. On his own initiative while his platoon was pinned down, he crawled forward and destroyed enemy placements with his bazooka and his rifle. He also did a similar thing the next day and was severely hurt to which he was sent home disabled. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions.

Sergeant Charles Andrew MacGillivary: United States Army (1917-2000)

Charles was born in Canada, and a member of the Merchant Marines at 16 years old. In time, Charles left Canada to be with his brother in Boston, Massachusetts. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Charles felt led to join the Army, so he did.

Charles was one who landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. He was involved in many battles all throughout France, but it was during the Battle of the Bulge that Charles earned the Medal of Honor. His unit was surrounded and Charles picked up a machine gun and destroyed several enemy gun placements. He also killed over 30 German soldiers. During this, he looked down and his left arm was gone.

President Harry Truman awarded Charles with the Medal of Honor for his actions.

Staff Sergeant Isadore Siegfried Jachman: United States Army (1922-1945)

Isadore was born in Germany, but his family emigrated to the United States when he was just 2 years old. This was good since Isadore was Jewish. They settled in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1942, Isadore joined the Army.

Isadore’s unit was pinned down in Belgium by 2 German tanks, mortars and small arms. Using his own life, he dashed out in the open, grabbed a bazooka from a fallen comrade and drew the tank fire. He destroyed 1 tank and forced the other to retreat. He lost his life in the process, but saved many other lives.

In 1950, Isadore’s family were given his Medal of Honor.

Sergeant Silvestre Herrera: United States Army (1917-2007)

During his childhood, Silvestre had always thought he was born in El Paso, Texas. When World War II broke out, Silvestre was drafted into the Texas National Guard. This is when Silvestre’s uncle told him the truth, “You were born in Mexico and we brought you here as a baby. You do not have to go in the U.S. Army, because you are a Mexican national.” Silvestre decided he owed the country who had taken his family, and he accepted his calling.

It was during Operation Undertone. Silvestre was then a Private First Class. His unit was pinned with a mine field between them and the enemy. Ignoring the danger, Silvestre went forward with a machine gun. He lost one leg to a mine while firing the gun, and then he stepped on another blowing his other leg off. He still kept firing allowing his unit to go around the mine field and kill and capture the enemy.

When President Truman presented Silvestre the Medal of Honor, Harry Truman proclaimed, “I would rather receive the Medal of Honor than be President.”

Final Thoughts

It just amazes me what these immigrants did for us. Many of them really did not have to go to the extent that they did, but they did for the love of the United States of America.

We owe them our gratitude, so will you give all these soldiers a minute of silence?

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