1st Battalion 22nd Infantry
MEDAL OF HONOR
Company B 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry
Seize Occupy and Defend
By Robert Bailey, Katherine Bailey
The 4th Infantry Division awarded four Medals of Honor during World War II, three of them being given for actions during the
Battle of the Hurtgen Forest in November 1944. One of those awards was to Macario Garcia of the 22nd Infantry.
A book by the authors Robert and Katherine Bailey tells the story of Garcia, the son of a Mexican immigrant and sharecropper.
Though not an American citizen, Macario Garcia registered with the Selective Service System and while living in Texas was drafted
into the U.S. Army in late 1942. After his initial training he spent most of 1943 at Fort Benning, Georgia, as part of a demonstration
team at Officers Candidate School, conducting live-fire demonstrations of Infantry weapons to the candidates. The practical
experience he gained as part of that team would serve him well when he later fought across Europe with the 4th Infantry Division.
In April 1944 Garcia shipped overseas to England and was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Replacement pool. As the 22nd
Infantry Regiment sustained heavy casualties in the days immediately following the D-Day landing, Garcia was shipped over to
France and was assigned to 2nd Platoon Company B 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry.
The book gives a concise and very accurate history of the 22nd Infantry Regiment during World War II from the attacks
on the German coastal batteries at Crisbecq and Azeville immediately after D-Day through the end of the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest.
As a scout for his platoon, Garcia would earn two Bronze Star Medals between June and November and would be wounded by
friendly fire from a supporting tank unit, who mistook him for an enemy soldier, simply because they couldn't believe that an
American would be so far in front of the lines. Garcia's actions on November 27, 1944, as a Private First Class and acting
Squad Leader are covered in detail in the book. On that day his Company was given the objective of taking a hill occupied by
the enemy. The attack was stopped cold by machine gun crossfire and artillery, which inflicted numerous casualties among the Company.
Although wounded, Garcia refused evacuation and single-handedly assaulted two German machine gun emplacements, destroying
them and killing and capturing a number of enemy soldiers. His actions relieved his pinned down Company and allowed them to continue
the attack. He remained with his Company until their objective was taken and only then allowed himself to be evacuated for medical care.
For his actions that day he received the Medal of Honor, awarded to him by President Harry S. Truman on August 23, 1945.
Three weeks after the award ceremony at the White House, in uniform and wearing his Medal of Honor ribbon, Macario Garcia
walked into a cafe in Richmond, Texas, to get a bite to eat. He was refused service because he was Mexican. An altercation
ensued and Garcia was arrested and released. The incident attracted national attention and upon the embarassment the attention
brought to the local authorities he was arrested again. Eventually any and all charges against Garcia stemming from the incident
were dropped without publicity.
The authors make the case that
Macario Garcia was an original champion in the struggle for Civil
Rights which began
in the late 1940's. Today the fight for Civil Rights is largely believed to have begun in the 1950's with the cause of
African-Americans coming to prominence but the authors show that the path to Civil Rights following World War II
actually began with the struggles of Mestizos in this country. Macario Garcia's case predates Rosa Parks by ten years.
The case of Hernandez vs. Texas was heard and decided upon by the United States Supreme Court before Brown vs.
Board of Education and should be viewed as the beginning of the civil rights movement. The book presents a wealth
of information about the role people like Macario Garcia have played in the long and continuing evolution
toward freedom and equal rights for all people in this country.
The authors are the official biographers of Macario Garcia sanctioned by the Garcia family.
Illustrated with many photographs the book is 228 pages.
The book is available from:
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