1st Battalion 22nd Infantry
MEDAL OF HONOR
Company B 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry
Staff Sgt. Marcario Garcia came
from the humblest of beginnings. But in his time with the Army,
he provided several moments of grandeur.
Garcia, who was also known as
Macario, has a place in history as the first Mexican immigrant to
be awarded the nations
highest award for valor. He was bestowed with the Medal of Honor for his actions on Nov. 27, 1944, in Germany during World War II.
While an acting squad leader of
B Company, 22nd Infantry, 4th Infantry Division, then-Pvt. Garcia
and his platoon were
pinned down by machine-gun fire near Grosshau, according to the award citation. Though he was seriously wounded, Garcia
refused to retreat and instead crawled forward alone until he reached a position near an enemy machine-gun nest. Garcia hurled
grenades and charged the nest, eliminating three enemy fighters and destroying the gun. He rejoined his company when it came
under fire from a second gun. Again, Garcia boldly charged the nest alone, destroying the gun, killing three more Germans and
capturing four others. Garcia fought on with his unit until the objective was taken and then allowed himself to receive medical treatment.
Marcario Garcia is decorated with the
Garcia was decorated with the
Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman on Aug. 23, 1945, at
a White House ceremony.
It was a momentous occasion that defied the hardscrabble upbringing Garcia had in Texas.
Garcia was born Jan. 2, 1920, in
Villa de Castaños, in the Mexican state of Coahuila. He arrived
in the United States with
his parents, Luciano and Josefa, in October 1923. After spending time near San Antonio, the family moved to Sugar Land
in 1935 where it found work on a ranch.
Garcia worked the fields
throughout his young life, often missing school and only
achieving the equivalent of a third-grade
education. On Nov. 11, 1942, Garcia was inducted into the U.S. Army. He was not an American citizen but would later say
he felt obligated to do something for his adopted country.
Garcia was part of a tank
division led by Gen. George S. Patton that was among the first
wave of American Soldiers
to make landfall in Normandy in June 1944. Days after his arrival, he was wounded and would spend four months
recovering before rejoining his unit a month before his fateful trek through Germany.
In the years after being awarded
with the nations highest honor, Garcia enjoyed several
On Jan. 8, 1946, Mexico awarded him with the Meritor Militar, the nations highest military honor, during a
ceremony in Mexico City. Garcia became an American citizen on June 25, 1947, and earned his high-school diploma
in 1951. He married Alicia Reyes on May 18, 1952. The couple had three children. Garcia worked for 25 years as a
counselor in the Veterans Administration.
In later years, Garcia was part
of a group of Mexican-Americans who greeted President John F.
Kennedy at a Houston gala
on Nov. 21, 1963. Kennedy spoke about U.S. and Latin American foreign policy to the group of Hispanic World War II
veterans and civil rights advocates gathered at the Rice Hotel. The visit was seen as a momentous occasion for minorities
throughout the country. A day later, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
Garcia died on Dec. 24, 1972,
from injuries he sustained in a vehicle accident. He was buried
with full military honors
at Houston National Cemetery.
Compiled by Pablo Villa
[Website Editor Note:
The statement above "Garcia
was part of a tank division led by Gen. George S. Patton that was
among the first wave
of American Soldiers to make landfall in Normandy in June 1944." contains a couple of inaccuracies. Garcia was not
part of a tank division. He was a part of the 4th Infantry Division. Patton was not in Normandy in June 1944 and did not
get to France until August 1944.
Also the "Meritor
Militar" ( Medalla al Mérito Militar or Medal of Military
Merit) is not Mexico's highest military honor.
It is actually that nation's third highest military honor. Garcia did however also receive the Orden Mexicana del Águila Azteca
(Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle) which is the highest decoration given to foreigners by the Mexican government.]
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