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Defending Company K: Jose M. Lopez
Defending Company K: Jose M. Lopez


Born: 1911
(Mission, Texas)

Entered Service: Texas

Branch: U.S. Army

Duty: World War II

Medal of Honor:
Portraits of Valor
Beyond the Call to Duty

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Since the Civil War, more than 39 million men and women have answered the call to serve. Of those, 3,440 served with such uncommon valor and extraordinary courage that they were presented with the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award. In this collection, more than one hundred of America's living Medal of Honor recipients are honored. Their tales of bravery are recounted by best-selling author Peter Collier, and also feature portraits by award-winning photographer Nick Del Calzo.

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Veterans' Stories

Krinkelt, Belgium, 1944

Jose M. Lopez
Master Sargeant, U.S. Army

Article Courtesy of DefenseWatch

Citation: On his own initiative, he carried his heavy machine gun from Company K's right flank to its left, in order to protect that flank which was in danger of being overrun by advancing enemy infantry supported by tanks. Occupying a shallow hole offering no protection above his waist, he cut down a group of 10 Germans.

Ignoring enemy fire from an advancing tank, he held his position and cut down 25 more enemy infantry attempting to turn his flank. Glancing to his right, he saw a large number of infantry swarming in from the front. Although dazed and shaken from enemy artillery fire that had crashed into the ground only a few yards away, he realized that his position soon would be outflanked.

Again, alone, he carried his machine gun to a position to the right rear of the sector; enemy tanks and infantry were forcing a withdrawal. Blown over backward by the concussion of enemy fire, he immediately reset his gun and continued his fire. Single-handed he held off the German horde until he was satisfied his company had effected its retirement.

Again he loaded his gun on his back and in a hail of small-arms fire he ran to a point where a few of his comrades were attempting to set up another defense against the onrushing enemy. He fired from this position until his ammunition was exhausted. Still carrying his gun, he fell back with his small group to Krinkelt.

Sgt. Lopez's gallantry and intrepidity, on seemingly suicidal missions in which he killed at least 100 of the enemy, were almost solely responsible for allowing Company K to avoid being enveloped, to withdraw successfully and to give other forces coming up in support time to build a line which repelled the enemy drive.

Editor's Note: Retired Master Sgt. Jose M. Lopez passed away on May 15, 2005 at the age of 94 at a daughter's home in San Antonio, Tex. Born in Mexico and orphaned at the age of eight, Lopez enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II and landed at Normandy on June 7, 1944, the day after the D-Day invasion. At dawn on Dec. 17, 1944, he and his men were outside Krinkelt, Belgium, shortly after the start of the Battle of the Bulge. It was during a hasty retreat from advancing German armored units that Lopez carried out the actions under fire that led to his receiving the Medal of Honor.

After World War II, Lopez remained in the Army and fought in Korea until a superior officer learned that the Medal of Honor recipient was in combat. He was then ordered to the rear and spent months in a graves registration unit. Lopez retired as a master sergeant in 1973.

His wife of 62 years, Emilia Herrera Lopez, died in February 2004. Survivors include five children, Candida Pieratti of Mahopac, N.Y., Virginia Rogers of Ogden, Utah, Beatrice Pedraza of Lima, Peru, and John Lopez and Maggie Wickwire, both of San Antonio; 19 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.

2005 DefenseWatch. All opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Military.com.

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