Krinkelt, Belgium, 1944
Portraits of Valor
Beyond the Call to Duty
Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond
the Call to Duty]
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.
Medal of Honor Profiles
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
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
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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