Private First Class Jose F. Valdez, USA (January 25, 1945)

Jose F. Valdez was born in Gobernador, New Mexico on January 3, 1925. He entered the United States Army in 1943, likely as a draftee, and fought in Europe as a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.

On January 25, 1945 during fighting in the Colmar Pocket near Rosenkrantz, France, Private First Class Valdez used his M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle and a field telephone to call for artillery to cover the withdrawal of his comrades during a Nazi counter-attack. He crawled to the rear after suffering grievous wounds himself, which he ultimately succumbed to on February 17, 1945.

Valdez, just barely 20 years old at the time of his death, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism about one year later.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II (T-Z):

Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon (background)
Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon (background)
Photo: Military Times’ Hall of Valor

*VALDEZ, JOSE F.

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company B, 7th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Rosenkrantz, France, 25 January 1945. Entered service at: Pleasant Grove, Utah. G. O. No.: 16, 8 February 1946

Citation: He was on outpost duty with 5 others when the enemy counterattacked with overwhelming strength. From his position near some woods 500 yards beyond the American lines he observed a hostile tank about 75 yards away, and raked it with automatic rifle fire until it withdrew. Soon afterward he saw 3 Germans stealthily approaching through the woods. Scorning cover as the enemy soldiers opened up with heavy automatic weapons fire from a range of 30 yards, he engaged in a fire fight with the attackers until he had killed all 3. The enemy quickly launched an attack with 2 full companies of infantrymen, blasting the patrol with murderous concentrations of automatic and rifle fire and beginning an encircling movement which forced the patrol leader to order a withdrawal. Despite the terrible odds, Pfc. Valdez immediately volunteered to cover the maneuver, and as the patrol 1 by 1 plunged through a hail of bullets toward the American lines, he fired burst after burst into the swarming enemy. Three of his companions were wounded in their dash for safety and he was struck by a bullet that entered his stomach and, passing through his body, emerged from his back. Overcoming agonizing pain, he regained control of himself and resumed his firing position, delivering a protective screen of bullets until all others of the patrol were safe. By field telephone he called for artillery and mortar fire on the Germans and corrected the range until he had shells falling within 50 yards of his position. For 15 minutes he refused to be dislodged by more than 200 of the enemy; then, seeing that the barrage had broken the counter attack, he dragged himself back to his own lines. He died later as a result of his wounds. Through his valiant, intrepid stand and at the cost of his own life, Pfc. Valdez made it possible for his comrades to escape, and was directly responsible for repulsing an attack by vastly superior enemy forces.

Valdez today rests in peace in the Santa Fe National Cemetery, Santa Fe, New Mexico. The 3rd Infantry Division is today home based at Fort Stewart, Georgia.

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