Manuel Pérez, Jr. was born on March 3, 1923 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He grew up living with his father in Chicago, Illinois. His enlistment record is not one preserved by the National Archives, but by February 13, 1945, Pérez was a Private First Class in the United States Army‘s Company A, 1st Battalion, 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 11th Airborne Division.
The motto of the United States Army‘s 148th Infantry Regiment is “We’ll do it”. Seventy years ago today on February 9, 1945 as part of the 37th Infantry Division during the Battle of Manila in the Philippines, three soldiers of the regiment’s 1st Battalion did their duty above and beyond the normal call and received the Medal of Honor for their heroic deeds.
They were Privates First Class Joseph J. Cicchetti and John N. Reese, Jr., and Private Cleto Rodríguez. All three men were 21 years old.
Charles L. McGaha was born in Cosby, Tennessee on February 26, 1914. He tried to enlist in the United States Navy in October 1937 but was turned away because the recruiter he visited had already met his quotas. The United States Army did want him, and he was posted as a member of the 35th Infantry Regiment of the Hawaiian Division.
Donald Eugene Rudolph was born in South Haven, Minnesota on February 21, 1921. He fought as a member of the United States Army‘s 6th Infantry Division against the Japanese in the Pacific during World War II.
Laverne Parrish was born on July 16, 1918 in Knox City, Missouri. He was living in Ronan, Montana when he was drafted for service in the United States Army prior to our entry into World War II on March 4, 1941. Parrish served during wartime in the 25th Infantry Division in the Pacific, and was a medical aidman with the medical detachment of the division’s 161st Infantry Regiment.
Robert Earl Laws was born on January 18, 1921 in Altoona, Pennsylvania. He was living there and had completed college when he was drafted at age 21 for service in the United States Army during World War II on July 1, 1942.
By January 1945, Laws was a Staff Sergeant and a squad leader in Company G, 2nd Battalion, 169th Infantry Regiment, 43rd Infantry Division.
As a member of the United States Naval Academy class of 1934, George Fleming Davis assuredly learned the immortal words of Captain James Lawrence of the frigate USS Chesapeake in 1813: “Don’t give up the ship!”
Davis was born on March 23, 1911 in Manila, the Philippines. His first service with the fleet was on destroyers. In mid-1941 he was promoted to Lieutenant and posted to the battleship USS Oklahoma (BB-37). In the opening moments of the United States in World War II, Davis had to give up his ship as she capsized and sank from multiple strikes from Japanese torpedoes at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Oklahoma took 429 of her more than 1,300 crew with her.