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Pedro Rodríguez (soldier)

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Pedro Rodríguez
150px
Master Sergeant Pedro Rodríguez c. 1979
Earned two Silver Star Medals in one week
Born(1912-01-03)January 3, 1912
Lajas, Puerto Rico
DiedOctober 19, 1999(1999-10-19) (aged 87)
Washington D.C.
Buried
Arlington National Cemetery
AllegianceUnited States United States of America
Service/branchEmblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Seal of the United States Army National Guard.svg Army National Guard
Years of service1937–1979
RankUS Army WWII MSGT.svg
Master Sergeant
UnitDistinctive unit insignia of the 65th Infantry Regiment.png 65th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division
Battles/warsWorld War II
Korean War  (DOW)
AwardsSilver Star Medal ribbon.svg Silver Star (2)
Purple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart

Master Sergeant Pedro Rodríguez (January 3, 1912 – October 19, 1999) was a U.S. Army soldier from Puerto Rico who earned two Silver Stars within a seven-day period during the Korean War.[1] He is one of the few U.S. Army soldiers and perhaps the only Puerto Rican soldier other than Brigadier General Antonio Rodríguez Balinas, Second Lieutenant Vidal Rodriguez-Amaro, and Sergeant First Class Felix G. Nieves to receive more than one Silver Star during the Korean War. Rodríguez served in the 65th Infantry Regiment during both World War II and the Korean War; the 65th Infantry was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014.

Early years[edit]

Rodríguez was born Lajas, Puerto Rico into a poor family. Rodríguez did not have a formal education. His father owned an ox cart and earned a living by delivering goods to the town's merchants. Rodríguez rose early in the morning to help his father. Together they went to the railroad station, where they loaded the goods onto their ox cart and then delivered them. When he was 14 years old, his father died and he had to take over the ox cart and the financial responsibility of his family. The economic situation became so bad that in 1937, when he was 25 years old, he joined the Puerto Rico National Guard.

World War II[edit]

Rodríguez was assigned to the 65th Infantry Regiment, the all Puerto Rican Regiment and was stationed in Panama. When World War II broke out, the 65th Infantry was sent to North Africa. On September 1944, his company landed in Marseilles, France, and marched north into Germany without any major incident.[2][3]

Korean War[edit]

After the war, the 65th Infantry was stationed in Puerto Rico. The 65th was activated to the U.S. Army was deployed to Korea attached to the 3rd Infantry Division, upon the outbreak of the Korean War on August 26, 1950. By the time the "Borinqueneers", as the 65th was known, reached Korea, Rodríguez had been promoted to the rank of sergeant.[2][3]

First Silver Star

Sgt. Rodríguez was a member of Company F and on March 24, 1951, he led his unit to secure Hill 476. A camouflaged enemy machine gun opened fire on them and Sgt. Rodríguez led a squad with fixed bayonets on an assault on the area from which the gunfire came from. The enemy fled leaving their supplies behind. For his actions, Sgt. Rodríguez was awarded his first Silver Star Medal.[3]

2nd Silver Star Medal

A week later on March 31, his company was attacking Hill 398, near Choksong-Myon, when they came under an enemy mortar barrage. The enemy pinned down and inflicted heavy casualties on the lead platoon. Sgt. Rodríguez was ordered to assist the stalled unit and led his platoon in an assault that routed the enemy. Sgt. Rodríguez was awarded a second Silver Star Medal.[4][3]

Silver Star citations[edit]

Other U.S. army soldier to receive more than one Silver Star for actions during the Korean War include First Lieutenant Romeo H. Bucknell Jr., First Lieutenant Smith B. Chamberlain, Second Lieutenant Robert H. Coldren, First Lieutenant Charles H. Fleming, Colonel David Haskell Hackworth, First Lieutenant Jerimiah V. Hayhurst, First Lieutenant Raymond W. King, Captain Edward A. Konek, Sergeant First Class Felix G. Nieves, Second Lieutenant Hans G. Olsen, Second Lieutenant Vidal Rodriguez-Amaro, Brigadier General Antonio Rodríguez Balinas, and Lieutenant Colonel Howard B. Sinclair.[5]

Silver Star medal.png

Rodríguez, Pedro
Organization:HEADQUARTERS 3D INFANTRY DIVISION
G.O. # 196 – 17 June 1951

Citation:
MASTER SERGEANT PEDRO RODRIGUEZ, RA6674697, Infantry, Company "F", 65th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division, United States Army. On 24 March 1951, near Kopi-Dong, Korea, Sergeant RODRIGUEZ, acting as platoon leader in the absence of a commissioned officer, was leading his unit to secure Hill 476, when the enemy opened fire from a well camouflaged machine gun nest. Although he did not know the exact location of the gun, Sergeant RODRIGUEZ ordered one squad to fix bayonets and assault the general area from which the fire was coming. After the enemy weapon fired again, Sergeant RODRIGUEZ charged the position, yelling and shooting his rifle demoralizing the enemy and causing him to flee in haste, taking his gun with him, but leaving ammunition and rations behind. The gallantry and extreme devotion to duty displayed by Sergeant RODRIGUEZ reflect great credit upon himself and the military service. Entered the military service from Puerto Rico.[6]
Silver Star medal.png

Rodríguez, Pedro
Organization:HEADQUARTERS 3D INFANTRY DIVISION
G.O. # 261 – 8 July 1951

Citation:
MASTER SERGEANT PEDRO RODRIGUEZ, RA6674697, Infantry, Company "F", 65th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division, United States Army. On 31 March 1951, near Choksong-myon, Korea, Company "F" was attacking Hill 398, defended by a firmly entrenched enemy supported by mortars. At some distance from the top of the hill, the lead platoon was halted by intense machine gun fire and fragmentation grenades, suffering several casualties. When Sergeant RODRIGUEZ received the order to move his platoon to assist the stalled unit, he ran forward and led his troops in a furious assault, causing the enemy to retreat hastily, thereby relieving the besieged lead platoon. Continuing his charge, Sergeant Rodriguez pursued the fleeing enemy and covered by friendly machine gun fire, he personally searched the area to rout any enemy troops which might have been left behind. The aggressive leadership and personal gallantry exhibited by Sergeant Rodriguez reflect the highest credit upon himself and the military service. Entered the military service from Puerto Rico.[7]

Later years[edit]

MSG. Rodríguez retired from the Army with the rank of Master Sergeant and went to work as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Puerto Rico. In 1979, Rodríguez went to live at the Soldier's and Airmen's Retirement Home in Washington, D.C. In 1977, MSG. Rodríguez had a stroke and other medical complications including the loss of his left leg.[3][8] MSG. Pedro Rodríguez died on October 19, 1999, at the age of 88, from a heart attack. He was buried with full military honors at the Arlington National Cemetery. He was married to Asuncion Toro with whom he had five children.[3][8]

Military awards and decorations[edit]

Among Rodríguez's decorations were the following:

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Badge Combat Infantryman Badge
1st Row Silver Star
2nd Row Purple Heart with three oak leaf cluster European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four bronze service stars World War II Victory Medal
3rd Row National Defense Service Medal Korean Service Medal United Nations Korea Medal
4th Row Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation Meritorious Unit Commendation Army Presidential Unit Citation

Foreign Medal The Bravery Gold Medal of Greece was given by the Government of Greece to the 65th Infantry Regiment and to the members of the regiment who fought in the Korean War.

  • Greek Commander's Medal of Valour ribbon.png  Chryssoun Aristion Andrias (Bravery Gold Medal of Greece)

Congressional Gold Medal

External video
You can see a video of President Barack Obama awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Borinqueneers on YouTube

On June 10, 2014, President Barack Obama, signed the legislation known as "The Borinqueneers CGM Bill" at an official ceremony. The Bill honors the 65th Infantry Regiment with the Congressional Gold Medal.[9][10][11][12]

Further reading[edit]

  • "Puertorriquenos Who Served With Guts, Glory, and Honor. Fighting to Defend a Nation Not Completely Their Own"; by : Greg Boudonck; ISBN 1497421837 Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png.; ISBN 978-1497421837 Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png.

See also[edit]


Other articles of the topics Puerto Rico AND World War II : Jaime Sabater Sr., César Luis González

Other articles of the topic Puerto Rico : UPR Law School Building, Puerto Rico Highway 690, Orlando Fernández, José L. Santiago, Evelio Otero Jr., Steven Ehricks, Humberto Acosta-Rosario

Other articles of the topic World War II : John Michael Bermingham, Donald W. Wolf, Paul G. Baker, Joseph Williams Vance Jr., Eugene Morland Key, Grady A. Dugas, M.D., Milton F. Pavlic
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  • List of Puerto Ricans
  • List of Puerto Rican military personnel
  • 65th Infantry Regiment
  • Puerto Ricans in World War II
  • Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]


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