WWII - 4ID Soldier posthumously receives Medal of Honor

PVT Pedro Cano is one of 24 new Medal of Honor recipients recognized March 19, 2014, and inducted into the Pentagon Hall of Heroes. These veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War were recognized for their extraordinary heroism decades after their service.

“We are here this morning to celebrate the heroism of 24 selfless individuals -- 24 Soldiers whose acts of gallantry in battle merit our highest recognition. We are also here to correct an injustice of history - to help right 24 wrongs that should never occurred,” said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at the event in the Pentagon auditorium.

A mandated review of Distinguished Service Cross awards was made to ensure that heroism was not overlooked due to prejudice or discrimination. These 24 Soldiers -- Hispanic, Jewish and African-American -- were all identified as deserving of the medal. Only three of the recipients are still living. Santiago Erevia, Melvin Morris and Jose Rodela -- all Vietnam War Veterans.

GEN Ray Odierno Army Chief of Staff said, “Our nation and our Army are strong because in every war, in every generation, men and women, citizens and immigrants, have raised their right hand to defend the Constitution of the United States.

At the event, each of the 24 Medal of Honor citations was read as the recipient or their representative stood reverently on stage. The recipient or representative -- spouse, child, or other relative -- was then presented with an encased Medal of Honor flag.

Pedro Cano was born June 19, 1920 in La Morita, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. He moved to the United States into the small community of Edinburg, Texas when he was 2 months old. There he served as a farm laborer until he volunteered to serve in the Army during World War II.

As a private, he was deployed to the European theater to serve with the 4th Infantry Division assigned to Company C, 8th Infantry Regiment. His company was near Schevenhutte, Germany in December 1944 when they came under heavy enemy machine gun fire from a 2009 article “Saving Pedro Cano” by Aaron Pena. PVT Cano advanced alone through heavily mined terrain to destroy one position with a hand-held rocket launcher. He then attacked a second and a third emplacement. The next day he suppressed three more machine gun positions with his bazooka. PVT Cano was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions. On a later patrol Cano and his platoon were ambushed during which he sustained permanent disabling injuries.

He returned to South Texas to join his wife and children and resumed his work as a farm laborer. Private Cano received two Silver Star medals, a Purple Heart, and a Distinguished Service Cross.

After repeated requests during war time to become a U.S. citizen Cano finally achieved his longest-lasting ambition, to become an American citizen, in May 1946. He died six years later on June 24, 1952 at the age of 31 in a tragic automobile accident. In 2014, he posthumously received the Congressional Medal of Honor.