CLETO L. RODRIGUEZ (1923 ~ 1990). Medal of Honor Recipient Cleto Rodriguez was born on April 26, 1923, in San Marcos, Texas. He moved to San Antonio in 1932 to live with family after the deaths of both his parents. Rodriguez joined the Army in 1944 and served as a Private with Company B of the 148th Infantry.
On February 9, 1945, Rodriguez's unit was pinned down by intense enemy fire while advancing on a heavily defended railroad station during the battle for Manila, Philippine Islands. On their own initiative, Rodriguez and Private First Class John Reese of Pryor, Oklahoma, left the company and charged the enemy position. Stopping only 60 yards from the enemy, they killed 35 enemy soldiers despite being under close observation of enemy gunners. They then spotted Japanese reinforcements moving toward the station and killed more than 40 infantry, preventing further Japanese attempts to reinforce their defenses. With covering fire from Reese, Rodriguez charged the station and threw five grenades into its doorway, destroying a 20mm gun, a heavy machine gun, and killing their crews. Rodriguez and Reese ran low on ammunition and retreated after Reese was mortally wounded. Their actions destroyed and disorganized much of the enemy defenses. Rodriguez and Reese were both awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their assault on the railroad station.
Rodriguez single-handedly destroyed another 20mm gun and its crew in Manila two days later. He was promoted to Technical Sergeant and returned to San Antonio where he was presented with a key to the city. He married Flora Muniz on November 11, 1945 and they had four children.
He joined the League of United Latin American Citizens in 1946, and worked as a representative of the Veterans Administration in 1947. From 1952 to 1954, he served in the Air Force, and served again in the Army from 1955 to 1970. He retired as a Master Sergeant.
In 1975 the San Antonio elementary school Rodriguez had attended as a boy, Ivanhoe Elementary, was renamed in his honor. Rodriguez died in San Antonio on December 7, 1990, and is buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.
On December 7, 1991, a section of U.S. Route 90 in San Antonio was named after him. There are two murals depicting his likeness in San Antonio, one at the Casiano Housing Projects and one at the San Antonio Central Library.
Bibliography: "Above and Beyond: The Medal of Honor in Texas," Capitol Visitors Center, State Preservation Board of Texas. The Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association, University of Texas, http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/RR.frobv.html, September 26, 2005. MOH Citation for John Reese, http://www.homeofheroes.com/moh/citation_1940_wwii/reese_john.html, October 12, 2005. Rodriguez Elementary, http://www.saisd.net/school/140/history.htm, October 12, 2005. Romo, Ricardo, "Above and Beyond," http://www.utexas.edu/opa/pubs/discovery/disc1997v14n2/disc_above.html, October 13, 2005. San Antonio Central Library, http://www.sanantonio.gov/library/central/?res=1024&ver=true, October 13, 2005.