Jose Mendoza Lopez was born in Santiago Atitlan, Mexico in 1910. He moved the Brownsville, Texas, with his family and was raised there, though orphaned in his youth. His story would be quite common, but for his time in the United States Army during WWII.
Lopez would have a brief career as a professional boxer from 1927 to 1934. He left the ring and joined the Merchant Marine and was serving on a ship in late 1941 when he heard, along with the rest of the crew, about the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. On his return to the U.S., he returned to Brownsville, Texas, married his sweetheart, Emilia Herrera, and began a family.
Lopez was soon drafted into the United States Army and did his boot training at Fort Sam Houston in Texas before being assigned to M Co. 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. His unit was then shipped to England to prepare for the Normandy Invasion.
M Co, 23 Infantry Regiment would go ashore at Normandy of June 7, the second day of the Normandy Invasion effort. Lopez was wounded that day, but refused to be evacuated. Lopez remained with the Regiment, but was temporarily assigned to K Co. as they moved into the Ardennes Forest near the town of Krinkelt, Belgium.
On Dec. 16, 1944, the Germans began a massive counter attack effort in the Ardennes Forest area. This battle would come to be known as the Battle of the Bulge and would be one of the bloodiest contests in the latter part of the war.
The Germans were desperate to stop the allied efforts to force them back into Germany.
The next day, Dec. 17, Lopez and K Co. 23 Infantry Regiment found themselves at the tip of the spear. All hell was coming their way and the enemy forces were far superior in numbers. At one point, Lopez, a machine gunner with K Co. has lost most of his team. He had to do something. Lopez picked up his machine gun and as much ammunition as he could carry and began moving from one position to another across the front of K Co.’s lines laying down a fierce amount of machine gun fire.
Without concern for his own safety Lopez attacked anything that was in front of him, moving constantly across the front lines from one side to the other. He even charged alone, against the advancing enemy troops. He laid down so much effective fire that he was credited with killing more than 100 of the German troops and for blunting their charge long enough for K Co to withdraw to more defensible positions and to keep up the fight.
For his actions that day, SSgt Jose M. Lopez was awarded the Medal of Honor. A humble man and a man of deep faith, when he returned home to his wife and children, he made a pilgrimage to the shrine of his beloved Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City, crediting her with bringing him home to his family.
He left the Army after the war, but re-enlisted in 1949 and would serve in Korea and Vietnam and retire in 1974. He retired a Master Sgt.
The Veterans Site Honors the memory of Jose Mendoza Lopez. We honor his dedication to his men, his country and his family and thank him for showing us what love of those things means.Whizzco