SILVESTRE SANTANA HERRERA (1917 ~ ). Born in El Paso, Texas on July 17, 1917, Silvestre Herrera joined the Army at Phoenix, Arizona.
He was a Private First Class in the 1st Platoon of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Infantry, of the 36th Infantry Division when his unit came under heavy enemy machine gun fire near Merzwiller, France, on March 15, 1945. The rest of his unit took cover, but Herrera charged ahead alone, capturing eight German soldiers. His platoon continued its advance until it was fired on by another machine gun, this one located beyond an extensive minefield. Private Herrera again charged forward, stepping on a mine which severed both of his feet from his legs when it exploded. Despite intense pain and loss of blood, Herrera kept the enemy pinned down with accurate rifle fire while a squad went around the minefield to capture the machine gun. Herrera was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions that day.
In 1956 and elementary school in Phoenix was named in his honor, in addition, a bust of him was erected at a Phoemix school which he attended. In 1995 the American G.I. Forum named a chapter in his honor.
Bibliography: "Above and Beyond: The Medal of Honor in Texas," Capitol Visitors Center, State Preservation Board of Texas. Medal of Honor.com, http://www.medalofhonor.com/SilvestreHerrera.htm, October 10, 2005.