Rank Insignia Previous Honoree ID Next Honoree ID

honoree image
First Name: Jose

Last Name: Lopez

Birthplace: Oaxaca, MEX

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: San Antonio, TX
Middle Name: Mendoza

Date of Birth: 10 July 1910

Date of Death: 16 May 2005

Rank: Master Sergeant

Years Served: 1942-1973
Jose Mendoza Lopez

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


Jose Mendoza Lopez
Master Sergeant, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Master Sergeant Jose Mendoza Lopez (10 July 1910 - 16 May 2005) was a U.S. Army soldier who was awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.

Jose Mendoza Lopez was born on 10 July 1910 and raised by his mother, Candida Lopez, in Santiago Ihuitlán, Oaxaca, Mexico. As a young boy, he helped his mother sell clothes that she made as a seamstress in the city. However, his time with his mother was cut short because tuberculosis took her life when Lopez was only eight years old. Lopez was then relocated to Brownsville, TX, to live with his uncle's family.

While living in with his uncle, Lopez began working various jobs to bring in income and never returned to school. As a young man, Lopez caught the attention of a boxing promoter and for seven years he traveled the country fighting a total of 55 fights in the lightweight division with the nickname of 'Kid Mendoza.' In 1934, during a boxing match in Melbourne, Australia, he met a group of Merchant Marines and signed a contract with them. He was accepted in the union in 1936 and spent the next five years traveling the world.

He was en route to California from Hawaii on 7 December 1941, when he learned about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. When he arrived in Los Angeles, the authorities believed he was Japanese and he was forced to prove otherwise. Lopez returned to Brownsville and, in 1942, married Emilia Herrera. That same year, he received his draft card and relocated to San Antonio where he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Lopez was first sent to Fort Sam Houston, TX, and then to Camp Roberts, CA, where he received his basic training.

On 17 December 1944, Mendoza was a Sergeant serving with the 23d Infantry, 2d Infantry Division, near Krinkelt, Belgium, and fighting in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. As a result of his heroic actions that day, he killed more than 100 of the enemy was very instrumental in helping to repel the enemy's drive. For his actions he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, 23rd Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division.

Place and date: Near Krinkelt, Belgium, 17 December 1944.

Citation: On his own initiative, he carried his heavy machinegun from Company K's right flank to its left, in order to protect that flank which was in danger of being overrun by advancing enemy infantry supported by tanks. Occupying a shallow hole offering no protection above his waist, he cut down a group of 10 Germans. Ignoring enemy fire from an advancing tank, he held his position and cut down 25 more enemy infantry attempting to turn his flank. Glancing to his right, he saw a large number of infantry swarming in from the front. Although dazed and shaken from enemy artillery fire which had crashed into the ground only a few yards away, he realized that his position soon would be outflanked. Again, alone, he carried his machinegun to a position to the right rear of the sector; enemy tanks and infantry were forcing a withdrawal. Blown over backward by the concussion of enemy fire, he immediately reset his gun and continued his fire. Single-handed he held off the German horde until he was satisfied his company had effected its retirement. Again he loaded his gun on his back and in a hail of small arms fire he ran to a point where a few of his comrades were attempting to set up another defense against the onrushing enemy. He fired from this position until his ammunition was exhausted. Still carrying his gun, he fell back with his small group to Krinkelt. Sgt. Lopez's gallantry and intrepidity, on seemingly suicidal missions in which he killed at least 100 of the enemy, were almost solely responsible for allowing Company K to avoid being enveloped, to withdraw successfully and to give other forces coming up in support time to build a line which repelled the enemy drive.

Post-World War II

Lopez received an enthusiastic reception when his ship landed in New York City and he was greeted by New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia.

On a visit to Mexico City, he was greeted by the president of Mexico, Manuel Ávila Camacho, and awarded Mexico's highest military commendation, la Condecoración del Mérito Militar.

He later moved his family to San Antonio, where he was hired as a contact representative with the Veterans Administration.

Upon the outbreak of the Korean War, Lopez was accidentally ordered to serve for his country and he was prepared to do so until President Harry S. Truman heard of the matter and corrected it so that Lopez could remain in the United States.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
la Condecoración del Mérito Militar (Mexico)


• Lopez' hometown, the city of Mission, TX, has recognized Sgt Lopez by naming a street and a city park - Jose M. Lopez Park - in his honor.

• The North East Independent School District in San Antonio, TX, has recognized Sgt Lopez by naming a middle school in his honor, Jose M. Lopez Middle School.

• A statue of Sgt. Lopez stands at Brownsville, TX, Veterans Park.

Death and Burial

Master Sergeant Jose Mendoza Lopez died on 16 May 2005, one year after his wife died. They were together for 62 years. He is buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, TX, in Section AI, Grave 542.

Honoree ID: 1505   Created by: MHOH




Honoree Photos

honoree imagehonoree imagehonoree image

honoree imagehonoree image

honoree image