February 12, 2019
Oklahoma History Center to Exhibit Perez Medal of Honor
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma History Center is proud to announce that it will display the Medal of Honor awarded to Pfc. Manuel Perez Jr., a World War II soldier, beginning Wednesday, February 13. The medal will be exhibited in the military section of the Kerr-McGee Gallery on the third floor of the History Center, which is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Pfc. Perez was presented this award posthumously for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty on 13 February, 1945.” Perez was the lead scout for Company A, 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 11th Airborne Division serving in Luzon, Philippine Islands. His company was approaching enemy-held Fort McKinley and had destroyed 11 of 12 pillboxes in a strongly defended sector of the island. Pfc. Perez knew that the last emplacement must be destroyed to take control of the area. However, the pillbox was heavily manned and armed with two twin-mount, .50 caliber machine guns. He made it to within 20 yards of the site, killing four of the enemy soldiers in his advance. He threw a grenade into the pillbox, causing the crew to retreat through the rear of the emplacement. Perez shot and killed four of those who were attempting to escape before exhausting his clip. He reloaded and killed four more when an escaping Japanese soldier threw his rifle with a fixed bayonet. When Perez deflected the rifle, it knocked his own rifle to the ground. He seized the Japanese rifle and killed the remaining enemy soldiers. Single-handedly, he killed 18 of the enemy and neutralized the position.
Pfc. Perez was killed by a sniper on March 14, 1945, while still fighting on Luzon in the Philippines. In 1946, on George Washington’s birthday, his Medal of Honor was presented to his father on the International Bridge between Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Perez is buried in Fairlawn Cemetery in Oklahoma City.
The Oklahoma History Center is located at 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive in Oklahoma City. It is a designated Blue Star Museum, offering free admission to all veterans, active duty military and their dependents. Regular admission to the Oklahoma History Center is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and $4 for students.
The Oklahoma History Center is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, National Archives and is an accredited member of the American Alliance of Museums. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.