Former Miami resident, Alice G. Mendoza, who is 90 years young and lives in Mesa, will be accepting the Medal of Honor being posthumously awarded to her late husband, Manuel V. Mendoza, by President Barrack Obama during special ceremonies scheduled in Washington D.C. in the East Room of the White House on Tuesday, March 18th. Mrs. Mendoza was first informed about the event by a personal telephone call she had received earlier from the President of the United States which came as a complete surprise stunning her and other family members. She will be accompanied by the couple’s two daughters, Sylvia Nandin and Barbara Duran, along with son Manuel F. Mendoza Jr, who all live in the greater Phoenix area.
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Manuel V. Mendoza passed away in 2001 at the age of 79. He was born on June 15, 1922 in Miami, Arizona and attended Miami schools. His parents were Julio and Lupe Mendoza. The family later moved from Miami to Mesa, Arizona.
Master Sergeant Manuel V. Mendoza entered the U.S. Army at Fort MacArthur, California, November 1942. He served in both World War II and Korea, receiving numerous distinguished medals of honor.
During the upcoming mass ceremony at the White House, then Staff Sgt. Manuel Mendoza will be recognized for his actions on October 4, 1944, in Italy on Mt. Battaglia, where he is credited with single-handedly breaking up a German counterattack. The Miami native is among 24 overlooked veterans to be bestowed with the U.S. Military’s highest honor, “The Medal of Honor”, by the President of the United States. Only three of the twenty-four recipients are still alive today.
Mendoza was nicknamed the “Arizona Kid” for his actions in combat in World War II and Korea. Following his Army career, while living in Arizona Mendoza worked as a mechanic, then took positions at several Arizona copper mines and later found employment as a foreman at the huge Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant east of Phoenix where he worked for many years. He passed away at the age of 79.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Mendoza received the Distinguished Service Cross (this award will be upgraded to the Medal of Honor on March 18, 2014), Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with five Bronze Service Stars, Presidential Unit Citation with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Combat Infantryman Badge (Second Award), Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II, United Nations Service Medal, Republic of Korea Korean War Service Medal, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, Italian Cross for Merit of War Unit Citation.