PFC Manuel Perez Jr.
Mexican-American Hero and Role Model
Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on March 3, 1923, Manuel Perez Jr. was less than 2 years old when his family moved to Chicago. After graduating from Crane Technical High School in June of 1941, he entered the military while still living in Chicago.
During World War II, Perez volunteered for parachute duty and was assigned to the 511 Parachute Infantry Regiment, where he was sent to the Pacific Theater of war. He saw action in the Philippines at Fort William McKinley in Luzon on February 13, 1945 and demonstrated great heroics.
He was the lead scout for Company A, which destroyed 11 of 12 pillboxes in a strongly fortified sector defending the approach to enemy-held Fort William McKinley on Luzon, Philippine Islands.
Through his courageous determination and heroic disregard of grave danger, Private First Class (PFC) Perez made possible the successful advance of his unit toward a valuable objective, providing a lasting inspiration for his comrades. PFC Perez died one week after his amazing victory on March 14, 1945.
For his heroic achievements during World War II, he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. As a role model for our students, it is his courage and dedication to duty that stands out. In addition to the Manuel Perez Jr. Elementary School which bears his name, a Plaza is located at 26th Street and Kolin Avenue in Chicago as well.