May 25, 2005
José M. López, the United States' oldest Hispanic recipient of the Medal of Honor, who earned the award for single-handedly killing more than 100 German soldiers at the Battle of the Bulge, died on Monday, May 16, 2005, in San Antonio. He was 94. Sgt. Lopez was born in Mexico, orphaned when he was 8 and worked in a series of subsistence jobs. He boxed lightweight for a while, after a series of seafaring misadventures -- he once was stranded at sea for weeks on a cargo boat with nothing to eat but a cache of bananas -- he joined the Army during World War II and was shot during a landing on Omaha beach. On Dec. 17, 1944, he was on a snowy patch of ground near Krinkelt, Belgium, when he saw that German tanks and infantry were about to overrun his company. He lugged his heavy Browning machine gun into a shallow hole and started firing, first killing 10 enemy soldiers and then another 25. As the Germans kept coming, López changed positions repeatedly, praying to the Virgin of Guadalupe to spare him. He stopped shooting when he ran out of ammo. By then he'd killed so many enemy soldiers that officials stopped counting ... after 100. President Harry S Truman awarded him the Medal of Honor in June 1945. A modest López told a newspaper in 2001: "You learn to protect the line and do the best you can with the ammunition you have, and I did it."