Ruiz, Alejandro Renteria, MSG

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Last Rank
Master Sergeant
Last Service Branch
Last Primary MOS
11Z50-Infantry Senior Sergeant
Last MOS Group
Infantry (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1944-1946, 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment
Service Years
1944 - 1964
Foreign Language(s)

Master Sergeant

Six Service Stripes

Four Overseas Service Bars

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
New Mexico
New Mexico
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by the Site Administrator to remember Ruiz, Alejandro Renteria, MSG USA(Ret).
Contact Info
Home Town
Last Address
Visalia, CA

Date of Passing
Nov 20, 2009
Location of Interment
Veterans Memorial Grove Cemetery - Yountville, California
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

Infantry Shoulder Cord US Army Retired (Pre-2007) 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team

 Unofficial Badges 

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

medal of honor image

Medal of Honor

Alejandro R. Ruiz
Private First Class, U.S. Army, 165th Infantry, 27th Infantry Division
When his unit was stopped by a skillfully camouflaged enemy pillbox, he displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. His squad, suddenly brought under a hail of machinegun fire and a vicious grenade attack, was pinned down. Jumping to his feet, Pfc. Ruiz seized an automatic rifle and lunged through the flying grenades and rifle and automatic fire for the top of the emplacement. When an enemy soldier charged him, his rifle jammed. Undaunted, Pfc. Ruiz whirled on his assailant and clubbed him down. Then he ran back through bullets and grenades, seized more ammunition and another automatic rifle, and again made for the pillbox. Enemy fire now was concentrated on him, but he charged on, miraculously reaching the position, and in plain view he climbed to the top. Leaping from one opening to another, he sent burst after burst into the pillbox, killing 12 of the enemy and completely destroying the position. Pfc. Ruiz's heroic conduct, in the face of overwhelming odds, saved the lives of many comrades and eliminated an obstacle that long would have checked his unit's advance.
Place and date: Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, April 28, 1945
GO 60 Jun 26 1946
Other Comments:

Alejandro Renteria Ruiz was born and raised in New Mexico, the son of a Mexican immigrant who had been an officer in Pancho Villa's army. In 1944, twenty-year-old Ruiz was driving to Texas to see his girlfriend when he got into a legal scrape. He went before a judge who gave him a choice between the Army and jail. Ruiz enlisted.

After training at Fort Bliss and Fort Ord, Private First Class Ruiz shipped out with the 165th Infantry. His unit landed on Okinawa in April 1945. On April 28, his company, exhausted from a series of engagements with Japanese troops in heavily fortified positions, was moving down into a deep ravine. The Japanese let his unit pass by a well-camouflaged pillbox before opening fire and lobbing grenades. As the Americans tried to find cover while Japanese grenades rained down on them, Ruiz saw his comrades falling all around him; after just a few minutes, only he and his squad leader had escaped injury.

Knowing that he needed more firepower than his rifle could offer, Ruiz grabbed a Browning Automatic Rifle and moved toward the pillbox. As he started to climb on top of it so he could open fire, the weapon jammed. At that moment, a Japanese soldier charged him; Ruiz clubbed him down, then tossed the rifle aside and ran back through the heavy fire to where his men were pinned down. Picking up another automatic rifle and grabbing some extra cans of ammunition, he headed back toward the pillbox while the Japanese machine gunners and riflemen were all concentrating their fire on him. Making it through the storm of bullets and grenades, he once again climbed on top of the emplacement and sent several bursts of fire through the aperture, killing the twelve soldiers inside and destroying the position.

Unscathed except for a minor flesh wound in the leg, Ruiz found a place to sit down after the battle and tried to light a cigarette with shaking hands. The men he had saved told him they were going to recommend him for the Medal of Honor. Ruiz didn't think about it for the next several weeks as his unit continued the fight on Okinawa. It wasn't until May 1946, when he was back in the United States, living in the married soldiers' barracks, that he was told he was indeed to receive the medal. Ruiz's wife, mother, and sister accompanied him to the White House, where President Harry Truman made the presentation on June 12, 1946.

He spent his career in the Army. He also served in the Korean War and retired as a master sergeant in the mid-1960s.

He lived for many years in Visalia, Calif., which named a park in his honor. Most recently, he had been living at the Veterans Home in Yountville, Calif., near Napa.

His marriages to Eliza Martinez and Lilia Flores ended in divorce. Survivors include two children from his first marriage, Celia Ruiz and Alejandro Ruiz Jr., both of Berkeley; a sister; seven grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

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Combat Infantryman 2nd Award

 Unit Assignments
27th Infantry Brigade (Enhanced)1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment
  1944-1946, 745, 27th Infantry Brigade (Enhanced)
  1944-1946, 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1944-1944 New Guinea Campaign (1943-44)/Battle of Saipan
  1945-1945 Ryukyus Campaign (1945)/Battle of Okinawa
  1945-1945 WWII - Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Surrender of Japan
  1945-1946 US Occupation of Germany (WWII)
  1953-1953 Korean War/Korean Summer (1953)
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