Most-decorated WWI soldier denied Medal of Honor because he's Mexican, advocates say

SAN ANTONIO — In antique footage, Marcelino Serna wears his Global Conflict I Military uniforms which can be festooned with a number of of his combat medals.

However one medal is lacking — the Medal of Honor — that are supposed to had been draped round his neck a few century in the past, Latino advocates, legislators and historians stated.

They’ve introduced the most recent effort to influence the government to posthumously award Serna the medal, the country’s best possible honor for battlefield heroics, arguing it was once denied on account of racism and xenophobia.

“It obviously seems Personal Marcelino Serna didn’t obtain the Medal of Honor because of him being a Mexican American and an immigrant,” Lawrence Romo, nationwide commander of the American GI Discussion board, a civil rights group and federally chartered veterans team, wrote to the Military.

Texas’ maximum adorned WWI soldier

Serna has been referred to as probably the most adorned Global Conflict I soldier from Texas. He fought between April 6, 1917, and Nov. 11, 1918, in spite of being a Mexican immigrant and noncitizen.

Commander M.R. McKinney, Marcelino Serna, Diana Stopani, Mrs. M. Serna, and Main Bernard L. Mourlevat.Courtesy Texas Historic Fee

There were previous petitions for him to be awarded the distinction, however now the legislation mandates overview of instances like his.

Remaining yr, Congress ordered the Pentagon to study data of Latino, Black, Asian, Local American and Jewish Global Conflict I squaddies to resolve in the event that they have been denied the Medal of Honor on account of their race or faith and must be awarded the medal.

A equivalent overview, ordered in 2002, was once performed for army team of workers of later wars. In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded 24 veterans the medal, all however 3 posthumously. A lot of the ones recipients have been Latinos.

President Barack Obama applauds Medal of Honor recipients Workforce Sgt. Melvin Morris, left, Sergeant First Elegance Jose Rodela, 2nd left, and Specialist 4 Santiago Erevia, 3rd left, for movements all the way through the Vietnam Conflict, all the way through a rite on the White Space on March 18, 2014.Saul Loeb / AFP – Getty Pictures record

“There’s numerous occasions in historical past when you’ll’t proper a improper, however this is a chance for us to proper an glaring improper,” stated Romo, who was once serving within the Obama management when the ones medals got.

Bravery disregarded, medal denied

The army’s respectable quotation for the Prominent Provider Go, the second one best possible battlefield honor, states that Serna singlehandedly charged and captured 24 German squaddies.

However different accounts give extra thorough main points of his heroism and cite multiple such a success solo venture.

The Texas Manual On-line describes his involvement within the Struggle of Saint-Mihiel, France. Serna went out on my own, voluntarily, after 12 participants of his unit have been killed and used grenades to blast a device gun website online, killing six German squaddies and taking pictures 8 others.

Marcelino Serna.Courtesy Texas Historic Fee

Two weeks later, within the Meuse-Argonne offensive he adopted a sniper on a solitary scouting venture, tossed grenades and fired right into a trench from other positions, killing 26 enemy squaddies and taking 26 extra as prisoners. He refused to permit American squaddies to execute them in contradiction of the principles of warfare, in keeping with the Texas Manual On-line.

He was once hit via sniper fireplace in each legs Nov. 7, 1918, 4 days ahead of the armistice settlement that ended the combating. He died in 1992 and is buried within the Citadel Bliss Nationwide Cemetery in El Paso.

Serna carried out acts of bravery that weren’t totally documented in respectable citations via the army, stated Andrés Tijerina, a Vietnam veteran and award-winning historian who has researched Serna.

Serna was once awarded the Prominent Provider Go, two Croix de Guerre with Palm via France and the Croce al Merito di Guerra via the Italian govt. His Prominent Provider Go was once introduced via Gen. John J. Pershing, in keeping with a 2016 opinion piece written via former U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, and printed within the El Paso Occasions.

Romo stated the omission of the extra main points at the selection of enemy squaddies he killed and captured from Serna’s Prominent Provider Go paperwork seems to be “virtually like they watered down his quotation so that they wouldn’t have to offer him the Medal of Honor.”

In step with Hispanics in The united states’s Protection, a Division of Protection pamphlet printed in 1989 when former Vice President Dick Cheney was once the protection secretary, Serna was once advised via an officer he needed to be of upper rank than a “dollar” personal, the bottom rank, to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Serna was once advised he was once denied a promotion in rank that may qualify him as a result of he may just now not learn or write English smartly sufficient to signal stories.

Like York and Murphy, however now not white

Romo and others like to check the heroics of Serna with Sgt. Alvin York, some other WWI soldier who was once awarded the Medal of Honor.

York was once a corporal when he led seven males towards a device gun nest in Chatel-Chehery after his unit took casualties and he assumed command, in keeping with his Medal of Honor quotation. York is credited with taking down a number of German squaddies along with his pistol as they charged at him with their bayonets. The Germans surrendered. York and his males took a number of prisoners that grew to 132 as he marched them to his strains.

York, who was once white, was once straight away promoted to sergeant and awarded the Medal of Honor. He turned into the topic of a number of books and documentaries. He detailed his movements in a diary that was once tailored right into a 1941 film starring Gary Cooper.

Audie Murphy, some other Texan, is lauded for his WWII exploits. He additionally is well known in motion pictures and books and museums and has colleges and a veterans health center named for him.

York and Murphy deserve their accolades and medals, however Serna is late for his, Roma, Tijerina and others stated.

A U.S. Customs and Border Coverage port of access in Tornillo, Texas, was once named for Serna in 2017 after congressional approval of a invoice written via Hurd.

‘Served all the way through a time of utmost prejudice’

“That Personal Serna served all the way through a time of utmost prejudice can’t and will have to now not erase his acts of immense bravery and devotion to america,” Texas’ Mexican American Legislative Caucus stated in a letter to the U.S. Military supporting the GI Discussion board petition for awarding Serna the Medal of Honor.

Texas Rep. Cesar Blanco, D-El Paso, a Military veteran, stated the caucus added its reinforce for the reason that 41-member caucus is the most important Hispanic legislative caucus within the nation, so “I figured it will ship a formidable commentary.”

“During the historical past of our nation, Latinos have made nice sacrifices in some ways, however this one is an overly distinctive approach the place Latinos equivalent to Pvt. Marcelino Serna did such a lot for our nation,” Blanco stated. “This demonstrates, particularly now seeing race family members in any such risky state, that correcting improper injustices is necessary and it is a nice effort to do this.”

A invoice presented in Congress in 1995 to award Serna the Medal of Honor died in committee, in keeping with The Related Press. There even have been requires Serna to be awarded the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor, which has been awarded since 1997. Murphy is amongst its recipients, however now not Serna.

Marcelino Serna, proper.Courtesy Texas Historic Fee

Serna was once born in 1896 in a mining camp outdoor of Chihuahua Town, Mexico. He immigrated to El Paso, Texas, in 1915, labored on a railway and later labored as a seasonal farm laborer in Colorado, in keeping with historic articles accumulated via Romo to reinforce his petition.

When the U.S. joined the warfare, it established a draft for younger males and would spherical up males who did not file. In 1917, Serna was once rounded up within the fields with different laborers at the assumption that they have been evading the draft, and he was once despatched to coaching after which in a foreign country. He spoke little English, Tijerina stated.

Serna was once exempt from combating as a result of he was once now not an American citizen and was once given the danger not to struggle. He refused. He served with Corporate B, 355th Infantry, 89th Infantry Department.

Tijerina stated Serna’s tale is helping contradict generalizations about Mexican and different immigrants as damaging to the rustic and that “such a lot of are rapists, murderers and criminals.”

In 2016, President Donald Trump introduced his presidential bid via claiming Mexico was once sending to the U.S. folks which can be bringing medication and crime and are rapists.

That Serna was once now not a citizen when he performed his heroics is the entire extra explanation why to acknowledge his bravery, Tijerina stated.

“He did it as a result of he believed in democracy. And he did it within the face of insults,” Tijerina stated. “Other folks must learn about this guy.”

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