Silvestre Santana Herrera was born in Camargo, Chihuahua back in 1917. His parents died in an influenza epidemic when he was one. His uncle brought him to the United States when he was 18 months old. Growing up in El Paso, Texas he worked as a farm hand before moving to Phoenix, Arizona.
At the outbreak of WWII, he was drafted into the Texas National Guard. After boot camp, he was assigned to the 142d Infantry, landing in Italy in 1944. In March of 1945, his unit was engaged in combat in a forest near Bas-Rhin 5 miles northwest of Haguenau. While his unit was pinned down he charged the enemy forces single-handedly firing his M1 rifle from his hip and ending the threat with a pair of grenades. Eight enemy soldiers threw down their weapons and surrendered. Later that same day his unit was under siege near a mine field. Ignoring the danger, he again charged the enemy position stepping on a mine severing one of his legs below the knee. When he fell he fell on another mine losing his other leg. Despite the loss of both legs he continued to lay down fire until his unit was able to overcome the enemy position.
For his bravery, he was awarded the Medal of Honor and from Mexico the Order of Military Merit. He was and still is the only living person authorized to wear both of the medals. He died in 2007, he was 90.
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