When Japan’s ferocious General Tomoyuki Yamashita (“The Tiger of Malaya”) finally emerged from his headquarters on Luzon to surrender he handed his pistol, samurai sword and battle flag to the nearest U.S. soldier he saw. This was Cuban born, Manuel Perez-Garcia.
At war’s end the 82nd Airborne presented a special trophy to the U.S. soldier who had racked up the most enemy kills in the Pacific theater. Today that trophy sits prominently in Miami’s Bay of Pigs Museum, donated by the man who won it, Bay of Pigs veteran and Cuban born, Manuel Perez Garcia. (Who started with the 82nd but fought in the Pacific with the 11th Airborne) The trophy sits alongside the three purple hearts, three bronze stars and three silver stars Mr Perez-Garcia earned in the Pacific.
At age 51 Perez-Garcia volunteered for the Bay of Pigs invasion and gave the Castroites a thrashing as bad as he’d given the Japanese.
Manuel Perez-Garcia still lives in Miami, at age 101, and is active in the Bay of Pigs Veterans assoc.
UPDATE (from the managing editor):
Humberto adds in the comments:
Upon the Communist invasion of South Korea in June of 1950, Manuel Perez-Garcia rallied to the U.S. colors again, volunteering for the U.S. army again at age 41. It took a gracious letter from President Harry Truman himself to explain that by U.S. law Manuel was slightly overaged but mostly that, “You, sir, have served well above and beyond your duty to the nation… You’ve written a brilliant page in service to this country.”
Mr Perez-Garcia’s son, Jorge, however was the right age and stepped to the fore. He joined the U.S. army, made sergeant and died from a hail of Communist bullets while leading his men in Korea on May 4th 1952. To fight America’s enemies, Mr Perez-Garcia and his son were shipped thousands of miles to distant continents. When he tried fighting one every bit as rabid and murderous as Tojo or Kim Il Sung but only 90 miles away–and who had converted his own homeland into a island prison, a Soviet colony and daily playground for Che Guevara’s firing squads — he was sold down the river.