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  Texas : Features : Columns : Lone Star Diary :

Macario García,
Veteran of D-Day

by Murray Montgomery
Murray Montgomery
Maybe the sixth day of June hasn't much meaning to some folks — but to those who survived World War II; that day, in 1944, has special meaning.

It was on the morning of June 6, 1944, that the largest military amphibious assault in history was launched. The attack was made by Allied forces to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany. The endeavor was code-named, "Operation Overlord." We know it today as, D-Day.

Thousands of American, British, Canadian, and French soldiers were involved in the assault along a 50-mile stretch of French beach known as Normandy. They were supported by paratroopers, bombers, and warships. By the end of the day, over 2,500 of the Allied troops involved in the amphibious assault were dead (10,000 were predicted to die, according to Allied commanders). Over 5,000 American paratroops were killed or wounded.

Macario García was very much a part of the D-Day invasion. In fact, he was one of the many wounded in action during the invasion of Normandy. García, much to the dismay of the Germans, recovered from his wounds and went on to become a recipient of the Medal of Honor.

The story of this soldier is a very interesting one. I started looking for information about him after receiving a call from a gentleman in Waelder, Texas, who said that Macario García had lived near that town. According to The Handbook of Texas, García was born in Villa de Castaño, Mexico, on January 2, 1920. He was one of ten children and his family moved to Texas in 1923.

The information in The Handbook of Texas briefly states that the García family eventually settled near Sugar Land. Where they lived prior to that however, is not mentioned. So, it is possible that he did spend part of his youth living in the Waelder vicinity.

One of the things I found most intriguing about the García story was that he was not even a citizen of the United States when he was drafted by the army. American citizen or not, this young man distinguished himself on the battlefield. Reports indicate that on November 27, 1944, near Grosshau, Germany, he single-handedly assaulted two German machine-gun emplacements.

García was wounded in the shoulder and foot, but yet he fought on — he killed six enemy soldiers and captured four others. Not satisfied until the mission was complete, he finished off the machine-gun nests with grenades. This heroic feat resulted in García being awarded the Medal of Honor. It was presented to him by President Harry S. Truman during a ceremony at the White House on August 23, 1945.

Macario García went on to win other battlefield citations including: The Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and the Combat Infantryman's Badge. He was also presented with the Mérito Militar (Mexican equivalent to the Medal of Honor) during a ceremony in Mexico City on January 8, 1946.

After three years of active service to the United States, Sergeant Macario García received his honorable discharge and left the army. He was officially listed as a citizen of Mexico at the time.

Macario García became somewhat of a celebrity in Texas. He was asked to speak at banquets and to appear at meetings. He was receiving the well-deserved thanks of grateful citizens for his dedication to duty during the war.

Everything seemed to be going well for García, until September of 1945 — it was then that racism raised its ugly head. The young soldier had stopped in the town of Richmond, Texas, to have a bite to eat. Because he was Hispanic, the restaurant denied service to García. The veteran of the Normandy invasion became outraged, and who could blame him. After all, he had risked his life for his adopted country and yet he was being treated as a second-class citizen.

García fought with the owner of the restaurant and the police were called. The Medal of Honor winner was arrested and charged in the incident. But the affair outraged the Hispanic community and others as well. When the case went to trial, García was acquitted and rightly so.

Macario García became an American citizen on June 25, 1947. He earned his high school diploma in 1951 and got married in 1952. Macario and Alicia García raised three children. The Normandy veteran worked as a counselor for the Veteran's Administration for 25 years.

After surviving the D-Day invasion and taking everything that the Germans could throw at him — Macario García was killed in a car crash on December 24, 1972. He is buried in the National Cemetery at Houston, Texas.

Is the sixth of June just another day? Not to those who remember....

© Murray Montgomery
Lone Star Diary
February 16 column
 
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