Country of origin: Mexico
Private First Class Silvestre S. Herrera (July 17, 1917 – November 26, 2007) was a member of the United States Army of Hispanic heritage who received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during World War II in Mertzwiller, France. His one-man charge on an enemy stronghold resulted in his single-handed capture of eight enemy soldiers. At the time of his death he was the only living person authorized to wear both the Medal of Honor and Mexico's Order of Military Merit (first class). The City of Phoenix officially renamed the portion of 3rd Street that runs from Indian School Road North into the park, "S. Herrera Way". Silvestre Herrera was an Arizona "legend".
Herrera was born in the Mexican city of Camargo, Chihuahua, and not, as he once believed, in El Paso, Texas. His parents died when he was only a year old, and the man he had always thought was his father was really an uncle who had brought the 18-month old Herrera to El Paso to provide him with a better way of life in the United States. This fact was unknown to him until he was 27 years old. Herrera worked as a farm hand in El Paso. He soon moved to Phoenix, Arizona with his wife Ramona and three children, Mary, Elva, Silvestre, Jr. and the uncle he believed to be his father. Herrera was a member of the Texas National Guard, 36th Division. When the United States entered World War II, his unit was to be one of the first to land in Europe. When he broke the news to his family, he was told the truth about his parents' death and his place of birth.
Herrera became the first resident from Arizona to receive the Medal of Honor during World War II. Arizona Governor Sidney P. Osborn declared August 14, 1945 to be "Herrera Day" and welcomed home Pfc. Silvestre S. Herrera with a hero's parade. A drive to bestow upon him citizenship of the only country he knew was started and as a result he was granted United States Citizenship. The citizens of Arizona raised $14,000 to provide him and his growing family with a new home.
Valle Del Sol, Inc. recognized him with a Special Recognition Award in 1994, and with a Hall of Fame award in 1999. On March 13, 1996, Herrera was honored by the United States House of Representatives upon recommendation of Congressman Ed Pastor. An elementary school in Phoenix, Arizona — the Silvestre S Herrera School — bears his name.
To read more about Silvestre S. Herrera, visit his page on Wikipedia.