24 November 2009

RIP: Alejandro R. Ruiz

Alejandro R Ruiz
26 Jun 1923 - 20 Nov 2009

ZUI this article from the Visalia (California) Times-Delta:
Visalia native Alejandro Ruiz and his U.S. Army platoon were caught in an ambush in Okinawa, Japan, during World War II. Trapped in a ravine, the soldiers were pinned down by Japanese fire.

Ruiz's response? He picked up a gun and ran toward the Japanese, said his daughter, Celia Ruiz. When the weapon jammed, the private clubbed two soldiers with the weapon, ran back, tested several guns and charged a second time, she said.

"He miraculously escaped serious injury," she said.

For his bravery during the 1945 incident, Alejandro Ruiz received the Medal of Honor — the highest award for valor in action — from President Harry Truman.

Alejandro Ruiz died Friday from heart failure complications in Yountville. He was 85 years old.

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Private First Class, US Army; 165th Infantry, 27th Infantry Division

Born: Loving, New Mexico, 26 June 1923
Died: Yountville, California, 20 November 2009

Citation: When his unit was stopped by a skillfully camouflaged enemy pillbox [on Okinawa, on 28 April 1945], he displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. His squad, suddenly brought under a hail of machinegun fire and a vicious grenade attack, was pinned down. Jumping to his feet, Private First Class Ruiz seized an automatic rifle and lunged through the flying grenades and rifle and automatic fire for the top of the emplacement. When an enemy soldier charged him, his rifle jammed. Undaunted, Private First Class Ruiz whirled on his assailant and clubbed him down. Then he ran back through bullets and grenades, seized more ammunition and another automatic rifle, and again made for the pillbox. Enemy fire now was concentrated on him, but he charged on, miraculously reaching the position, and in plain view he climbed to the top. Leaping from 1 opening to another, he sent burst after burst into the pillbox, killing 12 of the enemy and completely destroying the position. Private First Class Ruiz's heroic conduct, in the face of overwhelming odds, saved the lives of many comrades and eliminated an obstacle that long would have checked his unit's advance.

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