Pedro Cano MOH

b. 19/06/1920 Nuevo Leon, Mexico. d. 24/06/1952 Pharr, Texas.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 03/12/1944 Schevenhutte, Germany.

Pedro Cano MOH

Pedro Cano was the child of Secundino Cano and Nicolasa Gonzalez Cano. He was born in La Morita, Nuevo Leon, Mexico on July 7, 1920. His family moved to the Rio Grande Valley when he was 2 months old. He grew up and worked as a farm laborer in Hidalgo County prior to joining the army. Very little is known about Cano’s early life. However, it is known that he had a wife, Herminia Garza Cano, two daughters, Dominga and Maria, and a son, Susano.

When he joined the army during World War II, Mr. Cano, a slight man with limited knowledge of English, had little wish to leave his family. He reported for duty nevertheless and subsequently deployed to the European theater. In the fall of 1944 he was with the 4th Infantry Division when that force, after helping to liberate Paris, launched an attack on the Siegfried Line.

Cano unceremoniously received the Distinguished Service Cross in the mail, which he put away in a closet after showing to some of his friends. American Legion posts in his community immediately began drafting messages to the Army’s Eighth Service Command requesting a military ceremony for Cano. Col. George R. Beane was in Edinburg, Texas making an investigation of the “army blunder” in awarding the Distinguished Service Cross to Private Pedro Cano. Also investigating was Col. John T. Morgan, assistant inspector general to the Eight Service Command in Dallas, Texas. Both officers said, “an unfortunate error had been made and the army is anxious to rectify it by offering a general officer to make the presentation.” “I am not empowered to guarantee Gen. Jonathan Wainwright’s presence, ” Beane said. “I am not his aide but secretary to his general staff. After verifying the facts, which I have done to my complete satisfaction, I can only recommend that he attend.”

General Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV, Admiral Joseph J. Clark, as well as General J. Trinidad Rodriguez and Colonel J. Tiburcio Garza Zamorra of the Mexican Army were present at the Pedro Cano Day ceremony on April 26, 1946. Also present were valley military heroes William G. Harrell, Luis N. Gonzalez, and Jose M. Lopez. The community held a parade. Schools dismissed students for the day. Approximately 4,000 people were in attendance. General Wainwright did mention during the ceremony that Pedro Cano deserved a higher award, the Medal of Honor.

On June 24, 1952 at age 32, Pedro Cano died when the truck he was driving back to his home in Edinburg collided with an oncoming vehicle in Pharr, Texas. His children, Dominga, Maria, and Susano, were 9, 5, and 2 years old respectively. Cano’s wife, Herminia died on Sunday October 30, 1975 at age 55. Susano never married and had no children. Dominga has four sons: Marcos, Salvador Jr, Roberto, and Armando; and two daughters: Esperanza and Rosalinda. Maria has four sons: Pedro, Joaquin Jr, Andres, and David.

The City of Edinburg, Texas hosted a second ceremony for Pedro Cano 64 years later on May 18, 2010 at the municipal auditorium. Texas Governor Rick Perry personally presented the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor to the surviving family of Pedro Cano. In 2002, Congress through the Defense Authorization Act, called for a review of Jewish American and Hispanic American veteran war records from WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, to ensure those deserving the Medal of Honor were not denied because of prejudice. In May 2013, Pedro Cano’s family received a telephone call from President Obama informing the family that after almost 70 years, Private Pedro Cano had been selected to receive the Medal of Honor.

President Barack Obama posthumously bestowed the Medal of Honor upon Private Pedro Cano at a ceremony on March 18, 2014, in the East Room of the White House. Pedro’s eldest daughter, Dominga, accepted the Medal of Honor for her father. Descendants of Pedro Cano joined other honorees’ families at the White House ceremony. President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to 24 Army veterans in recognition of their valor during major combat operations in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. They were overlooked for the Medal of Honor due to their racial or ethnic backgrounds. The ceremony on March 18 followed a 12-year Pentagon review, ordered by Congress, of past discrimination in the military. “No nation is perfect,” the President said at the ceremony. “But here in America we confront our imperfections and face a sometimes painful past, including the truth that some of these soldiers fought and died for a country that did not always see them as equal.” Each soldier awarded on March 18, 2014, had been denied the Medal of Honor due to their Jewish, Hispanic or African American ethnicity. “So with each generation, we keep striving to live up to our ideals of freedom and equality and to recognize the dignity and patriotism of every person,” President Obama said.



He was advancing with his company near Schevenhutte, Germany, in December 1944 when the unit came under withering fire from German machine guns. With his comrades pinned down, Private Cano worked his way forward alone, through a hail of fire and over more than 100 yards of heavily mined terrain until he was within 30 feet (9.1 m) of the nearest German emplacement. Firing one round with his hand-held rocket launcher, he destroyed the position and killed its two gunners and five supporting riflemen. He then moved on toward a second emplacement, which he attacked with his rifle and hand grenades, killing several more soldiers. With another American company nearby similarly immobilized, Private Cano crept to within 15 yards of a third emplacement, killed its two gunners with a rocket, and then destroyed yet another emplacement and killed its gunners, enabling that company to also advance.