LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - When Jesus Perez attended mass at 5 p.m. Saturday at San Ramon Hall, little did he know he would be at a service honoring himself immediately afterwards.
Perez received medals for his service in WWII from Major Robert Simmons in front of his family and friends.
He was only 18 years old when he was drafted into the Navy for WWII.
He was honorably discharged two years later when the war ended.
Here is his full story as written by his daughter, Cathy Nichols:
Jesus Hiracheta Perez WWII Historical Account
Jesus Hiracheta Perez was 18 years old when he was drafted in to the Navy for WWII. He registered in Tahoka, TX (Lynn County) and left Lubbock by train for Great Lakes, Illinois on January 15, 1944 to begin his training. It was the first time he had ever been away from home. He left behind his father and mother, Severo and Agapita Perez and three sisters: Eulalia, Mary, and Margaret and one brother Pete. Jesus was the oldest of the family and they lived in Slaton, TX.
After some of his training in St Louis he was sent to Camp Perry Virginia where he was trained in construction battalion. While there, he was vaccinated for measles and mumps. Shortly thereafter he contracted the measles and was hospitalized for two weeks and then he contracted the mumps for which he was hospitalized another two weeks. He wasn't able to contact his family and states that it was the longest month during his enlistment. After a time in Virginia he was given one week of furlough but because of the time it took to get to Slaton, TX and back to Virginia he was only able to visit his family for 2 days.
After Virginia he was sent to San Francisco, California and was stationed at Treasure Island Base. He vividly remembers his mailing address as NSD3115 San Francisco Ca. On August 13, 1944, he was given orders to go to the Pacific on board the General John Paul ship which carried thousands of troops from all branches. The ship was about 2 football fields in length.
On September 5, 1944 they arrived in Papua New Guinea which is west of Australia where he was stationed at Hollandia Base. His main duty while in Hollandia was to load ships bound for the Philippines and the surrounding islands where fighting was taking place. They loaded the ships with supplies that included anything the troops might need such as; shoes, pants, food, oil barrels, and even beer. He also unloaded supplies he received from other ships and placed them in the Naval Supply Depot. He was also responsible for defrosting large refrigerators which meant working the night shift from 12:00 - 6:00am.
He was constantly teased by his fellow mates about his youthful appearance. They all thought he looked like he was 14 or 15 years old. Which he thinks why one of the most memorable things happened to him. He remembers during a routine inspection of the troops by General Nemitz, second in command to General McArthur, while he was stationed at Hollandia Base, the General stood in front of him and kept looking at him. The General then shook his head almost sadly, smiled at him and then placed his hand on my father's shoulder and then walked on.
He remembers when the United States defeated Germany in August 1945 he was on the ship and celebrations were going on throughout the ship.
He left for the states in December 1945 where he arrived in San Francisco. From there he was shipped to Galveston, TX where he was stationed at Camp Wallace. WWII came to an end and he was honorably discharged on January 15, 1946.
When he arrived in Lubbock, TX a stranger gave him a ride to Slaton, TX. By that time his family had moved to another home in Slaton. His discharge was unexpected and had not had a chance to write home. He did not know where his family had moved to. He sat at the Slaton Courthouse until he came upon a man who told him where the nearest hotel was at. It was dark and so he walked to the hotel. However the man whistled at him and asked him what he was doing. My father told him the name of his parents and by God's intervention the man happened to be my father's mother's first cousin. He was given a ride home and he will never forget the tearful homecoming.
Instead of giving his life in the war, God had other plans for my father. In 5 years after serving he would meet my mother, Reyes Rodriguez, in a cotton field in West Texas, marry her and have 12 children; Emily Garcia, Rosa Coy, Gloria Rodriguez-Perez, Carmen Robles, Cecilia Garcia, Cathy Nichols, Michael Perez, Gregory Perez, Frank Perez, Angelica Flores, Fr. Rene Perez and Amanda Perez. He has many grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. His wife passed away in 2005, he is 88 years old and he lives with his oldest daughter near Slaton, TX.
Dad, your courage, dedication to God, family, and country make you a true hero with or without the medals. We love you!
Thank You and God Bless!