Manuel Perez-Garcia was awarded numerous medals for his service in World War II. Later, when he tried to serve during the Korean War, President Harry S. Truman wrote him a personal note saying Garcia was simply too old for combat.
Nevertheless, Garcia went on to become one of the oldest members of Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961, parachuting into the island and serving 20-months in a Cuban prison.
His remains are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Garcia joined the 32nd Infantry Division in 1944, fighting in the battles of Luzon and New Guinea and throughout the Southern Philippines, for which he received a Purple Heart, Silver Star and Bronze Star among other awards. The staff sergeant was discharged following the war.
In 1952, after one of his sons was killed in Korea, Garcia sought unsuccessfully to re-enlist.
Undeterred, Garcia volunteered less than a decade later for the doomed Bay of Pigs invasion to topple Fidel Castro’s fledgling revolution. He was captured, along with more than 1,000 other Cuban exiles.
Cuban American National Foundation director Pepe Hernandez, who was captured along with Garcia, described him as one of the bravest men he knew.
(Originally published: https://www.staugustine.com/article/20111111/NEWS/311119989)