Korean War Hero - Tribute site by Q Madp - www.OurWarHeroes.org

Eliseo Garcia

Sacramento, California

June 10, 2013

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
82 Army CSM

 

 During his military service, Mr. Garcia received the Distinguished Service Cross, three Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars, five Purple Hearts, and two Combat Infantry Badges. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1972 as a Command Sergeant Major. 

From Inside CDCR News insidecdrc.ca.gov 06/19/13:

Eliseo Garcia
Posted on Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Former Correctional Officer, war hero dies

Former Correctional Officer Eliseo Garcia, a highly decorated veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, died June 10 at the age of 82. He was born Feb. 13, 1931, in Albuquerque, N.M.

During his military service, Mr. Garcia received the Distinguished Service Cross, three Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars, five Purple Hearts, and two Combat Infantry Badges. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1972 as a Command Sergeant Major. He served as grand marshal of the 1951 Armistice Day parade in Sacramento, and was presented a key to the city. In 1969 he received a letter from then-Gov. Ronald Reagan noting his commitment and courage during both the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

In 1990, he became a Correctional Officer at Pelican State Bay State Prison, where he served until his retirement in 2004.

A graveside service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, June 21, in St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Sacramento. Memorial contributions may be made to Wounded Warrior Fund, 4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300, Jacksonville, Fla., 32256.

From The Sacramento Bee sacbee.com 06/20/13:

Funeral services set for highly decorated Korea, Vietnam veteran
By Jack Newsham
Published: Thursday, Jun. 20, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Friday, Jun. 21, 2013 - 8:36 am

You don't find many 17-year-olds marching in Veterans Day parades these days.

Even fewer are chauffeured along the route, named the parade's grand marshal and given the military's second-highest honor – and a key to the city – before a cheering crowd of 50,000.

But in 1951, Eliseo Garcia did just that.

In a front page story Nov. 12, 1951, The Bee described how the city of Sacramento paid tribute to Garcia in the Armistice Day parade that stretched for 40 blocks.

"The generals, colonels and other dignitaries stepped aside to give the place of honor to a slim, shy … technical sergeant, Eliseo Garcia," it said.

Garcia would serve 21 more years in the Army, raise five children, work as a prison counselor and touch the lives of hundreds of students before his death June 10. He was 79.

"He had always wanted to join the Army," said Monique Hale, Garcia's granddaughter.

He first tried joining the Army at age 14 but was turned away. A year later, he enlisted after convincing his father to lie about his age.

Garcia – known as "Chico," or "little boy," to the members of L Company, 23rd Infantry Regiment – served his first tour in Korea from August 1950 to May 1951. He was a squad leader and witnessed some of the worst fighting of the war.

"Everybody knew him as 'that crazy kid' because he did things nobody else did," said Col. Ralph Hockley, who served as an artillery officer in the same regiment and befriended Garcia after the war. "He was afraid of nothing."

Garcia was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army's second highest honor, at the Sacramento parade. He was cited for taking out two enemy machine-gun crews near the Natkong River in September 1950.

According to the award citation, he was wounded in the assault but pressed on with his attack and killed eight enemy soldiers with his grenades, enabling his platoon to attain its objective.

Before coming home on leave, however, Garcia would fight his way out of Chipyong-ni, where he celebrated his 17th birthday surrounded by 25,000 Chinese soldiers.

"Some of the guys were teasing me that I was getting some unwanted guests for my birthday," Garcia said in a 2009 interview.

Garcia earned a Silver Star for his actions at Chipyong-ni. It was one of three he would earn over the course of his career.

Other awards included five Purple Hearts, four Bronze Stars, and two combat infantryman badges, one for service in Korea and the other for service in Vietnam.

Explaining his valor, Garcia told a reporter in 2008: "I'm a Christian, so I believed that whatever happened, I'd go to a better place."

Garcia spent the years after the war moving between Army bases. In 1955, he married his wife, Peggy Jo. From 1966 until 1990, the Garcia family would call Sacramento home.

During his time in the service, Garcia earned his high school equivalency certificate and began taking college courses. He spoke seven languages and had begun studying Hebrew.

He retired from the Army in 1972 with the rank of command sergeant major, though "he was never actually retired," said Hale, his granddaugher. "There was not a moment of his life when he was not working."

In the 1980s, Garcia would raise his grandson Roger Jaramillo, who currently serves in the 29th Brigade Service Corps and has completed four tours of duty in Iraq.

"Every single time I would wake up, when I was supposed to be in bed, he would be reading the Bible, and I would sit down with him, and that's how I learned to read," said Jaramillo.

He said his grandfather didn't guide him to military service. "He thought I was too smart. He wanted better things for me.

"But I wanted to follow in his footsteps," Jaramillo said. "I wanted to experience that for myself."

Garcia began working as a state correctional officer in Tracy in the 1980s.

In 1990, he transferred to Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, where he worked for 14 years. He also worked as a tutor at two area grade schools.

After retiring from the prison system, Garcia moved to Marysville, Wash. He was active with the local post of Veterans of Foreign Wars, and post commander Willy Hughes said Garcia would go to high schools on Veterans Day to teach students about what it meant to serve.

"It was very neat to see him in parades. He could still fit in his Army uniform," said Hughes.

In 2011, 60 years after participating in his first Veterans Day parade, Garcia walked his last in Washington state with a cane, said Hughes.

In 2007, Garcia published a book about his years in the Army, titled "Youth in War." Family members say he was working on a book about his devout Christian beliefs before his death.

Garcia is survived by his wife, Peggy Jo; his brother, Raymond; his children, Lee, Darlene, Shirley, Nathan, and Linda; 14 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery. A nine-man honor guard from the California National Guard will be present.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Wounded Warrior Fund, 4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300, Jacksonville, FL 32256.

From The Arlington Times arlingtontimes.com 08/27/08:

Korean War vet joined the Army early to fight for his country
posted Aug 27, 2008 at 5:07 PM
ARLINGTON As far as Eliseo Garcia was concerned, 14 years old was old enough to fight and die for his country.
Garcia is the newest member of Arlington Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1561, and back in 1950, he fought his first war when he was technically too young even to be serving in the military.
Garcia was able to retire as a command sergeant major in the Army as the age of 38, after serving in Korea and Vietnam, because hed enlisted when he was only 15 years old.
I tried to join when I was 14, but they kicked me out, Garcia said. A year later, my father signed enlistment papers for me, saying that I was 17, just in time for me to go to Korea.
Garcia is a short, quiet man, who still fits into his military dress uniform and speaks of his experiences in the service with a stoic level of understatement. When he revealed to this reporter that he was recommended for the Congressional Medal of Honor, twice, he punctuated it with a simple shrug of his shoulders. His tone was equally matter-of-fact when he explained his reasons for wanting to serve in the first place.
I knew I had to be in, ever since I was a kid, said Garcia, whose father lied about his own age to serve in World War II at the age of 14, and whose older brothers joined the military in World War II. Another older brother couldnt join due to heart problems, but Garcias younger brother followed him into the Army after a few years, as did four of Garcias grandchildren.
Our family felt an obligation to this country, Garcia said. My grandkids are in Iraq, and one grandson told me, Im following in your footsteps. I told him, Dont follow too close.
From 1950-1951, Garcias footsteps went from Pusan, through Kunu-ri and Chipyongi, to the Spring Offensive in Korea. From the ages of 16-17, he served a squad leader in Company L, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. And on Sept. 16, 1950, he knocked out two North Korean machine gun positions on the Naktong River, wounding him but earning him the Distinguished Service Cross, the nations second-highest military honor, and one of many awards and decorations he received during his time in service.
People have asked me if I was afraid, and called me a liar when I said no, said Garcia, who charged the machine gun nests to wipe them out with grenades. Im a Christian, so I believed that whatever happened, Id go to a better place.
Garcias rifle squad was also on the line for 87 days, the longest of any unit in Korea.
By the time we got relieved, Id gone 86 days without a shower, said Garcia.
While Garcia served as a master sergeant in Vietnam years later, cutting off enemy troops from their sources of supplies and intelligence, he never again saw as much combat as he did in Korea.
The paces of fire-fights have gotten a lot more relaxed, Garcia said. In 10 years, we lost 57,000 men in Vietnam, but in three years, we lost 45,000 men in Korea. In five years in Iraq, weve lost 4,000. I tell my grandkids there, just because theres no action, it doesnt mean you should drop your guard. As long as youre in the field, you need to be on your toes.
Garcia hopes that his grandchildren and their fellow troops in Iraq will pay attention to their surroundings, and that the sacrifices they make will not be in vain.
Freedom is not as free as people believe, Garcia said. If we hadnt fought Britain, we wouldnt have become the United States. Our troops need to be built up.

From U.S. Army www.Army.mil 02/27/09:

Korean War's 'Gettysburg' remembered

February 27, 2009 By Matt Smith
FORT LEWIS, Wash. - Though being activated, deactivated and reactivated several times since its inception into the Army during the War of 1812, the 23rd Infantry Regiment has had a hand in nearly every major U.S. war in the post-Civil War era.

From relieving the cavalry at the Little Big Horn in 1876 to the beach at St. Lauren-Sur-Mer on D-Day 1944, to Haifa Street in Baghdad in 2007, the Tomahawks have earned 58 battle and campaign streamers.

None of those streamers, though, is held in higher regard than the one that reads "Chipyong-Ni."

Soldiers from 1-23 Inf., 2-23 Inf., 4-23 Inf. and 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery gathered outside 1-23's headquarters building Feb. 18 for the regiment's annual memorial ceremony of the battle referred to as the Gettysburg of the Korean War.

On Feb. 13, 1951, the 23rd Regimental Combat Team found itself completely surrounded and cut off from reinforcements by five units of the Communist Chinese Forces in the valley village of Chipyong-Ni, North Korea.

As night fell, the Chinese made their initial attack on the isolated unit using, first, mortars, then human waves numbering upwards of 1,000 communist soldiers. The regiment, along with an attached French battalion, fought off the Chinese throughout the night until the communists fell back as morning came.

The Chinese once again attacked the regiment's perimeter on the night of the 14th, but this time focused their efforts mainly on the 2nd Bn. sector. The communist tactic worked and forced the battalion to pull back.

Having breeched the perimeter, the Chinese dug in and continued their barrage of mortar and small-arms fire all day. The communist forces continued their attacks throughout the day and into the night, but soon found trouble from above.

American aircraft dropped napalm on enemy positions, scorching mass numbers of Chinese and softening up their defenses for a U.S. counterattack the next morning.

The regimental reserve made three pushes beginning the morning of Feb. 15 to retake the captured positions, all to no avail.

The fourth and final push was a frontal assault with help from four tanks, numerous close air support sorties and Task Force Crombez - a relief column that had fought its way to the regiment.

The assault was successful, and the regiment finally recaptured its lost ground from the Chinese. The assault's success broke the communists' will and by nightfall on the 15th, they had completely pulled out of Chipyong-Ni.

Though outnumbered nearly four to one at the battle's outset, the American-led United Nations forces counted more than 7,000 dead communist after the three-day fight. An additional 10,000 enemy KIA were estimated beyond the initial confirmed dead.

Though the battle was chalked up as a victory for the United Nations forces, the win came at a cost: 52 Americans were killed, 259 wounded, 42 missing and there were 51 non-battle injuries.

The regiment received a Presidential Unit Citation for its performance at Chipyong-Ni. It received an additional unit citation for its battle for Twin Tunnels in which the 23rd defeated the 125th CCF Division Feb. 2, just a few miles from Chipyong-Ni.

For retired Sgt. Major Eliseo Garcia, the ceremony served as an opportunity for him to reflect on the battle during a Bowl Ceremony with both modern-day Soldiers and a few who were on the ground with him those three days in 1951.

February 13, 1951, for more than one reason, is a day Garcia said he will never forget.

"A lot of us were young guys," said Garcia, who received a Purple Heart with two oak leaf clusters, a Bronze Star Medal, two Silver Stars, and a Distinguished Service Cross during his Army career. "In fact, I was in Chipyong-Ni on the 13th of February, which is my birthday. I celebrated my birthday fighting the Chinese. Some of the guys were teasing me that I was getting some unwanted guests for my birthday."

The 75 year old, who also wrote a book about the battle titled "Youth in War," said this was his first time attending the ceremony. The "L" Company veteran said he wanted to attend this year because of all the units he served in, the 23rd will always be the unit he identifies with.

"I served with a lot of other units ... but this is my regiment," said the Marysville resident. "(Of) all the units I've ever been in, this is the regiment that I belong to because of the closeness. We had a closeness in the 23rd that most units don't have. There's a closeness, as it is, in the military. But in the 23rd, especially my platoon, my unit, my squad - I was a squad leader - it was a closeness that is hard to describe. And to me, that's still my unit. It always will be."

Lieutenant Col. Chuck Hodges, commander of 1-23 Inf., said the ceremony not only serves as a way to keep the regiment's veterans involved with the unit, but also to remind current Soldiers that they are part of a continuing, proud tradition.

"For me, it's always a reminder, truly, of the obligation we have to our veterans and to the regiment and what they've established for us," Hodges said. "They've built a reputation for the organization with blood, sweat and tears (at) the battle of Chipyong-Ni, which is a very significant thing. And every day we're out there, we have an obligation to uphold that reputation that they've built for us."

Hodges said he feels it is important for current Soldiers to hear the stories of past battles to know what it truly means to sacrifice for their country.

"I think it's important for those guys to hear (what those guys went through and think) 'Holy crap, 30 below zero surrounded by 30,000 Chinese on a hill with an M-1 Carbine and limited ammunition. Wow. Could I do that this day''" he said.

Hodges said he can only hope that he and his Soldiers will continue the proud tradition of the Tomahawks as their deployment to Iraq looms later this year.

"If we do things right, there will be some guys 50 years from now that will be honoring us for the reputation that we built for the battalion during our deployments to Iraq," he said. "It's just a reminder of our heritage ... and it just keeps us connected to those guys (who came before us)."

Matt Smith is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian. 

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