It’s September 1918 and American troops are taking part in a major assault on German positions during World War One. As the Battle of Saint-Mihiel rages in France, one U.S. soldier and his buddies are pinned down by concentrated machine gun volleys. The soldier subsequently launches a solo attack and single-handedly knocks out the German machine gun nest.
The soldier in question was Private Marcelino Serna. And the extraordinary thing was that although he was fighting with the U.S. Army, Serna wasn’t actually American. He was in fact a Mexican citizen – and one who had been an illegal immigrant in the U.S.
We’ll come back to how an illegal immigrant ended up fighting in the U.S. Army, but first let’s learn a little more about whom Marcelino Serna was. He was born on April 26, 1896, at Hacienda Robinson, a miners’ encampment near the Mexican city of Chihuahua.