Biography: Nicanor Quiroz was born on January 10, 1917, in Annayauh, Mexico. He was the son of Jose and Epifania Quiroz and moved to Texas as a youth. He attended school into the 6th grade but dropped out to help support his family. He did learn to speak and write English and his enlistment record indicates that he worked as an attendant at a filling station or parking lot prior to the war.
Service Time: Nicanor entered the service on December 16, 1942, at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. He was assigned to Company B of the 801st Tank Destroyer Battalion and trained with them in the U.S. The 801st shipped from Boston on February 28, 1944, on the H.M.S. Britannic, and arrived in England on March 11th. Originally trained with self-propelled tank destroyers, they converted to the 3″ towed anti-tank gun and landed at Utah Beach on June 13th, participating in the capture of Cherbourg, France.
Fighting at Mortain in early August, they reached the outskirts of Paris on August 25th and entered Belgium on September 8th, followed by Germany on the 12th. Supporting operations in the Hürtgen Forest beginning in late November, they were on the line in the Ardennes when the German offensive struck on December 16th. They moved to Aachen, Germany, in February, 1945, and crossed the Roer River on February 25th, reaching the Rhine River south of Düsseldorf. The unit crossed the Rhine near Wessel on March 29th, and supported the drive to the Ruhr and then turned east to the Elbe River.
Transferred south, they supported operations in the Harz Mountains in late April and converted to the M18 tank destroyer late that month. Crossing the Danube, they reached the Inn River, outside Hitler’s birthplace, Brunnau, Austria, by VE Day.
Nicanor returned to Texas and settled in El Paso. He found work as a mechanic for the City of El Paso and had seven children, Rosa, Jose, David, Alberto, Victor, Josie and Frances. When he wasn’t working, he enjoyed time with his family and was a life-long fan of the Dallas Cowboys and enjoyed watching them play.
Nicanor passed away on June 24, 2016, and was buried in the Fort Bliss National Cemetery in El Paso, Texas. I want to thank Serge Lemaire who provided much of this information and the photos for this tribute. Serge lives in Malmedy, Belgium, and found a bag (shown at left) with Nicanor’s name and serial number on it. He got the bag in the village of Faymonville, Belgium, which was on the front lines of the war in 1944. With a bit of research, Serge was able to make contact with one of Nicanor’s children and also contact this site. I also want to thank Nicanor’s daughter, Josie, who provided additional information about her father.