Austin

Raymond Sanchez


By Rhonda Miller

World War II veteran Raymond Sanchez went bird hunting once with a Navy buddy in South Texas. The two friends, both Latinos, decided to stop for a beer at a little tavern on Highway 72 between Kennedy and Three Rivers.

"We came to this shed outside and all the Hispanics or Mexican Americans were drinking outside," Sanchez said. "I says, 'Hey man, it's September and it's hot, why don't we go inside?'

“He says, 'Raymond, we can't,' and I asked, 'Why?'

“He says, 'It's just the way it is, you know.'"

Eddie Sanchez


By Vicki Lamar

Eddie Sanchez was 17 years old when he saw the reality of war in Utine, Italy, in 1945. Horrified, he left camp without permission -- absent without leave, or AWOL. That act changed his life, as punishment was kitchen patrol duty. Before long he was running the kitchen and on his way to a distinguished 31-year Army career in Food Services.

Mary Colunga Carmona Resendez


By Cliff Despres

Austin resident Mary Resendez remembers exactly where she was on Dec. 7, 1941, the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor: where she usually was on Sunday -- at Mass.

"We heard [about the bombing] on a Sunday at church," said the 74-year-old Resendez, who was 14 when World War II broke out. "We just prayed to God that it (the war) wouldn't come over here.

Mary Martinez Olvera Murillo


By Ana Cristina Acosta

For most Americans, walking down the street, entering a restaurant through the front door or going to the grocery store is routine. But for Mary Murillo, 75, who grew up at a time when Mexican Americans suffered blatant discrimination, those simple things weren’t always possible.

Pete Gil


By Andy Valdez

The Gil family story is one of overcoming the Great Depression and discrimination, as well as one of service, as three of the four Gil brothers would answer their country's call to arms.

Paul, Narciso and Otis would bear arms and defend their country, leaving their home, parents, younger brother Pete and three sisters: Ruth, Julia and Sally.

Elizabeth Ruiz Garcia


By Hannah McIntyre

Elizabeth Garcia, who stayed home and worked while her husband was away serving in World War II, feels that the best career she could have is helping others.

Garcia has spent her life working to take care of other people. Born Elizabeth Ruiz, she and her seven siblings grew up in Austin. Both her parents were from Mexico: her mother, from Monterrey and her father, from Jalisco. The family spoke Spanish all the time.

Toby Fuentes


By Nora Ramirez

For 58 years, the sounds of flying bullets and torpedo explosions have tormented Toby Fuentes.

Ladislao Catalino Castro


By Alan K. Davis

From their crippled B-24 bomber, Ladislao "L.C." Castro and the rest of the crew could see the white cliffs of Dover across the English Channel, on March 18, 1944. The fuel gauges read empty. The control cables were severed. And a 4-foot section of the left wing was missing.

The bomber began a slow downward spiral toward occupied France; there was no way to make it back to England.

When the orders came to abandon the bomber, Castro was the first out. With his leg torn and bleeding, Castro jumped through a hatch in the rear of the bomber.

Manuel Martinez Castillo


By Chandler Elise Race

As Manuel Castillo stood on the landing barge off of Omaha Beach in Normandy, the battle was already in full motion on shore. For Castillo, the reality of the landing was not the glorified or stirring depictions of the movies: real lives were being lost. Fathers, brothers and uncles were being killed. The memories of those days in 1943 still affect Castillo today.

Eugene Ramirez Casarez


By Joanne Rao Sánchez

Eugene Casarez was just 11 years old when he started working for the Surprise Bakery on E. 7th Street in Austin, Texas.

Little did he realize that his four years of making empanadas, pan de huevo and bizcochitos would one day be tapped by the U.S. Army after he was drafted in 1944.

"They looked at my records, and said, 'We need you in the kitchen....'," Casarez said.