Frank R. Cortez

1952 was a big year for young Francisco Rene Cortez. He turned 17, joined the U.S. Marine Corps and got married.

The decisions he made that year changed the course of his life. Cortez went from a teenager who dreamed of being a warrior to a married man and, eventually, the father of 12 children.

He began a 20-year journey that took him from the south Texas towns of his youth – Hebbronville and Corpus Christi – to Japan; Hawaii; the Arctic Circle; Europe; the Mediterranean; the South Pacific; Vietnam; and finally California, where he was discharged.

Juventino Guerra

BY Juliana Torres

Raised in small towns and on ranches, Juventino Guerra never went far from home. Then WWII opened new opportunities to travel and learn other perspectives. He enlisted on Jan. 8, 1941, in San Antonio, Texas. Initially, he was promised two weeks to say goodbye to his family before leaving Texas. But the two weeks were reduced to a phone call in New Jersey just before shipping out on the USS Lusitania with the 324th Material Squadron, bound for Buenos Aires, Argentina.