Laredo

Roberto Vazquez


By Callie Jenschke

Unlike many other Latino World War II veterans who often found themselves in a minority during their military service, Roberto Vazquez says he seldom felt the brunt of discrimination as a soldier in his division, where he was one of 7,000 Hispanics fighting shoulder to shoulder against the German army.

Julia Rodriguez Aguillon


By Yolanda Urrabazo

Julia Rodriguez Aguillon first knew tragedy when she was 10 years old, when her father passed away due to cirrhosis of the liver. Later, as an adult, she’d feel a deeper sorrow when she had a stillborn baby and, much later, when a daughter and granddaughter died. But through it all, she held on to a strong belief in God.

"To me, the loss of a child is the most hard ... but God will never give you anything more than you can bear," Aguillon said. "So I had faith and we pulled through."

Oscar Villarreal


By Rachel Howell

At 16, Oscar Villarreal was too young to vote in 1943, but he wasn’t too young to serve his country in World War II by joining the Navy.

Luis Martinez


By Sarah Adams

Luis Martinez has had a hand in history.

He participated in one of the more famous New Deal projects, witnessed D-Day from the English shores and attended Gen. George S. Patton's funeral. But what he remembers most as a World War II veteran is meeting a young woman in the British Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service and falling in love.

Arnulfo D. Azios


By Ann Harbour

As the tower bells at the University of Texas at Austin rang "You're in the Army Now," Arnulfo “A.D.” Azios and fellow members of what was called the Enlisted Reserve Corps were called to duty. Judge Azios proudly recalls an article that ran on the front page of The Daily Texan, the university's student newspaper.

Hilario Cavazos


By Nicolas Martinez

When the government called Hilario Cavazos Jr. to war in October of 1943, he was in his senior year at Laredo's Martin High School, working his way toward college. He asked for an extension to finish high school, but to no avail -- the need for capable men was too great during World War II.

Salomon Trevino Abrego


By Justin Lefkowski

Salomon Abrego was at the Battle of the Bulge, where he and his fellow soldiers suffered through one of the coldest winters to hit the area in more than 20 years.

As a medic, Abrego watched helplessly as the cold ruined some supplies.

"It was so cold that the plasma was freezing," he said. "Soldiers were going into shock because we couldn't use it."

Abrego, who earned the rank of Private First Class, was personally touched by the deaths he saw.

Alejandro De los Santos


By Denise Chavarri

Alejandro De Los Santos of Laredo served overseas during World War II for about 40 months.

"I missed home but at the same time I knew I couldn't return," De Los Santos said. "I wrote to my mom very often to let her know how I was doing."

Before the service, life for De Los Santos was peaceful. The middle child of two brothers and three sisters, he grew up on a farm near Laredo. As a child, he attended school only sporadically because he had to work to help his family.

Pedro Tijerina


By Raquel C. Garza

Growing up in Laredo, Texas, Pedro "Pete" Tijerina said he "never knew what discrimination was," mainly because the city's population was mostly Mexican. School children spoke Spanish freely, never fearing reproach from teachers.

His father, Pedro Martinez Tijerina, provided for his family in a humble way; he worked as a self-employed truck driver, moving furniture from house to house. The elder Tijerina made a modest sum for his services, "75 cents, a dollar and a quarter would be too much," recalled Tijerina, smiling.

Ed Idar


By Liliana Martinez

When Ed Idar was a teenager living in Buenos Aires, a neighborhood in Laredo, Texas, he never thought he’d volunteer as a civilian for Station X in England, and go to India and China while in the Army.

"I came to realize how big the world was, how many societies and cultures there are in this world," Idar said. "Seeing poverty makes you wonder, ‘Why can't we do things to help people?’"

And it was his thirst for helping others that pushed him to devote much of his life to working for the Mexican American community.