San Antonio

Luis R. Garza


By Hason Halpert

For Air Force Gunner Luis Garza, the worst thing that could have happened to him during World War II occurred before he even got overseas.

“While we were waiting [to go overseas], my mother got a notice that my brother [Pablo Garza] had been killed [in France],” Garza said. “I was playing ping pong, and my mom called and said my brother was missing. He was reported killed in action later that day.”

Rife with emotion, Garza asked for a leave of absence from his port of embarkation in Georgia.

Antonio R. Jasso


Mexican immigrants Antonio Jasso and Genoveva Ramirez Jasso, who picked cotton in South Texas, would see five of their sons go off to war.

Their granddaughter, Evelyn Jasso Garcia, set out to record their story, and that of her father and uncles. An associate professor at San Antonio College, she regrets she wasn't able to interview her uncles, but gratified her dad, Jose "Joe" Jasso lived to see the fruit of her research.

Trinidad Jasso


Mexican immigrants Antonio Jasso and Genoveva Ramirez Jasso, who picked cotton in South Texas, would see five of their sons go off to war.

Their granddaughter, Evelyn Jasso Garcia, set out to record their story, and that of her father and uncles. An associate professor at San Antonio College, she regrets she wasn't able to interview her uncles, but gratified her dad, Jose "Joe" Jasso lived to see the fruit of her research.

Hermenejildo Salas


By Shaun L. Swegman

Hermi Salas was an 18-year-old private in the Marine Corps when he boarded the ship that took him from his homeland and into the war. It was Dec. 6, 1943, almost two years to the day from the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought America into World War II.

Private Salas; who was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion of the 21st Marines, 3rd Marine Corps Division; waited on a ship for three weeks as backup for men fighting on Saipan. Then, three days after D-Day, July 21, 1944, the military sent him to his first campaign on Guam.

Telesfora Barbara Gonzales Gonzalez


By Emily Cox

Florence Gonzales Gonzalez set a strong example for her siblings and coworkers throughout her life with her hard work and efforts toward perfection.

“I became a Mrs. how-you-do-it,” said Gonzalez, recalling how she took care of her siblings.

Edward Frazer


By Kathleen Bily

Growing up in San Antonio, Texas, Edward Frazer’s first teacher thought he was mentally disabled because he spoke only Spanish. But during his World War II service in the Philippines, that Spanish became one of his best assets.

“I found Spanish useful in all my jobs, for helping people and as a means of learning a livelihood,” Frazer said. “In the Army, I would even help soldiers write love letters.”

Joe Bernal


By Erin Peterson

Minorities living in Texas owe Joe Bernal a favor. As a first-term State Representative from San Antonio’s West Side during the 1960s, Bernal’s first bill aimed to wipe discrimination laws off the books.

At a time of heated political debate regarding racial tensions wrapped around the country, he not only actively sought out change, but ushered in that change.

Willie Garcia Murillo


Willie Murillo was the third of five brothers who served in World War II.

Older brother David joined the Air Force; Gonzalo joined the Army; Mike and Mario, the two younger brothers, served in the Navy and Merchant Marines, respectively.

Before the brothers left for service, their father took them aside and said, “I hope you never find yourselves on the front line; but if you do, always remember one thing: The enemy fires the shots, God is the one who separates them.

Richard Ortiz


By Julie Flowers

Richard Ortiz was a senior at San Antonio Technical Vocational School in 1941 when he heard a fellow classmate discussing plans to go to college. At that moment, Ortiz realized that pursuing a higher education was an option for him, too.

“Man, if you can go to college, I can go to college,” Ortiz recalled saying to himself.

With aspirations of becoming a pharmacist, he knew he needed more education. He also knew he didn’t have the money for tuition.

Joe Hernandez


By Caleb Pritchard

During his 22 months in the Army Air Forces, Joe Hernandez survived a remarkable 35 bombing missions in World War II Europe as the top turret gunner on a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber.

Hernandez remembered how he and other men in his unit, the 93rd Bombardment Group in the 8th Air Force became accustomed to the reverberations of exploding flak that would regularly meet them when they neared a target. On three different occasions, the flak damaged the aircraft enough to require Hernandez to make emergency landings in Allied territory.