San Antonio

Andrew Sidona Tamayo

By Noelle Pareja

Eighty-one-year old Houston resident Andrew Tamayo clearly remembers the day World War II broke out. And the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the 19-year-old Mexican American proudly enlisted in the Army.

Even though he volunteered to serve, Tamayo eventually harbored some doubts about his purpose as a Mexican American in the military. It was during a battle in Sicily in 1943 that he became most conflicted about his status as a Latino.

Edward B. Vasquez

By Andrea Williams

For Edward Vasquez, the war years represented the ultimate adventure for a boy given to impetuous feats.

A Mexico-born mother and Texas father’s middle child of seven, Vazquez remembers being taunted by his older siblings and pestered by the younger ones. As a result, he learned early to find entertainment outside of the home.

August R. Segura

By Unity Peterson

Even though August R. Segura spent World War II stationed in Laredo, Texas, working on aircraft, he says he came away from the experience a skilled mechanic and "a better man."

Segura was born Feb. 11, 1922, in San Antonio to parents Augustin Segura and Leonor Rodriguez Segura. He grew up in the inner city as the firstborn of a close-knit family that included four sisters. He also was close to his grandparents, who helped raise him and his siblings.

Delmiro Isidro Elizondo

By Jane Slater and Chris Schulz

It was a Sunday in 1941 when Delmiro Isidro Elizondo bought a movie theater ticket. As he did, he learned about the attack on Pearl Harbor.

His life would never be the same again.

His day, as always, had begun at 5 a.m., when he opened the family's grocery store on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas. At noon, he hopped on a bus to the city and caught a double feature at the theater.

But Dec. 7, 1941, would alter his routine and bring him closer to his destiny. By the following year, he’d be inducted into the service.

Felix B. Treviño

By David Zavala

Negotiating a minefield on a snowy day in World War II Germany, 1945, Felix Treviño encountered a young German soldier who looked no older than a teenager; he was leaning against a tree, one leg gone from the thigh down, the wound still bleeding.

Manuel Castro Vara

By Guillermo X. García

Manuel C. Vara was a high school senior attending a Sunday movie matinee in his hometown of San Antonio when news broke out on the screen: All soldiers were to report back to base immediately. Japan had launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor that morning in December, and the United States' entry into the war was imminent.

"Right then, I had no idea where it was, or what was about to happen, but when I got home, my brothers were all talking about it, so I knew something important was happening," he recalled.

Raul Mata Martinez

By Brian Villalobos

Raul Martinez's hands, thick, square and accented by a crest of jagged, walnut-sized knuckles, don’t seem to match his large, soft eyes.

Over the past 76 years, these hands have handled everything from cement to machine guns to mortar charges.

Martinez was born and raised in Cementville, Texas, a small cement company village north of Alamo Heights in San Antonio. One of 10 children born to Teofilo and Manuelita Martinez, both Mexican natives, he soon got a job at the same local cement factory where his father and grandfather had both worked.

Julian L. Gonzalez

By Raquel C. Garza

Julian L. Gonzalez didn’t walk the stage during the Thomas A. Edison graduation ceremonies in May of 1944. Instead, his father walked the stage in his place.

"It was announced that I wasn't there, that [my father] was receiving [my diploma] because I was in the service," Gonzalez said. "They told me that he got the biggest applause of anybody there."

Gonzalez had completed his high school education a semester early in order to be inducted into the armed services. He was inducted on March 20, 1944, at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.

Peter De Leon

By Antonio Gilb

Peter De Leon considered himself lucky after returning home to Chicago after serving in World War II. At least 10 of his neighborhood friends came back in body bags.

The closest De Leon came to dying was a kamikaze attack off Okinawa in the Pacific Theater. The kamikaze pilot was aiming for a larger ship but missed. The gunners hit the plane, so it only hit the side of the ship.

Carlos Guerra Samarron

By Cliff Despres

Three weeks after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Charles "Carlos" Guerra Samarron, of San Antonio, Texas, joined the fight and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, beginning a four-year stint in the military and opening the door for a lifetime of memories.

As part of the 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Amphibious Tractor Battalion, Samarron would survive perilous beach assaults on the islands of Guam and Iwo Jima, face down the possibility of invading Japan and exit the war in 1946 with a new perspective on life.