Margarito Barrientes

A family man and skilled orator, Margarito Barrientes rarely spoke to his loved ones about his experience in World War II. For the longest time, he kept to himself his recollections of hiding in foxholes and interacting with civilians in the countries where he served.

According to his eldest child, Elia Gonzales, he would sometimes share small snippets of his time in the war, which, she recalled, were always out of context.

Genovevo Bargas

By Borger Bargas

On April 29, 1945, Genovevo Bargas and some of his shipmates looked to the sky from the deck of the USS Comfort. A Japanese kamikaze was headed straight for their hospital ship. They were in the midst of the Battle of Okinawa, the last major battle of World War II.

The kamikaze missed the USS Comfort’s smoke stack, but still managed to create a huge hole in the vessel.

“We only saw one part of the Japanese [pilot’s] body,” said Bargas, motioning from the neck up, “the rest was nothing.”

Paul Lopez Solis

By Elizabeth Egeland

Paul Solis and his two brothers all served in World War II. He was in the China- Burma-India Theater; his older brother, Raymond, worked on dry docks in the Pacific; and his younger brother, August, served on the USS Farragut (DD 348). All returned safely.

For Solis, the war would be his chance to break away from his life in Houston, to hitchhike across America and see parts of the world he probably never would have had the chance to visit. It made him appreciate what he had back home.

Herman R. Cortez

By Emily Priest

On June 6, 1944, Herman R. Cortez and his fellow soldiers scurried down side ladders onto landing crafts alongside a U.S. military ship as it dropped anchor on the coast of France, placing the men as close to shore as possible. As soon as the plank dropped, the soldiers jumped out and began making their way up Omaha Beach amid a shower of artillery shells from German soldiers.