Randel Zepeda Fernández

By Colleen Torma

Randel Zepeda Fernández was only a baby when his family moved from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas, and then to Los Angeles. But later, as a young man, his lack of United States citizenship hampered him.

"I couldn't find a good job because I was an alien," Fernández said. "At the time, joining the Armed Forces was the fastest way to become a citizen."

Reynaldo Benavides Rendon

By Erica Sparks

Unlike most World War II soldiers from the U.S., Reynaldo Benavides Rendon joined the military to get out of jail.

He wound up there in 1942 after an immigration officer outside of Corpus Christi, Texas, stepped onto a bus on which Rendon was riding. He’d been picking cotton in Mississippi with his father and was headed back to Robstown to recruit workers to help out on the plantation.

According to Rendon, the immigration officer asked him where he was born so he gave an honest answer:


Rudolph S. Tovar

By Nathan Beck

On Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, Rudolph Tovar was a halfback marching his football team down a Los Angeles football field toward the goal line. Captain of the Verdugo Knights, Tovar and his teammates were informed during a timeout on the sidelines that Pearl Harbor had been bombed early that morning by the Japanese.

The next day, after President Franklin D. Roosevelt had declared war on the Japanese and entered America into World War II, Tovar and his friend, William Rubalcava, traveled to downtown Los Angeles to the Federal Building, to enlist in the Marine Corps.

Aurora Estrada Orozco

By Desirée Mata

Aurora Estrada Orozco was only about 4 years old when she came to the United States due to the unrest in Mexico. Her father, Lorenzo Estrada, worked as a bookkeeper at an American gold, silver and coal mining company in Serralvo, Nuevo Leon, until Pancho Villa's men started sabotaging production. The company, known to Orozco only as "La Fundacion," decided to leave and offered Lorenzo a position in Mercedes, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley.

Abraham Eleuterio Moreno

By Yolanda C. Urrabazo

While living in Mexico in the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution, Abraham Moreno developed a strong value of hard work at a young age.

His good work ethic was soon implemented when he arrived in the United States as World War II developed.

Moreno was born in 1912 in Monterrey, Mexico, one of nine children. His father, Abraham Moreno Villarreal, had been a merchant and a winery administrator through the difficult years of Mexico's war. Abraham lost his fortune because of the revolution, Moreno says.

Augustine Martinez

By Angela Macias

Augustinee Martinez knew little about being a solider when his 65th Infantry Division reached La Havre, France.

Though Martinez trained at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, and then in France for more than a month before hitting the front lines in March of 1945, he wasn't prepared for the intense battle his division entered.

"Two, three days [in combat], you learn everything," Martinez said.

He found himself holding the Saarlautern Bridge in Germany. The rifleman got his first glimpse at the German forces as they threw flares into the air to find U.S. soldiers.

Joe Jaime

By Ryan Martinez

After a childhood spent dealing with discrimination in a small Kansas City-area community, Joe Jaime figured once drafted in 1942 into the Army, he’d finally get the chance to earn his American citizenship and ease the pain of the racial prejudice he endured growing up.

It wasn’t until Dec. 16, 1946, however, after being discharged from the Army and after World War II had ended, that Jaime finally was granted American citizenship.

Jesus Castro

By Anthony Sobotik

At 30 years of age, Jesus Castro was one of the older soldiers drafted for duty during World War II. However, this soldier and father of six children wasn't about to let his age hinder his dedication or performance.

Homero Alvarado

By Kristen Clark

Homero Alvarado is a true American hero.

Alfred J. Hernandez

By Benjamin Smith

After serving his time in the Army and tasting equality in various parts of the country and world, Alfred J. Hernandez wanted nothing more than to leave the city he’d later change.