Mexico

Domingo Cantu


By David R Zavala

On his initial night of fighting in World War II Europe, Domingo Cantu landed for his first mission, and was unable to free himself from his parachute. As he struggled and tugged to get the chute off, he heard the blasts of enemy fire.

Cantu didn’t panic. He grabbed his knife and cut the chute off. It was in this first battle that Cantu knew he was in for a difficult time and that the war would change his life. His service to his country continued many years after the war was over.

Andres Chavez Rodriguez


By Erika Martinez

When Andres Chavez Rodriguez was 16 years old in a small village in the state of Nuevo Leon, Mexico, his father sent him to live with his uncle in Monterrey.

"From then on, my life changed," Chavez Rodriguez said.

Armando Miguel Rodriguez


By Heather Anne Watkins

Dr. Armando Rodriguez knows what it's like to be oppressed, but with a strong will he rose to the top and is living a long, happy life. Immigrating to the U.S. from Mexico when he was six years old, growing up in a family of eight siblings and leading Latino organizations in high school that he said were deprived of opportunities given to white students were only a few of the obstacles Rodriguez had to overcome.

Julius V. Joseph


By Jacob Collazo

At the onset of the Korean War in 1952, Julius V. Joseph, a veteran of World War I and II called his local recruiting office to volunteer his service. The recruiter asked Joseph if he had ever served in the military, Joseph answered that he had and that he reached the rank of captain as a combat medic. The recruiter moved on to other question until eventually he asked Joseph for his date of birth, to which he replied May 21, 1902.

Eduardo Peniche


By Fernando Dovalina

Even though he stands only five feet five, Ed Peniche must be one of the tallest men in the world. Every time this son of Mexico has been challenged in life, he has measured up – and then some.

He measured up as a soldier fighting for his adopted country, the United States, in World War II, although he wasn’t yet a citizen. He was wounded in action, and he saved the lives of fellow soldiers by endangering his own. His heroism earned him a handful of medals, including the Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars.

Ascencion Martinez


By Anthony Underwood

Just 14 miles south of Waco lies the town of Lorena, Texas --- home to World War II Veteran Ascencion "Chon" Martinez.

Born in Acampo Guanajuato, Mexico, Martinez and his family moved to the United States when he was less than a year old. His father worked in the cotton fields to earn money for the family. Martinez remembers he and his siblings helping their father in the fields whenever possible. While his childhood was a poor one, he insists it was a happy one, full of faith.

Lazaro Lupian


By Alison Kelley

Lazaro Lupian doesn't think his accomplishments during World War II were a big deal; the only true war heroes, he says, are the ones that don't come back.

Reynaldo Perez Gallardo


By Lucy Guevara

As the son of a Mexican Army general and an aficionado of airplanes since childhood, Reynaldo Perez Gallardo was a perfect candidate to join Mexico's Fighter Squadron 201, the only combat unit from that country to actively participate in World War II. This little-known squadron was made up 300 Mexican volunteers, including 38 fighter pilots such as Gallardo, who fought the Japanese in the Philippines.

Ramón Galindo


By Marta McGonagle

It was May 8, 1945. The war in Europe was over, but not for Ramón G. Galindo. After the death of Adolph Hitler, it was Galindo's 571st Anti-Aircraft Automatic Weapons Battalion that was stationed at Hitler's headquarters. As Galindo stepped into the building, the first thing he saw was a large swastika, the powerful symbol of the Nazis.

Covering the walls were oversized pictures of Hitler and his top officers.

Part of Galindo's mission was to protect the images of the very man the Allies had been fighting against.

Jose Galindo


By Lisa Cummings

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Nationality Act of 1940 on October 14 of that year, Jose Galindo's life would never be the same. The act allowed Mexican-born residents to be drafted or volunteer for the U.S. Armed Forces.

Earlier that same year he offered to assist the United States Army and was rejected because he was a Mexican citizen.

Galindo received a Certificate of Naturalization, which allowed him to serve in the U.S. Army.

"I wanted to volunteer," Galindo said. "They wouldn't accept me because I was a Mexican citizen."