Samuel Padilla Echeveste

Manuel Rubin Lugo

By Haley Dawson

Manuel Lugo boarded a plane in Okinawa, Japan, in November 1969 on the last leg of his journey to Vietnam. From the U.S. mainland to Hawaii and then to Okinawa, the flights had been lively—chattering, joking, laughing. But “from Okinawa to Vietnam, you could have heard a pin drop,” Lugo remembered. “The atmosphere just changed from day to night.”

Albino Pineda

By Claire Carroll

“Pinda!” a corporal yelled.

The young Mexican American soldier stood quietly in line. He did not address the corporal or any of his peers.

“Pinda!” the corporal bellowed out once more.

The young soldier felt nervous. It was his first day, and he couldn’t speak English proficiently.

“P-I-N-E-D-A!” the corporal spelled out impatiently.

The young Latino finally stepped forward. Before he could correct the pronunciation, the corporal screamed at him, “Wake up, soldier!”

Carmen B. Salaiz Esqueda Abalos

By Kenneth Cantu

Back when Rosie the Riveter was proclaiming to women all across the U.S., “We Can Do It!” Carmen (Salaiz) Esqueda Abalos proved it.

Her husband, Mike, having enlisted in the Navy, Abalos joined the war effort by working in the Kennecott mine in Santa Rita, N.M., taking a job that once belonged to a man.

“They were doing a job over there, and so they had to have a replacement over here,” said Abalos, who at the time was only 21 years old and had a young baby named Mike Jr. “[We were] just looking forward to them coming home.”

Ignacio Servín

By Miranda Bollinger

When Ignacio Servín volunteered during World War II for a mission so dangerous his commander wouldn’t even assign it to someone, he wasn’t even frightened. He wanted to do it.

"I just kept thinking, 'If I die, it will be for a great country,'" Servín said.

Betty Muñoz Medina

By Brian Goodman

During World War II, commissioned military officers would receive deployment orders by telegram, often believing they’d been called up for duty by their senator.

Little did they know that the assignments were actually issued at random by people like Betty Muñoz Medina, who got an entry-level job at the War Department (now the Department of the Army) when she was 20.

"I was filing 3- by 5-inch cards all day long," Muñoz Medina said.

Hector Santa Anna

By Scott Allison

Say the name "Santa Anna" to most American military historians -- and just about any Texan -- and it's linked to the Mexican general who opposed the Texas Revolution and conquered the Alamo.

So it’s somewhat ironic that Hector Santa Anna, the great-great nephew of the Mexican general, enlisted in the Army during World War II, flew 35 missions as a B-17 bomber pilot over Europe, later taught hundreds of pilots how to fly and eventually rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during a 22-year military career.

Jess Medina

By Sarah Kleiner

Jess Medina witnessed death for the first time as a little boy when he saw a man get run over by a streetcar.

Because of this experience, Medina says he had no fear when he had to piece together bodies of fellow seamen after a kamikaze crashed into his ship.

José María Burruel

By Laura Zvonek

As a child, José María Burruel's family lived in a shack on land that didn't belong them: They were, in essence, "squatters." And they were unwelcome. At night, the houses were pelted with stones.

"One morning, we got up, and there was a hole in the tent where the rock had come through the top of the tent and just barely missed my sister's head," Burruel recalled.

The other squatters living on Salt River Valley Project land in Arizona soon put a stop to the discrimination by blocking off both entrances to the territory.

Hector Acedo

By Melanie Kudzia

Hector Acedo was 19 and World War II had been in full swing for three years when an older friend who’d already been drafted said: "Let's join the Navy."

Acedo’s response: "Sure, well let's go."

After getting sworn in, the two friends were told to be at the bus station at midnight, where they’d leave for boot camp in San Diego, Calif. So began their naval experiences.