AZ

Gloria Flores Moraga


By Raquel C. Garza

Gloria Flores Moraga defied many social norms in her lifetime: She moved out on her own while single, attended college when most women were expected to stay home and even worked as a disc jockey at the first all-Spanish radio station in Phoenix, Arizona.

A "Depression baby," Moraga was born Dec. 5, 1930, in Phoenix, Ariz., only 14 months after the stock market crash of 1929. Her father, Manuel Flores, baled hay for 25 cents a day to support his wife, Anita Daniel Flores, and their new daughter.

Carmen Romero Phillips


By Rachel Howell

In late December, 1943, the United States had been fighting in World War II for more than two years, but for one Tucson nurse, the war was a brand new experience: that's when Carmen Romero, now Phillips, joined the Army.

Recruiters visiting St. Mary's Hospital School of Nursing College in Tucson, where Phillips was attending school, were looking for nurses.

"They asked if we would be interested in joining the military, so I said yes and they signed me up," Phillips said.

Beatrice Amado Kissinger


By Amanda Traphagan

World War II gave Beatrice Amado Kissinger a ticket out of her small-town life in southern Arizona and into the big city adventure of serving as a Navy nurse in San Francisco.

When the United States entered the war, Kissinger was a nursing student at a Catholic school -- and tired of the discipline.

Edward Romero


By Elizabeth Egeland

Private First Class Edward Romero listened as his platoon was briefed on its next mission. He’d already fought with the Marines in the Marshall Islands and Saipan, but was about to embark on an even more dangerous operation -- the Battle of Iwo Jima.

"Tomorrow you will be landing and some of you men will be killed. I might even be killed," an officer told the second platoon of F Company, which would be in the first assault wave on Iwo Jima. "Some of you will be wounded and some of you will come back, but we have a job to do."

Emilio Muñoz Membrila


By Valerie Jayne

As a young boy growing up in Clifton, Ariz., Emilio Muñoz Membrila played war games with his friends, inventing different maneuvers and strategies. Later, during World War II, he’d be engaged in historic battles in the European Theater, fighting in the frigid German forests during the Battle of the Bulge and getting taken prisoner for six months.

"It was the worst barrage U.S. troops ever encountered," said Muñoz Membrila of the Battle of the Bulge, Hitler's last major offensive. "It was supposed to have been a quiet sector."

José Jesus Urías


By Lynn Maguire

José Urías volunteered for tasks other men were loathe to do: combing the beaches of Normandy, littered with human remains; uncovering mines; going door-to-door in France in search of German soldiers hiding in private homes; and blowing up part of a castle that was a nest of enemy snipers.

Although Urías’ performance would earn him a Silver Star Medal and the admiration of his commanding officer and men, Urías says he was merely doing his job.

Henry Sillik


By Brandon Rawe

It was a time in America's history when communities were racially segregated and shunning minorities was accepted.

But none of that mattered during World War II to Henry Sillik, who served on a naval ship in the middle of the China-Burma-India Theater, the first racially equal setting in which he says he ever lived.

Sillik grew up in Buckeye, Ariz., a segregated town of about 600 outside of Phoenix. Sillik, who is of Anglo and Latino parentage, noticed the different standard of living for Hispanics.

Joe M. Ruiz


By Darcy Keller

As a prisoner of war, Private Joe M. Ruiz narrowly escaped death at the end of World War II.

After a failed mission and a surprise encounter with the Japanese, Ruiz, who served with the 389th Coast Artillery Battalion of the 6th Army, was captured and taken to Kobe, Japan. As a prisoner, he endured beatings and starvation until the Red Cross rescued him after the war ended with the bombing of Nagasaki.

"It saved my life when they dropped those bombs in Nagasaki," Ruiz said. "When [the] Red Cross got me out, I was more dead than alive. I was 104 pounds."

Virginia Tellez Ramirez


By David Vauthrin

In October of 1945, Virginia Tellez Ramirez was at work at Levy's Department Store in downtown Tucson, Ariz., when she got some important news: Her brother Henry, who was captured at Corregidor in the Philippines, was alive and had returned home from World War II.

"I was at work downtown, and my brother called me at the phone over at the store and I couldn't believe it," Ramirez said. "It was like talking to somebody from the dead."

Pete Moraga


By Yvonne Lim

Growing up in the segregated town of Tempe, Ariz., during the late 1930s, Peter "Pete" Moraga recalls feeling nervous about public speaking.

Despite those early fears, Moraga, a World War II Navy veteran who served in the Pacific, fashioned a life as a journalist that consistently affirmed "La Voz Mexicana," or "the Mexican voice.” He worked with government radio program Voice of America, CBS Radio and, finally, at a Spanish-language television station.