CA

David Valladolid


By Kassandra Balli

After almost getting his eyes blown out of his head by a mine in Vietnam, David Valladolid was hospitalized for three months. He lay flat in a bed in a hospital in Saigon for 30 days; doctors feared that if he moved and began to bleed, he would go blind. Today, doctors still say it is a miracle that he regained 90 percent of his eyesight.

Frank Aguerrebere


By Kimberly Tran, California State University, Fullerton

Although he never talked much about his wartime experiences, Frank Aguerrebere parachuted into the Normandy Invasion and fought in the Battle of the Bulge, two of the bloodiest and most decisive clashes of World War II.As an 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, he he jumped over Normandy on June 6, 1944 and then over Holland in Operation Market Garden in September 1944.

Jim Estrada


By Lindsey Craun

Jim Estrada, a 17-year-old high school dropout, showed up for Air Force technical training in Biloxi, Mississippi.

He was surrounded by college students. But within several weeks, Estrada's intelligence emerged, since he consistently placed in the top 10 percent of his class.

That success represented a turning point in Estrada's life, launching him into a long and prolific career in broadcast journalism, corporate communications and finally his own public relations firm.

Arnold V Cordova


By Matthew Pier, California State University, Fullerton

He was only a junior in high school, working a part-time job on Sept. 10, 1941, when Arnold Cordova received a government letter ordering him to report for military service. Once in the Army, Cordova did not recall very many other Latinos around him. They became even scarcer when he was chosen to be a surgical technician, a field in which he had no prior experience.

Edward Daniel Morin


By Destinee Hodge

In 1965, after two weeks at sea aboard the USS Gordon, Eddie Morin heard the captain declare over the loudspeaker for the first time that he and his fellow soldiers were headed to Vietnam. It was something they already knew.

Morin was a part of the 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, and he was among the first group of U.S. soldiers to set foot in Vietnam, and among the first to witness the horrors that came with it.

John S Hernandez


By Allison Harris

Even at almost 90 years old, World War II veteran John S. Hernandez can recall the challenges facing him on his first day of kindergarten at Belvedere Elementary School in Los Angeles.

"My mother couldn't speak English, and I couldn't speak English because I was brought up by Mexican parents that had immigrated here in 1898," he said.

Alonzo Robert Rivera


By Ali Vise

Catching a midnight train in Fresno, Calif., Alonzo R. Rivera Jr., watched his mother, draped with a blanket, crying as she said goodbye. At that moment, the work of his childhood harvesting grapes and cotton became a thing of the past. He recalled his father’s departing word: “I’m going to see if you’re a real man now.”

As the son of migrant workers, “Junior” as his parents referred to him, spent summers in the agricultural fields. He is the oldest of three siblings, all of whom were farm workers.

Manuel Cavada


By Lena Price

It was an evening like any other in Saigon in April 1968, Manuel Cavada, an Air Force crew chief, was doing the routine maintenance on C-121’s aircraft. His job was to make sure the engines were free of metal debris.

But within minutes, he realized that rockets had been fired and were heading his way.He did not expect to get caught in the middle of an air raid and come close to death.

Raul P. Arreola

Fernando Rene Del Rio


By Avery Bradshaw, Cal State Fullerton

When Fernando Del Rio left Los Angeles in September 1950 and joined a Navy air squadron, it was the first time he had ever been away from home. Turning on the radio, he was surprised to hear Japanese music.

"We knew we were off the coast of Japan," Del Rio said.

Del Rio explained that in high school, he had watched his two elder brothers, Jose and Octavio, return home after serving in World War II. He remembers an overall patriotic feeling in America at the time. He was among the many who enlisted after WWII.