By Mariel Davis
While fighting in Europe during World War II between 1943 and 1945, Adolfo Borrego said he felt no fear because he believed he was under God's protection.
As he laid out a world map on a kitchen table, Borrego pointed out locations and recalled his experiences in Europe -- even though he didn't know the names of all the places where he was stationed. Borrego said that, before the war, he had never expected to travel to Europe.
Borrego, who was originally from New Mexico, was a construction worker in Nevada and knew nothing of the war taking place across the Atlantic Ocean when he received a letter from the Army. The draft notice ordered him to report to Espanola, New Mexico, for a physical examination. After a week in Espanola, he traveled to New York, where he was outfitted to fight in Europe.
"I did not know anything about the war," he said. "I was not even expecting to go and serve."
More than 16 million Americans served in the military during WWII, and Borrego was one of them.
Borrego arrived at Glasgow, Scotland, on the French ship Ile de France, which over the course of nine days at sea managed to avoid German attacks.
"Once we sailed from New York, there was a German submarine trying to shoot at us. But the persons who were in charge of the ship were French and they had a lot of experience," Borrego said. "What we did was to sail during the day, and at night every light was turned off and we ducked down. Then the submarine passed us while looking for us, but we stayed behind them until they lost us."
Borrego said he had not worried because he believed that he was right there at that precise moment in life because God had wanted it that way, and he was going to embrace his will. Julio Romero, a friend of his in the service, told Borrego not to worry because he was confident that Borrego was going to make it back home safely. However, while in combat Borrego was shot in the stomach and had to leave the front line. He remained in Karlsruhe, Germany, until 1945, as a limited assignment man, no longer eligible for combat duty.
He remembered the German troops moving backwards and the American, Canadian and English troops moving forward, slowly and cautiously. Germany finally surrendered in 1945.
In December of that year, Borrego received the news that he was going home. He waited at the Port of Marseille, in southern France, for one month for a U.S. ship to arrive. He said he was not sure why it took so long, but he remembered having heard about a ship that had just sank. Borrego said God told him to be calm and wait because he was going home.
Borrego made it home after healing from being shot in the stomach; unfortunately, his friend, Julio Romero, died.
"I went and came back with God's protection," Borrego said. "He is my protector, as well as the Virgin Guadalupe."
He finally embarked on a ship that arrived one week later in the United States. He returned eventually to Fort Bliss, which is headquartered in El Paso, Texas. Guided by the advice of a minister, he did not sign the official discharge before having some type of monetary compensation for his combat injury.
Some officials tried to persuade Borrego to sign his discharge, but he persisted because he knew what he was worth. He recalled a sergeant who talked to him in a very rough voice because he would not sign.
"Look sergeant... don't talk to me like that," Borrego recalled telling him. "I spent over three years in the dirt, and I am not going to take your talk. I served, and you have been here just listening."
Borrego said that he finally signed both his discharge and an agreement. After having faced some inconveniences, he received enough to cover his living expenses.
Borrego said he would not change what he had gone through, including his injury for anything.
"Everything goes through God's hand, and everything he does, he does right, because he has the power to do everything," he added.
Mr. Borrego was interviewed by Brian Luna Lucero in San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico, on June 11, 2007.