During his service in the Korean War, William R. Medina fought his battles in the trenches with the U.S. Army.
Medina was born April 20, 1931, in Capulin, Colorado, about 250 miles southwest of Denver.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army in February 1950 and was assigned to the 40th Infantry Division, 223rd Infantry Regiment. Basic training was challenging for Medina because he grew up speaking Spanish and could hardly speak English. He didn't always understand what he was being told when given orders.
Medina had trained to be a paratrooper, but a broken ankle put him out of commission and he was shipped off to Korea. Medina didn't recall prejudice toward Latinos in the service. If anything, he felt there was even a preference for Latinos in leadership roles.
"I think most Latinos distinguished themselves in that role," he said.
Upon arrival in Korea in May 1952, he was assigned to the 8th Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. Medina was stationed south of the 38th Parallel, home to some of the most intense fighting during the Korean War. Heartbreak Ridge, Bloody Ridge and Pork Chop Hill were all situated around this region as well.
Medina was discharged in May 1954 and received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his service.
He married Corine Duran in November of that same year, and they had five children: Gerald, John, Stephan, Patricia and Norberto.
Medina received his GED diploma and obtained an associate degree from the Community College of Denver in 1959.
“You just don’t give up. You keep pumping, and sooner or later you’re going to be what you want to be,” Medina said.