Crecencio Lopez

By Nicole Dreyer

As a ranch hand, Cresencio Lopez didn't get much news about what was happening overseas in World War II. Some neighbors and his cousin had been drafted, and it was hard to get information from them. Later, when Lopez was serving in the Pacific at the tail end of the war, he’d write often to his mother and wife, letting them know where he was and inquiring about his family.

Agapito Encinias Silva

By Helen Peralta

As a World War II prisoner of war, Agapito E. Silva said death often marched beside him while battling in the Phillippines. Having learned the art of survival is what allows him to vividly recount memories of a war that continues to haunt him.

"I never gave up hope," recalled 83-year-old Silva of San Marcel, N.M. "Guys that gave up hope never made it."

Fred Davalos

By Clint Hale

Dealing with the harsh realities of World War II was tempered by experiences that Fred Davalos encountered in his youth. He’s more at ease relating the difficulties of his childhood than his experiences during the war, when he lost an eye.

Davalos served in the Army’s 551st Parachute Infantry Regiment at Sicily, the Invasion of France with the 887th Airborne Aviation Engineer Company, and the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment Combat Team at the Battle of Ardennes. He was certified as a parachutist in 1944, only one year after he joined the military.

Lina Martinez Cordova

By Katherine Sayre

Lina Cordova prayed each night for her husband's safe return to her and their two children during World War II.

"I used to pray every night, every night I would pray, 'Please God, bring him home,'” Cordova said. "I didn't care how he [came] home – without an arm or without a leg – as long as he came home to me and the kids.''

While Alfredo Cordova was away fighting on Europe’s battlefields, Cordova wrote him two or three times a week. When he wrote back, the letters were sometimes censored, some passages blacked out, she says.

Alfredo Cordova

By Julia Zwick

Seventy-nine-year-old Alfredo Cordova is one of the thousands of American men and women who served in the Army during World War II. His story starts in a poor town in New Mexico and takes him to California and Europe, and eventually back to his friends and family in New Mexico.

"My parents were very good people," Cordova said. "My wife and I took care of them when they were older, and we enjoyed doing it."

Robert John Chavez

By Shan Dunn

One night in December of 1941, the world changed for Robert John Chavez. He was in the 9th grade and a 15-year-old teenager, attending a dance marathon, when word came over the radio that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.

Not long after, Chavez dropped out of school and went to California, where he worked in a shipyard, assisting in the construction of U.S. warships. He worked there until he was drafted on Sept. 4, 1944.

Ralph Rodriguez

By Sara Kunz

Ralph Rodriguez dreamed of being an ambassador to Central America after graduating from college, but his plans were crushed when he was drafted into the U.S. Army in February of 1941. Rodriguez had been working at New Mexico Timber Co. for three years when he was called to war.

Ernesto Padilla

By Matt Harlan

The life of Ernesto Padilla is one marked with opportunities masked by tragedy.

Padilla’s childhood was spent with his large family in Puerto de Luna, N.M. The town, nestled on the Pecos River, was a community inhabited primarily by Latino ranchers and farmers.

"My dad had a general store and a cattle ranch, so for my age, I was pretty well enrolled in the activities that constitute farming and cattle ranching," Padilla said.

Farming, however, was unable to offer all he wanted in life.

Vicente Ximenes

By Erika Martinez

Vicente Ximenes still recalls his days as a Mexican American boy growing up in the 1930s in Floresville, Texas, a town where segregation formed part of his everyday life.

Ximenes also remembers that out of the 100 Mexican American kids who started elementary school with him, only five, including him, made it through high school.

"It was tough growing up," he said. "Coming from an elementary school that was segregated into a non-segregated school ... you experienced discrimination."

Miguel Encinias

By Sonia Nezamzadeh

Miguel Encinias lived what he calls a "child's paradise." Born the youngest of 16 children -- 11 sisters and four brothers -- to Benito Encinias and Manuelia Lopez Encinias, he grew up enjoying photography, music and sports and attended church regularly with his family in New Mexico. In addition to being a student, Encinias delivered the Las Vegas Daily Optic newspaper. His father taught himself English and writing, and worked as a foreman on the second-largest ranch in the nation, in order to provide for his family.