Houston

John Edward Martinez


By Tarrah Miller

“It’s a neat experience because you get to meet people from all over the United States, and we are working for the common good and a common goal.”

That’s how John Martinez described his service aboard a submarine. But that experience was only one element of the larger personal significance he felt for his service in the U.S. Navy.

Ben R. Saenz


By Gilbert Song

Bernardino "Ben" Saenz Jr. arrived in Vietnam to the sound of sirens and pitch black darkness in May 1969, just five months after he was drafted. The smell was terrible, he recalled.

"I knew I was in the real stuff when I saw the bodies," Saenz said. "That's the worst smell, seeing a dead body that had been there months decaying. I remember pulling the arm of one and I got maggots all over me." Enemy graves had to be dug up to see if weapons or food were buried under them, he added.

John Reyes


By Julie Rene Tran

The deep scar on his right arm, a slash made by a Viet Cong fighter’s knife, became barely visible. His eyebrows grew back and missing flesh on his calves, vestiges of a mortar attack, filled in. The upper lip, the one that “fluttered” after that same firefight, again formed a natural smile.

John Reyes Jr.’s physical marks from the Vietnam War healed; the profound impact of the war and life in the Marines weighed on him long afterward.

Richard G. Perez


By Alexandra Loucel

U.S. Marine Corps veteran Richard Perez, the son of a World War II veteran, was in Vietnam for three months, from December 1966 to February 1967. But those three months altered his life forever and led him to advocate for other veterans in his hometown of Houston.

Eugenia González Alemán


By Joshua Barajas

As a spouse whose husband was stationed in the Philippines during the Vietnam War, Eugenia “Jennie” González Alemán couldn't just sit at home waiting for him to come back: She wrote letters for mortally wounded American servicemen.

"They would cry and would be hurting -- [men] of all ages,” Alemán recalled. “But I really got touched by the young ones, I guess, because I would think of my [younger] brother,” she said, referring to Domitilo A. Gonzales, an Air Force mechanic.

John & Eugenia Aleman


By Haley Dawson

Richard Manriquez


By Jordan Haeger

Richard Manriquez served one tour in Vietnam, and he came back a changed man. He saw dead Americans, 15-year-old Vietnamese prostitutes and young suicide bombers.

It took him a long time to begin to heal.

"War has torn my soul," he said.

Manriquez, an auto mechanic turned body collector, witnessed things in Vietnam that haunted him the rest of his life.

The bitterness and sadness Manriquez felt were clear in writings he recorded at his therapist's request. He provided copy of his written story to Voces.

Henry McDonnell


In 1945, Henry McDonnell battled through Germany as a part of the 17th Airborne Division; 60 years later, he returned to Europe with his sons.

Henry and his three sons, Bernard, Henry Jr. and Mark, traveled to the Netherlands in 2005 so they could visit the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial. Among the 8,301 graves was a white headstone for Bernard McDonnell, Henry’s youngest brother.

Jesse T. Campos


By Jordan Godwin

Jesse Campos wears a World War II Veteran hat garnished with a dozen medals and pins that magnify his 5-foot frame. Taking off the hat reveals the same impressively full head of hair he’s had all his life.

“I’ve earned this hat,” Campos said. “And everything on it.”

Alfonso L. Matta


By Christina Tran

When he became vice chairman of Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority in 1990, Alfonso Matta would recall his closest experience with a railcar, when he was a 14-year-old on a bike.

“The railcar – we had rail then – it turned on Houston Avenue, and I came and bumped up into it, and I fell onto there and hit something, and it stopped the streetcar, and the streetcar driver was like what are you doing there, and get off,” Matta said. “It was electric. I thought the wheels were gonna get me.”