Houston

Ezequiel R. Hernandez


By Michael Trevino

Following his brothers' example of taking a stand against a foreign power and volunteering for the military, Ezequiel Hernandez enlisted in the Armed Forces as a teenager.

"When I turned 18, none of my brothers were home so I joined," Hernandez said.

Wilfred Navarro


By Brittany Wilson

After getting discharged from the Navy in 1948, Wilfred Navarro, Jr. returned to his hometown of Houston. He finished high school and decided he’d like to be a police officer. But first, he and other Latino veterans would have to overcome institutional racism.

Navarro was the third Latino officer hired by the Houston Police Department and would go on to serve for nearly five decades in many capacities, including high-level administration. His wife, influenced by her husband’s example, would later become a police officer.

Jesus G. Reyes


By Cynthia Agnew

Jesus "Jesse" Reyes, an accomplished shoe repairman, painter and World War II veteran, describes his Army experience as a life-altering phenomenon that helped him become the man he is today. The will to fight for his life when on the front line in Germany taught him that all good things come from hard work and perseverance.

Antonio Rico


By Brandi Richey

If it wasn't for ice cream, Antonio Rico's experience in the Navy during World War II might have been even more tedious. Stationed in Guam in 1945, Rico remembers the long hours pulling guard duty on the island.

"Ice cream saved my life," Rico joked. "It was a lonely time, but the best part was that we could have all the ice cream we wanted."

George Salmerón


By Rajesh Reddy

George Salmerón grew up hearing how his father was forced to serve in the Mexican Army at age 13 in the early 1900s.

"[My father] saw a bunch of soldiers coming around with a little drum, single-file. All of a sudden, they stopped in front of him. They made a circle completely around him, and they took him off to the Army," Salmerón said. "He was then officially recruited in the Army of Porfirio Diaz."

Leopold Rodriguez Moreno


By Kelly Tarleton

The thought of failure has never deterred Leopold Rodriguez Moreno from his goals.

Moreno says he was the first Mexican American to be sent to West Virginia as an inspector for the Southern Pacific Railroad Co.

He met Rosa Villagomez, the woman of his dreams, and decided he’d marry her. Six years later, he did.

But Moreno says one of his most important accomplishments is having survived a gunshot wound in the back during the Battle of Luzon in World War II.

Alberto Ochoa Marquez


By Tara Wilcox-G.

Alberto Marquez remembers an autumn day in Houston in 1942 when he and a friend went out for hot dogs and, by the time they returned home, they’d decided to volunteer to fight in World War II.

While walking to lunch that day, the young men had spotted the now-famous promotion advertisement of Uncle Sam pointing his finger, saying "I WANT YOU." The two friends began to joke and argue about which one of them Uncle Sam really wanted.

David Loredo


By Emma Graves Fitzsimmons

When David Loredo was shot in the stomach in the hills of the Philippines during World War II, his first thought was he’d never see his mother again.

"I remember standing there in a daze," Loredo said. "I felt like I had gotten hit with a huge rock. I was scared I was going to die."

Gilbert Garcia


By Meridith Kohut

There were ways to battle tedium in the long stretches at sea: poker games, movie nights and dishes of ice cream. But for Gilbert Garcia of Houston, Texas, it was mostly the poker winnings he relished.

At sea, Garcia was perhaps the best poker player on ship. He boasts being able to win hands despite other players sharing their cards with one another in an effort to beat him.

Enrique Rodriguez Falcon


By Jennifer Yee

Like many veterans coming home from World War II, Henry Falcon remembers having a difficult time adjusting to American society. His return to the peace of America was a stark contrast to his three years of fierce air combat as a gunner on bomber missions over Europe.