Eighty-one-year old Houston resident Andrew Tamayo clearly remembers the day World War II broke out. And the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the 19-year-old Mexican American proudly enlisted in the Army.
Even though he volunteered to serve, Tamayo eventually harbored some doubts about his purpose as a Mexican American in the military. It was during a battle in Sicily in 1943 that he became most conflicted about his status as a Latino.
Paul Solis and his two brothers all served in World War II. He was in the China- Burma-India Theater; his older brother, Raymond, worked on dry docks in the Pacific; and his younger brother, August, served on the USS Farragut (DD 348). All returned safely.
For Solis, the war would be his chance to break away from his life in Houston, to hitchhike across America and see parts of the world he probably never would have had the chance to visit. It made him appreciate what he had back home.
Only one street led into and out of the poor barrio in El Paso, Texas, where Pablo Segura grew up during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Segura was determined to follow that street out of the barrio, and believed education was key to achieving his goal. Through his service in the military during World War II, he believes he fulfilled his dream.
After graduating from high school in 1935, Segura put aside his college ambitions and left El Paso for California to look for work to help his family through the economically trying times.
At home in Houston in the 1940s, Johnnie Martinez was a well-known entertainer. He eventually would own a nightclub, lead his own big band, the Johnnie Martinez Band, and even own his own record label, Alameda.
But during World War II, circumstances were different.
Agusti¬n Louis Hernandez's life has been one of service: to his country as an engineer/gunner on a B-24, to his community as a firefighter and lawman for 37 years, and to his family as a husband and father.
And as a retiree in Houston at the age of 81, he still struggles today with what is right and what is wrong in war and how it squares with his religious beliefs.
As the tower bells at the University of Texas at Austin rang "You're in the Army Now," Arnulfo “A.D.” Azios and fellow members of what was called the Enlisted Reserve Corps were called to duty. Judge Azios proudly recalls an article that ran on the front page of The Daily Texan, the university's student newspaper.
It wasn't until he went for his physical, after being drafted in October of 1942, that Lufkin, Texas, native Norman Gonzales realized he was blind in one eye. However, that didn’t stop Gonzales from serving in the military and, after the war, traveling around the world supporting cleanup operations.
Gonzales had hoped to join the Marine Corps instead of being drafted into the Army. But the physical exam for the Marines revealed he didn’t have vision in his right eye.
By the time World War II ended, Guadalupe Garza had traveled hostile roads through French Morocco, Spanish Morocco, Algiers, Tunisia, Sicily, Italy, Gibraltar, Scotland, England, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany and Austria.