San Antonio

Eduardo Cavazos Garza

By Emily Macrander

"I'm a new man."

Eduardo Cavazos Garza was speaking to himself, or out loud. He wasn't sure and didn't really care. He was on a boat, floating down another South Vietnam river. It was the summer of 1969. He was in his early 20s. His life's possessions were in his army issue duffle. He was a combat engineer, trained to operate explosives, help out infantrymen and kill.

Arturo Ramirez

By Grant Abston

As a sophomore at La Salle High School in San Antonio, Texas, Arturo Ramirez stood out from his classmates.

Ramirez already had a working history that spanned many years. He had worked alongside his father cleaning offices at the Union Stockyards in San Marcos, northeast of San Antonio, since he was eight years old. The work day sometimes began at 4 a.m. before school. He had also worked landscaping for two years before taking a job at a bowling alley on the south side of town during his sophomore year.

Juan Mejia

By Frank Trejo

From childhood poverty in South Texas through the Battle of the Bulge, one of World War II's bloodiest conflicts, Juan Mejia proved he was a survivor.

Mejia's wartime experiences included being listed as missing-in-action for a time, but he said it never occurred to him that he might die.

"The closest I got was when a piece of shrapnel fell on me here on my coat," he said. "I just did this, brushed it off."

Herlinda Gutierrez

By Teresita Amaya, California State University, Fullerton

What began as a harmless bet led to the opportunity of a lifetime for U.S. Air Force veteran Herlinda Gutierrez - "I enlisted on a dare," she said.

Gutierrez remembered one day she and the girls at work were imagining what their lives could be if they were in the military, although it was something of a longshot. Not only were they all nurses but, aside from Gutierrez, most of them were also married and had children.

Placido Jose Lozano

By Andrew Stark, St. Bonaventure University and Alicia Machuca, Cal State Fullerton

On Dec. 7, 1941, Placido Jose Lozano was at a movie theater, enjoying a soda and 25-cent popcorn with his friends. Suddenly the film stopped, and the theater manager came out and placed a large radio on the stage.

Emilio Portales

By Trent Lesikar

“All those bullets and none of them had my name on it,” Emilio Portales said with a laugh. Portales saw action on the front lines of U.S. Army campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, France and Germany during World War II. He survived the 1944 invasion of Normandy, fought in much of the European campaign, and witnessed the liberation of a concentration camp in Germany.

Arturo Dominguez

By Kelsey Lawrence and Valerie Harris

Speaking in a labored but steady voice, Arturo Dominguez recalled with impressive precision the names of towns that his Army unit traveled through in Europe and the exact address --102 Casanova St,, San Antonio -- where his sister, Aurora, lived when he moved in with her after he returned home from the war.

Rodolfo Hernandez

By Jordyn Davenport

Although Rodolfo Hernandez never saw the frontline of battle, World War II was an exciting time for him.

That’s because Hernandez performed with his family’s informal entertainment troupe as a singer nicknamed Charro Azul, for the blue suit he wore on stage.

Alfred A. De La Cruz

By Donnie Hogan

Alfred Antonio De La Cruz made $2 per week working as a radio technician, while the military paid $17 per month, so joining the Army was an opportunity he couldn’t turn down.

De La Cruz says he has always had a passion for gaining knowledge and a determination to never be complacent. Growing up poor in San Antonio, Texas, he recalls his parents insisting he get an education and strive to be the best at whatever profession or trade he went into.

Ramiro Ramos

By Brandon Fried

Ramiro Ramos has spent much of his life just trying to get by.

Raised near the Texas-Mexico border, in the town of Salineno, Ramos was one of seven children born to Rita and Esteban Ramos in the early 1920s. He was born on Sept. 12, 1924.

“There were more than enough of us to play with,” said Ramos.