San Antonio

William R. Ornelas

By Juliana A Torres

William R. Ornelas grew up in a family of seven brothers and two sisters in Brownwood, Texas. They worked in the fields picking cotton, corn and wheat.

Like the rest of the country, the Ornelases were hit hard by the Depression.

"The whole world came to a stop. And so of course food and clothing were more important than school," Ornelas recalled.

To better help his family's financial situation, Ornelas dropped out in the 7th grade.

Jesus Humberto Morales

By Lindsay Fitzpatrick

Jesus Humberto Morales survived 11 months unharmed in the jungles of New Guinea. It wasn’t until after that, in the Philippines, when he got hurt.

Shrapnel hit Morales and his partner as they were reloading a bazooka. His comrade died, but Morales managed to survive, sustaining an injury that required an artificial joint be implanted in his thumb.

Morales, who was born Oct. 25, 1918, served in Company L of the 20th Infantry, 6th Division.

Ed Idar

By Liliana Martinez

When Ed Idar was a teenager living in Buenos Aires, a neighborhood in Laredo, Texas, he never thought he’d volunteer as a civilian for Station X in England, and go to India and China while in the Army.

"I came to realize how big the world was, how many societies and cultures there are in this world," Idar said. "Seeing poverty makes you wonder, ‘Why can't we do things to help people?’"

And it was his thirst for helping others that pushed him to devote much of his life to working for the Mexican American community.

Rafaela Muniz Esquivel

By Joanne R. Sanchez

San Antonio, TX - When she was seven years old, Rafaela Muñiz Esquivel - the second oldest in the family that would eventually include 15 children - began caring for her brothers and sisters. Rafaela stayed home from school when her mother needed her to run errands. By the time she was nine, there were already six children in the Muñiz household, including her brother Fernando, who was born with Down's syndrome.

Julian Gonzalez

By Veronica Sainz

Raised with 11 sisters, four brothers and two pet javelinas in the small town of Chapin, Texas, no one could have guessed that Julian Gonzalez would become a decorated veteran of the Normandy invasion.

Gonzalez grew up on a farm where the only creatures hunted were doves or rabbits, and where the daily exchange involved tacos for sandwiches with a hint of World War II on the horizon.

Like many boys his age, Gonzalez says he was disenchanted with school.

Abelardo Martinez Gonzales

By Trinidad Aguirre

A paratrooper and medical corpsman for the 507th Airborne Regiment, Abelardo M. Gonzales fought in World War II using bandages instead of bullets, tourniquets instead of bayonets.

Gonzales recalled his combat experiences while at the southside San Antonio home of his sister, Georgina.

"My first jump was at night, Normandy 1944. It was too dark, too cloudy, so we were scattered landing all over the place," he said. "In a night jump, you have to strain your eyes to see the ground coming.