San Antonio

Julius Moreno

By Jocelyn Ehnstrom

As a young kid, Julius Moreno enjoyed playing baseball, tending to his family’s farm animals at their home in San Antonio and singing in his neighborhood band called “The Holly Boys.”

But the first priority of Moreno’s father, Julio Moreno, Sr., was making sure all nine of his children, the second oldest of whom was Moreno, got a good education.

Trinidad G. Martinez

By David Muto

Trinidad Martinez remembers the little things.

Like the long list of vegetables he helped his family grow on their ranch in South Texas before World War II broke out.

Thoughts like that punctuate Martinez's recollections of his time at war, during which he endured years of incredible hardship at the hands of enemy combatants and even walked in the infamous Bataan Death March. He seems amused while recalling these smaller, seemingly trivial memories of his youth, as if they've been uncovered for the first time in years.

Rudy Elizondo

By Brittany Rodriguez

He was only a child when the war began, but Rudy Elizondo supported the United States in his own way.

From his time in the Boy Scouts to his service in the United States Navy, Elizondo proved that one could fight a war without going overseas.

“When the war started, I was just 11 years old,” he said. “I heard my parents talk ... Then later on in the evening we heard a radio broadcast from President Roosevelt that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and that he was going to Congress to see about a declaration of war.”

Willie L. Moreno

By Sara Delarosa

When Willie Luna Moreno entered the Armed Forces in April of 1943, he was only 19.

Moreno began basic training at Camp Robinson in Arkansas, and later in Massachusetts and Maryland. Afterward, he went to England, France and Germany.

Starting as a Private First Class, he was involved in the infantry and military police, as well as the 1st Infantry Division, nicknamed Big Red One partially due to a shoulder patch emblazoned with a red numeral “1.” As a part of Big Red One, Moreno was in Omaha Beach, Normandy, on D-Day.

Alfred P. Flores

By Soren Silkenson

When Alfred P. Flores was 16, his brother Robert, was lost in an early guided missile attack that sank his ship, the Rohna, three miles off the coast of Italy.

The sinking in the Mediterranean of the British troop transport vessel on Nov. 26, 1943, killed more than 1,000 U.S. troops in one of the worst losses of U.S. maritime history.

Details of the disaster were initially shrouded in military secrecy. Flores was determined to help find his brother but was told he was too young to enlist. Shortly after turning 17, he was finally allowed.

Genovevo Bargas

By Borger Bargas

On April 29, 1945, Genovevo Bargas and some of his shipmates looked to the sky from the deck of the USS Comfort. A Japanese kamikaze was headed straight for their hospital ship. They were in the midst of the Battle of Okinawa, the last major battle of World War II.

The kamikaze missed the USS Comfort’s smoke stack, but still managed to create a huge hole in the vessel.

“We only saw one part of the Japanese [pilot’s] body,” said Bargas, motioning from the neck up, “the rest was nothing.”

Gilberto S. Treviño

By Marjon Rostami

Gilbert Treviño was a 19-year old junior at Texas A&M College when he was drafted for the war. When Treviño went to San Antonio, Texas, for his physical, he expressed an interest in the Marines, and eight months later, he was in combat.

“They didn’t waste any time,” he said.

Treviño was born in Laredo and grew up speaking Spanish. By the end of the war, all three of his brothers had served in the military: one in the Marines, one in the Army and one in the Navy.

Joseph Davila

By Prisilla Totiyapungprasert

Corporal Joseph Davila had a choice during his military occupation in the Southern Philippines: He could stay with the other soldiers to hold up enemy advancement toward American military headquarters, or he could race his way through an incoming banzai attack to rescue a fallen comrade.

It was 1944, a year before Japan surrendered to signal the end of World War II, and Sergeant David Fayard found his wounded, blood-covered body being pulled from the ground.

Davila had chosen to come back for him.

Hortense Mota Gallardo

By Alicia Downard

When Hortense Mota Gallardo recalls her childhood growing up in Depression-era San Antonio, Texas, she remembers the generosity of her father, Bartollo Mota, and how he not only provided for his own family, but for strangers in need of help.

“Daddy had a big heart,” Gallardo said. “We were supposed to share what we had – even if it was just a little bit.”

Luis R. Garza

By Hason Halpert

For Air Force Gunner Luis Garza, the worst thing that could have happened to him during World War II occurred before he even got overseas.

“While we were waiting [to go overseas], my mother got a notice that my brother [Pablo Garza] had been killed [in France],” Garza said. “I was playing ping pong, and my mom called and said my brother was missing. He was reported killed in action later that day.”

Rife with emotion, Garza asked for a leave of absence from his port of embarkation in Georgia.