San Antonio

Manuel Espinoza


By Xochitl Salazar

Manuel Espinoza's father, Concepción, was struck by lightning in 1930 while working on railroad tracks in Colorado.

The older Espinoza's death had great repercussions: His young widow, Ventura Mendoza Espinoza, and their three sons moved to San Antonio, Texas, to stay with her parents. Ventura began working and her boys helped her out. In time, though, Espinoza would join the Navy and survive battles in the Philippines before returning to start a life of his own.

Rubiana De la Peña


By SHELBY DOWNS

Miguel de la Peña's first injury in World War II landed him in the infirmary for two days. His second injury landed him his wife of 58 years.

After first suffering a concussion at Normandy in July, Mr. de la Peña was wounded by another artillery shell in Bretagne, France. He ended up in a hospital in Taunton, north of Liverpool, England, where another injured soldier persuaded him to go on a double date with two of the nurses there.

"I met her on a blind date and I became blind right away," Mr. De la Peña said.

Miguel de la Peña


By Shelby Downs

Miguel de la Peña’s first injury in World War II landed him in the infirmary for two days. His second injury landed him his wife of 58 years.

After first suffering a concussion at Normandy, de la Peña was wounded by another artillery shell in Bretagne, France. He ended up in a hospital in Taunton, north of Liverpool, England, where another injured soldier persuaded him to go on a double date with a nurse there.

"I met her on a blind date and I became blind right away," de la Peña said.

Ascención Ambros Cortez


By Clara Obregón

Ascención Ambros Cortez can't help but cry when she thinks of the sacrifices her brother, Enrique Ambros, and husband, Hernan Cortez, Sr., made for their country during World War II. Her husband lost his right hand and her brother paid the ultimate price -- his life. Both gladly volunteered to serve their country, she remembers.

Cortez was one of seven children born to Gaspar and Dominga Ambros in Laredo, Texas. Gaspar died from a head injury after falling off a horse in 1933, leaving Dominga widowed with seven children.

Carlos Cavazos


By Yvonne Lim

Carlos Cavazos, a veteran infantry instructor, has been wearing his olive-brown wool uniform, along with his Army cap and gray, knotted, tie to special events for 35 years. He keeps the uniform, issued to him more than 50 years ago, clean and neatly pressed, and modestly decorated with medals and ribbons.

Cavazos says he wears it to honor veterans and those who served on the home front throughout all wars.

"It means a lot to me," Cavazos said. "I wear my uniform with pride, but I do not wear it to glorify myself. I wear it to honor the veterans."

Caesar Catalino Castro


As a young man in San Antonio, Caesar Castro was an accomplished pianist.

His talent caught the attention of a group of famed California musicians who wanted Caesar to move west with them, so that they could mold him.

Castro didn't take the offer; but even so, his musical skills continued to grow.

Castro was born on Oct. 27, 1924, in San Antonio, Texas. He had a half-brother, Alfred, and a half-sister, Margaret, from his father's first marriage. And he had two more siblings born to his father and his mother, Maria Villarreal Castro.

Alfredo Castro


Alfred Castro was the son of an accomplished musician, who recognized early that Alfred had a natural gift and did all he could to foster the boy’s musical growth.

Imogene Davis Avalos


By Karin Brulliard

When Imogene "Jean" Davis first laid eyes on Alfred Avalos in September of 1942, she didn’t notice he was more than a decade her senior, and that his skin was several shades darker than hers. She saw only that he was handsome.

It was her first day as a clerk at Eckmark photography studios at Camp Walters Army Base in Mineral Wells, Texas. Alfred, who went by Pat because he was born on St. Patrick's Day, was a photographer there.

He was taken himself with the 22-year-old woman.

Julia Rodriguez Aguillon


By Yolanda Urrabazo

Julia Rodriguez Aguillon first knew tragedy when she was 10 years old, when her father passed away due to cirrhosis of the liver. Later, as an adult, she’d feel a deeper sorrow when she had a stillborn baby and, much later, when a daughter and granddaughter died. But through it all, she held on to a strong belief in God.

"To me, the loss of a child is the most hard ... but God will never give you anything more than you can bear," Aguillon said. "So I had faith and we pulled through."

Jose M. Lopez


By Ernie Carrido

Jose M. Lopez is one of the 12 Latino World War II veterans to have received the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military accolade. He had a difficult childhood, but maintained a fervent belief in the Virgen de Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico.

Lopez's father died in the Mexican Revolution; his mother eight, years later, when he was eight. Lopez never went to school, but worked in the cotton fields to help support himself.