San Diego

Joseph Alcoser

By Eric Garza

The Great Depression. World War II. The civil rights movement. Joseph Alcoser lived through these milestones in American history. Yet, he never truly felt that he was part of the country that he fought to defend.

Joseph Alcoser, or Joe as he was also known, was born in Melvin, a small town in central Texas, in 1925. One of 10 siblings, he was born the son of a migrant farm worker and like many Mexican-Americans of his time, spent much of his childhood moving from field to field harvesting crops.

Marcus Lopez Gomez

By Otto Smith-Goeke

Marcus Lopez Gomez has seen many forms of racial discrimination and difficult economic times throughout his life. As a veteran of World War II, Gomez's war experiences, family-oriented perspective and emphasis on work has helped him immensely.

"The war makes you think more like a man. It helped a lot of soldiers become men," he said. "Drugs were a big problem for some [before the war]. But after the war, they came back wanting to work and make money and get a better job."

Ernest George Gonzalez

By Corina Kellam

Before the births of his son and three daughters, before trying his hand at professional golf training and real estate, Ernie Gonzalez was a naval engineer.

Gonzalez attended Oatman Grammar School in Arizona first through third grade, before moving to San Jacinto, California in 1931 after the death of his father, to continue his school years.

"Oatman is sort of a deserted town now. There is some action with donkeys walking up and down the street, though," he said.

Andrew Esparza

By Jacob Collazo

In the late 1930s, as war intensified in Europe, the United States was coming out of the Depression, but not yet directly involved in the War. In San Diego, a high school student named Andrew C. Esparza was biding his time: anticipating that he would serve his country, but enjoying his youth.