Edward Romero

By Elizabeth Egeland

Private First Class Edward Romero listened as his platoon was briefed on its next mission. He’d already fought with the Marines in the Marshall Islands and Saipan, but was about to embark on an even more dangerous operation -- the Battle of Iwo Jima.

"Tomorrow you will be landing and some of you men will be killed. I might even be killed," an officer told the second platoon of F Company, which would be in the first assault wave on Iwo Jima. "Some of you will be wounded and some of you will come back, but we have a job to do."

Emilio Muñoz Membrila

By Valerie Jayne

As a young boy growing up in Clifton, Ariz., Emilio Muñoz Membrila played war games with his friends, inventing different maneuvers and strategies. Later, during World War II, he’d be engaged in historic battles in the European Theater, fighting in the frigid German forests during the Battle of the Bulge and getting taken prisoner for six months.

"It was the worst barrage U.S. troops ever encountered," said Muñoz Membrila of the Battle of the Bulge, Hitler's last major offensive. "It was supposed to have been a quiet sector."

Henry Sillik

By Brandon Rawe

It was a time in America's history when communities were racially segregated and shunning minorities was accepted.

But none of that mattered during World War II to Henry Sillik, who served on a naval ship in the middle of the China-Burma-India Theater, the first racially equal setting in which he says he ever lived.

Sillik grew up in Buckeye, Ariz., a segregated town of about 600 outside of Phoenix. Sillik, who is of Anglo and Latino parentage, noticed the different standard of living for Hispanics.

Virginia Tellez Ramirez

By David Vauthrin

In October of 1945, Virginia Tellez Ramirez was at work at Levy's Department Store in downtown Tucson, Ariz., when she got some important news: Her brother Henry, who was captured at Corregidor in the Philippines, was alive and had returned home from World War II.

"I was at work downtown, and my brother called me at the phone over at the store and I couldn't believe it," Ramirez said. "It was like talking to somebody from the dead."

Guadalupe G. Ramirez


Guadalupe G. "Joe" Ramirez, a Marine who served in the South Pacific during World War II, was so affected by the experience that, to this day, he has nightmares and worries about wasting water.

Born in Los Angeles on Sept. 28, 1926, Ramirez faced many obstacles. His mother, Esther Guido Ramirez, died when he was 11 months old, leaving him, an older brother and three older half-sisters.

Manuel Salazar Mejia

By Brooke West

World War II interrupted Manuel Salazar Mejia's academic endeavors when, as an 18-year-old high school sophomore, he enlisted in the Army in May of 1942.

One of five children born to immigrants from Zacatecas, Mexico, Mejia was raised in Kansas City, Kan. His father, Fidel Mejia, a butcher, and his mother, Ignacia Salazar Mejia, a housewife, struggled with finances. They depended on a large family-tended garden, in which they grew "corn, pumpkins, tomatoes, onions, peppers, some potatoes," Mejia said.