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Joe Nevarez


By Melanie Sewell

A pioneer in his field at a time when jobs were scarce, Joe Reyes Nevarez was one of the first Mexican Americans to work for The Los Angeles Times as a reporter.

"I used to tell the managing editor, 'Why don't you employ Mexican Americans?'" said Nevarez, adding that his editors always told him there wasn't anyone who was trained.

"Of course today," he said, "I think the whole staff is Mexican American. There are so many Mexican-American reporters at the Times."

Adolfo Vega Reyes


By Zachary Warmbrodt

Around March of 1921, Anita Vega Reyes and her three young boys were on the run. Her husband, Pedro Reyes, had owned a mine in their hometown of Cananea, Sonora, and he was getting too political, his youngest son Adolfo Reyes– then six months old – recounts. Pedro was shot and killed by enemies in Baja who wanted his mine. Now, his killers were after his wife and sons.

Randel Zepeda Fernández


By Colleen Torma

Randel Zepeda Fernández was only a baby when his family moved from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas, and then to Los Angeles. But later, as a young man, his lack of United States citizenship hampered him.

"I couldn't find a good job because I was an alien," Fernández said. "At the time, joining the Armed Forces was the fastest way to become a citizen."

Thomas Lopez Casso


By Sarah Carter

Thomas Casso took off through the jungle after lighting a smoke signal that would tell United States troops where to target the Japanese, who were trailing his company on Bougainville in the Solomon Islands.

Casso recalled his superior telling him, "Look, here's a smoke pot ... after we're out of sight and you can't hear us anymore -- 15 minutes -- you stay here then you light it and then you run ... and catch up with us.”

"Oh, 15 minutes can be a long, long time," Casso said.

Abner Carrasco


By Juliana Torres

During the landing at Salerno, Abner Carrasco was shooting at a German Panzer, a heavily armored tank, when its turret suddenly pivoted and pointed directly at him. Facing his potential death, Carrasco kept firing and was surprised when the tank drove off.

He’d spent his childhood working odd jobs, from picking tomatoes to caddying at country clubs or setting up pins in bowling alleys. He says he joined the Texas National Guard in 1938 "for fun," not thinking the United States would ever go to war.

David Pineda Towns


By Elaine Mingus

For David Pineda Towns, it was always about the letters. The letters from his wife. The letters from his family and friends. And his letters back to them.

It was always about the news they brought. He lived for their arrival. Like the one he received telling him he’d become a father to a 9-pound son.

"It's letters, and letters only, that bring up the morale of a soldier," Towns wrote to his wife, Lilia Martinez, while stationed overseas in Europe during World War II. "Do not fail to answer me soon."

Rudolph S. Tovar


By Nathan Beck

On Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, Rudolph Tovar was a halfback marching his football team down a Los Angeles football field toward the goal line. Captain of the Verdugo Knights, Tovar and his teammates were informed during a timeout on the sidelines that Pearl Harbor had been bombed early that morning by the Japanese.

The next day, after President Franklin D. Roosevelt had declared war on the Japanese and entered America into World War II, Tovar and his friend, William Rubalcava, traveled to downtown Los Angeles to the Federal Building, to enlist in the Marine Corps.

Joe Medina


By Naomi Price

Joe Borunda Medina was fresh out of Wiley High School in Wiley, Colo., when he was inducted into the Army in June of 1943.

Initially drafted, Borunda says he received a notice several weeks later that he was no longer needed. He decided to join anyway, however, and was sent to Denver for basic training, then to Utah for additional training and testing.

Joe V. Lopez


By Ronnie Zamora

Joe Lopez can recall a time when serving in the military was the furthest thing from his mind. The idea of firing a rifle at an enemy was only a part of the childhood games he used to play with his brothers.

Lopez never imagined he’d find himself in Italy, engaged in a life-and-death firefight against German troops in a skirmish that would eventually earn him a Bronze Star for his heroism on the battlefield.

"Me and my brothers used to play cowboys and Indians, but we never thought about the military," Lopez said.

Lorenzo Falcon


By Karina Valenzuela

The Falcon family's military service extends beyond four brothers' time in World War II.