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Antonio M. Esquivel


By Robin Larson

For Antonio "Tony"M. Esquivel, any romanticized remembrances of youth are tempered with memories of pervasive pre-war segregation in his hometown and the inescapable horror he endured in combat.

"I liked the service because it put a lot of incentive in me," Esquivel said. "I just didn't like the death I witnessed."

Richard Dominguez


By Courtney Stoutmire

Richard Dominguez counts his "blessings" every day when he remembers his time in World War II. The best part: It was short and sweet.

Dominguez was drafted in June of 1943, but he wasn’t sent into combat until more than a year later, only a month before the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

George Castruita


By Sparkie Anderson

George Castruita has lived a full life. He served in the Pacific in World War II, traveled abroad, witnessed apartheid in South Africa, was chased down by "Paisanos" and had a young woman turn cold when she discovered he was Mexican American.

Castruita was also a firefighter for Los Angeles County for 18 years, before retiring in 1966. He has been married since 1948 to Priscilla Martinez, and is the father of three children and grandfather of eight.

Frank Bonilla


By Anne Quach

Frank Bonilla planned to attend college after finishing high school, but within two weeks of graduation, he was drafted into the Army to fight in World War II.

Daniel L. Munoz


By Allison Baxter

Dan Muñoz, Sr. grew up in the small community of San Fernando, Calif., a town that was segregated by race. At that time, he couldn’t even go to the white part of town after dark to go to a movie house without the fear of being arrested. Today, he’s the publisher of La Prensa San Diego, a newspaper that allows his words to be read by nearly 35,000 readers every week.

Evelio Grillo


By Lindsay Graham

Raised in Ybor City, a Cuban neighborhood inside Tampa, Fla., Evelio Grillo attended black segregated schools and grew up with black role models.

"Black Cubans were closer to black Americans and white Cubans were closer to white Americans," Grillo said. "We became culturally African American."

He went on to attend Dunbar High, an all-black high school in Washington, D.C., and attended Xavier University, a college for black students in New Orleans, La. He then was drafted into the Army to serve in a "colored" unit in the China-Burma-India Theater.

Dominick Tripodi


By Jose Araiza

While many were in shock after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Domínick Tripodi unhesitatingly volunteered to fight terrorism abroad. The U.S. Army applauded his initiative and loyalty but denied his petition. Although a seasoned war veteran, Tripodi is 76 years old.

Tripodi's sense of patriotism began at 17 when he lied about his age to fight for his country. This patriotism continues to help him come to terms with the psychological effects of war and the subsequent challenges he currently faces.

Santos Sandoval


By Melissa Sellers

Clad in a stiffly starched khaki dress shirt and pants that tent over his thin frame, Santos Sandoval calmly recalls his experiences in the South Pacific Theater during World War II.

Now retired in Los Angeles, the 82-year-old Sandoval enlisted in an infantry regiment at 18 because "it sounded good." He’d go on to receive numerous awards for significant heroic deeds during his tour of duty.

Xavier Pelaez


By Gina Ross

World War II gave Xavier Pelaez many gruesome experiences -- from witnessing the horror of a concentration camp to the pain of being wounded in battle.

Pelaez was born in Los Angeles in 1925, his parents having moved from Nogales, Mexico, before he was born. His mother, Graciela Preciado, was a homemaker and his namesake father did various jobs wherever he could find work.

Pelaez graduated from Fremont High School in 1943, but knew his immediate future was with the service.

Jesse D Nava


By Kristina Radke

Before World War II, Jesse Nava led a simple life in California, swimming in the Los Angeles River and gaining a strong work ethic from his immigrant father. But since the war, that carefree life has been elusive.

To help his father support the family, Nava was forced at age 17 to drop out of the predominantly Latino Roosevelt High School, where he was successful in breaking track and field records. In addition to his parents, Nava's family consisted of two brothers and two sisters.