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Felipe Ramirez III


By Voces Staff

A bullet in his chest and scars on his stomach were lifelong reminders of Felipe Ramirez's Vietnam War experience.

"The first round of bullets hit the machine gun. Before I knew it, I was hit. I felt something. I took a big dive and went behind a tree and said to another soldier, 'I'm OK, I'm OK,'" he said.

Elva Alicia Medrano Rodriguez


By Jazmin Sanchez, California State University, Fullerton

When loved ones go to war, it is not easy for those who are left behind. Religious faith helps some endure the experience.

Elva Alicia Medrano Rodriguez's brother, Camilo, served in the Vietnam War and rarely sent letters home. To cope with her brother’s absence, Rodriguez, a vocational nurse, turned to prayer and focused on her work with terminal patients.

Paz Peña


By Wes Hamilton

Paz Peña was a small-town kid in every way. Growing up in Mathis, Texas, he was the oldest of four siblings and always felt destined to leave his town to make an impact in the world.

Raymond "Ray" Saucedo


By Jackie Rapp

If growing up in a family with 11 brothers and one sister doesn’t sound hectic enough, Raymond
"Ray" Saucedo’s family also didn’t just stay in one location. Saucedo's childhood consisted of summers when the family would load up a truck and wooden camper and head to Michigan, Ohio, or anywhere else that cherry-, strawberry- and tomato-picking migrant work led them.

“Wherever work was, we would go,” said Saucedo, who went on to serve in the U.S. Army in both the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Robert Lee Polanco Sr.


By Kevin Bradley, St. Bonaventure University

Robert Lee Polanco Sr. sat on the plane, nervously biting his nails. The flight had left Texas nearly three hours earlier. They would be passing over the Pacific Ocean on their way to the other side of the world.

In 1971, Polanco was a soldier in the Army, returning to the war in Vietnam after “just a few days … not even a week” of absence.

Eduardo Fierro


By Gilbert Song

“All gave some, some gave all” is an old adage that captures the sense of duty and honor Eduardo M. Fierro felt about his service in Vietnam.

Around noon one Sunday in May 1968, while on a sweep-and-destroy mission, his Army platoon was ambushed by a company-sized element of the Viet Cong. Part of Fierro’s right arm was torn off in the firefight, and he was wounded in his right thigh.

Blandina Cardenas Flores


By the Voces Staff

Former University of Texas-Pan American president Blandina “Bambi” Cardenas Flores found her life’s purpose at a very early age: working to provide quality education to students, no matter their ethnicity or their economic status.

Over a long career that included positions in government and education, Cardenas Flores helped pioneer efforts toward equal opportunity in the K-12 system and higher education. She eventually became the first Latina president of a University of Texas System institution.

Eleazar M. Lugo


By Anusha Lalani

As the son of migrant farm workers, Eleazar Lugo might not have seemed a likely leader of a six-week school walkout in Uvalde, Texas. But in April of 1970, only a few weeks before his high school graduation and with a great deal at risk, Lugo accepted a key role in the walkout, which would have a lasting effect on him and on the school system.

Vilma Martinez


By Carlos Devora

From working as a lawyer to serving as president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund to being appointed ambassador to Argentina, Vilma Martinez has been a trailblazer.

Her work has helped bring down discriminatory laws and expand the political power of Latinos.

She has accomplished this even in the face of racial and gender discrimination.

Alejandro M. Lizárraga


The late 1940s and 1950s were tense times in America. Fear of Communism was spreading, and Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union were growing. In 1950, communist North Korea sent troops into South Korea, and the U.S. came to South Korea’s aid, in accordance with its treaty obligation. President Harry S. Truman declared a national emergency: From 1950 through 1953, 1.5 million men were drafted and another 1.3 million volunteered for military service.