Army Air Corps

Joe M. Riojas


Joe Riojas was stationed in the Pacific during World War II with the Army Air Corps, but his letters home never told the dangers he faced.

Riojas was assigned to the 58th Fighter Group, 69th Fighter Squadron. Later, he was transferred to the 338th Fighter Group. His unit was part of the Allied Forces' "island-hopping" strategy in the Pacific -- taking territory back from the Japanese.

He was born in Lockhart, Texas, 27 miles south of Austin, on Sept. 19, 1924. He was one of 13 children born to Gregorio Riojas and Macedonia Martines.

Roger Cisneros


Roger Cisneros is a former state senator and one of Colorado's most dedicated civil rights advocates.

He was born Jan. 22, 1924, in Questa, New Mexico, to Donaciano Cisneros and Todosia Martinez.

He graduated from high school and joined the Army Air Corps in March 1943. He completed basic training at Sheppard Field in Wichita Falls, Texas. He was selected to go to Chanute Field in Illinois for cryptographer training and was assigned to the 33rd Bomb Group.

After the war, he got a job as a typist at Montgomery Ward in Denver, Colorado, making 60 cents an hour.

Angel Zavala


By Andie Salazar

Between April 1944 and December 1945, Angel Zavala experienced everything from seeing the architecture of England and the islands of the South Pacific to nightly bombings and a searing sun at sea.

What was a 22-year-old from Coupland, Texas, who enjoyed softball and the song “Las Cuatro Milpas,” doing half a world away from home?

Fighting in World War II.

Jose M. Salas


By Cheryl Smith Kemp

On July 25, 1944, with 160 hours of B-24 Liberator tail-gunner training under his belt, but no combat-flying experience, Jose M. Salas was picked to fill in with a crew for a flight from a United States base near Torretta, Italy, to Linz Austria.

“It was a very rough mission. We had a lot of enemy planes hit us,” recalled Salas, who was still a teenager at the time. “There was about 50 or so airplanes shot down that day. … I had six fighters shooting at my tail.”

Trinidad Jasso


Mexican immigrants Antonio Jasso and Genoveva Ramirez Jasso, who picked cotton in South Texas, would see five of their sons go off to war.

Their granddaughter, Evelyn Jasso Garcia, set out to record their story, and that of her father and uncles. An associate professor at San Antonio College, she regrets she wasn't able to interview her uncles, but gratified her dad, Jose "Joe" Jasso lived to see the fruit of her research.

Francisco Jasso


Mexican immigrants Antonio Jasso and Genoveva Ramirez Jasso, who picked cotton in South Texas, would see five of their sons go off to war.

Their granddaughter, Evelyn Jasso Garcia, set out to record their story, and that of her father and uncles. An associate professor at San Antonio College, she regrets she wasn't able to interview her uncles, but gratified her dad, Jose "Joe" Jasso lived to see the fruit of her research.

Juan Lujan


By Joel Weickgenant

As a 20-year-old at the end of 1942, Juan Lujan remembers thinking World War II was passing him by. He wanted to participate in the war effort, but he’d promised his mother he wouldn't volunteer.

In the end, it was a promise Lujan wasn’t able to keep.

"I was afraid the war would be over, and I would not get the chance to go," he said.

Lujan got his wish in November of 1942, when he was drafted into the Army, rendering his promise to his mother moot.

Lorenzo Falcon


By Karina Valenzuela

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

Pablo Segura


By Brandi Grissom

Only one street led into and out of the poor barrio in El Paso, Texas, where Pablo Segura grew up during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Segura was determined to follow that street out of the barrio, and believed education was key to achieving his goal. Through his service in the military during World War II, he believes he fulfilled his dream.

After graduating from high school in 1935, Segura put aside his college ambitions and left El Paso for California to look for work to help his family through the economically trying times.

Vicente Ximenes


By Erika Martinez

Vicente Ximenes still recalls his days as a Mexican American boy growing up in the 1930s in Floresville, Texas, a town where segregation formed part of his everyday life.

Ximenes also remembers that out of the 100 Mexican American kids who started elementary school with him, only five, including him, made it through high school.

"It was tough growing up," he said. "Coming from an elementary school that was segregated into a non-segregated school ... you experienced discrimination."