Army

Frank Martinez


By Julia Bunch  

Frank Martinez, a Colorado native, was a family man and a college student in the mid-1960s. Surely, he wouldn’t be sent to Vietnam.

But then he got the letter from the Army.

“I didn’t think I would get drafted because I had a daughter,” Martinez said. “I told this other Hispanic guy I knew, Joe Castro, ‘There’s no way they’re going to draft you. You’ve got a little boy!’ But then we both got drafted.”

Martinez and Castro used their friendship to prepare for the war.

Pedro Ramos Santana


By Gabriela Chabolla

One of 14 children born to parents who worked on a sugar plantation in Guayama, Puerto Rico, Pedro Ramos Santana built his life around hard work and accountability.

His father worked in the field, while his mother tended to the house of a woman named Nena Sabater. Ramos and his nine brothers and four sisters learned the value of hard work at an early age.

“(My parents) told me that a man’s worth is determined by two things,” said Ramos in Spanish, “his integrity and his word. I walked this world with this doctrine.”

Jose Ramirez


By Monica Jean Alaniz

Jose Ramirez, Jr. is a man who holds his friends and family close to heart. One can hear the pride in his voice when he speaks of them; it doesn’t matter if they are part of his past or present. Ramirez looks back on his days as a soldier with mostly fond memories. He remembers buddies with a fond smile.

The period of time Ramirez served in the armed forces right after World War II ended is an important part of his life, but he’s humble about his experience. When asked for this interview he was hesitant, saying he "didn't see action."

Juan Martinez


By Meredith Barnhill

Juan Martinez, Jr. is the embodiment of the patriotism Mexican Americans demonstrated during his time in the Army.

Born Nov. 20, 1922, in El Paso, Texas, to Juan Martinez, Sr. and Sebastiana Valdez Martinez, he grew up speaking both Spanish and English. Though both of his parents were from Mexico, he identifies himself as “American,” not “Mexican-American.”

Martinez was the third of five children and the only boy. The entire clan practiced Catholicism and attended church at least once a week at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in El Paso.

Jesus Ramirez

Jesus Ramirez


By John Weber

Jesus "Chuy" Ramirez believed serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War taught him responsibility.

But even as a child, Ramirez, the oldest of four growing up on a farm in the Mexican municipality of Mexicali, Baja California, had many obligations.

He had many memories from a tough childhood. He recalled when his father kidnapped him and his three siblings after lying to school authorities about their grandmother's health. Ramirez's parents, Fortunato Ramirez and Maria Cecilia Navarro Ramos, had been involved in a custody battle.

Juan Lugo Martinez


Tribute provided by Yolanda Guerra, daughter of Mr. Martinez.

While he lived much of his youth during the Great Depression, Juan Lugo Martinez always talked about happy times, daughter Yolanda Martinez Guerra recalled in a tribute provided to Voces.

Arnold Garcia


By Jonathan Woo

Arnold Garcia Jr. had never felt more powerful in his life.

The West Texas native sat by himself in the barracks on base in Illesheim, West Germany, when a fellow soldier named Horton -- who never hid his disdain toward Garcia -- asked him to read a letter he received from his girlfriend. Horton, an illiterate, was eager to know the contents of the letter and the barracks were empty on pay day.

Though Garcia admitted wanting to make up a story, knowing that Horton would have had little choice but to believe him, he read the letter without deceit.

Eduardo Cavazos Garza


By Emily Macrander

"I'm a new man."

Eduardo Cavazos Garza was speaking to himself, or out loud. He wasn't sure and didn't really care. He was on a boat, floating down another South Vietnam river. It was the summer of 1969. He was in his early 20s. His life's possessions were in his army issue duffle. He was a combat engineer, trained to operate explosives, help out infantrymen and kill.

Daniel M. Hinojosa


By Amy Bingham

As the first rays of sun peeked over the horizon, Daniel Hinojosa slowly opened his swollen, mosquito-bitten eyelids. The familiar sight of thick, damp jungle surrounded him. Inside his Army boots, Hinojosa felt the sickening squirm of leeches that had snuck in through his shoelace holes while he slept. Soon his fellow soldiers awoke, and the morning routine of plucking the small, black bloodsuckers from each other commenced. It was just another day as an infantryman on patrol in 1969 during the Vietnam War.