Raymond Phile Alvarado

By Mary Margaret Tobin

It was Nov. 26, 1943, and Pvt. Raymond Alvarado played poker with his buddies on the HMT Rohna as it sailed along the coast of Algeria. The soldiers were relaxed. They chatted about their wives and girlfriends back home, about the smells of home-cooked Thanksgiving meals, about the comfort of a real bed.

Alvarado remembered he was dealt a good hand. “I had a dead man’s hand: aces and queens.” Little did he know that a few hours later the reality of death would be all around him.

Juan Carlos Gonzales

By Lindsey Craun

As a child, Juan Carlos Gonzales felt destined to fight for his country. He grew up in a home surrounded by a father and four uncles who were World War II veterans, and he remembered feeling that patriotism and strategic instinct ran in his blood.

Fidel H. Vasquez

By Ashley Park

At least once in his life, Fidel Vasquez considered himself to be really lucky. His U.S. Army construction unit shipped out ahead of the supply ship carrying the equipment for him and his fellow soldiers. They made it, but the supply ship was sunk by the Japanese.

Vasquez's hometown was Marfa, Texas, where he attended segregated schools with his four brothers and four sisters. Learning to get along in school and working as a farmhand contributed to his war experience.

Armando Oscar Garcia

By Grant Abston

In August 1945, Armando O. Garcia and his family gathered around the radio and listened to the news: The United States had just dropped an atomic bomb on Japan.

Although the destruction took place far away, it was a significant event in the mind of an 8-year-old boy in the small Southwest Texas town of Marfa.

Armando Faustino Vasquez

By Noor Nahas

Living in a small town named Casa Piedra, 42 miles outside of Marfa, Texas, Armando Faustino Vasquez lived and worked like many of the other young men in the area. He went to church every week, worked long days on his father's ranch in the summer, and listened to the radio with his family.

But "Mando" Vasquez's decision to go to high school would lead him to enlist in the military, and he would travel far beyond the warm, dry weather of West Texas.

Rodolfo M. Guajardo

Hector Sanchez

By Lindsey Craun

When 18-year-old Hector Sanchez learned he had been drafted into the U.S. Army to fight in Vietnam just three months after his high school graduation, he knew that he had to face the reality, look forward to the challenge and remain optimistic.

“I believed out of the goodness of my heart, to me, this is the best country you can live in,” Sanchez recalled. “And if you want to live in this country, you've got to fight for your country."

Rafael C. Medrano

By Kaitlyn Clement

Rafael Cantu Medrano left his Texas hometown to join the military in 1940. Four years later, he landed at a Normandy beach four days after D-Day. He was wounded in combat and was awarded a Bronze Star.

Medrano fought to support his family while he grew up during the Great Depression and then fought all the way to Germany.

Hernan E. Jaso

By Alex Loucel

“You can follow around and ask anyone 50 to 100 miles about Hernan Jaso, and you’ll find that somebody knows the kid,” Jaso said of himself.

After his tour of duty in Vietnam, Jaso turned to public policy and a goal of providing a better future for minorities in Texas. As the regional environmental coordinator for the Golden Crescent planning commission, the executive director for the Greater Victoria Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, board president for the University of Houston-Victoria, and three-term mayor of Goliad, Texas, Jaso felt that he achieved his goal.

Carmel Sandoval Camacho

By Ajay Patel

Carmel Camacho's father told him as a young boy that, if he was kind to other people, then he would never have trouble getting along with anyone. Camacho took his father's words to heart, working as a medic in the Army, bringing comfort and healing in World War II and the Korean War.

Drafted at age 19, Camacho became part of a 17-man U.S. Army medical unit one year later. He initially served from 1942 to 1946, but his military career spanned World War II through the end of major hostilities with the Korean War armistice in 1953.