Miguel Villa

By Veronica Rosalez

With the many hardships that their family faced throughout World War II, military veterans Mike Villa and his brothers, Raymond and Joe, were grateful that they all returned home safely to the United States.

Raymond Villa was the eldest brother and Joe was the youngest. Mike Villa was born on May 7, 1922, in Yorktown, Texas, about 70 miles southeast of San Antonio. When Mike Villa was eight years old, Simona Hernandez-Villa, passed away from an illness.

Joe Villa

By Ashley Hord

As an Army veteran, Joe Villa has experienced his ups and down throughout life. From coming close to death as a baby to venturing through Nazi territory, the 83-year old has seen more than what his small Texas town ever expected.

John Montenegro

By Kelsey M. Boudin

A single code word kept John Montenegro out of the Korean War.

He found himself heading out to sea aboard the USS General J. C. Breckinridge troop transport ship, just beyond the San Francisco harbor.

He and his fellow enlistees were each assigned one of two code words, "Dive" and "Evil." For Montenegro, "Dive" meant that he was to be stationed in Okinawa, Japan, for the next 18 months, until his discharge on June 15, 1954.

The "Evil" group was sent to the tail end of the fight against communism in Korea.

Paul Ybarra

By Claire Gordon

Paul Ybarra does not see himself as a hero, even though he survived the bloody Normandy Invasion and a mistaken Allied bombing, and he was about to be deployed to the Pacific when World War II ended. All he did, in his view, was perform his duty to his country.

When America joined the war in 1941, Ybarra was 17. But he was drafted almost immediately after turning 18. Most of his friends and two of his seven brothers were also called to serve.

John Ramirez

By Megan Jones

John Corona Ramirez said he and his family did not experience much economic hardship when he was growing up in Topeka, Kansas, during the Great Depression. He did recall, however, that his family often went without new clothing.

"Just wear what you have. That's all," Ramirez said, recalling how he dealt with the tough economic times.

Ramirez expressed a similar stoicism as he remembered what he did to help the family during hard times.

"[I would] go to work," Ramirez said simply.

Ramon Reyes

By Melissa Wood, Saint Bonaventure University

Ramon Reyes' life in the town of Wellington, Kansas, could almost be described as quiet and simple, except for the two years he served in the Korean War.

Solomen M Rangel

By Caroline Flores

He may only have had an eighth-grade education, but Solomen Rangel knew to stand up for his beliefs and how to get ahead. He not only enlisted and became a sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, he later fought employment discrimination on the home front.

Miguel Morado

By Sarah Griffin

While he sat in his foxhole, 23-year-old Mike Morado was scared and cold, and wondering if he would survive World War II or even make it to his 24th birthday.

Little did he know that his moment of fear and apprehension would become a pivotal event that would shape the way he lived the rest of his life. Because of that moment, Morado decided to devote the rest of his life to doing volunteer work. He said his experiences in WWII taught him to appreciate life and give back to society as much as he could.

Ricardo Leon Martinez

By Mosettee Lorenz

By the time he was 22, Kansas native Ricardo León Martinez had dropped out of high school, gotten married and had four children, and he was at risk of going to prison for fighting and drinking.

But when he headed for Vietnam in the mid-1960s, he found a new perspective. In the years after the war, Martinez returned to school, got a college education and worked for the federal government for 34 years.

Henry Segura

By Michael Broker

Henry Segura grew up during the Great Depression in the area known as the West Bottoms of Kansas City, Kan., in a family of 10 children to parents who were Mexican immigrants.

His father worked for the Armour Company, a slaughterhouse in the neighborhood, and his mother sewed dresses for women in the neighborhood. Although Segura said that his family did not struggle financially and that his father “seemed like he always had a job,” he would not agree that his family always had enough to live on.