1952 was a big year for young Francisco Rene Cortez. He turned 17, joined the U.S. Marine Corps and got married.
The decisions he made that year changed the course of his life. Cortez went from a teenager who dreamed of being a warrior to a married man and, eventually, the father of 12 children.
He began a 20-year journey that took him from the south Texas towns of his youth – Hebbronville and Corpus Christi – to Japan; Hawaii; the Arctic Circle; Europe; the Mediterranean; the South Pacific; Vietnam; and finally California, where he was discharged.