Vietnam

Rolando L. Rios


By Jess Brown

It was the summer of 1952. Leo Rios, a cab driver, was shot dead by a passenger he had just picked up on the streets of San Antonio, Texas. His wife, Teresa Hernandez, was left with a broken heart to nurse and three daughters and a son to raise, without any means of doing so.

But help was at hand.

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.

Ben R. Saenz


By Gilbert Song

Bernardino "Ben" Saenz Jr. arrived in Vietnam to the sound of sirens and pitch black darkness in May 1969, just five months after he was drafted. The smell was terrible, he recalled.

"I knew I was in the real stuff when I saw the bodies," Saenz said. "That's the worst smell, seeing a dead body that had been there months decaying. I remember pulling the arm of one and I got maggots all over me." Enemy graves had to be dug up to see if weapons or food were buried under them, he added.

John Reyes


By Julie Rene Tran

The deep scar on his right arm, a slash made by a Viet Cong fighter’s knife, became barely visible. His eyebrows grew back and missing flesh on his calves, vestiges of a mortar attack, filled in. The upper lip, the one that “fluttered” after that same firefight, again formed a natural smile.

John Reyes Jr.’s physical marks from the Vietnam War healed; the profound impact of the war and life in the Marines weighed on him long afterward.

Richard G. Perez


By Alexandra Loucel

U.S. Marine Corps veteran Richard Perez, the son of a World War II veteran, was in Vietnam for three months, from December 1966 to February 1967. But those three months altered his life forever and led him to advocate for other veterans in his hometown of Houston.

Raymond Garcia


By Andres Salinas

Raymond Garcia, a proud Mexican-American who grew up in a small, segregated Texas town, enlisted in the U.S. Army to help support his family and to help his country. He fought as a heavy machinegun specialist during the Vietnam War.

Camilo Moreno Medrano


By Ali Vise

The clock read 4:30 when an explosion shook Camilo Medrano awake and sent him sprinting in the darkness toward the moans and calls for help. He felt around with his hands, he grabbed the limbs of the men scattered on the ground, confirming casualties while searching for survivors. This was his job.

It was a job that took Medrano from his hometown of San Antonio to the horrors of the Vietnam War.

Antonio Flores Alvarado


By Kassandra Balli

“I know I pulled him back to the safe area, but I don’t remember how I did it," said Vietnam veteran Tony Alvarado, recalling the day he rescued a fallen comrade during the battles for Hills 861 and 881.

When snipers attacked Alvarado’s Marine platoon, part of the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, only eight out of 30 men survived.