Placido Salazar

By Lena Price

Placido Salazar had a choice.

He could have gone to the bunker, where he would have been relatively safe from the mortar attack raging outside his base in Bien Hoa, Vietnam, in 1965.

Or he could attempt to rescue his commander and a fellow soldier, who were recovering from injuries and illness in their mobile sleeping quarters several yards away from the command post where he was on duty.

Jim Estrada

By Lindsey Craun

Jim Estrada, a 17-year-old high school dropout, showed up for Air Force technical training in Biloxi, Mississippi.

He was surrounded by college students. But within several weeks, Estrada's intelligence emerged, since he consistently placed in the top 10 percent of his class.

That success represented a turning point in Estrada's life, launching him into a long and prolific career in broadcast journalism, corporate communications and finally his own public relations firm.

Eugenia González Alemán

By Joshua Barajas

As a spouse whose husband was stationed in the Philippines during the Vietnam War, Eugenia “Jennie” González Alemán couldn't just sit at home waiting for him to come back: She wrote letters for mortally wounded American servicemen.

"They would cry and would be hurting -- [men] of all ages,” Alemán recalled. “But I really got touched by the young ones, I guess, because I would think of my [younger] brother,” she said, referring to Domitilo A. Gonzales, an Air Force mechanic.

Nestor Rodriguez

By Ben Wermund

In the spring of 1968, Nestor Rodriguez was desperate to get out of his hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas.

Facing social pressure after a broken engagement, the usually straight-A student was failing his fourth semester at Del Mar Junior College when he decided to drop out.

"Life became unbearable in the neighborhood," Rodriguez said. "I decided, you know what, I need to leave."

John & Eugenia Aleman

By Haley Dawson

Richard Manriquez

By Jordan Haeger

Richard Manriquez served one tour in Vietnam, and he came back a changed man. He saw dead Americans, 15-year-old Vietnamese prostitutes and young suicide bombers.

It took him a long time to begin to heal.

"War has torn my soul," he said.

Manriquez, an auto mechanic turned body collector, witnessed things in Vietnam that haunted him the rest of his life.

The bitterness and sadness Manriquez felt were clear in writings he recorded at his therapist's request. He provided copy of his written story to Voces.

Herlinda Gutierrez

By Teresita Amaya, California State University, Fullerton

What began as a harmless bet led to the opportunity of a lifetime for U.S. Air Force veteran Herlinda Gutierrez - "I enlisted on a dare," she said.

Gutierrez remembered one day she and the girls at work were imagining what their lives could be if they were in the military, although it was something of a longshot. Not only were they all nurses but, aside from Gutierrez, most of them were also married and had children.

Servando & Mrs. Garcia

By Mosettee Lorenz

Servando Garcia's 20-year military career allowed him to spend time in numerous countries, including France, Germany, Japan and Vietnam.

Alex J. Hernandez

By Tarrah Miller

“Baby killer!” were the words Alex Hernandez heard when he returned to the United States after 19 months in Vietnam, and he remembered it was a small boy, about 4 or 5 years old, who yelled them.

The Army veteran recalled that the child, at an airport in San Francisco, pointed his finger at him as his parents lingered in the background, laughing and egging him on.

“[Until] this day I think they were waiting for me to do something to that child. All I did was stared down the boy’s parents, and they grabbed him and left in a hurry,” Hernandez said.

Edward Daniel Morin

By Destinee Hodge

In 1965, after two weeks at sea aboard the USS Gordon, Eddie Morin heard the captain declare over the loudspeaker for the first time that he and his fellow soldiers were headed to Vietnam. It was something they already knew.

Morin was a part of the 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, and he was among the first group of U.S. soldiers to set foot in Vietnam, and among the first to witness the horrors that came with it.