Vietnam

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.

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."

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.

Guadalupe Martinez


By Andrea Carpena

CSU, Fullerton

For many Hispanics, the Vietnam War era often led to conflicts between their deep loyalty for the United States and the emerging civil rights movement in barrios across the country, even as the traditional roles were changing in Latino households.

Unlike many Mexican-American women during the 1960s, Guadalupe Martinez didn’t want to be a stay-at-home mom, or clean houses and offices. She understood the importance of higher education and decided to pursue her dreams of becoming a legal assistant.

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.

Juan Modesto Sanchez-Acevedo


By Melissa Macaya

One of the most vivid memories of the Vietnam War for Modesto Sanchez occurred moments before he boarded the ship that would take him to war and change his life forever.

“President Lyndon B. Johnson passed by to check on the troops and he asked me, ‘Where you from Sanchez?’ and I answered, ‘From Aguada, Puerto Rico, Mr. President,’” Sanchez said. “Meeting the president is one of the greatest things I could have experienced in the war.”

Adan Daniel "Dan" Arellano


By Jennifer Monsees

Once a migrant worker, Dan Arellano became a realtor; once a struggling student he turned into an author. Arellano had a way of taking life’s difficult lessons and making the most of them.

The Navy veteran used the discrimination he experienced as a Mexican American to fuel his desire to teach history so that others do not repeat the mistakes.

Fred Castaneda


By Ednna Solis

“For those who fought for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know,” reads a flier carefully placed in a Vietnam War photo album.

The album belongs to Fred Castañeda, a Mexican citizen from Aguascalientes, Mexico, who served in the United States Army for nearly four years, and as a combat infantryman during Vietnam. Although he was 60 years old at the time of his interview, he had yet to file for American citizenship. He still traveled on a Mexican passport, even though U.S. citizenship was offered to him upon his return from Vietnam.

Richard Geissler


By Joshua Avelar

For Richard Geissler Jr., a U.S. Army veteran who became a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, passion for community activism shaped his life despite the many different communities he served and the overbearing obstacles he faced.

Alonzo Robert Rivera


By Ali Vise

Catching a midnight train in Fresno, Calif., Alonzo R. Rivera Jr., watched his mother, draped with a blanket, crying as she said goodbye. At that moment, the work of his childhood harvesting grapes and cotton became a thing of the past. He recalled his father’s departing word: “I’m going to see if you’re a real man now.”

As the son of migrant workers, “Junior” as his parents referred to him, spent summers in the agricultural fields. He is the oldest of three siblings, all of whom were farm workers.