Manuel Cavada

By Lena Price

It was an evening like any other in Saigon in April 1968, Manuel Cavada, an Air Force crew chief, was doing the routine maintenance on C-121’s aircraft. His job was to make sure the engines were free of metal debris.

But within minutes, he realized that rockets had been fired and were heading his way.He did not expect to get caught in the middle of an air raid and come close to death.

Oscar C. Muñoz

By Jordan Haeger

It's 3 a.m., and Oscar C. Muñoz wakes up to make sure his doors and windows are locked in his Chula Vista, Calif., home. It's been this way every day for more than 40 years.

Muñoz enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on April 15, 1968, without telling his parents. One of twelve children born to Manual and Abigail Muñoz, farm laborers in Arizona, he knew the military was his only way to access education and success.

"We used to pick cotton, and it was three cents a pound," Muñoz said. "Can you imagine how much cotton you have to pick to make one pound?"

Isaac Camacho

By Anna Kavich

Jose M. Soto

By Iris Zubair

Although he had big dreams of a career playing football, Jose Mariano Soto, a young Mexican-American college student living in Laredo, Texas during the 1960s, volunteered for the Marine Corps to avoid getting drafted.

Mercurio & Mrs. Martinez

By Vidushi Shrimali

Mercurio Martinez Jr. has never served in the armed forces, but both he and his hometown of Laredo, Texas, have been touched by veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Martinez said his community always held an immense respect for war veterans.

Fernando & Mrs. Gloria Rodriguez

By Joseph Muller

Unlike many U.S. military veterans who served in Southeast Asia during the 1960s, Fernando Rodriguez did not see a Vietnamese battlefield, even though he volunteered to fight more than once.

The closest that the Defense Intelligence Agency veteran got to the Southeast Asian nation was Nakhon Phanom, in Thailand, as part of the many international travels he made during a distinguished 26-year career in the Air Force.

"I did really want to go," said Rodriguez of going to the Vietnam War, "to see what it was all about."

Richard Brito

By Priscilla Pelli

Missing the birth of his two daughters was one of the many sacrifices Richard Brito had to make when he saw that a war threatened the national security of the United States in 1965.

While Vietnam spurred controversy among many Americans throughout the 1960s, Brito said he saw it as a calling to help protect the security of the nation during a time of distress and turmoil.

“I loved the military,” Brito said. “That's what I wanted to do all my life.”

Gabriel Garcia

By Ruben Espinoza

When Gabriel Garcia left his family’s home in Mercedes for Army basic training in the summer of 1952, it was the first time he had ever been away from South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.

California’s Camp Roberts was very different from his father's farm fields, where he could soak in the dense, warm Texas evenings. But he was excited to see other parts of the world.

Neftali L. Zendejas

By Layne Victoria Lynch

As 80-year-old Neftali L. Zendejas looked back on the memories of his childhood before his service in both the Korean and Vietnam wars, he reminisced about how he knew he wanted to work with aircrafts at an early age.

Way back when his father was working the farm of a Japanese family that had been sent to an internment camp during World War II, Zendejas said he ventured into a nearby airfield, to admire a Lockheed P-38 Lightning aircraft.

Luis J. Landin

By Brett Alexander

"When you get ambushed, you're supposed to get killed."

That's what the Army tells every soldier during training, Luis Landin said.

"But for me," he added, "my life consisted of events that weren't normal, so I knew what I had to do when the chips were down."