World War II

Antonio Jasso


By Sarah Culler

Antonio Jasso wanted to make sure no one considered him a war hero.

“I didn’t see no war … I’m not gonna take credit or say that I saw action. I didn’t. I was, thanks to God, a cook in the Navy. I had it made in the Navy,” Jasso said as he shared stories about his years in the service.

Jasso, a native of El Paso, Texas, moved to Kansas to work, joined the Navy, and later moved back to Kansas where he lived at the time of his interview.

Jose Ramirez


By Monica Jean Alaniz

Jose Ramirez, Jr. is a man who holds his friends and family close to heart. One can hear the pride in his voice when he speaks of them; it doesn’t matter if they are part of his past or present. Ramirez looks back on his days as a soldier with mostly fond memories. He remembers buddies with a fond smile.

The period of time Ramirez served in the armed forces right after World War II ended is an important part of his life, but he’s humble about his experience. When asked for this interview he was hesitant, saying he "didn't see action."

Juan Martinez


By Meredith Barnhill

Juan Martinez, Jr. is the embodiment of the patriotism Mexican Americans demonstrated during his time in the Army.

Born Nov. 20, 1922, in El Paso, Texas, to Juan Martinez, Sr. and Sebastiana Valdez Martinez, he grew up speaking both Spanish and English. Though both of his parents were from Mexico, he identifies himself as “American,” not “Mexican-American.”

Martinez was the third of five children and the only boy. The entire clan practiced Catholicism and attended church at least once a week at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in El Paso.

Juan Lugo Martinez


Tribute provided by Yolanda Guerra, daughter of Mr. Martinez.

While he lived much of his youth during the Great Depression, Juan Lugo Martinez always talked about happy times, daughter Yolanda Martinez Guerra recalled in a tribute provided to Voces.

Antonio Becerra


By Martin do Nascimento

Antonio Becerra has always found a way to remain steadfast, persistent and determined in the face of adversity - first as a Mexican American growing up in rural Texas in the 1920s and '30s, then as a German prisoner of war and finally as a six-time political candidate - unsuccessful the first five times.

In his late 80s at the time of his interview, "Tony" Becerra was still living in his hometown of Rosenberg, 34 miles southwest of Houston.

Genaro V Lopez


By Simon Wagner, St. Bonaventure University

World War II "actually made a man out of me," Genaro V. Lopez told his son, Genaro, during their father-to-son interview for the Voces Oral History Project.

Born April 8, 1925, in Brownsville, Texas, to Manuel and Angela Velazco Lopez, Lopez was the middle child among four brothers and two sisters. His father drove a truck for a greengrocer and was known as "El Gallo" for his sideline as a cockfighter.

Lopez's father expected him to clean the roosters' cages.

Juan Mejia


By Frank Trejo

From childhood poverty in South Texas through the Battle of the Bulge, one of World War II's bloodiest conflicts, Juan Mejia proved he was a survivor.

Mejia's wartime experiences included being listed as missing-in-action for a time, but he said it never occurred to him that he might die.

"The closest I got was when a piece of shrapnel fell on me here on my coat," he said. "I just did this, brushed it off."

Jose Aragon


By Laura Lopez, California State University, Fullerton

Few people can claim to have been a veteran of three military branches.

And few can recall images of war as vividly as Jose Aragon did when, at the age of 84, he recounted his harrowing journey through World War II in the Pacific.

Three years before he was drafted, Aragon recalled when the attack on Pearl Harbor and the impact it had on his family.

"It was a terrible memory, Pearl Harbor. We would ration food, coffee meat, gas, shows... just about everything," he said.

Alfred Hurtado


By Cara Seo, California State University, Fullerton

If anyone deserves to be called an American war hero it's Alfred Hurtado.

He survived the Normandy Invasion as well as the Battle of the Bulge and received 11 medals, including the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart with three Oak Leaf clusters and the Distinguished Unit Citation with three Oak Leaf clusters, just to name a few.

Bennie Trujillo


By Robert Reiss, California State University, Fullerton

"You could hear the tanks coming. You could hear the squeak, the tracks squeaking and the motors running. You could hear them coming. The Americans and the infantry were aware that they were no match for that kind of assault. So we picked up our machine guns and retreated. ... When we asked the sergeant where [his men] were, he replied, 'They are gone. They sprayed them in their dugouts. They killed them all.' "