World War II

Consuelo Mary Hartsell


By the Voces staff

Consuelo Hartsell grew up in Rawlins, Wyoming, in the only Latino family in a small town where the neighbors included Scandinavians, Greeks, Japanese and one African-American family. It was not until her last year of high school that a few more Latino families started to move in.

Her parents, Francisco and Carmen Macias, had eloped as teenagers, and moved from Texas and eventually to Wyoming to work in the beet fields. “They were just playing it by ear, I guess,” she said.

Alberto Lara Rojo


Alberto Lara Rojo heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor the day after it happened.

“We didn’t know about it; we lived on the wrong side of town,” recalled the Mexican-American Navy veteran.

On that Monday, the Sunday attack on the American naval base in Hawaii was the talk of his high school in Marfa, Texas, where he was a freshman. Outside the school, other Mexican-American students told him, "It’s a gringo war. It does not affect us Spanish people."

Lauro Castillo


By the Voces Staff

Lauro Castillo grew up in a poor farming family in South Texas, living in a bare-bones house with a leaky roof.

The U.S. Army provided an escape from poverty but also exposed him to the brutal reality of war. He was an infantryman in some of the toughest battles of World War II.

To Castillo, it was simply a matter of doing his duty for his country.

“I’m proud” of serving, he said. “I fulfilled my obligation to the U.S.”

Manuel De Jesus Lozano


By Angela Bonilla

From a very young age, World War II veteran Manuel De Jesus Lozano was on the move. After a childhood marked by struggle, his work ethic propelled him to a long and successful career in the Air Force.

He finally settled in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he worked in state government and later for a neighbor -- Bill Clinton. Lozano worked on Clinton's campaigns for governor and for president of the United States.

Graciano Gomez


By Edwin de la Torre

Experiences change lives forever, and for Graciano Gomez, serving during World War II was the experience he said opened his eyes and mind to a greater picture. After his service he returned with new goals and a greater determination, not only for himself but also for his culture.

John Soltero


By Katherine Salinas

His hand mimicked the path of a B-17, recalling the spry 22-year-old that John Soltero had been all those years ago when he was dropping bombs onto Berlin. A confident smile was radiant beneath his shaded glasses and “Veteran” embroidered hat. Even though he was 86, it wasn't hard to imagine Soltero flying over Germany, in a freezing cockpit, with a burning engine and an alarm telling him to bail out.

Ernestine Mojica Kidder


By Haley Dawson

Ernestine Mojica Kidder vividly recalls one of her earliest memories as a young child in Taylor, Texas. Her father lifted her into his arms and pointed to a schoolhouse in the distance. “That’s where you’re going to school as soon as you’re old enough,” she remembers him saying. “When you’re 6, you’re gonna go to school.”

A child of the World War II era and a woman of the Civil Rights era, MojicaKidder was among the first Hispanic women for whom a higher education became both a possibility and a reality.

Charley Gonzales Kidder


By Natasha Verma

“Two years, 11 months and 21 days,” World War II veteran Charley Gonzales Kidder said with a smile. “That’s exactly how long I served.”

At 18 years of age, Gonzales Kidder was proud and honored that his country gave him the opportunity to serve during a time of strife. At the time of his interview, he was 85 and his feelings had not changed.

"I got to see a lot of the world and meet a lot of fine people,” Gonzales Kidder said. “I’m very proud of the service I helped render.”

Cirilo Primo Arteaga


By Erin Brady

Cirilo Primo Arteaga's parents came to the U.S. in 1918, fleeing the violence that followed the Mexican Revolution. His parents instilled in him a deep sense of patriotism for their adopted country. He also learned an appreciation for Mexican culture that he carried with him all of his life.

"I've been blessed," he said, "because I can celebrate Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day as well as the Fourth of July."

Raul Portales


By Jordan D. Schraeder

Working at Dodson’s Grocery in 1943, Raul “Roy” Portales dreamed of sailing the high seas. That year, the San Antonio native found a way to make that dream a reality: enlistment in the U.S. Navy. After three years of stocking and delivering groceries, Portales’ enlistment in the Navy on July 7, 1943, offered a change of scenery.