World War II

Emiliano Espinosa Gimeno


By Brandon Fields, St. Bonaventure University

Emiliano E. Gimeno remembers that when Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese, he initially did not realize how the event would change his life.

Born in El Paso, Texas, on Jan. 24, 1921, and raised in Denver, Colorado, Gimeno was the eldest of 10 children. His mother, Marcelina Fuentes Espinosa de Gimeno, was the main provider for the family. His father, he said, drank and gambled.

Gimeno married Irene Arellano on June 7, 1941, in Denver. He and his wife took care of his siblings in addition to their own children.

Andrew Soria Melendrez


By Voces Oral History Project

Andrew Melendrez lost his mother at 9 and his father a few years later. By 19, he had been drafted into the Army and would see brutal combat in Europe during World War II. He fought in some of the war's most harrowing battles, including what would come to be known as the Battle of the Bulge, one of the last major German offensives.

"I grew up more," he said of his war experience. "I had more discipline, more respect for people. I was more considerate of others."

Ignacio Vindiola


By Jessica Goetz, St. Bonaventure University

Ignacio Vindiola was 27 years old when he joined the Army Air Forces and was assigned the job of radio operator aboard bomber planes. He was old enough to understand that those bombs being dropped over cities would hurt innocent civilians as well.

Noe Espindola


By Megan Breckenridge

Growing up in an artistic family that moved between the United States and Mexico, Noe Espindola was immersed in two cultures and languages. In time, however, he was given the opportunity to serve his native country -- the United States -- during World War II.

Espindola was born June 27, 1926, in Austin, Texas, one of four children of professional musician Ranulfo Espindola and Maria de Jesús Arias, both natives of Mexico.

Sator Sierra Sanchez


By Angela Bonilla

The 66th bombing mission that Sator “Sandy” Sanchez flew during World War II turned out to be his last.

On March 15, 1945, just days before his 24th birthday, Sgt. Sanchez's B-17 was shot down over an oil refinery in Ruhland, Germany. Sanchez was the only member of the 10-man crew who did not make it out of the plane before it crashed into the ground.

Sanchez received numerous honors for his combat heroism. After his death, a school, a park and an Air Force base dormitory were named in his honor.

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.