World War II

Juan Provencio


By Alex Cannon

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Juan Provencio knew what he had to do. As the war overseas had worsened, his father, Manuel, an immigrant from Mexico, had told his sons: "All of you men must be ready to go and help your country. You were born here, and you have been given many privileges that many don’t get. It is up to you now."

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.

Antonia Santana


By Cindy Tapia, California State University, Fullerton

When you think about heroes, people that left everything they had to fight a war, you usually think about strong, buff men. But women also have served in the military along side of men.

One such woman was Antonia Santana.

Santana was raised in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. As a young girl she lived with her parents, five sisters, two brothers and her two grandmothers. She said 11 people living under the same roof was not as chaotic as one would think.

Carmen García-Rosado


By Eduardo Miranda, California State University, Fullerton

While World War II was underway thousands of miles away, Carmen García Rosado, a young schoolteacher who lived in Caguas, Puerto Rico, saw in a local newspaper that the U.S. Army wanted to recruit Puerto Rican women to support the war effort.

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.' "

Frank Aguerrebere


By Kimberly Tran, California State University, Fullerton

Although he never talked much about his wartime experiences, Frank Aguerrebere parachuted into the Normandy Invasion and fought in the Battle of the Bulge, two of the bloodiest and most decisive clashes of World War II.As an 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, he he jumped over Normandy on June 6, 1944 and then over Holland in Operation Market Garden in September 1944.

Henry Oyama


By Lauren Harrity, California State University, Fullerton

After growing up in a Spanish-speaking Japanese-American family in Tucson, Arizona, Henry "Hank" Oyama went on to be a tireless supporter of bilingual education for American children.

Oyama always felt more Hispanic than Japanese-American. His mother, Mary Matsushima, was raised in Mexico and spoke primarily Spanish; his father, Henry Heihachiro Oyama, died shortly before he was born. His neighborhood friends were mostly Hispanic.

"Tucson was like a small Mexican town at this time," Oyama said.