World War II

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.

Arnold V Cordova


By Matthew Pier, California State University, Fullerton

He was only a junior in high school, working a part-time job on Sept. 10, 1941, when Arnold Cordova received a government letter ordering him to report for military service. Once in the Army, Cordova did not recall very many other Latinos around him. They became even scarcer when he was chosen to be a surgical technician, a field in which he had no prior experience.

Rafael Flores


By Victoria Brown

Cal State, Fullerton

Rafael Flores put his life on hold when he was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II at the age of 22. His experiences in the Army not only matured him, but also changed his outlook on life as a Mexican American, he said.

Ramiro Castro


By Roxanne Telles, California State University, Fullerton

After dropping out of high school, Ramiro Castro was working as an electrician when he was drafted in 1943 into the U.S. Army during World War II. He would go on to use his expertise as part of his service--working with engineers and installing electrical services wherever they were needed.

Moses F. Diaz


By Trina Berberet

He may have been only 16 at the time, but Moses Diaz decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy because, as he recalled: “I didn’t want to miss out on the war.”

It was 1945, near the end of the World War II, and Diaz completed his basic training in San Diego.

It was his first time away from home and he often wrote letters home to see which of his family and friends had enlisted. His mother, Martina Diaz, had five sons serving in the military during World War II.

Placido Jose Lozano


By Andrew Stark, St. Bonaventure University and Alicia Machuca, Cal State Fullerton

On Dec. 7, 1941, Placido Jose Lozano was at a movie theater, enjoying a soda and 25-cent popcorn with his friends. Suddenly the film stopped, and the theater manager came out and placed a large radio on the stage.