World War II

Severo Paul Lopez

By Sonia Alvarez and Joe Muller

Due to his father's career as a casting agent and magazine entertainment writer, Severo Lopez always held a special place in his heart for the arts and cinematography.

After watching Frank Sinatra perform at the Palladium in Los Angeles in the early 1940s, Lopez arrived home after midnight and was shocked to see an FBI car waiting at his front door. He was informed that he had failed to report for duty when his World War II draft notice arrived.

Estella Zaragoza Hernandez

By Ashley Nelcy Garcia

For Estella Zaragoza Hernandez, working in the fields under the sizzling California sun as a young girl was not much more than a child’s game.

It was part of her life, growing up as the youngest of six children, the daughter of Mexican immigrants who crossed the American border years before she was born. When she was a child, Hernandez’s family migrated from place to place picking crops and working the fields throughout California.

Emilio Portales

By Trent Lesikar

“All those bullets and none of them had my name on it,” Emilio Portales said with a laugh. Portales saw action on the front lines of U.S. Army campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, France and Germany during World War II. He survived the 1944 invasion of Normandy, fought in much of the European campaign, and witnessed the liberation of a concentration camp in Germany.

Joe M. Guajardo

Tribute provided by Grace Charles, daughter of Joe Medina Guajardo.

After two years of separation during World War II, U.S. Army soldier Joe Medina Guajardo was reunited by chance in Australia with his cousin, Juan Sanchez.

They embraced and made plans to eat at Sanchez's camp, but when Guajardo arrived at Sanchez's campsite, there was no trace of Sanchez or his men.

Juan Medina Sanchez

Tribute provided by Grace Charles; daughter of Mr. Sanchez's cousin, Voces subject Joe Guajardo

Juan Sanchez, an Army soldier, rarely talked about his experiences during World War II. Now, dementia clouds some of the decorated World War II veteran's memories.

However, when his cousin's daughter, Grace Charles, asked what he remembered about the war, Sanchez simply responded: "He said he'd come back, and he did."

Seferino Nino Gonzales

By Diana Pena

Sitting in front of a disassembled cuckoo clock, Seferino Nino Gonzales’ demeanor gave little hint that he was a veteran of at least two wars, which he described as a “very pleasant experience.”

At the time of his interview, Gonzales worked on clocks in his own shop in Austin, Texas. But for 27 years he traveled the world, thanks to his service in the U.S. Air Force.

Arturo Dominguez

By Kelsey Lawrence and Valerie Harris

Speaking in a labored but steady voice, Arturo Dominguez recalled with impressive precision the names of towns that his Army unit traveled through in Europe and the exact address --102 Casanova St,, San Antonio -- where his sister, Aurora, lived when he moved in with her after he returned home from the war.

Rodolfo Hernandez

By Jordyn Davenport

Although Rodolfo Hernandez never saw the frontline of battle, World War II was an exciting time for him.

That’s because Hernandez performed with his family’s informal entertainment troupe as a singer nicknamed Charro Azul, for the blue suit he wore on stage.

Pedro Gomez Soto

By Frank Trejo Jr.

Pedro Gomez Soto knew the importance of making the most of what life gives you. He was fond of saying that experiences “grow you up.”

And they certainly did for Soto, who started working as a boy with other migrants in the fields and went on to honorably serve his country during World War II. In addition, he continued to make contributions to his family and community long after his military service.

Meregildo Carrillo

By Shamoyita DasGupta

Meregildo Carrillo harbors no regrets.

A decorated soldier, Carrillo served in World War II in France in the 79th Infantry Division, both despite and because of his own personal battles.

Born in San Angelo, Texas, on April 13, 1924, Carrillo’s mother left him in the care of his grandparents when she remarried. For several years, he said he was shuttled back and forth between families in different Texas cities.

Throughout his childhood, and even for several years after the war, Carrillo lived on meager finances.