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Sergio Porras


By Chris Touma

Two years before Sergio Porras received his draft notice to serve in the Vietnam War, he was marching in the streets of Uvalde, Texas, with hundreds of other Mexican-American high school students.

It wasn’t war or the draft they were protesting. The students of Uvalde High were fed up with discrimination in the town’s public school system.

Uvalde, 86 miles southwest of San Antonio, was divided by railroad tracks. Whites lived in the northern section of town; the Hispanics, south of the tracks.

José Aguilera


By Brigit Benestante

As a high school student in South Texas, José Aguilera participated in a six-week walkout that was ultimately unsuccessful and resulted in him leaving school. Yet he has no regrets: The experience defined him as someone who would stand up to the discrimination he had witnessed and felt.

“[The walkout] defined me as a person. I am really proud of that,” he wrote to the Voces Oral History Project.

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."

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.

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.

Raymond Garcia


By Andres Salinas

Raymond Garcia, a proud Mexican-American who grew up in a small, segregated Texas town, enlisted in the U.S. Army to help support his family and to help his country. He fought as a heavy machinegun specialist during the Vietnam War.

Jesus Esparza Muñoz


By David Pearl, Cal State Fullerton

Jesus "Jess" Esparza Muñoz emerged from a fragmented and impoverished family to live a version of the American Dream, including a stint in the U.S. Navy that allowed him to travel the world.

Emily Matilda Martinez Alvarado


By Jasmine Powell

Emily Martinez Alvarado never served her country in the military. She served it at home, as one of the thousands involved in the Chicano movement, by way of the Crusade for Justice, and as an important civil rights activist during the Vietnam War era.

Emily Matilda Martinez was born on Feb. 18, 1935, in Taos County, N.M. She moved with her family to Taos as a baby. When she was three, her parents separated. They divorced two years later. She was their only child. Both later re-married and had more children.

Gloria Lerma Rodriguez


By Stephanie M. Jacksis

The United States should have let the Vietnamese fight their own battle during the Vietnam War, said Gloria Lerma Rodriguez.

Among many other bizarre aspects of the war, which left many “mentally disturbed,” Lerma Rodriguez said, American soldiers at times slept with allies and enemies in the same foxhole.

“It was terrible, using innocent children with grenades hidden under their clothes. Very unjust. Thanks to God it’s over,” she said.

Angel Romero


By Samantha Salazar

One of nine siblings and the fourth of five brothers to fight in World War II, Angel Romero consistently returns to the subject of his family and friends, and the support he has always received from them.

Romero tears up when talking about his parents and siblings, saying, “My family would have to be defined as unique. I wish everybody had a family like mine.”