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Quirino Longoria


By Laura Carroll

Quirino Longoria recalls joining the long Navy tradition of being initiated – or, according to some, hazed – a “Shellback” upon his virgin crossing of the Equator in 1945. New seamen are designated “Polliwogs” until they complete the Equator crossing ceremony, at which time they become hardened “Shellbacks.”

Joe Nevarez


By Melanie Sewell

A pioneer in his field at a time when jobs were scarce, Joe Reyes Nevarez was one of the first Mexican Americans to work for The Los Angeles Times as a reporter.

"I used to tell the managing editor, 'Why don't you employ Mexican Americans?'" said Nevarez, adding that his editors always told him there wasn't anyone who was trained.

"Of course today," he said, "I think the whole staff is Mexican American. There are so many Mexican-American reporters at the Times."

Lauro Vega


By Miguel A. Castro

Lauro Vega distinctly remembers being in England and anxiously waiting to receive orders from the 197th AAA Battalion, the company he was in.

"They told us, 'All you fellows will be in an invasion but we don't know where or when,'" Vega said. "They knew but they didn't want to tell us."

On June 4, 1944, it would be a friend's reaction to a delicious meal that would convince Vega that the 197th AAA Battalion would finally be shipped out to be a part of an invasion.

Jose Ramirez


By Will Potter

Jose Ramirez remembers his first job: selling newspapers in downtown San Diego. After walking two miles home at the end of his first day of work, he proudly told his parents he earned 3 cents.

He was only 8 years old.

By the time he was 12, he was paying for his own clothing and some other expenses, so his parents wouldn’t have to support him as much. He worked to ease the burden on his parents so they could support his 10 siblings, he said.

Tizoc Romero


By Dennis Robbins

Although he faced criticism from minorities for fighting in the war, Tizoc Romero, a veteran of World War II, feels his involvement in the war opened the doors to a lifetime of achievement.

During the 1930s, or Great Depression period, many Americans, especially minorities, faced the hardships of poverty, war, discrimination and an economy that excluded many of them. Romero witnessed a troubled country.

Andrew Aguirre


By Kathryn Tomasovic

Andrew Aguirre's youth was overwhelmed with battlefield events that continue to haunt him to this day.

Aguirre was born in Vinton, Texas, on Jan. 4, 1925, and moved to San Diego three years later.

Growing up during the Great Depression, Aguirre's parents, Maximo and Sara Aguirre, struggled to feed and clothe nine children. All 11 members of the family lived in a tiny home, about 480 squared feet -- two rooms of about 12 feet wide and 20 feet long, with an outdoor toilet and a faucet for drinking water in the back.

Frank Arellano


By Veronica Sainz

In the early morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, 22-year-old Frank Arellano had just gone down for breakfast at Schoffield Barracks, on the Hawiian Island of Oahu, when he heard the sound of machine guns firing. He looked up and saw a group of planes diving to the left.

"I could see the red rising sun on them and I noticed their wheels were down," Arrellano said in an interview last fall.