Latinas

Aurora Estrada Orozco


By Desirée Mata

Aurora Estrada Orozco was only about 4 years old when she came to the United States due to the unrest in Mexico. Her father, Lorenzo Estrada, worked as a bookkeeper at an American gold, silver and coal mining company in Serralvo, Nuevo Leon, until Pancho Villa's men started sabotaging production. The company, known to Orozco only as "La Fundacion," decided to leave and offered Lorenzo a position in Mercedes, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley.

Betty Muñoz Medina


By Brian Goodman

During World War II, commissioned military officers would receive deployment orders by telegram, often believing they’d been called up for duty by their senator.

Little did they know that the assignments were actually issued at random by people like Betty Muñoz Medina, who got an entry-level job at the War Department (now the Department of the Army) when she was 20.

"I was filing 3- by 5-inch cards all day long," Muñoz Medina said.

Elsie Schaffer Martinez


By Kimberly Wied

Elsie Martinez saw a lot of World War II, but she never left the country and can't talk about it.

"The things we saw, and the people that came back, it was horrible," said Martinez, recalling her work in a high-security photo lab that processed aerial photos taken by Army reconnaissance.

Maria Sally Salazar


By Therese Glenn

When Maria Sally Salazar illegally enlisted into the Army, she dreamed of traveling the world. She didn’t imagine, however, that her service would lead to six months in the hospital recovering from multiple illnesses and watching the end of World War II from bed.

"The war in '41 woke us up," Salazar said. "Everyone was talking about it. Everyone wanted to go."

Concepción Alvarado Escobedo


By Sandra Freyberg

Growing up as the oldest of six girls, Concepción Alvarado Escobedo learned early what it means to take responsibility. Even when she was hardly more than a toddler she helped her mother take care of her younger sisters. Later, she washed diapers, first boiling the clothes and then scrubbing them on a washboard.

Aurora Gonzalez Castro


By Anna Zukowski

Aurora Gonzalez Castro's story isn't just about her; it’s also the story of two half-brothers, Caesar and Alfred Castro, both musicians in military bands during World War II, as well as accomplished musicians after the conflict.

Castro’s marriage to the older half-brother, Alfred, after the 1966 death of Caesar, seems to have been destined. Alfred married Aurora Gonzalez June 8, 1968, and a reception was held in her sister's house after their marriage.

"It was meant to be,” said Castro of how she ended up with two musicians.

Gloria Flores Moraga


By Raquel C. Garza

Gloria Flores Moraga defied many social norms in her lifetime: She moved out on her own while single, attended college when most women were expected to stay home and even worked as a disc jockey at the first all-Spanish radio station in Phoenix, Arizona.

A "Depression baby," Moraga was born Dec. 5, 1930, in Phoenix, Ariz., only 14 months after the stock market crash of 1929. Her father, Manuel Flores, baled hay for 25 cents a day to support his wife, Anita Daniel Flores, and their new daughter.

Carlota Ayala Ortega


By Angela Walker

Dr. Carlota Ayala-Ortega sits proudly by as husband Guadalupe Ortega recalls his memories from World War II.

Guadalupe recalls the time the owner of a museum learned of his many medals earned in combat, and told him "I'll make a hero out of you."

Guadalupe quickly answered, "I am a hero, I have been for years, and I don't tell anybody."

Ortega smiles and nods her head in agreement.

Many would say she’s a hero in her own right.

Julia Rodriguez Aguillon


By Yolanda Urrabazo

Julia Rodriguez Aguillon first knew tragedy when she was 10 years old, when her father passed away due to cirrhosis of the liver. Later, as an adult, she’d feel a deeper sorrow when she had a stillborn baby and, much later, when a daughter and granddaughter died. But through it all, she held on to a strong belief in God.

"To me, the loss of a child is the most hard ... but God will never give you anything more than you can bear," Aguillon said. "So I had faith and we pulled through."

Carmen Romero Phillips


By Rachel Howell

In late December, 1943, the United States had been fighting in World War II for more than two years, but for one Tucson nurse, the war was a brand new experience: that's when Carmen Romero, now Phillips, joined the Army.

Recruiters visiting St. Mary's Hospital School of Nursing College in Tucson, where Phillips was attending school, were looking for nurses.

"They asked if we would be interested in joining the military, so I said yes and they signed me up," Phillips said.