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Emilio Nicolas Sr.


By the Voces Staff

Growing up in a northern Mexican mining town, Emilio Nicolás sat by his father's side listening to short-wave radio reports from the United States describing the advance of Allied troops across Europe during World War II.

Carlos Rudolph Quijano Sr.


By Stephanie De Luna

Carlos R. Quijano, a native of San Antonio’s west side, never imagined that his future would include world travel and achievements most people couldn’t accomplish in two lifetimes. Over 23 years, he served in both the Marines and Air Force and participated in military operations in Korea and Vietnam.

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."

Jesse Montenegro


By Voces Staff

During the 13-day Cuban missile crisis in 1962, Jesse Montenegro was in the 15th Air Force HQ Missile Division at March Air Force Base in Riverside, California.

He remembers that the crisis -- from Oct. 14 to Oct. 28 -- had a bigger effect on him and his family than the Vietnam War did.

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.

Frances Rodriguez Luna


By Joan Vinson

Politics in small-town Texas were very different when Frances Luna was young. Back in the days of the poll tax, politicians would offer to cover the fee to encourage local residents to vote for them.

Luna said that when she was 15 years old, Johnny Phillips, a county commissioner in Fort Bend County, paid the poll tax for her father, Elias Rodriguez. But it took more than that to earn the support of the Mexican-born cotton farmer.

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.