Veterans of Foreign Wars

Andrew Soria Melendrez


By Voces Oral History Project

Andrew Melendrez lost his mother at 9 and his father a few years later. By 19, he had been drafted into the Army and would see brutal combat in Europe during World War II. He fought in some of the war's most harrowing battles, including what would come to be known as the Battle of the Bulge, one of the last major German offensives.

"I grew up more," he said of his war experience. "I had more discipline, more respect for people. I was more considerate of others."

Robert Lee Polanco Sr.


By Kevin Bradley, St. Bonaventure University

Robert Lee Polanco Sr. sat on the plane, nervously biting his nails. The flight had left Texas nearly three hours earlier. They would be passing over the Pacific Ocean on their way to the other side of the world.

In 1971, Polanco was a soldier in the Army, returning to the war in Vietnam after “just a few days … not even a week” of absence.