Ysaac C. Elizalde

By Ever Figueroa

You don’t have to be in combat to be a veteran.

During World War II, Ysaac Elizalde provided the troops with the food necessary to give them enough energy to prepare for the horrors of combat. Elizalde would go on to make a career of this, delivering milk to thousands of homes in Corpus Christi, Texas, for more than 40 years.

Born in 1921 in Bee County, Texas, he doesn’t remember much from his youth. He says he didn’t feel the effects of the Great Depression to the same degree the rest of the country did.

Elias Ramirez Chapa

By Manesh Upadhyaya

Watching war movies about battle ships as a child in Beeville, Texas, created a yearning in Elias Chapa to enlist in the Navy.

At the age of 17, Chapa still wasn’t old enough to sign up for the Navy. Having three older brothers already in the military, however, it wasn’t hard for him to see what he wanted to do after high school. He waited a year for his 18th birthday, and then enlisted in the Navy on Feb. 5, 1943. Along with close Beeville friend Ray Salazar, Chapa began his career in the United States Navy.

Juan Baggio

By John Lee

Though he was never stationed on the battle front, the early portions of Juan Baggio’s life prepared him to serve his country on the home front during World War II.

“My dad died three months before I was born and my mom died when I was 12 years old, so [my childhood] wasn’t too good,” said Baggio, who grew up in hard economic times with his single mother scrambling to support him; his older brother, Bob; and two half-siblings.

Tomas Mata Treviño

By Brenda Menchaca

Born and raised in the small town of Beeville, Tomas Mata Treviño knew little about the world beyond his South Texas community when he was drafted into the Army in 1945.

Having never even ventured beyond Beeville's borders, he was scared when he received a draft letter two months after registering. About 40 other local residents were called to duty at the same time.

"We were scared but there was nothing we could do. … At that point, two or three had been killed in the war from Beeville," Treviño said.

Martin C. Sanchez

By David Muto

Martin Sanchez was told after he returned from the war that he’d be welcome anywhere if he wore his military uniform out of the house.

Sanchez laughs while recalling this advice.

“We don’t serve no Mexicans here,” he said in the voice of a shop owner who denied him access to his store, even while Sanchez was dressed in the attire he’d received after enlisting. “You gotta go up by the railroad track up there.”

Concepción Garcia Moron

By Yolande Yip

A self-described “simple country boy” who served in World War II’s European Theater alongside other men from humble backgrounds, Concepción Garcia Morón said a lack of self-awareness led to a friendly-fire death one February within his company.

“It was our buddies shelling us because . . . like I said, line infantry doesn’t know anything . . . you hold that ground regardless,” said Morón, of the Luxembourg-area incident. “You don’t know where you’re at. Just, ‘Be ready in five minutes. Be ready in 10 minutes.’”

Guadalupe R. Loya

By Andres Quintero

When Guadalupe "Lupe" Loya, Jr. was drafted into World War II, he was working at a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Wyoming.

Loya returned to his hometown of Beeville, Texas, before heading to San Antonio to meet with some recruiting officers, who told him he'd be a good fit for the Navy.

"I can't read and write as good as you guys," Loya responded, since he had gone to school only through the third grade. "They told me I'd be fine as long as I could shoot a rifle."

Derlin Rodriguez Loya

By Evelyn Ngugi

Four days after his eighteenth birthday, rookie soldier Derlin Loya set sail for Germany on May 18, 1946.

By that time, Germany and Japan had already surrendered to Allied Forces, so Loya never had to face day-to-day combat during his nearly three years as a truck driver in Europe. That’s not to say, however, that he and the rest of the First Infantry Division’s Headquarters Battery weren’t in a dangerous situation. For example, gun shots suddenly sounded one day when Loya was driving a jeep for a first lieutenant.

Alejandro Paiz Garza

By Cheryl Smith Kemp

When Alejandro P. Garza got called up for the war, he was working in a Houston shipyard as a welder. Garza was 18, and, the year before, had dropped out of A.C. Jones High School in his hometown of Beeville, Texas, to help his family out.

Abel Vela

By Valerie Harris

Most people hope to retire around age 65, but hard-working Abel Vela stayed busy well into his 70s.

After 27 years in the Army and more than 30 years of owning and operating a number of McDonald’s franchises throughout San Antonio, Texas, the 81‐year‐old Army Major says volunteering for the Purple Heart Association and at his church have taken the place of work.

“And in my free time, I work for a young lady. Her name is Angela Vela, and she keeps me very busy,” said Vela with a laugh.

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