Francisco Cigarroa

Growing up on the Texas-Mexico border, Francisco Cigarroa developed an understanding that would prepare him to become the first Latino chancellor of the University of Texas System, which allowed him to put into play the creation of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

“Being aware of that the border region was an underserved area, I understood that to get educated was an important value to then be able to give back,” Cigarroa said.

Felipe Ramirez III

By Voces Staff

A bullet in his chest and scars on his stomach were lifelong reminders of Felipe Ramirez's Vietnam War experience.

"The first round of bullets hit the machine gun. Before I knew it, I was hit. I felt something. I took a big dive and went behind a tree and said to another soldier, 'I'm OK, I'm OK,'" he said.

José Antonio Dodier

By Adam Keyrouze

Both his father and his grandfather had served their country proudly during World War I and World War II, respectively. So José Antonio “Tony” Dodier didn't think twice about joining the Army.

Dodier’s first military training came when he was a student at Texas A&M University. A few years later, he was a young Army officer in the jungles of Vietnam, in a war he did not understand but which would leave him wounded, physically and emotionally.

Jorge B. Haynes Jr.

By Katherine Heighway

As a student at the community college in his hometown of Laredo on the Texas-Mexico border, Jorge Haynes Jr. was looking for direction in his life.

“I majored in flag football and in going to Nuevo Laredo to drink beer after 11 o’clock in the morning, so I didn’t do so well,” he said.

His father was pressuring him to go to college, but Haynes wasn’t quite ready. Instead, in January 1967, he enlisted in the Air Force.

Ernesto Sanchez

By Mikael DeSanto

Laredo, Texas, native Ernesto Sanchez didn’t always want to join the military, even when there was a war in Korea. He was a college student -- hoping to get an officer's commission in the ROTC -- and didn’t want to leave his family. That changed when he saw that communists were advancing through Korea. He said to himself, “Well, someone has to stop them.” He decided to step up.

Bob Perkins

By José Andrés Araiza

Bob Perkins spent 36 years as an elected judge in Travis County. Perkins attributes his strong ties to the Mexican-American community as one facet for his worldview; this group was his main base of support and proved to be decisive in his first run for office.

Perkins retired in 2010 from the 331st Criminal District Court, where he presided over numerous high profile cases against prominent elected officials. Perkins hopes his fair administration of these cases sent a message about a system that often favors the affluent.

Mercurio & Mrs. Martinez

By Vidushi Shrimali

Mercurio Martinez Jr. has never served in the armed forces, but both he and his hometown of Laredo, Texas, have been touched by veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Martinez said his community always held an immense respect for war veterans.

James Rendon

By Kristen Morado

James R. Rendon, born and raised in Laredo, Texas, gave up his last semester of high school and enlisted in the Marine Corps with no hesitation to serve his country in Vietnam.

Rendon, who enlisted on April 15, 1967, said he felt there was nothing else for him to do because a lack of resources meant that for him, like many other Hispanics, a higher education was not possible. He looked to the military for guidance and opportunity.

John Valls

By Bianca Krause

Dec. 8, 1941, forever changed his life.

Riding in a car on Market Street in Laredo, Texas, 16-year-old John Valls heard a speech that would shape his future. With his “Day of Infamy” speech, President Franklin Roosevelt declared war on Japan after the Pearl Harbor attacks and convinced Valls that his life’s mission was to serve his country.

Arnoldo Gutierrez

By SeungJin Ryu

Most people reach a turning point in their lives at least once, and for Arnoldo D. Gutierrez that point was the time he spent in the Army during the Korean War.

He believes that he could not have gotten a better education than what he received by just being in the Army.

Gutierrez, who was 78 at the time of his interview, was a high school dropout. He said he used to enjoy his school life, playing a bass horn as a member of his school band. He left school at 15 because he had to take care of two of his siblings and find work after his mother died.

Subscribe to Laredo