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.

Armando Oscar Garcia

By Grant Abston

In August 1945, Armando O. Garcia and his family gathered around the radio and listened to the news: The United States had just dropped an atomic bomb on Japan.

Although the destruction took place far away, it was a significant event in the mind of an 8-year-old boy in the small Southwest Texas town of Marfa.

Armando Faustino Vasquez

By Noor Nahas

Living in a small town named Casa Piedra, 42 miles outside of Marfa, Texas, Armando Faustino Vasquez lived and worked like many of the other young men in the area. He went to church every week, worked long days on his father's ranch in the summer, and listened to the radio with his family.

But "Mando" Vasquez's decision to go to high school would lead him to enlist in the military, and he would travel far beyond the warm, dry weather of West Texas.

Alberto Rede

By Barrett Williams

Flying at full speed above Australia in a C-47 during WWII, radioman Alberto Rede heard bullets ripping through the plane, followed by a sputtering engine.

His mind raced: If power to the engines is lost, the plane will become a gliding, uncontrollable mass that could drop out of the sky.

Willie C. Garcia

By Hannah McIntyre

Like many World War II veterans, Willie Garcia married his bride right before shipping out of town to prepare for overseas combat.

In 1944, Marfa, Texas, native Garcia met Elizabeth Ruiz while stationed at Camp Swift. They dated for about three months. Two days before he was to be sent overseas for military duty, he asked her to marry him. Initially she said that she would rather wait, but when he persisted, she agreed.

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