Samuel Padilla Echeveste

Samuel Echeveste never saw himself becoming a decorated war veteran serving the U.S. during a time when he was not accepted by his fellow Americans.

His grew up in Miami, Arizona, where he was born on Christmas Eve 1932 to Aristeo Echeveste and Ramona Padilla. He was one of the youngest among four sisters and three brothers.

Once he graduated from Phoenix Technical High School in June 1951, Echeveste immediately volunteered for the Army.

After basic training, he continued training at Army Field Forces Leaders Course and then was assigned to Korea’s front lines.

Joseph F. Velasquez

By Kristina Beverly, Cal State Fullerton

When Joseph Velasquez joined the U.S. Navy on April 23, 1968, he received a card that asked where he would want to go if he were deployed.

He could have picked anywhere, but he wanted to be where the action was. Velasquez wanted to go to Vietnam.

"People would ask, 'Why do you want to go there?' Velasquez said. "But it would be like going to a wedding and not seeing the groom. I didn’t want to miss the action."

Samuel Padilla Echeveste

By Hayley Stern, Rutgers University

An elementary school teacher told Samuel Echeveste he would one day be defending his country.

The young boy sitting in that classroom in Miami, Arizona (about 70 miles east of Phoenix), would fulfill that prophecy, finishing basic training and being sent to the Korean War before his 20th birthday.

Echeveste never saw himself becoming a decorated war veteran serving the U.S. during a time when he was not accepted by his fellow Americans.

Ignacio Servín

By Miranda Bollinger

When Ignacio Servín volunteered during World War II for a mission so dangerous his commander wouldn’t even assign it to someone, he wasn’t even frightened. He wanted to do it.

"I just kept thinking, 'If I die, it will be for a great country,'" Servín said.

Hector Santa Anna

By Scott Allison

Say the name "Santa Anna" to most American military historians -- and just about any Texan -- and it's linked to the Mexican general who opposed the Texas Revolution and conquered the Alamo.

So it’s somewhat ironic that Hector Santa Anna, the great-great nephew of the Mexican general, enlisted in the Army during World War II, flew 35 missions as a B-17 bomber pilot over Europe, later taught hundreds of pilots how to fly and eventually rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during a 22-year military career.

Raymond J. Flores

By Shelby Tracy

Raymond J. Flores has always been a fighter.

He volunteered for the Army in the midst of World War II, but a defective leg kept him from fighting overseas.

His lifelong battle for freedom would be done on the home front.

Born in the small mining town of Miami in southwest Arizona, Flores was one of 17 brothers and sisters. His mother, Rosa Holguin Johnson, was from Tularosa, N.M., and his father, Aurelio Maldonado Flores, immigrated in 1905 from Guanajuato, Mexico.

Subscribe to Miami