William Robert Medina

During his service in the Korean War, William R. Medina fought his battles in the trenches with the U.S. Army.

Medina was born April 20, 1931, in Capulin, Colorado, about 250 miles southwest of Denver.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army in February 1950 and was assigned to the 40th Infantry Division, 223rd Infantry Regiment. Basic training was challenging for Medina because he grew up speaking Spanish and could hardly speak English. He didn't always understand what he was being told when given orders.

Francisco Armando Ríos Padilla

By Bryce Spadafora, St. Bonaventure University

During the Korean War, Francisco Ríos Padilla, a high school dropout, was determined to leave Denver, Colorado. One day, he walked past a Coast Guard recruiting station on 15th Street. He went in and enlisted on March 10, 1950.

“I didn’t tell anybody,” Ríos Padilla said. “They sent me to Cape May, New Jersey. I jumped at the chance to get out of Denver.”

Louis Joseph Lopez

By the Voces Staff

Louis Lopez had a distinguished 29-year career as a police office in Denver. Long before community policing was a widely adopted practice, he focused on establishing good relationships with the minority communities where he worked, to defuse tensions with a department that was mostly Anglo and sometimes hostile.

He faced bigotry from some of his colleagues but never let it slow him down.

Frank Martinez

By Julia Bunch  

Frank Martinez, a Colorado native, was a family man and a college student in the mid-1960s. Surely, he wouldn’t be sent to Vietnam.

But then he got the letter from the Army.

“I didn’t think I would get drafted because I had a daughter,” Martinez said. “I told this other Hispanic guy I knew, Joe Castro, ‘There’s no way they’re going to draft you. You’ve got a little boy!’ But then we both got drafted.”

Martinez and Castro used their friendship to prepare for the war.

Jose Aragon

By Laura Lopez, California State University, Fullerton

Few people can claim to have been a veteran of three military branches.

And few can recall images of war as vividly as Jose Aragon did when, at the age of 84, he recounted his harrowing journey through World War II in the Pacific.

Three years before he was drafted, Aragon recalled when the attack on Pearl Harbor and the impact it had on his family.

"It was a terrible memory, Pearl Harbor. We would ration food, coffee meat, gas, shows... just about everything," he said.

Ernesto Torres

By Grant Abston

After his graduation from Abraham Lincoln High School in Denver in 1969, Ernesto Torres developed a hobby -- racing cars.

Torres, who registered for the draft after graduation, had trouble finding steady work after getting his diploma. Although he worked part time at the Columbine Country Club in high school, the draft affected his job search.

Daniel Thomas Archuleta

By Jonathan Woo

War can affect people in ways that no one can anticipate. Daniel Archuleta, a Vietnam War medic and Bronze Star recipient, might understand what Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn meant when he wrote: "Even if we are spared destruction by war, our lives will have to change if we want to save life from self-destruction."

Rose P. Sandoval

By Gabrielle Muñoz

When Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, Rose Sandoval was nearly 5,500 miles away in Torres, Colo., where she grew up on her family’s cattle ranch. But like countless others, Sandoval experienced the war in the confines of her own home when her oldest brother, Leo Vallejos, was deployed overseas as a member of the Army. Her brother’s military service brought the war to Torres, located in the mountains of southern Colorado 30 miles northwest of Trinidad.

Joe Medina

By Naomi Price

Joe Borunda Medina was fresh out of Wiley High School in Wiley, Colo., when he was inducted into the Army in June of 1943.

Initially drafted, Borunda says he received a notice several weeks later that he was no longer needed. He decided to join anyway, however, and was sent to Denver for basic training, then to Utah for additional training and testing.

Manuel Espinoza

By Xochitl Salazar

Manuel Espinoza's father, Concepción, was struck by lightning in 1930 while working on railroad tracks in Colorado.

The older Espinoza's death had great repercussions: His young widow, Ventura Mendoza Espinoza, and their three sons moved to San Antonio, Texas, to stay with her parents. Ventura began working and her boys helped her out. In time, though, Espinoza would join the Navy and survive battles in the Philippines before returning to start a life of his own.

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