Amos Pacheco

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Pacheco Pacheco
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By Eunmi Christina Lee

One September night in 1942, Amos Pacheco and Gloria Robles both happened to be at Bergs Mill Platform, a San Antonio, Texas, dancehall with a music box and bar.

“I was dancing with this other girl and she said, ‘I’m too old for you; go dance with her.’ So I went up to her and she was a little girl, 14 years old with pigtails and with white socks,” recalled Pacheco of seeing his wife for the first time when he was 16 years old. “I didn’t know how to dance very well, but I asked her to dance and that’s where the trouble started.”

They met. They danced. They eloped. On August 7, 1944, two years after their first encounter, they got hitched. War wasted no time in separating the newlyweds, however, as the Army shipped Pacheco off to Camp Crowder in southwest Missouri fifteen days into their marriage.

“She didn’t cry,” he recalled, pointing to Gloria beside him.

“No, but I fainted,” she said, as she hadn’t eaten anything the day he left.

The situation wasn’t entirely tragic, however, as Pacheco had been looking forward to enlisting since he was 17 years old. His father made him wait until he was of legal age before he signed his draft papers.

Upon enlisting, the Army sent him to various locations, keeping him “too busy to even think about the little girl [I] left back home,” he said. During the course of two weeks, he trained at San Antonio’s Fort Sam Houston; Camp Crowder; and Camp Livingston, near Alexandria, La.; then was shipped overseas out of New York.

He arrived in France around the middle of February, joining the 90th Infantry Division about two and a half months before the war’s end. Signs of the Axis’ defeat set the tone for the level of combat the infantry faced. Even when German soldiers attacked, they quickly gave in.

A couple weeks into Pacheco’s time in Rhineland, Germans attacked his infantry. Shrapnel shards flew into his shoulders, chest and arms. Within minutes of combat, the German soldiers retreated. One even turned himself in as a prisoner of war because he couldn’t have gone too far with the injuries he sustained, Pacheco recalls.

“War is hell. Kill or get killed,” murmured Pacheco, who says he suffered for a long while from flashbacks of hiding and crawling.

Neither Gloria nor Pacheco say how long it took for the two to adjust to life with each other after the war, but both acknowledge it took some serious time.

“There’s the little girl [who] stayed at home waiting,” said their granddaughter, Chriselda Pacheco, looking over at Gloria.

“Did you wait?” asked Pacheco.

“I’m still here,” Gloria replied.

Mr. Pacheco was interviewed in San Antonio, Texas, on March 22, 2006, by Chriselda Pacheco.