John Ramirez

John Ramirez
John Ramirez (Photo by: Marc Hamel)
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By Megan Jones

John Corona Ramirez said he and his family did not experience much economic hardship when he was growing up in Topeka, Kansas, during the Great Depression. He did recall, however, that his family often went without new clothing.

"Just wear what you have. That's all," Ramirez said, recalling how he dealt with the tough economic times.

Ramirez expressed a similar stoicism as he remembered what he did to help the family during hard times.

"[I would] go to work," Ramirez said simply.

According to his discharge documents, Ramirez was born in Silao, Guanajuato, in central Mexico, on June 12, 1920. He had two brothers, Ted and Cecil, and one younger sister, Antonia. He and his siblings were born in Mexico.

Ramirez spoke both Spanish and English but only spoke Spanish at home. He could read a little bit of Spanish.

His mother, Everista Ramirez, had no formal education and worked as a housewife. Ramirez's father, Forlan Ramirez, worked for the Santa Fe Railway. Both parents were involved in their Catholic church before and after the war.

Ramirez attended Our Lady of Guadalupe Elementary School, in Topeka, for eight years. He played basketball and softball. "[I] liked my first years [of school] all right," Ramirez said.

Ramirez was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II. He entered active service in July 5, 1943, at Fort Leavenworth, in Kansas, and was assigned to the 21st Infantry Division. On March 20, 1944, he departed for the Pacific Theater, where he was involved in campaigns in New Guinea and the Philippines.

For his service, Ramirez received a Purple Heart, an award given to veterans who were injured during their time in the war; a Bronze Star; a Good Conduct Medal; and other accolades.

Upon his return to the United States, Ramirez was discharged on Jan. 9, 1946, in Fort Logan, Colorado, with the rank of private first class. He returned to his hometown in Topeka, Kansas, where he became involved in the American Legion, his church, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled American Veterans.

Ramirez and his wife, Concepcion Torrez Ramirez had one son, Louis H. Ramirez, who later joined the Army and served during the Vietnam War.

Mr. Ramirez was interviewed by Gilbert Ramirez in Topeka, Kansas, on June 16, 2010.

Disclaimer: The Voces Oral History Project attempts to secure review of all written stories from interview subjects or family members. However, we were unable to secure that review for this story. We will accept corrections from the interview subject or designated family members - contact