Rudy Elizondo

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Interviewed by
Markel Rojas
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By Brittany Rodriguez

He was only a child when the war began, but Rudy Elizondo supported the United States in his own way.

From his time in the Boy Scouts to his service in the United States Navy, Elizondo proved that one could fight a war without going overseas.

“When the war started, I was just 11 years old,” he said. “I heard my parents talk ... Then later on in the evening we heard a radio broadcast from President Roosevelt that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and that he was going to Congress to see about a declaration of war.”

It was on the homefront that Elizondo began lending his support for the war effort. A Tenderfoot Boy Scout in what was then Troop 114 of Floresville, Texas, he and his fellow scouts walked around town, pulling their red wagons and collecting newspapers and scrap metals. The items were stored in the basement of the grammar school and eventually turned over to collectors.

Elizondo and his fellow troop members also aided in conducting air-raid practices for the citizens of Floresville.

“At that time, people were very worried that the Japanese would come up on the Gulf Coast and bomb the cities,” he said. “This was a real sincere fear that the people had.”

People were asked to hang black curtains in their windows so no light could be seen in the town, and the boys patrolled the streets to make sure everyone cooperated. The scouts carried flashlights with lenses covered in purple, which allowed them to see on the dark streets without light being visible from above.

The scout master also had the troop grow a victory garden in a lot next to his home, which was close to the boys’ school. Many foods were being rationed during World War II, like meat and sugar. The government urged people to grow victory gardens to feed their families so most commercial-grown crops could be sent overseas to soldiers without creating shortages. Along with many Americans, Elizondo and his Boy Scout troop answered the call.

“We would go to the lot next to his house to till the ground and pull the grass out and plant seeds to get some plants growing,” Elizondo said. “We would do that just about every day after school.”

When Elizondo wasn’t in school, he was helping local farmers harvest crops. A man in the neighborhood would pick Elizondo and others up to work in the fields picking peanuts, cucumbers and whatever else had to be harvested.

“When I came home I was all sweaty and full of dirt and dust and everything,” Elizondo said. “Before they would let me in the house, they would put me out in the yard and hose me down.”

He continued performing this service into high school. In the fall of 1943, when he was in ninth grade, he was among a group of students released early from school and sent to neighboring farms to help harvest crops.

“The war was still on, and since all the men were away in the service, they would bus us into surrounding farms to bring in the crops,” Elizondo said.

During his time at Floresville High School, he would attend periodic concerts the band had in the school auditorium to generate funds for the war.

“The purpose of that was to raise money for the war effort, and the fee for going to the concert was buying a war bond or war stamps, as they called them,” he said.

Elizondo and his family moved from Floresville to San Antonio while he was still in high school. He joined the Junior ROTC and, at the age of 16, the Texas State Guard 36th Infantry Division. He was a member of the guard on Victory Over Japan Day and patrolled downtown streets to prevent rioting.

Although Elizondo never fought in a war, he served 11 years in the naval reserve before being discharged in 1959. He worked in accounting at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, until his retirement in 1990.

Mr. Elizondo was interviewed in San Antonio, Texas, on August 4, 2007, by Markel Rojas.