Gregorio D. Botello

By Patrick Lynch

The story of the Botello brothers – Crisantos, Gregorio, John, Simon and Trinidad, who all served during World War II – is one of honor and bravery. And thanks to another of the brothers, their tales of heroism won’t be lost to time.

Younger sibling Thomas D. Botello wrote a booklet called “Proud I Served” about his brothers’ service in WWII, also detailing his family’s struggles back home. The narratives included present a glimpse into history from the perspective of a Mexican American family during that era.

Abelardo Garcia

By Nikki Stanko

Rocking back and forth in a squeaky computer chair, hands folded in his lap, Abelardo Garcia chuckled as he relived having played match-maker for his fellow Army soldiers in a quaint beer hall in Czechoslovakia in 1945.

“I really enjoyed life, no doubt about that,” Garcia said.

As he relived his time in World War II, a distant smile never left Garcia’s face; proof that the elderly veteran clearly still cherished his days overseas.

“I had a good time because I never went to war,” Garcia said. “I was always in an office.”

Ysaac C. Elizalde

By Ever Figueroa

You don’t have to be in combat to be a veteran.

During World War II, Ysaac Elizalde provided the troops with the food necessary to give them enough energy to prepare for the horrors of combat. Elizalde would go on to make a career of this, delivering milk to thousands of homes in Corpus Christi, Texas, for more than 40 years.

Born in 1921 in Bee County, Texas, he doesn’t remember much from his youth. He says he didn’t feel the effects of the Great Depression to the same degree the rest of the country did.

Elias Ramirez Chapa

By Manesh Upadhyaya

Watching war movies about battle ships as a child in Beeville, Texas, created a yearning in Elias Chapa to enlist in the Navy.

At the age of 17, Chapa still wasn’t old enough to sign up for the Navy. Having three older brothers already in the military, however, it wasn’t hard for him to see what he wanted to do after high school. He waited a year for his 18th birthday, and then enlisted in the Navy on Feb. 5, 1943. Along with close Beeville friend Ray Salazar, Chapa began his career in the United States Navy.

Juan Baggio

By John Lee

Though he was never stationed on the battle front, the early portions of Juan Baggio’s life prepared him to serve his country on the home front during World War II.

“My dad died three months before I was born and my mom died when I was 12 years old, so [my childhood] wasn’t too good,” said Baggio, who grew up in hard economic times with his single mother scrambling to support him; his older brother, Bob; and two half-siblings.

Tomas Mata Treviño

By Brenda Menchaca

Born and raised in the small town of Beeville, Tomas Mata Treviño knew little about the world beyond his South Texas community when he was drafted into the Army in 1945.

Having never even ventured beyond Beeville's borders, he was scared when he received a draft letter two months after registering. About 40 other local residents were called to duty at the same time.

"We were scared but there was nothing we could do. … At that point, two or three had been killed in the war from Beeville," Treviño said.

Martin C. Sanchez

By David Muto

Martin Sanchez was told after he returned from the war that he’d be welcome anywhere if he wore his military uniform out of the house.

Sanchez laughs while recalling this advice.

“We don’t serve no Mexicans here,” he said in the voice of a shop owner who denied him access to his store, even while Sanchez was dressed in the attire he’d received after enlisting. “You gotta go up by the railroad track up there.”

Jose S. Sanchez

By Jeff Jurica

Jose Sanchez spent his life working hard in America's trenches. After serving in the Army during World War II, he returned home to start a plumbing business.

"All white people ... out of 500 soldiers I was the only Mexicano in that outfit," Sanchez said of his Army experience. "There were 10 Mexicanos when we were here at basic training. When we went across I was the only one." Despite cultural differences, Sanchez got along very well with fellow soldiers. "I remained good friends with several for life," he said.

Clemente L. Ramon

By Douglas Luippold

Wearing a blue Marine Corps vest and VFW garrison cap, Clemente Ramon recalled how the skills and education he received over three years as a Marine Corps fireman after World War II enhanced his family, finances and education.

Concepción Garcia Moron

By Yolande Yip

A self-described “simple country boy” who served in World War II’s European Theater alongside other men from humble backgrounds, Concepción Garcia Morón said a lack of self-awareness led to a friendly-fire death one February within his company.

“It was our buddies shelling us because . . . like I said, line infantry doesn’t know anything . . . you hold that ground regardless,” said Morón, of the Luxembourg-area incident. “You don’t know where you’re at. Just, ‘Be ready in five minutes. Be ready in 10 minutes.’”

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