Jesse de los Santos

By Cheryl Smith Kemp

Number 10 in a brood of 16, Jesse De los Santos was well accustomed to being a mere piece of something much larger than himself by the time he joined the United States Calvary in 1939.

Little did he know, however, that in a couple of years he would be part of an event significantly bigger than the Calvary, the Army, all of the armed forces combined, even the U.S. itself. For on Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and everything changed. World War II was on.

Delfino Jose Guerrero

By Cheryl Smith Kemp

For World War II veteran Delfino Guerrero, who grew up in the urban jungle of Chicago during The Great Depression, three of the big “musts” in life were speak Spanish at home, English at school and the Boys Club; run around acting tough with friends from “the neighborhood;” and correct anyone who disrespects you.

“That’s the way it was,” said Guerrero, who was an Army medic with the 38th Infantry Division in the Pacific Theater from December of 1941 to Dec. 5, 1945.

Cruz M. Rodriguez

By Marjon Rostami

One day Cruz Rodriguez was picking corn and tomatoes on a farm outside of Chicago; the next day, the undocumented Mexican immigrant was preparing to go to war.

"They [the U.S. Army] didn't care if you were legal or not," Rodriguez said during his interview. "They just needed soldiers. They took Mexicans off the field and they [were sent] ... to war."

Joseph P. Ramirez

By Cheryl Smith Kemp

Joseph Ramirez turned the Army down when officers tried to keep him on at the end of 1945, asking him to serve six more months in World War II, at the promised rank of Sergeant.

Ramirez wanted to go home.

“I was certain I would be able to get a job in the Engineering Department,” he said, referring to Armor Institute of Technology, now Illinois Institute of Technology, from where he’d graduated before the war.

Ernest Quiroga

By Melissa Drosjack

As an Army entertainer, Ernie Quiroga had a very special audience during World War II – people liberated from concentration camps.

"I entertained persons that were in concentration camps and I always wondered why they were always in a daze," Quiroga said. "You couldn't tell too much, because they were in a daze."

Quiroga recalls playing his accordion, trying to aid their recovery.

"I was playing my accordion and one number that I played was a typical Mexican song -- Besame Mucho," Quiroga said. "They were still in a daze."

Tony Holguin

By Jason Weddle

Tony Holguin would rather talk about golf than about the time he spent as a soldier in the Army during World War II. He even says he might very well have been the Tiger Woods of his day.

To Holguin’s credit, there aren’t many people who at 22 can claim to have beaten the legendary golfing champion Sam Snead by six shots in a professional tournament. The fact that Holguin is of Mexican American ancestry made the feat that much more impressive for its time.

Fred Gomez

By Wesley Monier

To fulfill a promise made many years ago to a young soldier friend killed in battle, Ferdinand “Fred” Gomez named his oldest son Raymond. The two men vowed that if one of them died, the other one would name his first son after the other.

"I respected him a lot," Gomez said of his friend, Sergeant Raymond Valencia. "He never smoked, he never drank . ... He was just a very beautiful role model."

Joseph John Diaz

By Barbara Gibbon

Despite being in an infantry unit that saw some of the most fighting during World War II, Joseph Diaz takes it all in stride. His memory hasn't faded over the years, and neither have the realities of fighting a war.

Diaz was born August 11, 1918, in Kansas City, Mo., where his parents, Jose Juan Diaz and Maria Garcia had emigrated from Nayarit and Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

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