Val Martinez

By Emma Graves-Fitzsimmons

Nothing prepared Val Martinez for the icy winter night he landed in Marseilles, France, with the 103rd Infantry Division to prepare for combat in World War II. Martinez would spend more than nine months as a tank commander advancing across Central Europe, but says the first night was the coldest he can remember.

His unit and their German adversaries were both under constant fire as each tried to gain ground on the other, he recalls.

"Once we got going, we spent a lot of time chasing them," Martinez said. "Our outfit was a good outfit."

Cipriano Gamez

By Ashley Tompkins

Cipriano Gamez contends he "never did anything outstanding," but many would disagree. His actions speak for themselves and for the thousands of other men who served in World War II.

Born in Belmont, Iowa, in 1922, Cipriano (one of nine brothers) and his parents moved to East Chicago, Ind., when he was a baby. After high school graduation in 1941, Gamez heard President Roosevelt announce the shocking news that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor.

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