Felipe Ramirez III

By Voces Staff

A bullet in his chest and scars on his stomach were lifelong reminders of Felipe Ramirez's Vietnam War experience.

"The first round of bullets hit the machine gun. Before I knew it, I was hit. I felt something. I took a big dive and went behind a tree and said to another soldier, 'I'm OK, I'm OK,'" he said.

Ernesto Sanchez

By Mikael DeSanto

Laredo, Texas, native Ernesto Sanchez didn’t always want to join the military, even when there was a war in Korea. He was a college student -- hoping to get an officer's commission in the ROTC -- and didn’t want to leave his family. That changed when he saw that communists were advancing through Korea. He said to himself, “Well, someone has to stop them.” He decided to step up.

Jose M. Soto

By Iris Zubair

Although he had big dreams of a career playing football, Jose Mariano Soto, a young Mexican-American college student living in Laredo, Texas during the 1960s, volunteered for the Marine Corps to avoid getting drafted.

Mercurio & Mrs. Martinez

By Vidushi Shrimali

Mercurio Martinez Jr. has never served in the armed forces, but both he and his hometown of Laredo, Texas, have been touched by veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Martinez said his community always held an immense respect for war veterans.

James Rendon

By Kristen Morado

James R. Rendon, born and raised in Laredo, Texas, gave up his last semester of high school and enlisted in the Marine Corps with no hesitation to serve his country in Vietnam.

Rendon, who enlisted on April 15, 1967, said he felt there was nothing else for him to do because a lack of resources meant that for him, like many other Hispanics, a higher education was not possible. He looked to the military for guidance and opportunity.

John Valls

By Bianca Krause

Dec. 8, 1941, forever changed his life.

Riding in a car on Market Street in Laredo, Texas, 16-year-old John Valls heard a speech that would shape his future. With his “Day of Infamy” speech, President Franklin Roosevelt declared war on Japan after the Pearl Harbor attacks and convinced Valls that his life’s mission was to serve his country.

Richard Geissler

By Joshua Avelar

For Richard Geissler Jr., a U.S. Army veteran who became a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, passion for community activism shaped his life despite the many different communities he served and the overbearing obstacles he faced.

Arnoldo Gutierrez

By SeungJin Ryu

Most people reach a turning point in their lives at least once, and for Arnoldo D. Gutierrez that point was the time he spent in the Army during the Korean War.

He believes that he could not have gotten a better education than what he received by just being in the Army.

Gutierrez, who was 78 at the time of his interview, was a high school dropout. He said he used to enjoy his school life, playing a bass horn as a member of his school band. He left school at 15 because he had to take care of two of his siblings and find work after his mother died.

Alberto Ramirez

By Stephannie Garcia

When Albert Ramirez was asked what his favorite thing about serving in the U.S. military was, he responded that it was the opportunity to serve his country; and although he did not say it, his second favorite part likely would have been the girls.

Ramirez, a Laredo, Texas native, grew up in a household that included 13 children, a mother who worked as a housewife and a father who taught him carpentry-- one of two loves of his life. His second love were the girls. In fact, it was a girl who prompted him to volunteer in the first place.

Oscar Torres

By Reid Worth

In June of 2002, 58 years after the battle in which he earned it, Oscar Torres finally received the Purple Heart for wounds received in action during the September 1944 assault on the island of Peleliu. In addition to earning that medal after being drafted in 1943, Torres, a Marine, witnessed a great deal of carnage on the tiny South Pacific Island.

Despite being drafted, Torres wasn’t reluctant to serve his country. He hadn't enlisted because his two older brothers had already done so; Torres simply stayed behind to help his family until he was called.

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