San Juan

Carmen García-Rosado

By Eduardo Miranda, California State University, Fullerton

While World War II was underway thousands of miles away, Carmen García Rosado, a young schoolteacher who lived in Caguas, Puerto Rico, saw in a local newspaper that the U.S. Army wanted to recruit Puerto Rican women to support the war effort.

Her curiosity piqued by the prospect of joining the military, García-Rosado made a decision that would change her life. She went on to be one of the 200 Puerto Rican women who traveled to the United States to serve with the Women Army Corps (WAC).

Antonia Santana

By Cindy Tapia, California State University, Fullerton

When you think about heroes, people that left everything they had to fight a war, you usually think about strong, buff men. But women also have served in the military along side of men.

One such woman was Antonia Santana.

Santana was raised in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. As a young girl she lived with her parents, five sisters, two brothers and her two grandmothers. She said 11 people living under the same roof was not as chaotic as one would think.

Fernando I. Pagan

By Juan De La Cruz

Fernando Pagan was a jack of all trades during his childhood in Puerto Rico.

At the age of 12, Pagan shined shoes every Sunday in Carolina, Puerto Rico; on Saturdays, he sold clothes for a wage of $2 and breakfast. Later, he worked as a dishwasher in a restaurant.

Angel Antonio Velazquez

By Ernie Garrido

Before he joined the Army in World War II, Angel Antonio Velázquez taught English at a junior high school in his hometown of Yabucoa, in the southeastern part of Puerto Rico. During the war, in the Panama Canal, his students were soldiers and his lessons revolved around the safety of handling tear gas.

Whether as a military instructor or as a private in the 346th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion, 345th Search Light Battalion, Battery B, the war experience for Velázquez was about protecting American infrastructure -- both human and territorial.

Felix Angel Lopez - Santos

By Juan de la Cruz

Felix López-Santos's early memories of his native Puerto Rico include watching everything float away from his front porch during the big San Felipe storm of 1928. After his Barrio Ceiba was washed away, his family moved to another town, San Lorenzo, where his mother became ill.

Moving to Connecticut seven years later was difficult for López--Santos, but he adapted to the new environment fairly quickly. He attended a predominantly Anglo school and learned English in his classes, where he was the only Latino student.

José Blas García

By Doralis Perez-Soto

In December 1941, 18-year-old José Blas García traveled from his neighborhood of Trastalleres, an area among the swamps and mangrove trees near Caño de Martín Peña in Santurce, Puerto Rico, with four friends to enlist in the military at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico. Of the five, only two were chosen, and young García was one of them. He says he had nothing better to do at the time.

Santos Deliz

By Chris Nay

Santos Deliz and a few other men from his unit crept into the abandoned house in Germany, seeking refuge and respite from battle. After a quiet night, Deliz awoke with a shock.

"It was too dark; we couldn't see...when I woke up there were five dead Germans around me." uttered Deliz with a resonating Brooklyn accent. "The explosion of a shell must have killed them."

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