Lauro Castillo

By the Voces Staff

Lauro Castillo grew up in a poor farming family in South Texas, living in a bare-bones house with a leaky roof.

The U.S. Army provided an escape from poverty but also exposed him to the brutal reality of war. He was an infantryman in some of the toughest battles of World War II.

To Castillo, it was simply a matter of doing his duty for his country.

“I’m proud” of serving, he said. “I fulfilled my obligation to the U.S.”

Adolfo Alvarez

By Jacob Martella

Coming back from the Korean War, Adolfo Alvarez knew he had to do something with his life.

He had survived nine months along the 38th Parallel holding the line against the North Koreans, not knowing if he would return to his family in the United States. Now, he wanted to make a difference for the Hispanics in South Texas.

"I said to myself if I make it back, I'm not going to raise hell, but I'm going to do something constructive so that this would not be in vain," Alvarez said.

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.

Ramiro Ramos

By Brandon Fried

Ramiro Ramos has spent much of his life just trying to get by.

Raised near the Texas-Mexico border, in the town of Salineno, Ramos was one of seven children born to Rita and Esteban Ramos in the early 1920s. He was born on Sept. 12, 1924.

“There were more than enough of us to play with,” said Ramos.

Juanita Tapia Montoya

By Alicia Rascón

While scores of Latinos served their country valiantly during World War II, many women did their part on the home front.

Juanita Tapia Montoya vividly remembers wartime rationing back home during these years, when the U.S. government limited the purchasing of items such as sugar, meat and other materials needed for the military. Families had ration-stamp books to use to purchase goods.

Jose Cuellar

By Peggy Hanley

Jose "Joe" Cuellar volunteered to be a scout in the South Pacific during World War II because scouts were considered leaders by his fellow soldiers. At the tender age of 18, Cuellar was convinced he wanted to be a leader, and being a scout fulfilled that yearning.

His desire to lead started developing at an early age, when he was forced to fend for himself and his family as a youth in Albuquerque, N.M. Cuellar says his strong work ethic helped him survive the experiences of war in the South Pacific.

Elvira Sena

By Allison Mokry

While many Latinos served their country and fought for survival overseas, Elvira Sena had her own struggle during World War II: helping her family pull through tough economic times while trying to finish her schooling.

Sena grew up on her family farm in Las Cruces, N.M., the second oldest of seven children: four boys and three girls. Her father, Alberto Trujillo, supported the family by ranching and delivering mail, while her mother, Lucianita Trujillo, was a housewife.

Joseph Alcoser

By Eric Garza

The Great Depression. World War II. The civil rights movement. Joseph Alcoser lived through these milestones in American history. Yet, he never truly felt that he was part of the country that he fought to defend.

Joseph Alcoser, or Joe as he was also known, was born in Melvin, a small town in central Texas, in 1925. One of 10 siblings, he was born the son of a migrant farm worker and like many Mexican-Americans of his time, spent much of his childhood moving from field to field harvesting crops.

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