Navy

Jesse Herrera

By the Voces Staff

Jesse Herrera grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a working-class neighborhood where many of his peers went straight from high school to jobs in the steel mills.

That wasn't the future he wanted for himself. But he didn't know anyone who had gone to college. "It was alien to me," he said. The Vietnam War was underway, but Herrera didn't want to wait to be drafted, which meant he'd go right to the Army. "The Navy appealed to my sense of adventure" and offered a chance to see the world, he said.

Emiliano Espinosa Gimeno

By Brandon Fields, St. Bonaventure University

Emiliano E. Gimeno remembers that when Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese, he initially did not realize how the event would change his life.

Born in El Paso, Texas, on Jan. 24, 1921, and raised in Denver, Colorado, Gimeno was the eldest of 10 children. His mother, Marcelina Fuentes Espinosa de Gimeno, was the main provider for the family. His father, he said, drank and gambled.

Tereso Reza

By Michael John Loffredo, St. Bonaventure University

While many Navy sailors stepped foot on land to fight for the United States during the Korean War, Tereso Reza spent his years of service working aboard a ship. While not seeing action bothered him at times, he recalls his experience as "pleasant," and he returned unharmed.

Reza was born in East Los Angeles, California, on Sept. 23, 1931, to Salvador Reza and Maria Berroteran. He was the second-oldest of seven brothers and sisters.

Joseph F. Velasquez

By Kristina Beverly, Cal State Fullerton

When Joseph Velasquez joined the U.S. Navy on April 23, 1968, he received a card that asked where he would want to go if he were deployed.

He could have picked anywhere, but he wanted to be where the action was. Velasquez wanted to go to Vietnam.

"People would ask, 'Why do you want to go there?' Velasquez said. "But it would be like going to a wedding and not seeing the groom. I didn’t want to miss the action."

Alberto Lara Rojo

Alberto Lara Rojo heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor the day after it happened.

“We didn’t know about it; we lived on the wrong side of town,” recalled the Mexican-American Navy veteran.

On that Monday, the Sunday attack on the American naval base in Hawaii was the talk of his high school in Marfa, Texas, where he was a freshman. Outside the school, other Mexican-American students told him, "It’s a gringo war. It does not affect us Spanish people."

Raul Portales

By Jordan D. Schraeder

Working at Dodson’s Grocery in 1943, Raul “Roy” Portales dreamed of sailing the high seas. That year, the San Antonio native found a way to make that dream a reality: enlistment in the U.S. Navy. After three years of stocking and delivering groceries, Portales’ enlistment in the Navy on July 7, 1943, offered a change of scenery.

Antonio Jasso

By Sarah Culler

Antonio Jasso wanted to make sure no one considered him a war hero.

“I didn’t see no war … I’m not gonna take credit or say that I saw action. I didn’t. I was, thanks to God, a cook in the Navy. I had it made in the Navy,” Jasso said as he shared stories about his years in the service.

Jasso, a native of El Paso, Texas, moved to Kansas to work, joined the Navy, and later moved back to Kansas where he lived at the time of his interview.

Rosalio Rabbit Duran

By Katy Lutz

Rabbit's Lounge was a dimly-lit, tiny bar that boycotted Budweiser while serving up some of the coldest beer in Austin, Texas. It might have seemed a very unlikely candidate for the Austin hub of Chicano politics in the early 1970s - if one hadn't also met its indefatigable owner, Rosalio "Rabbit" Duran.

Duran was born to diehard Democrats, Ezequiel Duran and Eva Gonzalez Duran, on May 18, 1933, in Austin. As an adolescent, Duran gained his nickname "Rabbit" because of his incomparable running speed in youth sports.

Moses F. Diaz

By Trina Berberet

He may have been only 16 at the time, but Moses Diaz decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy because, as he recalled: “I didn’t want to miss out on the war.”

It was 1945, near the end of the World War II, and Diaz completed his basic training in San Diego.

It was his first time away from home and he often wrote letters home to see which of his family and friends had enlisted. His mother, Martina Diaz, had five sons serving in the military during World War II.

Subscribe to Navy