Voces seeks to document and create a better awareness of the contributions of Latinos and Latinas of the World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War generations. The project was created in 1999 by UT journalism professor Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez. Here you'll find short video and photo documentaries created by former students, interns, staff and volunteers. You'll also find still photos of the men and women who have been interviewed. We hope you enjoy.

World War II
As many as 400,000 U.S. Latinas/os served in the military in World War II. After the war, these men and women of the World War II era -- military veterans and civilians -- enacted political and social improvements.                                                                                                                                                                   Pictured are Bertha (Cadena) and Edward Prado, both of San Antonio, Texas, on their wedding day, December 9, 1942. Prado was assigned to Company C of the 131st Field Artillery Battalion of the 36th Infantry Division during World War II.

A native of El Paso, Texas, Rudy Acosta grew up in Southern California with his family of migrant farmworkers. Acosta was drafted into the military in 1942 and served with the Air Force in Italy.

Rudy Acosta receives his Air Medal, 1944. Acosta served with the 15th Air Force.

Shown left to right are brothers Rudy, Joe and Bill Acosta. Joe and Bill had been drafted in 1941. Rudy was drafted one year later and after 36 missions, he earned the right to go home. But, because the fighting had intensified in Europe, he had to wait for 30 days in Naples before a ship could bring him back home.

Air Transport Command, Assam India. Pfc. Thomas Cantu, Jr. receives the Air Medal from Col. William S. Barksdale, Jr, for having flown more than 150 hours over the "Hump" in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater. Cantu was from Robstown, Texas.

Pete Casarez was stationed in Guam with the 25th Naval Construction Battalion. Casarez grew up in East Austin, Texas.

Pete and Theresa Casarez in an April 2001 portrait. (Photo by Alan K. Davis)

Ladislao "L. C." Castro, a native of Austin, Texas, during gunnery training in the United States in 1943. Months later, he would be flying combat missions in a B-24 over Germany. Castro became a staff sergeant and joined the crew of the "T-Bar," a B-24 Liberator, as an assistant engineer and aerial gunner.

Ladislao C. Castro receives the third Oak Leaf Cluster to his Air Medal from Third Air Division commander Gen. Leon Johnson on February 4, 1944, in Shipdham, England.

Portrait of Ladislao Castro, center, and his son James, right, and grandson James Jr., left, in Austin, Texas, 2001. James and James Jr. are also veterans; James served in Vietnam, his son James Jr. served in the Gulf War. (Photo by Alan K. Davis)

Ramón Galindo is a native of San Juan, Nuevo León, Mexico, but grew up in Austin, Texas. Photo taken October 31, 1943 at Camp Edwards, Massachusetts.

Ramón Galindo shows off a Luger pistol in Germany. Galindo belonged to the 571st Anti-Aircraft Automatic Weapons Battalion.

Ramón Galindo riding around on a borrowed motorcycle in Austria on July 5, 1945. Galindo gave the bike's owner cigarettes in exchange for a quick ride around.

Ramón Galindo was honorably discharged Feb. 1, 1946. Soon after, in November of 1946, he married Pauline Santos. He ran a successful business, Galindo the Tailor, in downtown Austin until he retired in 1991.

Reynaldo Perez Gallardo, 1945. Gallardo was one of 38 fighter pilots with the Escuadrón 201, Mexico's only combat unit in WWII, which helped the Allies in the Phillipines. Gallardo was from San Luis Potosí, San Luis Potosí, Mexico.

Reynaldo Perez Gallardo (second from right) poses with other members of Escuadrón 201 in 1945.

Narciso Garcia reached the rank of Staff Sergeant with the U.S. Army Air Corps, and participated in crucial WWII operations in Europe. As a member of the 340th bomb group, 488th Bomb Squadron, he flew tactical missions in Northern Italy. Garcia was born and raised in El Paso, Texas.

During his military service, which lasted from 1943-1945, Narciso Garcia (far right) relied on his military training and his ingenuity and survival skills. He went from being called "el inventor" of his El Paso neighborhood to becoming an expert on the 50 caliber machine gun, its installation, maintenance, repair and use.

Horacio (Otis) Gil sent this photo to his wife, Olivia R. Gil, and son Arturo, as a souvenir from Italy on May 16, 1945.
The couple had nine children. Gil was from Welder, Texas.

Otis Gil photographed in Austin, Texas on April 11, 2008. (Photo by Valentino Mauricio)

Josephine Kelly Ledesma Walker teaches a soldier how to repair the fuselage of an airplane at Randolph Field, San Antonio, in January 1942. Ledesma was from Kyle, Texas.

Alvino Mendoza and Rebecca Vasquez pose for a studio photograph in Austin, Texas, in April of 1946 before the two were married. He was one of many Latino and Latina soldiers to serve the United States in the Pacific Theater during WWII. Mendoza joined the navy and served on the USS George (DE-697).

Ramón Martín Rivas and Henrietta Lopez met during the war, while he was on leave from his assignment in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. He was a native of Charlotte, a South Texas farming community. She was a native of San Antonio and worked at Kelly Field, repairing airplane instruments. The two married in 1945. Rivas served with the 3d Replacement Battalion, in Dutch Harbor, on the Aleutian Island closest to the coast of Alaska in the North Pacific.

Benito Rodriguez was one of four brothers from Central Texas who served abroad in the U.S. military. In WWII he fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium among other conflicts in the European Theater. Rodriguez belonged to the 2d Infantry Division in the U.S. Army.

Raymond Sanchez (left) served on a combat fleet oiler during World War II and quickly learned there are no foxholes in the Pacific. He served abroad the USS Saranac (AO-74). Sanchez was from Austin, Texas.

Antonio Abarca and Apolonia Muñoz Abarca. Photo taken in Corpus Christi, Texas, on Feb. 3, 1946. Photo taken after the wedding in Mission, Texas, at El Mesias Methodist Church.

First year student nurses at Fred Roberts Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. Front Row: Left. Jean McPherson, Eleanor LaComb, Bernice Hunter, Mary Thomas, Back row: Left, Apolonia Muñoz (later Muñoz Abarca), Margaret Moore, Theresa Green, Betty Jorgenson. Photo taken June 1942 at Fred Roberts Hospital nurse's dormitory. She was from Mission, Texas.

Sam Casarez, left, poses with his brother Julius in San Francisco in 1946. Julius was in the process of being discharged after serving four years in China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater while Sam had just arrived back in the United States from an overseas deployment. The two are from Austin, Texas.

Miguel Encinias, 20, poses at an airfield in Palermo-Sicily in September of 1943. During World War II, he started by serving with the 45th Infantry Division in North Africa and on the European front. He later transferred to the 52nd Bomb Squadron, the 29th Bomb Group and then the 20th Air Force. He spent 15 months in a German POW camp after his plane was shot down. Encinias served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Encinias grew up in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Miguel Encinias (left), at Talavera Air Base in Spain in the summer of 1954, spent six months in Spain as head of a team of pilots and technicians helping the Spanish Air Force to transition to jet aircraft. He also trained jet pilots.

In Seattle in 1943, Trino Soto poses for a studio photograph to send to his parents in 1943, before he traveled overseas to the Pacific. Soto was a crew member of the USS Haggard (DD-555), which was awarded 12 battle stars during World War II. Soto was from Fresno, California.

From left to right, Trino Soto, Nick Kavathas, Mike Armenderiz, Angelo Accurso and George Phillips pose for a studio photograph during their stop and vacation in Hawaii on their way back to the mainland United States in July 1945. The five men were crew members of the USS Haggard (DD-555), which was awarded 12 battle stars during World War II.

Carmen Contreras Bozak was a member of the 149th Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) Post Headquarters Company, the first WAAC unit to be deployed overseas. A teletype operator, she was stationed in Algeria and Italy. Bozak grew up in Puerto Rico.

During a trip back to a hospital from Washington, Carmen Contreras met her future husband, Theodore J. Bozak, who was also a patient at the hospital. After dating for less than five months, the two married in Elizabeth, N.J. while he was still a patient. The couple was married for 46 years until his death in 1991. After the war, Contreras Bozak became very active in women's veterans organizations.

2nd Lt. Richard Candelaria on Dec. 5, 1944, at the Royal Air Force base in Wattisham, England. Wattisham was the home base of the 479th Fighter Group and the 435th Fighter Squadron. Candelaria earned the title of a "Fighter Ace" for shooting down six enemy planes during World War II. Candelaria grew up in Southern California.

Beatrice Amado Kissinger, left, with Lt. Carmen Romero Phillips in 1944 in Long Beach, California. Amado Kissinger was born in Tucson, Arizona, and grew up in different communities in Arizona.

Beatrice Amado Kissinger, bottom row, third from right, stands with her classmates in front of the St. Mary's Hospital School of Nursing chapel in 1941 in Tucson, Arizona. Kissinger served as a nurse in U.S. Naval hospitals in both Long Beach, California, and San Francisco during World War II. The autograph reads "for my dear father and mother, from Beatriz."

Beatrice Amado Kissinger, junior nurse, on duty at St. Mary's School of Nursing, Tucson, Arizona. Amado Kissinger served at naval hospitals in Long Beach, California, and Illinois. She later married Marine surgeon, Jim Kissinger, in 1946 in Chicago.

Maria Sally Salazar (1943). Salazar was a member of the Women's Army Corps and was sent to New Guinea and later the Philippines to support the invasion in October 1944. She was from Laredo, Texas.

Hector Santa Anna was the great-great-nephew of famous Mexican Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who opposed the Texas Revolution. Santa Anna belonged to the 832d Bomb Squadron and the 486th Bomb Group and the 8th Air Force.

Hector Santa Anna flew 35 missions over Europe and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in a 22-year military career. Santa Anna was from Miami, Arizona.

World War II was a turning point for Virgilio G. Roel, a native of Laredo, Texas. It served as a catalyst for change in his life and ignited his lifelong dedication toward the empowerment and education of others. He served with the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment and 13th Airborne Division. Roel used the GI Bill to complete his undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin, and also law school at Georgetown University.

Lita De Los Santos had eight brothers serving in World War II. Their absence forced her family to face their own battles on the home front in Eastland County, Texas.

John Valls, a native of Laredo, Texas, in Liverpool, England. Valls was drafted into the military in 1943 at the age of 18 and served with the U.S. Army in the 52nd Armored Infantry Battalion.

Valls (right) with two of his buddies.

Two of Valls’ brothers served in the Air Force during World War II. One brother, 1st Lt. Louis Valls, a B-26 pilot, was killed in Italy during his 27th combat mission. Another brother, 1st Lt. Alfonso Valls, flew 30 missions from Guam to Japan as the pilot of a B-29. (Photo by Marc Hamel)

Carmen Garcia Rosado, a native of Humacao, Puerto Rico, served in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, Company 6, 2nd Battalion, 21st Regiment, during WWII. García Rosado became a mail clerk at the New York Pork of Embarkation. As part of her duties, she read letters in English and Spanish to search for any military secrets, which she would turn over to her superiors.

Consuelo Macias Hartsell of Rawlins, Wyoming, joined the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserve with her sister Juanita during World War II.

The sisters were both assigned to the Depot of Supplies of the 1st Marine Division of San Francisco with Consuelo overseeing shipments to and from overseas and Juanita working on maps.

A native of Lockhart, Texas, Joe Riojas was drafted into the Army in 1943. He was first assigned to the 58th Fighter Group, 69th Fighter Squadron and was transferred to the 338th Fighter Group, stationed in Iwo Jima.

Riojas (right) was one of three brothers who served in the military during WWII.

Korean War
When the Korean War broke out in 1950, many Latinos answered the call to duty, many of whom were World War II veterans. Among them were members of the Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment, also known as "The Borinqueneers."                                                                                                                 Raul Gutierrez, left, was born in New Braunfels, Texas, and joined the 1st Cavalry Division, 8th Regiment. 

Pete Castillo was born in Austin, Texas, and was drafted into the Army on his 21st birthday. Castillo served stateside during the Korean War with the U.S. Army.

Castillo (middle) spent two years in the service, working for the 424th Ordnance Company at Fort Sill from 1951 to 1953. He learned about different types of ammunition and which kinds were most effective in different scenarios.

First photo of Gabriel Garcia in his U.S. Army uniform, June 1954, at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas, where he had one week of Army indoctrination before starting basic training. Garcia grew up in Mercedes, Texas. Garcia served in the Korean and Vietnam War.

General Albert R. Shiely offers Garcia verbal congratulations.

Presiliano Montoya was born in Dixon, New Mexico, in 1930, during the Great Depression. Ten days after he was born, Montoya’s family moved to Alamosa, Colorado. Press was one of nine children. At the age of 20, he enlisted just three months after getting married. As a medic in the training camps, Montoya helped save lives in important battles like the Battle of Triangle Hill and the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge, which resulted in two bronze stars for Montoya.

Montoya’s (third from left) activism began in 1970 to hold leaders in his Denver area community accountable. He served on a board of adjustments in his community to get Hispanics to “their dues.” He founded the American G.I. Forum with other local citizens, was a member of the Lions Club, was appointed chairman of community relations for 31 years, and helped the local police department recruit qualified officers. Montoya’s persistence led to the firing of the police chief as well as the firing of 26 officers.

Vietnam War 
The Vietnam War was a watershed for Latinas/os. Against the backdrop of military service was a resurgence in demands for civil rights: the late 1960s in particular were times of great unrest nationally. Mexican Americans in urban areas of the Southwest became involved with a Chicano Movement. In the Northeast and Midwest, there were similar pushes for equality.                                                                                                     U.S. involvement in Vietnam dates back to the early 1960s, when then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent military advisors to bolster the South Vietnamese position. In August 1964, two U.S. destroyers stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin reported being fired upon. As a result, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, requested by then-President Lyndon B. Johnson, permitted further military escalation in Vietnam.                                                                                                                                 Due to inconsistent methods of collecting demographic data for Latinos, it is not possible to provide a reliable number on how many served in the military during the period. However, it appears that Mexican Americans were over-represented among casualties: a 1967 Ford Foundation study found that although Mexican Americans made up nearly 14 percent of the Southwest's population, they were an estimated 19 percent of all casualties during the Vietnam War.                                                                                                                                               Pictured are Antonio "Tony" Flores Alvarado with his parents, Filemon Alvarado and Dominga Flores Alvarado. Alvarado was born in Atascosa, Texas, and joined the military after graduating high school in 1966. A member of the 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, Alvarado suffered a leg wound from a mortar round that exploded about 10 feet away. 

Richard Brito, a native of Brownsville, Texas, was a member of the Artillery Officer Candidate School and joined the 8th Special Forces Group in the Panama Canal Zone. In Vietnam, he was assigned the position of chief, Military Operations Division for Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) in Nha Trang.

Rita Brock-Perini was born on Oct. 17, 1938, in Phoenix, Arizona. She graduated from St. Mary’s High School in 1956 and at 17 entered St. Joseph’s School of Nursing in Phoenix. She worked for 10 years as a nurse and then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force where she was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. As the Vietnam War intensified, she was assigned to the Wilford Hall Medical Center, the largest Air Force hospital in the nation at the time.

As a 30-year-old captain in the Air Force Nurse Corps, Rita Brock-Perini cared for thousands of soldiers and helped hundreds of nurses during the bloodiest years of the Vietnam War. Photographed by the Phoenix Gazette, April 24, 1970.

Before the end of the war, she left the Air Force and took an administrative job with the American Red Cross. She earned a nursing degree from Arizona State University and became active in veterans groups, including the Veterans Medical Leadership Council, an organization founded in 2001 that advocates for veterans.

Herlinda Gutierrez (far right) grew up in San Antonio, Texas. She joined the Air Force in May 1961 and served 20 years. The photo features nurses at Tachikawa Air Base outside of Tokyo, Japan, in 1967 at a officers' club dinner.

Gregorio Rios, of Rosenberg, Texas, outside of Houston, enlisted in the Marines, and was assigned to the 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Amphibious Force. He was stationed at Camp Pendleton in California in 1966.

Rios (far right) served in Vietnam in 1966-1967 and later said he became more racially conscious from the experience, hearing African American and white servicemen argue about inequalities.

Tony Dodier, a native of Laredo, Texas, served as an officer in the Army. He was a platoon leader in the 198th Brigade of the 23rd Infantry Division, during the Vietnam War.

Dodier's platoon became ensnared in a heavily mined area on May 28, 1970, leaving three men dead and him and 27 other men wounded. Dodier’s right foot was eventually amputated as a result of his injuries. Dodier was a captain at the time of his May 1970 discharge and was awarded the Bronze Star for valor, but wanted only a small private ceremony and no publicity. Pictured on the right is Dodier's first wife, Lucila Zuñiga. They had three children.

Credits: Story

The Voces Oral History Project, (formerly the U.S. Latino & Latina WWII Oral History Project), has recorded video interviews with hundreds of Latinos and Latinas service members and civilians during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. We also have digitized at high resolutions thousands of archival photographs and other documentation. The repository is the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, General Libraries, at the University of Texas at Austin.

The project is a partnership between the University of Texas at Austin School of Journalism (Moody College of Communication), faculty, students, volunteers, supporters, and the men and women who we interview. The interviews have been used in books, dissertations, masters' theses and journal articles. The photographs have been used in several documentaries, photo exhibits and websites.

Voces produces an annual newsletter with summaries of longer journalistic treatments of each interview. For details, please see: vocesoralhistoryproject.org.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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