- Hispanic Americans in World War II
Hispanic Americans in World War II fought in every major battle in the European Theatre, from
North Africato the Battle of the Bulge, and in the Pacific Theater of Operations, from Bataan to Okinawa. According to the National World War II Museum, between 250,000 and 500,000 Hispanic Americans served in the Armed Forces during WWII, out of a total of 10,420,000, [cite book | last = Gurney| first = Gene | title = Pictorial History of the Us Army | publisher = Random House Value Publishing | location = New York | year = 1982 | isbn = 0517533162 ] [http://www.nationalww2museum.org/education/education_numbers.html World War II By The Numbers] , The National World War II Museum, New Orleans. Retrieved August 22, 2007.] comprising 2.3% to 4.7% of the Armed Forces. The exact number is unknown as, at the time, Hispanics were integrated into the general white population census count. Separate statistics were kept for African-Americansand Asian-Americans.
December 7, 1941, when the United States officially entered the war, Hispanic Americans were among the many American citizens who joined the ranks of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps as volunteers or through the draft. Not only did Hispanics serve as active combatants in the European and Pacific Theatres of war, but they also served on the home frontas civilians. [cite web|accessdate=2007-03-18 |url=http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-WH-Guard/USA-WH-Guard-16.html
title=The Caribbean in Wartime
author=Stetson Conn, Rose C. Engelman, and Byron Fairchild
work=U.S. Army in World War II: Guarding the United States and Its Outposts
publisher=Center of Military History, United States Army
year=1961 | accessdate = 2007-06-27] Hundreds of Hispanic women joined the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs) and Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), serving as nurses and in administrative positions. Many worked in the manufacturing plants that produced munitions and material, while the men who usually performed this work were away at war. When the induction into the armed forces was increased some Puerto Ricans from the island were assigned to units in the Panama Canal Zone and British Islands which were made up mostly of continental (United States mainland) soldiers as replacements, however most Puerto Ricans and Hispanics residing in Puerto Rico were assigned to the
65th Infantry Regimentor to the Puerto Rico National Guard. These were the only all-Hispanic units whose statistics were kept; hence, it is known that over 53,000 Puerto Ricans and Hispanics who resided on the island served in the war. According to Senator Robert Menendez, more than 9,000 Latinos died in the defense of the United States in World War II.Menendez, Robert, DOClink| [http://menendez.senate.gov/pdf/MemorialDayLLLEng.doc "Commemorating Memorial Day: Honoring the Military Service of America’s Latinos"] |37 KiB, Latino Leadership Link. Retrieved August 24, 2007.] Due to the lack of documentation, the exact number of the Hispanics who died in the conflict is unknown.
Hispanic American is an ethnic term employed to categorize any citizen or resident of the
United States, of any racial background, of any country, and of any religion, who has at least one ancestor from the people of Spainor is of non-Hispanic origin, but has an ancestor from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central or South America, or some other Hispanic origin. The three largest Hispanic groups in the United States are the Mexican-Americans, Puerto Ricans and Cubans. [ [http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/hispanic/hispdef.html Hispanic Population of the United States Current Population Survey Definition and Background] , United States Census Bureau, Population Division,Ethnic & Hispanic Statistics Branch. Retrieved on August 24, 2007]
Prelude to World War II
Before the United States entered World War II, Hispanic Americans were already fighting on European soil in the
Spanish Civil War.
The Spanish Civil War was a major conflict in
Spainthat started after an attempted " coup d'état" committed by parts of the army, led by the Nationalist General Francisco Franco, against the government of the Second Spanish Republic. Hispanic Americans fought on behalf of both of the factions involved, the "Nationalists" as members of the Spanish Army and the "Loyalists" (Republicans) either as members of the Abraham Lincoln International Brigade [ [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/la-mano/message/3099 Latinos who fought in Spain] , Retrieved November 12, 2007] or as aviators in the Yankee Squadron, which was lead by Bert Acosta (1895 – 1954). [ [http://www.aerofiles.com/bio_a.html Bert Acosta] ] General Manuel Goded Llopis(1882 - 1936), who was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was a high ranking officer in the Spanish Army. Llopis, was among the first generales to join General Francisco Franco, in the uprising against the government of the Second Spanish Republic. Llopis was sent to lead the fight against the Anarchists in Catalonia, but his troops were outnumbered. He was captured and was sentenced to die by firing squad. ["Richard A. H. Robinson. The Origins of Franco’s Spain – The Right, the Republic and Revolution, 1931-1936. (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1970) p.28", Retrieved November 12, 2007] [ [http://www.aworldtowin.net/reviews/Spanishcivilwar.html Battle for Spain] , Retrieved November 12, 2007] Lieutenant Carmelo Delgado Delgado(1913-1937), was among the many Hispanics who fought on behalf of the Second Spanish Republic as members of the Abraham Lincoln BrigadeDelgado fought in the Battle of Madrid, but was captured and sentenced to die by firing squad on April 29, 1937, he was amongst the first US citizens to die in that conflict. [ [http://www.alba-valb.org/ US citizens that fought against fascism] , Retrieved November 12, 2007]
European Theatre of World War IIwas an area of heavy fighting between the Allied forcesand the Axis powersfrom September 1, 1939to May 8, 1945. The majority of Hispanic Americans served in regular units; some active combat units, such as the 65th Infantry Regiment from Puerto Rico and the 141st Regiment of the 36th Texas Infantry, were made up mostly of Hispanics.
Hispanics of the 141st Regiment of the 36th Infantry Division were some of the first American troops to land on Italian soil at Salerno. Company E of the 141st Regiment was entirely Hispanic. The 36th Infantry Division saw combat in Italy and France, enduring heavy casualties during the controversial crossing of the
Rapido Rivernear Cassino, Italy. [ [http://www.hispaniconline.com/hh02/history_heritage_on_the_battlefront.html History & Heritage. On the Battlefront: Latinos in America's Wars.] Hispanic Online: Hispanic Heritage Plaza. Retrieved August 4, 2007.]
65th Infantry Regiment
A a small detachment of insular troops from Puerto Rico was sent to Cuba in late March as a guard for Batista Field. In 1943, the 65th Infantry was sent to
Panamato protect the Pacific and the Atlantic sides of the isthmus. An increase in the Puerto Rican induction program was immediately authorized and continental troops such as the 762nd Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion, 766th AAA Gun Battalion and the 891st AAA Gun Battalions were replaced by Puerto Ricans in Panama. [ United States War Department, History of the 762nd Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion; 15 September 1943 to 31 May 1945; Former designation 72d Coast Artillery Regiment; Fort Randolph, Canal Zone; Prepared at Inglewood, California and dated 31 May 1945; Available from the National Archives and Records Administration, Maryland.] [United States War Department; History of the 891st Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion; 15 September 1943 to 28 February 1945; Former designation First Battalion, 615th CA (AA). Fort Clayton, Canal Zone; Prepared at Inglewood, California and dated 31 May 1945; Available from the National Archives and Records Administration, Maryland.] They also replaced troops in the bases on British Islands as well, to the extent permitted by the availability of trained Puerto Rican units. [http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-WH-Guard/USA-WH-Guard-16.html The Caribbean in Wartime] ] The 295th Infantry Regiment followed the 65th Infantry in 1944, departing from San Juan, Puerto Rico to the Panama Canal Zone. That same year, the 65th Infantry was sent to North Africa, arriving at Casablanca, where they underwent further training. By April 29, 1944, the Regiment had landed in Italy and moved on to Corsica. [cite web |accessdate= 2007-06-27 |url= http://veteransforpr.com/history.htm |title=Military History
publisher=American Veteran's Committee for Puerto Rico Self-Determination]
September 22, 1944, the 65th Infantry landed in France and was committed to action on the Maritime Alps at Peira Cava. On December 13, 1944, the 65th Infantry, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Juan Cesar Cordero Davila, relieved the 2nd Battalion of the 442nd Infantry Regiment, a Regiment which was made up of Japanese Americansunder the command of Col. Virgil R. Miller, a native of Puerto Rico.The 3rd Battalion fought against and defeated Germany's 34th Infantry Division's 107th Infantry Regiment.cite web|accessdate=2007-06-27
title=World War II
work="Honor and Fidelity" — The 65th Infantry Regiment in Korea 1950–1954 (Official Army Report on the 65th Infantry Regiment)
author=LTC Gilberto Villahermosa
publisher=U.S. Army Center of Military History] There were 47 battle casualties, including Pvt. Sergio Sanchez-Sanchez and Sergeant Angel Martinez from Sabana Grande, who were the first two Puerto Ricans to be killed in combat action from the 65th Infantry. On
March 18, 1945, the regiment was sent to the District of Mannheim and assigned to military occupation duties. The regiment suffered 23 soldiers killed in action.cite book
title=Puerto Rico's Fighting 65th U.S. Infantry: From San Juan to Chowon
publisher=Presidio Press|id=ISBN 0-89141-056-2] cite web |accessdate=2007-06-27 |url= http://www.valerosos.com/CommandsGVillahermosa.html
title=Juan Cesar Cordero-Davila
author=Colonel Gilberto Villahermosa
Private Anibal Irrizarry was a member of Co. L of the 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division which landed in
Oran, Algeriaon November 8, 1942as part of Operation Torch. That same month his outfit was pinned down by enemy machine gun fire. Irrizarry worked his way up to the hillside where the enemy was located and killed the entire crew with his BAR. He then went on to capture eight prisoners and wiped out another machine gun nest, firing at his outfit, with a grenade at twenty yards of distance before he was seriously wounded. Irizarry, who was awarded the Purple Heart Medal, became the first Puerto Rican to be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. His surname, however was misspelled in his citation. [The Puerto Rican Diaspora: Historical; By Carmen Teresa Whalen and Víctor Vázquez; Pg. 78; Published 2005 by Temple University Press; ISBN 1592134130] [ [http://www.homeofheroes.com/valor/1_Citations/03_wwii-dsc/army_ij.html Irizarry's DSC Citation] , Retrieved June 6, 2008]
Sergeant First Class
Agustin Ramos Calero, a member of the 65th Infantry who was reassigned to the 3rd U.S. Infantry Division because of his ability to speak and understand English, was one of the most decorated Hispanic soldiers in the European Theater. Calero was born and raised in Isabela, in the northern region of Puerto Rico. He joined the U.S. Army in 1941 and was assigned to Puerto Rico's 65th Infantry Regiment at Camp Las Casas in Santurce, where he received training as a rifleman. At the outbreak of World War II, Calero was reassigned to the 3rd U.S. Infantry Division and sent to Europe. In 1945, Calero's company engaged in combat against a squad of German soldiers in what is known as the Battle of Colmar Pocket in the vicinity of Colmar, France. Calero attacked the enemy squad, killing 10 and capturing 21 before being wounded. For these actions, he was awarded the Silver Star Medal and nicknamed "One-Man Army" by his comrades. Calero was wounded four times during combat in Europe. He was awarded 22 decorations and medals for his actions, making him one of the most decorated Hispanic soldiers in the U.S. military during World War II. Among his many decorations were the Silver Star Medal, four Purple Hearts and the French Croix de Guerre. [cite web |accessdate=2007-06-27 |url=http://www.prsoldier.com/17-aug2005.pdf
title=Who was Agustín Ramos Calero? |format=PDF
publisher=The Puerto Rican Soldier
August 17 2005]
Pacific Theater of Operations(PTO) is the term used in the United States for all military activity between the Allies and Japan, from 1937 to 1945, in the Pacific Ocean and the countries bordering it, during World War II. Three units of mostly Hispanic Americans served in the Pacific Theatre battlefields: the 200th Coast Artillery and the 515th Anti-Aircraft ArtilleryBattalions from New Mexico—whose members participated in the infamous Bataan Death March—and the 158th Regimental Combat Team from Arizona.
Bataan Death March
Two National Guard units—the 200th and the 515th Battalions—were activated in New Mexico in 1940. Made up mostly of Spanish-speaking Hispanics from New Mexico, Arizona and Texas, the two battalions were sent to
Clark Fieldin the Philippine Islands. [ [http://www.houstonculture.org/hispanic/memorial.html HISPANIC CONTRIBUTIONS TO AMERICA'S DEFENSE] , Retrieved March 15, 2008] Shortly after the Imperial Japanese Navylaunched its surprise attack on the American Naval Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces attacked the American positions in the Philippines. General Douglas MacArthurmoved his forces, which included the 200th and 515th, to the Bataan Peninsula, where they fought alongside Filipinos in a three-month stand against the invading forces. By April 9, 1942, rations, medical supplies, and ammunition became scarce; the starving and outnumbered troops the 200th and 515th Battalions laid down their arms after being given a direct order and surrendered to the Japanese. These Hispanic and non-Hispanic soldiers endured the 12-day, convert|85|mi|km|sing=on Bataan Death Marchfrom Bataan to the Japanese prison camps. [ [http://www.cabq.gov/veterans/worldwarii.html NM Veterans' Memorial - History: World War II from a New Mexican Perspective] Retrieved August 4 2007.] They were forced-marched in scorching heat through the Philippine jungle and the survivors remained interned for 34 months in a prisoner of war camp. Others were wounded or killed when unmarked enemy ships transporting prisoners of war to Japan were sunk by U.S. air and naval forces. [ [http://www.bataanmarch.com/History.htm History.] bataanmarch.com. Retrieved July 28, 2007.]
Private (Pvt.) Ralph Rodriguez, age 25, of the 200th Coast Artillery Battalion was a Bataan Death March survivor. According to Rodriguez, the Japanese ordered the American soldiers to begin marching. Soldiers who faltered during the march were prodded with bayonets, while those unable to continue were killed. He remembered a sense of brotherhood among the Hispanic soldiers who would march together in groups, and assisted each other along the way. When the soldiers reached their detention center, they were forced into a 30-by-100 foot fenced area. Later, the soldiers were forced into boxcars. One hundred soldiers were crammed into a car that was built to hold 40 or 50 men. The train took the soldiers on a four-hour ride to Camp O’Donnell where Pvt. Rodriguez became a prisoner of war. [ [http://utopia.utexas.edu/explore/latino/narratives/06Rodriguez_Ralph.html Ralph Rodriguez was a witness to history in the Pacific; he survived Bataan’s brutality to rebuild his life] By Sara Kunz, Retrieved
August 20, 2007.]
Corporal Agapito E. "Gap" Silva (1919–2007), was another member of the 200th Coast Artillery Battalion who survived the Bataan Death March. He was held at
Cabanatuanprison camp in the Philippines, assigned to the “burial details” when hundreds of prisoners were dying each month of disease and starvation. He was later transported to Fukuoka POW Camp #17, a Japanese prison camp near Omuta, Japan and forced to work as a slave laborer in a coal plant. Silva narrated the following about his experiences as a prisoner of war:Vorenberg, Sue. [http://www.abqtrib.com/news/2007/jun/19/albuquerque-wwii-veteran-and-bataan-death-march-su/ Remembrance: Albuquerque WWII veteran Agapito Silva was Bataan Death March survivor.] "The Albuquerque Tribune" June 19, 2007. Retrieved July 25, 2007.]
"The POWs (
prisoner of war) faced constant danger working in the coal mines. It was so unbearable, Silva said, that many of the men would resort to self-inflicted injuries such as breaking their arms and legs to avoid working 10 to 12 hour days." [Peralta, Helen. [http://utopia.utexas.edu/explore/latino/narratives/06Silva_Agapito.html I never gave up hope.] Utopia: U.S. Latinos and Latinas & WWII Oral History Project, University of Texas. Retrieved July 25, 2007.]
He and more than 1,900 American POWs were forced to work in coal mine camps encircled by electrical fences. Silva would spend 3 1/2 years in the Japanese POW camps before the war ended in September 1945. He was the recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart Medal.
158th Regimental Combat Team
The 158th Regimental Combat Team, an
Arizona National Guardunit of mostly Hispanic soldiers, also fought in the Pacific Theatre. Early in the war, the 158th—nicknamed the " Bushmasters"—had been deployed to protect the Panama Canal and had completed jungle training. The unit later fought the Japanese in the New Guineaarea in heavy combat and was involved in the liberation of the Philippine Islands. General MacArthur referred to them as "the greatest fighting combat team ever deployed for battle." [ [http://www.ilga.gov/house/journals/95/2007/HJ095037R.pdf House Journals] (PDF). State of Illinois. April 18, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-08-04.] The 158th was selected to spearhead the invasion of Japan and was sent to attack the island of Tanega Shima to silence Japanese air warning stations. The planned invasion of Japan was never realized; after Japan's surrender, the unit was sent on October 13, 1945to Yokohama, Japanas part of the United States Army of occupation. [ [http://azvetmemorial.com/bushmasters.htm The 158th Regimental Combat Team (Bushmasters).] Arizona Veterans Memorial, Inc. Retrieved on 2007-08-04.]
Guarding the Atomic Bomb
In 1945, when Kwajalein of the
Marshall Islandswas secured by the U.S. forces, Sergeant Fernando Bernacett from Puerto Rico was among the Marines who were sent to guard various essential military installations. Bernacett, a combat veteran of the Battle of Midwayguarded the airport and prisoners of war, as well as the atomic bombas it made its way for Japan. [ [http://www.lib.utexas.edu/ww2latinos/template-stories-indiv.html?work_urn=urn%3Autlol%3Awwlatin.328&work_title=Bernacett%2C+Fernando Latinos and Latinas in WW II-Fernando Bernacett By Jenny White] ]
PFC Guy Gabaldon
Among the Hispanics who distinguished themselves in the Pacific Theatre was
Private First Class Guy Gabaldon, a young Marine who single-handedly persuaded over 1,000 enemy civilians and troops to surrender.PFC Guy Gabaldon (1926–2006) was adopted at the age of 12 by parents of Japanese-Americanheritage. At the outbreak of World War II, his adoptive family was placed in a relocation camp. Gabaldon joined the Marines when he was only 17 years old; he was a Private First Class (PFC) when his unit was engaged in the Battle of Saipanin 1944. Gabaldon, who acted as the Japanese interpreter for the Second Marines, working alone in front of the lines, entered enemy caves, pillboxes, buildings, and jungle brush, frequently in the face of hostile fire, and succeeded in not only obtaining vital military information, but in convincing well over 1,000 enemy civilians and troops to surrender. He was nominated for the Medal of Honor, but was awarded the Silver Star instead. His medal was later upgraded to the Navy Cross, the Marines second-highest decoration for heroism. He turned in more enemy soldiers then Sergeant Alvin York, who was awarded the Medal of Honor during World War Ifor having captured 132 enemy German soldiers. [ [http://www.cmohs.org/medal/history_links/a_york.htm Alvin C. York Citation.] Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Retrieved June 28, 2007.] Gabaldon’s actions on Saipanwere later memorialized in the film " Hell to Eternity", in which he was portrayed by actor Jeffrey Hunter. [ [http://video.barnesandnoble.com/search/product.asp?EAN=85391142119 Hell to Eternity: Synopsis.] Barnes & Noble. Retrieved June 28, 2007.]
Hispanics served in ground and seabound combat units, but they also distinguished themselves as
fighter pilots and as bombardiers. A “ flying ace” or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat. The term “ace in a day” is used to designate a fighter pilot who has shot down five or more enemy aircraft in a single day. [ [http://www.78thfightergroup.com/history/78thFGAces.html Aces of the 78th.] 78thfightergroup.com. Retrieved on June 27, 2007.] Since World War I, a number of pilots have been honored as “Ace in a Day”; however, the honor of being the last “Ace in a Day” for the United States in World War II belongs to First Lieutenant Oscar Francis Perdomoof the 464th Fighter Squadron, 507th Fighter Group. [http://www.cavanaughflightmuseum.com/Perdomo.htm 1st. Lt. Oscar Perdomo.] Cavanaugh Flight Museum. Retrieved August 5, 2007.]
First Lieutenant Perdomo, (1919–1976), the son of
Mexicanparents, was born in El Paso, Texas. When the war broke out, Perdomo joined the United States Army Air Force(USAAF) as an aviation cadet and was trained to pilot the P-47 Thunderbolt. After receiving his pilot training, he was assigned to the 464th Fighter Squadron, which was part of the 507th Fighter Group that was sent to the Pacific Island of Ie Shimaoff the west coast of Okinawa.
atomic bombwas dropped on Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945, but while the Allies awaited Japan’s response to the demand to surrender, the war continued. On August 13, 1945, 1st Lt. Perdomo shot down four Nakajima Ki-43 "Oscar" fighters and one Yokosuka K5Y “Willow” Type 93 biplane trainer. This action took place near Keijo/Seoul, Korea when 38 Thunderbolts of the 507th Fighter Wing encountered approximately 50 enemy aircraft. This action was Lt. Perdomo's tenth and final combat mission, and the five confirmed victories made him an “Ace in a Day” and earned him the distinction of being the last “Ace” of World War II. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in action and the Air Medalwith one oak leaf cluster.
Other Hispanics served with distinction in aerial combat including Lieutenant Colonel
Donald S. Lopez, Sr., Captain Michael Brezas, Commander Eugene A. Valencia, Jr., Captain Mihiel "Mike" Gilormini, Captain Robert L. Cardenas, First Lieutenant Francisco Mercado, Jr, Technical SergeantClement Resto and Corporal Frank Medina.
Eugene A. Valencia, Jr., United States Navy(USN) fighter ace, is credited with 23 air victories in the Pacific during World War II. Valencia's decorations include the Navy Cross, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, and six Air Medals. [Grant, Rebecca. [http://www.afa.org/magazine/jan2007/0107hellcat.asp Cat Against the Sun.] Air Force Magazine Online, January 2007 , Vol. 90, No. 1. Retrieved August 5, 2007.]
Donald S. Lopez, Sr., USAAF fighter ace was assigned to the 23rd Fighter Group under the command of General Claire Chennault. The mission of the fighter group (the " Flying Tigers") was to help defend Chinese nationals against Japanese invaders. During 1943–1944, Lopez was credited with shooting down five Japanese fighters, four in a Crutiss P-40and one in a North American P-51. [Correll, John T. [http://www.afa.org/magazine/March2004/0304hangar.asp The Nation’s Hangar.] Air Force Magazine Online March 2004, Vol. 87, No. 3. Retrieved on August 4, 2007.]
*Captain Michael Brezas, USAAF fighter ace, arrived in Lucera, Italy during the summer of 1944, joining the 48th Fighter Squadron of the 14th Fighter Group. Flying the
P-38aircraft, Lt. Brezas downed 12 enemy planes within two months. He received the Silver Star Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Air Medal with eleven oak leaf clusters. [ [http://www.neta.com/~1stbooks/def1c.htm Captain Micheal Brezas.] Hispanics in the Defense of the United States of America. Retrieved on June 27, 2007.]
*Captain Mihiel "Mike" Gilormini,
Royal Air Forceand USAAF, was a flight commander whose last combat mission was attacking the airfield at Milano, Italy. His last flight in Italy gave air cover for General George C. Marshall's visit to Pisa. Gilormini was the recipient of the Silver Star Medal, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, and the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters. Gilormini later founded the Puerto Rico Air National Guardand retired as Brigadier General. [cite web|accessdate=2007-06-27 |url=http://www.worldwar2pilots.com/earlspage.html |title=Memories of a Jug Driver
*Captain Robert L. Cardenas, USAAF, served as a B-24 aircraft pilot in the European Theater of Operations with the 506th Bombardment Squadron. He was awarded the Air Medal and two oak leaf clusters for bombing missions before being shot down over Germany in March 1944. Despite head wounds from flak, he made his way back to Allied control. On
October 14, 1947, Cardenas flew the B-29 launch aircraft that released the X-1 experimental rocket plane in which Charles E. Yeagerbecame the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound. Cardenas retired as Brigadier General. [ [http://www.af.mil/bios/bio.asp?bioID=4917 Brigadier General Robert L. Cardenas Biography.] United States Air Force. September 1, 1971. Retrieved August 4, 2007.]
Francisco Mercado, Jr.,USAAF, flew 35 combat missions as a Bombardier over enemy occupied Continental Europe as a member of the 853rd Bomb Squadron, 491st Bomb Group, 8th Air Force. He was awarded the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Cluster and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He flew ten missions as the Squadron Lead Bombardier, and one as the Group Lead Bombardier on December 30, 1944 on a mission to the Railroad Bridge at Altenahr, Germany. On July 21, 1944, he earned a membership into the exclusive “ Caterpillar Club” after he parachuted over England while returning from a mission with a crippled B-24. [Rigg, William, and Blue, Allan et al: "The Ringmasters, History of the 491st Bombardment Group", page 49. Taylor Publishing Company, 1992]
*Technical Sergeant Clement Resto, USAAF, was not an “ace” but served with the 303rd Bomb Group and participated in numerous bombing raids over Germany. During a bombing mission over Duren, Germany, Resto's plane, a B-17, was shot down. He was captured by the
Gestapoand sent to Stalag XVII-B where he spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war. Resto, who lost an eye during his last mission, was awarded a Purple Heart, a POW Medal and an Air Medal with one battle star after he was liberated from captivity. [cite web|accessdate=2007-06-27 |url= http://web.archive.org/web/20070325205205/http://www.valerosos.com/2.htm |title= T/SGT. Clement Resto |publisher=valerosos.com] [ [http://www.303rdbg.com/358hartigan.html William R. Hartigan Crew.] Bell's Angels: 303rd Bomb Group. Retrieved August 8, 2007]
*Corporal Frank Medina, USAAF, was an air crew member on a B-24 that was shot down over Italy. He was the only crewmember to evade capture. Medina explained that his ability to speak Spanish had allowed him to communicate with friendly Italians who helped him avoid capture for eight months behind enemy lines. [cite press release | url = http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=25295 | publisher = U.S. Department of Defense | title = Pentagon Hosts Salute to Hispanic World War II Veterans | author = Rhem, Kathleen | date =
September 15 2004| accessdate = 2007-08-04]
Prior to World War II, traditional Hispanic cultural values expected women to be homemakers, thus they rarely left the home to earn an income. As such, women were discouraged from joining the military. Only a small number of Hispanic women joined the military before World War II. However, with the outbreak of World War II, cultural prohibitions began to change. With the creation of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), predecessor of the
Women's Army Corps(WAC), and the U.S. Navy Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service(WAVES), women could attend to certain administrative duties left open by the men who were reassigned to combat zones.McIntyre, Hannah. [http://utopia.utexas.edu/explore/latino/narratives/02WOMEN_WORKERS.HTML Women fill the gaps in the Workforce] . Utopia: U.S. Latinos and Latinas & WWII Oral History Project, University of Texas. Retrieved July 12, 2007.] While most women who served in the military joined the WAACs, a smaller number of women served in the Naval Women’s Reserve (the WAVES).
In 1944, the Army recruited women in Puerto Rico for the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). Over 1,000 applications were received for the unit, which was to be composed of only 200 women. After their basic training at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, the Puerto Rican WAC unit was assigned to the Port of Embarkation of
New York Cityto work in military offices that planned the shipment of troops around the world; however, not all of the WAAC units were stationed in the mainland USA. In January 1943, the 149th WAAC Post Headquarters Company became the first WAAC unit to go overseas when they went to North Africa. Serving overseas was dangerous for women; if captured, WAACs, as "auxiliaries" serving with the Army rather than in it, did not have the same protections under international lawas male soldiers. [Treadwell, Mattie E. (1991) [http://www.army.mil/Cmh-Pg/books/wwii/Wac/ch20.htm United States Army in World War II: Special Studies. The Women's Army Corps: The North African and Mediterranean Theaters.] Center of Military History, United States Army. Retrieved June 20, 2007.]
One of the members of the 149th WAAC Post Headquarters Company was Tech4
Carmen Contreras-Bozak, who served in Algierswithin General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s theatre headquarters. Contreras joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) in 1942 and was sent to Fort Lee, Virginiafor training. Contreras volunteered to be part of the 149th WAAC Post Headquarters Company, thus becoming the first Hispanic to serve as an interpreter and in numerous administrative positions. The unit was the first WAAC unit to go overseas, setting sail from New York Harbor for Europe on January 1943.
Contreras' unit arrived in Northern Africa on
January 27, 1943and rendered overseas duties in Algierswithin General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s theatre headquarters, dealing with nightly German air raids. Contreras remembers that the women who served abroad were not treated like the regular Army servicemen. They did not receive overseas payment nor could they receive government life insurance. They had no protection if they became ill, wounded or captured. She served until 1945 and earned the European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medalwith 2 Battle Stars, World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, Women's Army Corps Service Medaland the Army Good Conduct Medal. [ [http://www.neta.com/~1stbooks/unit1.htm Introduction: World War II (1941–1945).] Hispanics in the Defense of America. Retrieved June 20, 2007]
Other Hispanic servicewomen like Contreras served either in the WAACs, WAVES or MCWR (Marine Corps Women’s Reserve); among them
Lieutenant Junior GradeMaria Rodriguez-Denton. The Navy assigned Rodriguez-Denton as a library assistant at the Cable and Censorship Office in New York City. It was Rodriguez-Denton who forwarded the news (through channels) to President Harry S. Trumanthat the war had ended.Bellafaire, Judith. [http://www.womensmemorial.org/Education/PRHistory.html Puerto Rican Servicewomen in Defense of the Nation.] Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation, Inc. Retrieved June 20, 2007]
When the United States entered World War II, the military was in need of nurses. Hispanic female nurses wanted to volunteer for service, however they were not accepted into the Army or
Navy Nurse Corps. As a result, many women went to work in the factories which produced military equipment. As more Hispanic men joined the armed forces, a need for bilingual nurses became apparent and the Army started to recruit Hispanic nurses. In 1944, the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) decided to accept Puerto Rican nurses. Thirteen women submitted applications, were interviewed, underwent physical examinations, and were accepted into the ANC. Eight of these nurses were assigned to the Army Post at San Juan, Puerto Ricowhere they were valued for their bilingual abilities. Five nurses were assigned to work at the hospital at Camp Tortuguero in Puerto Rico. One of these nurses was Second Lieutenant Carmen Lozano Dumler. Second Lieutenant Carmen Lozano Dumler was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she also received her primary and secondary education. After graduating from high school, she enrolled in the Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing in San Juan where she became a certified nurse in 1944. In August 21, 1944, she was sworn in as a 2nd Lieutenant and assigned to the 161st General Hospital in San Juan, where she received further training. Upon completing her advanced training, she was sent to Camp Tortugero where she also assisted as an interpreter.
In 1945, Lozano was reassigned to the 359th Station Hospital of Ft. Read,
Trinidadand Tobago, British West Indies, where she attended wounded soldiers who had returned from Normandy, France. After the war, Lozano, like so many other women in the military, returned to civilian life. She continued her nursing career in Puerto Rico until she retired in 1975. Another Hispanic nurse who distinguished herself in service was Lieutenant Maria Roach. Roach, a recipient of two Bronze Star Medals and an Air Medal, served as a flight nurse with the Army Nurse Corps in the China-Burma-India Theaterof Operations.
Most of the Hispanics serving as senior military officers during World War II were graduates of the
United States Naval Academy. The three highest ranking Hispanic officers who played an instrumental role in the war were Major General(later Lieutenant General) Pedro Augusto del Valle—the first Hispanic to reach the rank of General in the Marine Corps—, Brigadier General(later Lieutenant General) Elwood R. “Pete” Quesada of the Army Air Forces and Army Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen.
Major General del Valle Lieutenant General Pedro Augusto del Valle (1893–1978), as a Colonel was the Commanding Officer of the 11th Marine Regiment (artillery). Upon the outbreak of World War II, del Valle led his regiment during the seizure and defense of
Guadalcanal, providing artillery support for the 1st Marine Division. In the Battle of the Tenaru, the fire power provided by del Valle's artillery units killed many assaulting Japanese soldiers—almost to the last man—before they reached the Marine positions. As a result of the outcome of the battle Japanese commander, Colonel Ichiki Kiyonao, committed seppukushortly afterwards. General Alexander Vandegrift, impressed with del Valle's leadership, recommended his promotion and on October 1, 1942, del Valle became a Brigadier General. Vandegrift retained del Valle as head of the 11th Marines, the only time that the 11th Marines has ever had a general as their commanding officer. In 1943, he served as Commander of Marine Forces overseeing Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and the Russell and Florida Islands.Alexander, Joseph H. [http://www.nps.gov/wapa/indepth/extContent/usmc/pcn-190-003135-00/sec2.htm#senior The Final Campaign: Marines in the Victory on Okinawa. The Senior Marine Commanders.] U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Retrieved July 27, 2007.]
April 1, 1944, del Valle, as Commanding General of the Third Corps Artillery, III Marine Amphibious Corps, took part in the Battle of Guam and was awarded a Gold Starin lieu of a second Legion of Merit. The men under his command did such a good job with their heavy artillery that no one man could be singled out for commendation. Instead each man was given a letter of commendation by del Valle, which was carried in his record books.
In late October 1944, del Valle succeeded Major General
William Rupertusas Commanding General of the 1st Marine Division, being personally greeted to his new command by Colonel Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller. At the time, the 1st Marine Division was training on the island of Pavuvufor the invasion of Okinawa. On May 29, 1945, del Valle participated in one of the most important events that led to victory in Okinawa. After five weeks of fighting, del Valle ordered Company A of the 1st Battalion 5th Marinesto capture Shuri Castle, a medieval fortress of the ancient Ryukyuan kings. Seizure of Shuri Castle represented a morale blow for the Japanese and was a milestone in the Okinawa campaign. The fighting in Okinawa would continue for 24 more days. Del Valle was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership during the battle and the subsequent occupation and reorganization of Okinawa.
Brigadier General Quesada Lieutenant General Elwood R. “Pete” Quesada, (1904–1993) was assigned as a Brigadier General in October 1940 to intelligence in the Office of the Chief of Air Corps. He became commanding general of the 9th Fighter Command where he established advanced headquarters on the Normandy beachhead on
D-Dayplus one, and directed his planes in aerial cover and air support for the Allied invasion of the European continent. He was the foremost proponent of "the inherent flexibility of air power", a principle he helped prove during World War II. [http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/erquesada.htm Elwood Richard Quesada: Lieutenant General, United States Air Force.] Arlington National Cemetery. Retrieved July 10 2007.] In December 1942, Quesada took the First Air Defense Wing to North Africa. Shortly thereafter, he was given command of the XII Fighter Command and in this capacity would work out the mechanics of close air supportand Army-Air Force cooperation. The successful integration of air and land forces in the Tunisia campaignforged by Quesada and the Allied leaders became a blueprint for operations incorporated into Army Air Forces field regulations—FM 100-20, "Command and Employment of Air Power," first published on July 21, 1943—and provided the Allies with their first victory in the European war. Principles such as the co-equality of ground and air force commanders, centralized command of tactical aircraft to exploit "the inherent flexibility of air power," and the attainment of air superiority over the battlefield as a prerequisite for successful ground operations formed the core of tactical air doctrine. In October 1943, Quesada assumed command of the IX Fighter Command in England, and his forces provided air cover for the landings on Normandy Beach. Among Quesada’s many military decorations were the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster; Distinguished Flying Cross; Purple Heart and an Air Medal with two Silver Stars.
Major General Terry de la Mesa AllenMajor General
Terry de la Mesa Allen, Sr.(1888-1969) was the son of Colonel Samuel Edward Allen and Conchita Alvarez de la Mesa. During World War II he was the commanding general of the First Infantry Divisionin North Africa and Sicily, and was made commander of the 104th Infantry Division. While in North Africa Allen and his deputy 1st Division Commander, Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr.distinguished themselves as combat leaders. Allen was re-assigned to the 104th Infantry Division. The 104th Infantry Division landed in Franceon September 7, 1944and fought for 195 consecutive days during World War II. The division's nickname came from its timberwolf shoulder insignia. Some 34,000 men served with the division under Allen who came to be nicknamed "Terrible Terry". The division was particularly renowned for its night fighting prowess. [ [http://www.104infdiv.org/timemag.htm Time Magazine August 1943] , Retrieved April 10, 2008]
A number of Hispanics served in senior leadership positions during World War II, including Admiral
Horacio Rivero, Jr.(USN), Rear Admiral Jose M. Cabanillas(USN), Rear Admiral Edmund Ernest Garcia (USN), Rear Admiral Frederick Lois Riefkohl(USN), Rear Admiral Henry G. Sanchez (USN), Colonel Louis Gonzaga Mendez, Jr.(USA), Colonel Virgil R. Miller(USA), ColonelJaime Sabater (USMC), Lieutenant ColonelVictor A. Barraco (USMC) and Lieutenant Colonel Chester J. Salazar (USMC).
Horacio Rivero, Jr., USN, served aboard the USS "San Juan", providing artillery cover for Marines landing on Guadalcanal, Marshall Islands, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. Rivero eventually reached the rank of Full-Admiral (four-stars) and in October 1962, found himself in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis. As Commander of amphibious forces, Atlantic Fleet, he was on the front line of the vessels sent to the Caribbean by President Kennedy to stop the Cold Warfrom escalating into World War III. [cite web|url=http://www.navytimes.com/story.php?f=0-NAVYPAPER-2180565.php
January 21, 2004
title=Damn the Torpedoes! Former VCNO excelled in combat, technical roles
author=Dorr, Robert F.
January 26 2004
Edmund Ernest Garcia, USN, was the commander of the destroyerUSS "Sloat" and saw action in the invasions of Africa, Sicily, and France. [ [http://www.ansomil.org/home/YesterYearsHeroes.html Hispanic Heroes and Leaders From the Yester Years.] Association of Naval Services Officers. February 27, 2007. Retrieved August 8, 2007.]
*Rear Admiral Jose M. Cabanillas, USN, was an
Executive Officerof the USS "Texas", which participated in the invasions of North Africa and Normandy (D-Day) during World War II. In 1945, he became the first Commanding officer of the USS Grundy (APA-111). [ [http://www.mlrsinc.com/newsletters/Griggs_Grundy/GGNL1201.pdf Griggs-Grundy News] (PDF). Military Locator & Reunion Service, Inc. Volume 2, Issue 4, December 2001. Retrieved August 8, 2007]
*Rear Admiral Frederick Lois Riefkohl, USN, was a World War I Navy Cross recipient who served as Captain of the USS "Vincennes" during World War II. The "Vincennes" was engaged in combat against a fleet of Japanese ships just off Guadalcanal and received 85 direct hits. Riefkohl ordered his men to abandon ship. The sailors manned the life rafts; among them was Ensign C. Kenneth Ruiz, who later become a submarine commander. [cite web|accessdate=2007-04-13
title=August 5th, 1942–August 8th, 1942
publisher=World War II Plus 55
author= Lippman, David H]
*Rear Admiral Henry G. Sanchez, USN, commanded (as a Lieutenant Commander) VF-72, an F4F squadron of 37 aircraft, onboard the USS "Hornet" from July to October 1942. His squadron was responsible for shooting down 38 Japanese airplanes during his command tour, which included the
Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. [cite web |accessdate=2007-04-15 |url=http://www.navweaps.com/index_oob/OOB_WWII_Pacific/OOB_WWII_Santa-Cruz.htm
title=Order of Battle: Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, 26 October 1942
work=World War II – Battles Of The Pacific
author=Richard Worth, David Williams, Richard Leonard and Mark Horan
*Colonel Louis Gonzaga Mendez, Jr., USA, was dropped behind German lines as a parachute infantry battalion commander in the Army's elite 82nd Airborne "All American" Division. For leading the attack that captured the town of Pretot, France, Colonel Mendez was awarded the Army's Distinguished Service Cross. He was also the recipient of 3 Bronze Star Medals. [ [http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/lgmendez.htm Arlington National Cemetery] , Retrieved August 18, 2007]
*Colonel Virgil R. Miller, USA, native of
San German, Puerto Rico, was the Regimental Commander of the 442d Regimental Combat Team, a unit which was composed of "Nisei" (second generation Americans of Japanese descent), during World War II. He led the 442nd in its rescue of the Lost Texas Battalion of the 36th Infantry Division, in the forests of the Vosges Mountains in northeastern France. [http://digital-library.usma.edu/libmedia/archives/assembly/vol28no2.pdf Collection of the U.S. Military Academy Library, Pages 132-133; Publication: Assembly; Summer 1969] ] [http://www.army.mil/cmh/topics/apam/Patriots%20Under%20Fire.htm PATRIOTS UNDER FIRE: JAPANESE AMERICANS IN WORLD WAR II] ]
*Colonel Jaime Sabater, USMC, commanded the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines during the Bougainville amphibious operations of WWII. [cite web |author = Rentz, John M. |url=http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/USMC-M-NSols/USMC-M-NSol-X.html|title=Bougainville and the Northern Solomons | publisher = Historical Branch, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps|accessdate=2007-04-30]
*Lieutenant Colonel Victor A. Barraco, USMC, Commanding Officer of the 1st Provisional Base Headquarters Battalion. [ [http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/USMC-M-Guam/USMC-M-Guam-IV.htmlCommand and Staff List of Major Units] ]
*Lieutenant Colonel Chester J. Salazar, USMC, Salazar was the Commanding Officer of the 2d Battalion, 18th Marines. Salazar served as commanding officer the unit in the Gilbert Islands which fought in the Battle of Tarawa and later in the Battles of Saipan and Tinian. [http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/III/USMC-III-G.html APPENDIX G Marine Task Organization and Command] ]
Marion Frederic Ramirez de Arellano, (1913–1980) USN, the first Hispanic submarine commanding officer, ["The Submarine Forces Diversity Trailblazer - Capt. Marion Frederick Ramirez de Arellano"; Summer 2007 Undersea Warfare magazine; pg.31] participated in five war patrols. He led the effort to rescue five Navy pilots and one enlisted gunner off Wake Island, and contributed to the sinking of two Japanese freighters and damaging a third. For his actions, he was awarded a Silver StarMedal and a Legion of MeritMedal. [http://www.ansomil.org/home/USNAofficers.html USNA graduates of Hispanic descent for the Class of 1879 - 1959: Class of 1960 - Present (Flag Rank).] Association of Naval Services Officers. Retrieved July 27, 2007.]
After a brief stint at the
Mare Island Naval Shipyard, he was reassigned to the USS "Skate", a "Balao"-class submarine. He participated in the "Skate"s first three war patrols and was awarded a second Silver Star Medal for his contribution in sinking the Japanese light cruiser "Agano" on his third patrol. The Agano had survived a previous torpedo attack by submarine USS "Scamp".
In April 1944, Ramirez de Arellano was named
Commanding Officerof the USS "Balao". He participated in his ship's war patrols 5, 6 and 7. On July 5, 1944, Ramirez de Arellano led the rescue of three downed Navy pilots in the Palau area. On December 4, 1944, the "Balao" departed from Pearl Harbor to patrol in the Yellow Sea. The "Balao" engaged and sunk the Japanese cargo ship "Daigo Maru" on January 8, 1945. Ramirez de Arellano was awarded a Bronze Star Medal with Combat V and a Letter of Commendation.
Among the Hispanic submarine commanders were Rear Admiral Rafael Celestino Benitez and Captain C. Kenneth Ruiz.
Rafael Celestino Benitez, USN, was a Lieutenant Commander who saw action aboard submarines and on various occasions weathered depth chargeattacks. For his actions, he was awarded the Silver and Bronze Star Medals. Benitez would go on to play an important role in the first American undersea spy mission of the Cold Waras commander of the submarine USS "Cochino" in what became known as the "Cochino Incident".cite book
title=Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage
coauthors=Christopher Drew, with Annette Lawrence Drew
id=ISBN 006097771X Retrieved
July 27, 2007.]
Captain C. Kenneth Ruiz, USN, was a crew member of the cruiser USS "Vincennes" (CA-44), during the
Battle of Savo Island. After being rescued at sea and sent to Pearl Harbor, he was invited by Admiral Chester Nimitzto join the Submarine Service. He served with distinction aboard the submarine USS "Pollack" and participated in eight war patrols in the hostile waters of the Pacific during WWII. [cite web |url=http://www.motorbooks.com/Store/ProductDetails_17019.ncm|title=The Luck of the Draw |author = Ruiz, Kenneth C | publisher = motorbooks.com | accessdate=2007-04-30]
Recipients of the Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor, sometimes referred to as the Congressional Medal of Honor, is the highest military decoration in the United States bestowed "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty, in actual combat against an armed enemy force." The medal is awarded by the President of the United States on behalf of the Congress. Joe P. Martinezwas the first of 13 Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients during World War II. His posthumous award was the first for combat heroism on American soil (other than Pearl Harbor) since the Indian Campaigns. [ [http://www.cmohs.org/medal/medal_history.htm The Medal's History.] Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Retrieved July 27, 2007.]
Joe P. Martinez, whose birth name was Joseph Pantillion Martinez, was one of nine children born to a family of Mexican immigrants. His family moved to Ault, Coloradoand on August 1942, he was drafted into the United States Army and sent to Camp Roberts, California, where he received his basic training.
May 26, 1943, the 32nd Infantry Regiment was pinned down by enemy fire in the vicinity of Fish Hook Ridge, in the Aleutian Islands. On his own account, Pvt. Martinez led two assaults, firing into the Japanese foxholes and occasionally stopping to urge on his comrades. His example inspired the men of his unit to follow. Martinez was shot in the head as he approached one final foxhole after the second assault, dying of the wound the following day. Because of his actions the pass was taken, and its capture was an important preliminary to the end of organized hostile resistance. Martinez was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. [ [http://www.neta.com/~1stbooks/defen11c.htm Aleutian Islands World War II.] Hispanics in Americas Defense. Retrieved July 27, 2007.]
Of the 13 Medals of Honor awarded to Hispanics, six were awarded posthumously. Texas accounted for the most Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients in World War II with a total of five (Marcario Garcia was raised in Sugar Land,
Texas). The 13 recipients are:
Lucian Adams: United States Army. Born in Port Arthur, Texas. Place and Date of Action: St. Die, France, October 1944. [ [http://www.army.mil/CMH/topics/hisp/Hisp-MOH.htm Hispanic Medal of Honor Recipients.] U.S. Army Center of Military History. 3 October 2003. Retrieved on 2007-08-05.]
Rudolph B. Davila: United States Army. Born in El Paso, Texas. Place and Date of Action: Artena, Italy, 28 May, 1944. Davila was of Hispanic-Filipino descent and the only person of Filipino ancestry to receive the medal for his actions in the war in Europe. [cite press release | url= http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jun2000/n06282000_20006282.html | title = 22 Asian Americans Inducted into Hall of Heroes | author = Williams, Rudi | publisher = American Forces Press Service | date = June 28, 2000| accessdate = 2007-08-04]
Marcario Garcia: United States Army. Born in Villa de Castano, Mexico. Place and Date of Action: Near Grosshau, Germany, November 27, 1944. Garcia was the first Mexicannational Medal of Honor recipient. [http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/html/moh/wwII-g-l.html Medal of Honor Recipients: World War II (G-L).] U.S. Army Center of Military History. 16 July 2007. Retrieved on 2007-08-05.]
Harold Gonsalves*: United States Marine Corps. Born in Alameda, California. Place and Date of Action: Ryūkyū Chain, Okinawa, April 15, 1945.
David M. Gonzales*: United States Army. Born in Pacoima, California. Place and Date of Action: Villa Verde Trail, Luzon, Philippine Islands, April 25, 1945.
Silvestre S. Herrera: United States Army. Born in Camargo, Chihuahua, Mexico. Place and Date of Action: Near Mertzwiller, France, March 15, 1945. Herrera is the only living person authorized to wear the Medal of Honor and Mexico's equivalent "Premier Merito Militar" (Order of Military Merit), Mexico's highest award for valor. Herrera was a Mexican citizen by birth. [ [http://www.homeofheroes.com/profiles/profiles_herrera.html Silvestre S. Herrera.] Home of Heroes. Retrieved August 8, 2007.]
Jose M. Lopez: United States Army. Born in Mission, Texas. Place and Date of Action: Near Krinkelt, Belgium, December 17, 1944.
Joe P. Martinez*: United States Army. Born in Taos, New Mexico. Place and Date of Action: Attu, Aleutians, May 26, 1943. Martinez was the first Hispanic American posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for combat heroism on American soil during World War II. [http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/html/moh/wwII-m-s.html Medal of Honor Recipients: World War II (M-S).] U.S. Army Center of Military History. July 16, 2007. Retrieved August 8, 2007.]
Manuel Perez Jr.*: United States Army. Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Place and Date of Action: Fort William McKinley, Luzon, Philippine Islands, February 13, 1945.
Cleto L. Rodriguez: United States Army. Born in San Marcos, Texas. Place and Date of Action: Paco Railroad Station, Manila, Philippine Islands, February 9, 1945.
Alejandro R. Ruiz: United States Army. Born in Loving, New Mexico. Place and Date of Action: Okinawa, Japan, April 28, 1945.
Jose F. Valdez*: United States Army. Born in Governador, New Mexico. Place and Date of Action: Rosenkrantz, France, January 25, 1945. [http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/html/moh/wwII-t-z.html Medal of Honor Recipients: World War II (T-Z).] U.S. Army Center of Military History. July 16, 2007. Retrieved August 8, 2007.]
Ysmael R. Villegas*: United States Army. Born in Casa Blanca, California. Born in Casa Blanca, California. Place and Date of Action: Villa Verde Trail, Luzon, Philippine Islands, March 20, 1945. *Awarded posthumously.
Top military decorations
Hispanics were recipients of every major U.S. military decoration during World War II; they have also been honored with military awards from other countries. Thirty-one Hispanic-Americans were awarded the Belgium Croix de Guerre and three Hispanic-Americans received the
French Croix de Guerre. The figures in the following table were derived from the book "Undaunted Courage Mexican American Patriots Of World War II" published in 2005 by Latino Advocates for Education, Inc. and according to Rogelio C. Rodriguez of the LAE, the figures are based on listings of military service personnel that have been complied from military records, historical documentation, or personal accounts.
Hero Street, USA
In the mid-West town of Silvis,
Illinois, the former Second Street is now known as Hero Street USA. The muddy block and a half long street was home to Mexican immigrants who worked the railroads. The 22 families who lived on the street were a close-knit group. From this small street, 84 men served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The street contributed more men to military services in World War II and Korea than any other street of comparable size in the U.S. In total, eight men from Hero Street gave their lives during World War II—Joseph Gomez, Peter Macias, Johnny Muños, Tony Pompa, Frank Sandoval, Joseph “Joe” Sandoval, William “Bill” Sandoval and Claro Soliz. Second Street's name was changed to Hero Street in honor of these men and their families. [ [http://www.neta.com/~1stbooks/hero.htm Hispanics in Americas Defense: Hero Street U.S.A.] The Hero Street Monument Committee. Retrieved July 27, 2007.]
Of the 22 families on Second Street, the two Sandoval families had a total of thirteen men who served in the armed forces. Three died in service during World War II. The Sandovals were two families of Mexican immigrants, with the same surname, who settled in the town of Silvis, Illinois and lived on Second Street. [http://www.msc.navy.mil/sealift/2004/September/perspective.htm Sealift Honoring Hispanic Heroes] . U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command. September 2004. Retrieved
July 27, 2007]
Edubigis and Angelina Sandoval immigrated to the U.S. from
Mexico. When the news reached Silvis that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor, two of the Sandoval sons, Joe and Frank, joined the U.S. Army. Joe was sent to combat in Africa, the Middle East and Europe with the 41st Armored Infantry Division. Frank was assigned to the 209 Combat Engineering Battalion and served in the Pacific. Frank was the first of the Sandovals to die and Joe followed a year later.
Joseph and Carmen Sandoval also immigrated to the United States from Mexico. When the war broke out, their son Bill asked for permission to enlist in the Army and both parents consented to their son's request. Bill Sandoval was trained as a paratrooper and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. He was killed during a combat mission on
October 6, 1944.
Other families like the Sandovals had multiple members join the Armed Forces. The Banuelo family, originally from Mexico and who resided in Los Angeles,
California, the Garcia family from Los Angeles, California, and the Mora family from Laredo, Texas, each had six siblings who served in the military during the war. The Nevarez family, from Los Angeles, California, had a total of eight siblings serving in the Armed Forces."Undaunted Courage Mexican American Patriots Of World War II" (2005). Latino Advocates for Education, Inc.]
Some Hispanics in the entertainment business served in the
United Service Organizations(USO), which provided entertainment to help troop morale. One notable USO entertainer was Desi Arnaz, the Cuban bandleader who starred opposite Lucille Ballin the television show " I Love Lucy". When he was drafted into the Army in 1943, he was classified for limited service because of a prior knee injury. As a result, he was assigned to direct the U.S.O. programs at a military hospital in the San Fernando Valley, California, where he served until 1945. [ [http://www.biography.com/search/article.do?id=9542545 Desi Arnaz Biography (1917–1986).] Biography.com. Retrieved August 5, 2007.] [ [http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/contributor/1800032524/bio Desi Arnaz Biography.] Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved August 8, 2007.]
Hispanic Americans who lived in the mainland benefited from the sudden economic boom as a result of the war, and the doors opened for many of the migrants who were searching for jobs. [ [http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11314&page=17 Multiple Origins, Uncertain Destinies: Hispanics and the American Future (2006)] , Retrieved September 13, 2007] After the war, many Puerto Ricans migrated to the United States to find work. [ [http://palante.org/History.htm History ] ]
Hispanic women were discouraged from working outside the home prior to World War II, even more than other American women.Bellafaire, Judith. [http://www.womensmemorial.org/Education/HisHistory.html The Contributions of Hispanic Servicewomen.] Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation, Inc. Retrieved
July 10, 2007.] During World War II, the broad changes in the role of women caused by a need for labor on the home front affected the role of Hispanic women, who worked as secretaries and nurses, helped build airplanes, made ammunition in factories, and worked in shipyards. [Zukowski, Anna. [http://utopia.utexas.edu/explore/latino/narratives/08thomas_isabel.html Despite War’s bleakness, Isabel Solis-Thomas, remembers a time of maturing, camaraderie and loyalty to U.S. soldiers.] Utopia: U.S. Latinos and Latinas & WWII Oral History Project. Retrieved July 12, 2007.]
Isabel Solis-Thomas and Elvia Solis were born in
Veracruz, Mexico. The Solis family immigrated to the United States and moved to Brownsville, Texas. When World War II broke out, both sisters volunteered to become "Rosies", welding pipes and repairing cargo ships by the war’s end with women of all races from all over the country. Mrs. Solis-Thomas said recruiters wanted women who were small, short and thin for crawling into dangerous places in the ships. She said she worked nine-hour days, six days a week, striking and sealing steel rods with precision and purpose. [Zukowski, Anna. [http://utopia.utexas.edu/explore/latino/narratives/08thomas_isabel.html Despite War’s bleakness, Isabel Solis-Thomas, remembers a time of maturing, camaraderie and loyalty to U.S. soldiers.] Utopia: U.S. Latinos and Latinas & WWII Oral History Project. Retrieved July 12, 2007.]
Josephine Ledesma, from
Austin, Texas, was 24 when the war broke out and worked as an airplane mechanic from 1942 to 1944. When her husband, Alfred, was drafted she decided to volunteer to work as an airplane mechanic. Even though the Army waived her husband’s duty, she was sent to train at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, where she was the only Mexican-American woman on the base. After her training, she was sent to Bergstrom Air Field. There were two other women, both non-Hispanic, at Bergstrom Air Field, and several more in Big Spring, all working in the sheet metal department. At Big Spring, she was the only woman working in the hangar. She worked as a mechanic between from 1942 to 1944.Rivera, Monica. [http://utopia.utexas.edu/explore/latino/narratives/4ledesmajosephine.html A Women ahead of her Time.] Utopia: U.S. Latinos and Latinas & WWII Oral History Project. Retrieved July 12, 2007]
In the military
During World War II, the United States Army was segregated, [ [http://www.redstone.army.mil/history/integrate/CHRON3.html A CHRONOLOGY OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MILITARY SERVICE From WWI through WWII] , Retrieved Sept. 12, 2007] and Hispanics were categorized as white. [Rochin, Refugio I. and Lionel Fernandez. [http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=refugio_rochin U.S. Latino Patriots: From the American Revolution to Iraq 2003, An Overview] . Julian Samora Research Institute - Michigan State University e-book series (2005). Retrieved September 12, 2007.] [http://www.nationalww2museum.org/education/education_numbers.html World War II By The Numbers] , Retrieved August 22, 2007] Hispanics, including the Puerto Ricans who resided on the mainland, served alongside their "white" counterparts, while those who were "black" served in units mostly made up of African-Americans. The majority of the Puerto Ricans from the island served in Puerto Rico's segregated units, like the 65th Infantry and the Puerto Rico National Guard's 285th and 296th regiments.
Discrimination against Hispanics has been documented in several first-person accounts by Hispanic soldiers who fought in World War II. PFC Raul Rios Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican, said that one of his
drill instructors was particularly harsh on the Hispanic and black soldiers in his unit during his basic training at Fort Bragg.cite web |accessdate=2007-06-27|url= http://utopia.utexas.edu/explore/latino/narratives/07Rios-Rodriguez_Raul.html |title= Despite war's end and brother's horror stories, man was intent on joining military |author= Kerschen, D'Arcy |publisher= Utopia: U.S. Latinos and Latinas & WWII Oral History Project, University of Texas] PFC Felix Lopez-Santos, another Puerto Rican, said that he observed some racial discrimination against African Americans, but that never experienced discrimination himself because of his light eyes and fair complexion. [cite web|accessdate=2007-03-18 |url=http://utopia.utexas.edu/explore/latino/narratives/07Lopez-Santos_Felix.html |title=Man survived jungle fever, suicide attacks and kangaroos during service in Pacific |author=de la Cruz, Juan |publisher= Utopia: U.S. Latinos and Latinas & WWII Oral History Project, University of Texas] PFC Norberto Gonzalez, a Cuban-born New Yorker, experienced discrimination in his all-white battalion, where he was frequently asked about his name and place of birth, and found he was treated differently once fellow soldiers learned he was Hispanic. After being transferred to a black battalion on request, he no longer faced the same problems.cite web|accessdate=2007-06-27 |url=http://utopia.utexas.edu/explore/latino/narratives/07Gonzalez_Norberto.html
title=Cuban immigrant found acceptance in Black Army battalion
author=Mathieson, Catherine |publisher= Utopia: U.S. Latinos and Latinas & WWII Oral History Project, University of Texas] Cpl. Alfonso Rodriguez, a Mexican-American born in Santa Fe,
New Mexico, said that he first experienced racial discrimination during recruit training. A white soldier once demanded that the Rodriguez and other Latinos stop speaking Spanish and speak English, "like Americans," and Rodriguez was involved in several physical altercations stemming from the incident. Rodriguez was also often referred to using racial insults such as "smart-ass Mexican."cite web|accessdate=2007-06-12 |url=http://utopia.utexas.edu/explore/latino/narratives/08rodriguez_alfonso.html
title=Alfonso Rodriguez figured that war was hell, but he never counted on having to fight bigotry as well as the enemy
author=Green, Alyssa |publisher= Utopia: U.S. Latinos and Latinas & WWII Oral History Project, University of Texas]
After returning home
After returning home, Hispanic soldiers experienced the same discrimination felt by other Hispanic Americans. According to one former Hispanic soldier, "There was the same discrimination in Grand Falls (Texas), if not worse" than when he had departed. While Hispanics could work for $2 per day, whites could get jobs working in petroleum fields that earned $18 per day. In his town, signs read "No Mexicans, whites only," and only one restaurant would serve Hispanics. [Farias, Claudia. [http://utopia.utexas.edu/explore/latino/narratives/06Aguilar_Nicanor.html Renaissance man of West Texas.] Utopia: U.S. Latinos and Latinas & WWII Oral History Project, University of Texas. Retrieved
July 28, 2007.] The American GI Forumwas started to ensure the rights of Hispanic WWII veterans.
Discrimination also extended to those killed during the war. In one notable case, the owner of a funeral parlor refused to allow the family of Pvt.
Felix Longoria, a soldier killed in action in the Philippines, to use his facility because "whites would not like it". Then-U.S. Senator Lyndon B. Johnsonand Hector P. Garcia, the Mexican-American WWII veteran who founded the American G.I. Forum, intervened on Longoria's behalf. Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson, Congressman John Lyle, and President Truman's military aide Gen. Harry H. Vaughan joined the Longoria family for a full military burial with honors at Arlington National Cemeteryon February 16, 1949. [http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/longoria.htm Felix Z. Longoria: Private, United States Army.] Arlington National Cemetery. Retrieved on June 27, 2007.] Johnson stated of the incident, "This injustice and prejudice is deplorable. I am happy to have a part seeing that this Texas hero is laid to rest with the honor and dignity his service deserves." [cite web | url = http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid%3A85740 | author = Holland, Dick | publisher = The Austin Chronicle | title = The Johnson Treatment | date = May 3 2002| accessdate = 2007-08-04] [cite web | url = http://www.designshare.com/index.php/articles/hector-garcia | title = Hector Garcia Middle School: A school’s design aspires to live up to its name | author = Brown, Peter | publisher = DesignShare.com | accessdate = 2007-08-04]
The memory of Hispanic American heroes has been honored in various ways: some of their names can be found on ships, in parks and inscribed on monuments. Captain
Linda Garcia Cubero(USAF), while serving as Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, supervised the development of a United States commemorative stamp to honor Hispanics who served in America's defense. The stamp was designed to honor the ten Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients still alive and was unveiled on October 31, 1984. [ [http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1984/103184c.htm Remarks at a White House Ceremony To Unveil a Commemorative Stamp Honoring Hispanic Americans.] Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. October 31, 1984. Retrieved May 12, 2007.]
Latino organizations and writers documented the Hispanic experience in World War II, most notably the U.S. Latino & Latina WWII Oral History Project, launched by Professor Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez of the University of Texas. [ [http://utopia.utexas.edu/explore/latino/narratives/v4n1index.html Narratives.] Utopia: US Latinos and Latinas & WWII Oral History Project, University of Texas. Volume 4, Number 1 Spring 2003. Retrieved
July 12, 2007.]
The failure of the
Ken BurnsWWII documentary "The War", which aired on PBSin September 2007, to mention Hispanic contributions to the war spurred protests by the Hispanic community. Officials in PBS announced that Burns' documentary would include additional content incorporating the Hispanic contributions to the war effort as result of public pressure. [de Moraes, Lisa. [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/11/AR2007071102293.html Ken Burns and the Old Soldiers Who Wouldn't Fade Away.] "Washington Post", July 12, 2007. Retrieved July 12, 2007.]
* [http://www.nationalww2museum.org/education/education_numbers.html World War II By The Numbers”, Education at the World War II Museum. The National World War II Museum] , Retrieved on June 1, 2007.
* [http://www.valerosos.com/CommandsGVillahermosa.html “Commands”] - Puerto Rico's 65th Infantry Regiment
* [http://www.prsoldier.com/17--aug2005.pdf “Puerto Rican Soldier”] August 2005 publication
* [http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=25295 Pentagon Hosts Salute to Hispanic World War II Veterans, U.S. Department of Defense]
* [http://www.buffalosoldier.net/Hispanic-AmericanMedalofHonorRecipients.htm Hispani - American Medal of Honor Recipients]
* [http://www.neta.com/~1stbooks/hero.htm|Hero Street Monument]
* [http://www.womensmemorial.org/Education/HisHistory.html The Contributions of Hispanic Servicewomen]
* [http://utopia.utexas.edu/explore/latino/narratives/v4n1index.html Latinos and Latinas & WWII Oral History Project]
* [http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/brochures/wac/wac.htm Bellafaire, Judith A. "The Women's Army Corps: A Commemoration of World War II Service", U.S. Army Center of Military History]
title=65th Infantry Division
title=Undaunted Courage: Mexican American Patriots Of World War II
publisher=Latino Advocates for Education, Inc
title=Bushmasters: America's jungle warriors of World War II
author= Arthur, Anthony
publisher=St. Martin's Press
author=del Valle, Pedro
authorlink=Pedro del Valle
title=Semper fidelis: An autobiography
publisher=Christian Book Club of America
author=Esteves, General Luis Raúl
authorlink=Luis R. Esteves
title=¡Los Soldados Son Así!
publisher=Star Publishing Co
location=San Juan, Puerto Rico
title=Right to be proud: History of the 65th infantry division's march across Germany
title=Hispanic Military Heroes
title=Overlord: General Pete Quesada and the Triumph of Tactical Air Power in World War II
author=Hughes, Thomas Alexander
title=The Last Cruise: The Story of the Sinking of the Submarine, U.S.S. Cochino
author=Lederer, Commander William J., USN
List of Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients
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