Voces: Latino Veterans of WWII
The Voces Oral History Project is a series of video documentaries interviewing Latino veterans of the WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam War. The Voces project seeks to create and promote awareness of Latino contributions to our armed forces during combat.
Please help spread the word and honor the sacrifices of nuestros hermanos y hermanas by watching and sharing these videos.
Enrique Cervantes grew up working in the fields with his family. One day, his teacher pulled him aside and gave him a poem to practice his English. It was a poem about following your dreams; and Enrique did. He followed his dreams through years of flight training, the only Mexican, and the only moreno, putting up with strange looks and racial slurs, but persevering, and finally serving as a bomber pilot in World War II.
Chicano John Valls was drafted into the infantry and shipped overseas to Europe, where he fought in over 30 battles. His story is difficult to hear, but nowhere near as difficult as it was to live.
"It was hell. Every day you were cold, you were hungry, and you were scared."
Of his company of 22 men, only 2 returned alive.
Valls was one of the first soldiers to liberate captives in the Bergen-Belson concentration camp.
"A man came up to me, a small man, almost a skeleton, and spoke Yiddish, and I told him, "Sir, I 'm an American solider, you are free."
Although Valls has lived a full life, teaching and coaching, still married to his wife of 70 years, he suffers from intense PTSD to this day.
Carmen Conteras Bozak was the first Puerto Rican woman to serve in the Women's Army Corps, and one of the 195 members of the 149th WAAC Company to go overseas, where she was stationed in Algiers and transmitted encoded messages to the battlefield.