World War II was a turning point in US history, and its impact on Latinas and Latinos was life changing. Women served in the military, worked in civilian and war-related factories, and toiled in the fields. Nearly half-million men served in the armed forces from throughout the country, and thousands were recognized for their courage. Twelve received the highest commendation, the Congressional Medal of Honor. This book examines one, Jose M. Lopez, who was born into abject poverty in Mexico and immigrated at a young age to the Rio Grande Valley and became one of the most decorated soldiers in history. Singlehandedly, Lopez prevented hundreds of German soldiers German and a Tiger Tank from attacking his company. He became a national hero yet returned to the segregation and discrimination he had left. Lopez and his military brethren realized that if they were American enough to fight for their country, they were American enough to be treated equally in it. To achieve this equality, court decisions, civil rights legislation, and veteran’s organizations became part of postwar agenda. Latinos had paid their dues and expected respect in their country.
Manuel F. Medrano is professor emeritus at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Chapter 1: The Way Things Occur: Operation Castaña, The Urgency of Oral History
Chapter 2: Together We Win
Chapter 3: Homefront Heroes: Rosie the Riveter, Betty Crocker and the Real Women of War
Chapter 4: Los Medalleros (Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients) Tejanos
Chapter 5: From Mexico to the Magic Valley
Chapter 6: Boxer, Sailor and Husband
Chapter 7: Company K and the Machine Gun Man
Chapter 8: After the War: What Cannot Be Forgotten
Chapter 9: Keeping a Promesa
Chapter 10: Always a Soldier: When the Trumpet Blew
Appendix: An Interview with José M. López
About the Author