The war stories from my grandfather only came during rare moments. He never bragged about his service nor volunteered information about his experiences in World War Two. According to my uncles and mother, my Grandpa Tony did his best to not remember what happened during the war. I’m sure he wasn’t the only one.
The stories about his service were eventually passed on to me. Being a Mexican in the US Army was a struggle in itself. He was treated as inferior and given riskier assignments and positions. However, he accepted them without protest and persevered. The document below explains how he received the Silver Star. Thanks to Hollywood films, I can imagine visually how the battle went down. More vivid to me is the story told to me by my uncle. For many years after my grandfather returned home from the war, my grandmother would sit him at the kitchen table in the morning and gingerly pick out pieces of shrapnel that were lodged in his skin. As part of the troop front-line, he caught the worst of a land mine. I wish I would have been old enough to ask my grandfather about these things but he probably wouldn’t have wanted to share them with me – too much shrapnel in his memories.
Thankfully, my father’s time in Vietnam was a little less traumatizing. As kids, my brother and I heard all his stories and would tease him a bit when he told the same ones again and again. We would often joke “Here comes Vietnam story number 103!” after he took us to see the latest Hollywood Vietnam era film. He might not like me to speak of it but I was pleased to know he questioned his command for their racist practices. Unfortunately, this got him in substantial trouble but he says he has no regrets. I’m proud to know I come from a family of folks who are not afraid to speak their minds and stand up for their rights.