In Fred Castañeda’s Vietnam War photo album, there exists a striking juxtaposition of photographs. In one, Castañeda wears a suit and tie, looking into the distance at a hopeful future. In another, taken after his second mission in Vietnam, he wears his military uniform and looks almost directly at the camera with a blank gaze – what’s called the “thousand-yard stare.” Despite suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and exposure to Agent Orange, Castañeda returned and worked as an army recruiter as the war was dying down. Read his story here.
Richard Brito saw the Vietnam War as a call for him to protect the nation in a time of immense turmoil. Among other sacrifices, Brito missed the birth of his two daughters to fight in the war. Brito eventually made it to the rank of colonel in the Texas Army National Guard. Read his story here.
Juan Carlos Gonzales described himself as a soldier from the start. He and his friends would patrol a local rancher’s fence dressed in camo and armed with BB guns, and try to avoid the rancher’s warning shots fired above their head. A paratrooper to start, Gonzales tricked his way into the Pathfinder unit. He was discharged in 1968 with decorations including the Purple Heart, the Air Medal, a Presidential Unit Citation, the Vietnam Service Medal with four bronze service stars, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation Badge, Master Parachutist wings, the Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachute Rigger Badge and the Pathfinder Badge. Read his story here.
Hernan E. Jaso served in Vietnam, but the focus of his life since the war has been on public policy and improving the area he lives in. He tried to get married to avoid the draft, but his girlfriend refused – until he was drafted, anyway. The two married before Jaso left for service. He returned to the United States in 1972 and embarked on a life in the public sphere, and was elected mayor of Goliad, Texas three times, among other accomplishments. Read his story here.
Alex J. Hernandez grew up with exactly what he needed – nothing more, nothing less. From a family of soldiers, Hernandez followed in the footsteps of his uncles and father and enlisted in the army at the age 18. During Vietnam, Hernandez worked on helicopters all day and some nights, and was caught in the middle of the Easter Offensive. Hernandez earned the National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf, and the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry. Read his story here.
Neftali L. Zendejas always knew he wanted to work with aircraft. A veteran of the Korean War and the Vietnam War, Zendejas enlisted in the Air Force after finishing high school. He remembers incredible American loss in the Korean War, though he never saw combat on his base. In the Vietnam War, Zendejas repaired aircraft as fast as he could in the midst of chaos and death. He remembers experiencing discrimination as a Mexican and flying home in civilian clothing so the public wouldn’t recognize him as a Vietnam veteran. Read his story here.
Eugenia “Jennie” Aleman was a “trailing spouce” stationed in the Philippines during the Vietnam War. Stationed at Clark Air Base, Aleman volunteered to write letters for mortally wounded American servicemen as part of the Catholic Women of Clark Club. Growing up in the segregated town of Rosebud, Texas, Aleman was exposed to discrimination. She said Clark Air Base was an environment free from that type of discrimination. Read her story here.
Edward Daniel Morin was among the first group of soldiers to step foot in Vietnam, and among the first to witness the horrors that came with it. Following in his father’s footsteps, Morin worked as a sign painter before he was drafted in 1964 – before the Gulf of Tonkin incident. He was critically injured in a Viet Cong ambush and among the first group of soldiers to return stateside. Morin received a Purple Heart for his time in Vietnam. Read his story here.
Join KLRU and the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican-American Cultural Center for a special free screening of the documentary On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam Tuesday, Nov. 10. Filmmaker Mylène Moreno will be in attendance at this event in honor of Veterans Day.
The screening begins at 7 p.m. at the center. Doors open and light refreshments will be served at 6:30. The screening is free, but an RSVP is required – RSVP here.
The film examines the Latino experience during the Vietnam War, primarily through the eyes of siblings Everett and Delia Alvarez. Everett and Delia stood on two sides of the war: In Vietnam, Everett was a prisoner-of war, while Delia protested the war at home. In communities where there were few alternatives to service, war impacted every household – especially amongst Latinos. During Vietnam, Latinos began questioning the true cost of war and the appropriate price of citizenship.
KLRU celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with a range of special programs and events that celebrate the Hispanic experience. Year round, KLRU provides content and events that give a diverse perspective on our community.
New programs for this September & October include the documentary On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam.This program, airing on Tuesday, September 22 at 9 pm, examines the Latino experience during a war that placed its heaviest burden on working class youth. Framing the documentary are memoirs of two siblings, Everett and Delia Alvarez, who stood on opposite sides of the Vietnam War, one as a POW and the other protesting at home.
Other programs airing on KLRU for Hispanic Heritage Month:
American MastersPedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey
Friday, September 18 at 8 pm
This film captures the life and work of Pedro Guerrero, a Mexican American photographer born and raised in segregated Mesa, Arizona, who goes on to an international career as photographer of master American artists of the 20th century. Using Guerrero’s words, the film gives the viewer an insider’s look into three of the most iconic American artists of the 20th century: Frank Lloyd Wright, Alexander Calder and Louise Nevelson, as well as important images of modernist architecture.
Arts In Context ShortsBarrio Writers
By empowering teens through creative writing, higher education and creative arts, the Barrio Writers are reinstating the term “Barrio” to its original meaning – community, and embracing it. This writing community began with small workshops atEl Centro Cultural de Mexico in Santa Ana, California and have now evolved into week long, intensive programs on university campuses. At the end of the week, the Barrio Writers transform their stereotypes into a place of positivity and become empowered in their own words. Watch more Barrio Writers videos from Arts In Context Shorts
POVDon’t Tell Anyone
Monday, September 21 at 9 pm
In a community where silence is seen as necessary for survival, immigrant activist Angy Rivera joins a generation of dreamers ready to push for change in the only home she’s ever known — the United States. Hers is the quintessential American success story: Rivera is the author of the country’s first and only advice column for undocumented youth, and her YouTube channel boasts over 27,000 views as she comes out of the shadows to inspire her peers.
Rudolfo Anaya: The Magic of Words
Monday, September 21 at 10:30 pm
Rudolfo Anaya was the first Hispanic American writer to achieve major publishing success with his landmark novel, Bless Me, Ultima, in print since 1972. Recipient of the National Medal for the Arts, Anaya has demonstrated a lifelong determination to persevere – through poverty, catastrophic injury and an almost insurmountable artistic struggle to publish – and in the end, succeed. Rudolfo Anaya: The Magic Of Words is a vital reference to the authentic culture of Hispanic New Mexico. And while the wellspring of Anaya’s stories is New Mexico, his insight is invaluable to understand the quest by all Hispanic Americans for cultural identity, recognition and respect.
Arts in Context “Tardeadas”
Thursday,October 1 at 7:30 pm
Through music and community, the band Los Pinkys is keeping the Conjunto musical tradition alive. Los Pinkys are a traditional-style conjunto formed in 1993 and have been performing around the United States ever since. The band is one of the few who continues the long tradition of the Sunday afternoon performance (Tardeadas). Elderly Mexican-American couples share the dance floor with a new crowd of revelers often experiencing their first sounds of conjunto music.
Thursday,October 1 at 9 pm and repeats on Sunday, October 4 at 1 pm.
Proyecto Teatro aims to make the arts accessible to the entire community, regardless of income levels, and to reduce social and cultural differences of society. For actor and director Luis Ordaz maintaining a space that leads to human development through the arts is his main reason to keep Talleres Infantiles alive. Talleres Infantiles is a year round Spanish language art program for mostly low income students. We follow Luis Ordaz and a group of theater students and volunteers as they work together to improve their community while keeping their culture alive.
Annual Imagen Awards
Friday, October 2 at 8 pm and repeats on Sunday, October 4 at 2 pm
The 30th Imagen Awards recognizes and rewards positive portrayals of Latinos in all forms of media, as well as encourages and recognizes the achievements of Latino celebrities and Latino-focused projects, including programs that have aired on PBS. This year’s nominees include America by the Numbers with Maria Hinojosa, the Children of Giant documentary by Hector Galan, Voces, Palmetto Scene: East coast Migrant Head Start, from South Carolina Educational Television and an on-air spot, Jessica Suarez PSA, out of Vegas PBS.
Voces on PBS “Children of Giant”
Monday, October 5 at 10:00 pm
In 1955, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean and a massive crew descended on the Texas town of Marfa to begin production on Giant. Now, 60 years later, “Children of Giant” explores the film’s still timely examination of racial prejudice. Film by Hector Galan.
Unity – The Latin Tribute to Michael Jackson
Friday, October 9 at 8 pm
The PBS Arts Fall Festival is hosted by international superstar and Grammy-winner Gloria Estefan. The Festival begins October 9 and showcases such titles as Unity, which features 16 songs that inspired musicians from all over Latin America to come together to celebrate and re-imagine hits such as “Smooth Criminal,” “I Want You Back” and “Billie Jean.”
The Hispanic Heritage Awards
Friday, October 9 at 9 pm
Join host Rita Moreno for a celebration of the country’s highest tribute to Latinos by Latinos. The program includes performances and appearances by celebrated Hispanic artists.
Central Texas Gardener
Saturday, October 17 at noon
Meet effervescent Velia Sanchez who designed and maintains a front yard garden complete with colorful meditative nicho. Every month of the year, neighbors stroll through to gather serenity and wonder, along with handfuls of fresh herbs and flowers. Not only only does Velia teach young and old about the wildlife that visit, she also passes along knowledge of Mexican herbal remedies for health and good taste.
On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam, airing on Sept. 22 at 9 pm, examines the Latino experience during a war that placed its heaviest burden on working class youth. Framing the documentary are memoirs of two siblings, Everett and Delia Alvarez, who stood on opposite sides of the Vietnam War, one as a POW and the other protesting at home.
We will be hosting a screening and discussion of the film on Nov. 10th in honor of Veterans Day. For now, we invite you to take a few moments to explore the Veterans memorials in the Austin-area. This map features just a few from San Marcos, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Williamson County and other Central Texas areas. Few additional photos.
We realize this is far from a complete list so we’re asking for your help. Is there a memorial that is important to you that is not included? Leave a comment with the name, location and why it’s special to you and we’ll add it to the map!