VOCES/On Two Fronts – Richard Brito, Fred Castañeda and Juan Carlos Gonzales

on two fronts

KLRU presents a special screening of the documentary On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam on Nov. 10th at the The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (RSVP now to attend).

Prepare for the screening with personal stories from the Vietnam War from the VOCES Oral History Project.

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.

VOCES/On Two Fronts – Alex J. Hernandez, Hernan E. Jaso, Neftali Luna Zendejas

on two fronts

KLRU presents a special screening of the documentary On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam on Nov. 10th at the The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (RSVP now to attend).

Prepare for the screening with personal stories from the Vietnam War from the VOCES Oral History Project.

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.

VOCES/On Two Fronts – Eugenia “Jennie” Aleman, Edward Daniel Morin

on two fronts

KLRU presents a special screening of the documentary On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam on Nov. 10th at the The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (RSVP now to attend).

Prepare for the screening with personal stories from the Vietnam War from the VOCES Oral History Project.

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.