Looking Back: It has to be done

Today in 1910, Johnnie W. Flores was born near Somerset, Texas, southeast of San Antonio. In 1941, Flores joined the Army, and, as part of the 36th Infantry Regiment in the European Theater, he saw and paid the war’s ultimate price.

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Today in 1910, Johnnie W. Flores was born near Somerset, Texas, southeast of San Antonio. In 1941, Flores joined the Army, and, as part of the 36th Infantry Regiment in the European Theater, he saw and paid the war’s ultimate price.

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LOOKING BACK
A special series

During my time as a contributing editor to the magnificent Voces Oral History Project at the University of Texas at Austin, I came across some amazing stories. The project, which I celebrated in 2011, collects the stories of Latino veterans and civilians who saw and felt the effects of war, from World War II to Vietnam. This occasional series will highlight a few of these fascinating lives.

Johnnie W. Flores, born on Feb. 10, 1910, was one of seven children living with their parents on a farm near Somerset, Texas. In his mid-twenties, Flores moved to California. He joined the Army in 1941.

His letters home encapsulated the evolution of the man’s character. The soldier faced down the horrific realities of war with practicality. He bought life insurance, and he sent half of his paycheck back to his mother. His letters also captured his romantic entanglements with young women in the U.S.

World War II brought him and his 36th Infantry Regiment to Europe, where he saw in late 1944 how war destroyed French communities and the “very green and beautiful” landscape. His letters captured his horror and his determined justification for such destruction.

By the end of the year, his family received news of the unthinkable. Read about what they learned and how they reacted, and the rest of wonderful profile here.

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