Honoring Hispanic Veterans of Wisconsin

Vietnam veteran George F. Banda (WVM.OH1379)

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15), we are featuring Wisconsin Hispanic veterans and their stories from the oral history collection. Hispanic veterans served in the United States military since the Civil War and continue to do so with honor and distinction. Their military experiences vary vastly as you will hear from the interviews below.

Today, we start with the stories of two brothers who served in World War II, Anthony J. Chavez and Carlos J. Chavez, both interviewed by George F. Banda, another Hispanic veteran who served in Vietnam. These are their stories. To listen to them with our player please click on “Click here to listen.”

Please note these interviews may contain potentially disturbing content related to combat as well as sensitive material relating to PTSD, trauma, assault, and moral injury. We appreciate the bravery of the narrators in sharing their stories—please be respectful when engaging with these interviews.

Anthony J. Chavez served in the United States Army for two years, during and after the Second World War. In Japan, he served in the 32nd Infantry Division and processed Japanese officials and military officers. After three months, the Army assigned him to the 24th Infantry Division for the remainder of his tour in Japan.

Carlos J. Chavez was born in the Mexican state of Michoacán and immigrated to the United States with his family. In 1943, he was drafted into the United States Army and participated in the Battle of Hürtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge.

George F. Banda was drafted January of 1969 and served until November of 1970 as a combat medic with the 101st Airborne Division, 2nd Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, E Company, Recon Platoon. He deployed to Vietnam in December 1969. Banda was the sole survivor in his unit after the bombing of Firebase Henderson on May 6, 1970.

Yolanda L. Medina served as an aircraft technician with the Marine Attack Training Squadron 203 (VMAT-203), 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, United States Marine Corps, from 1981 to 1985 in Cherry Point, North Carolina.

Charles V. Gomez was born in Texas and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In March 1944, he enlisted in the United States Navy and served until April 1946. A shipfitter aboard the USS Mississippi, he participated in campaigns in the Pacific Theater.

Yvette Pino deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and 2004 with the United States Army. Pino served with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 101st Airborne Division.

Armando G. Lopez was born in Mexico and immigrated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at age six. He was drafted into the United States Army in 1969 and served in Vietnam with the 69th Engineer Battalion. He returned home to Milwaukee in 1971 and spent four years in the Army Reserves.

Julia de la Rosa served as a typist in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps for nine months during World War II. After the war, she returned to Texas although she eventually settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Rochelle A. Lopez grew up in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, and joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard in 2005 as a logistics and supply specialist. Lopez deployed to Iraq with the 107th Engineer Battalion in 2007 and then again with the 105th Cavalry Regiment in 2009.

Gilda M. Maltes served as a United States Army medic and drill sergeant in multiple military operations including, Operation Distant Haven, Caribbean Castle, and Iraqi Freedom. She was involved in the Chaplain Corps, as well as the Corps of Engineers later in her career. She retired in 2012.