Categories: Health Issues
War & Locale: World War II -- Pacific Theater
Date of Birth:
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By Lindsay Fitzpatrick
Jesus Humberto Morales survived 11 months unharmed in the jungles of New Guinea. It wasn’t until after that, in the Philippines, when he got hurt.
Shrapnel hit Morales and his partner as they were reloading a bazooka. His comrade died, but Morales managed to survive, sustaining an injury that required an artificial joint be implanted in his thumb.
Morales, who was born Oct. 25, 1918, served in Company L of the 20th Infantry, 6th Division.
Following a divorce from his first wife, Morales enlisted in the Army in July of 1941, starting a military career that would span more than a decade, and take him around the world. After training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., he left for San Francisco. Morales remembers the dismal 10-to-1 odds of survival, and recalls the poignancy of the song playing as he left the harbor.
"So Long, It's Been Good to Know You,'" he said. "That hit you right in the guts."
Serving as his squad's scout during their tour of duty in the Pacific, Morales was in combat regularly. Following his injury in the Philippines, he returned to the States in July of 1945.
Back at home, Morales felt the effects of war. His nerves "were shot up" and he was unable to keep his hands from constantly shaking, which prevented him from returning to the watch-repair job he held prior to enlisting. Instead, he returned to the military, re-enlisting later in 1945. He served in the Texas State Guard until 1947, when he transferred into the Air Force. With the Air Force, he served for 11 months in Korea and was eventually discharged April 12, 1953, with the rank of Technical Sergeant.
In 1947, he married Mary Becerra. Following his discharge, he worked at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.
Morales has nine children from his two marriages: Dolores, Felix, Jesus, David, Eva, Santa, Blanca, Victor and Humberto.
Mr. Morales was interviewed in San Antonio, Texas, on March 19, 2000, by Maro Robbins.