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War & Locale: World War II -- European Theater
Date of Birth:
BY Juliana Torres
Raised in small towns and on ranches, Juventino Guerra never went far from home. Then WWII opened new opportunities to travel and learn other perspectives. He enlisted on Jan. 8, 1941, in San Antonio, Texas. Initially, he was promised two weeks to say goodbye to his family before leaving Texas. But the two weeks were reduced to a phone call in New Jersey just before shipping out on the USS Lusitania with the 324th Material Squadron, bound for Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Guerra's squadron was responsible for readying planes for flight. Guerra, who had experience in clerical work with his job at Cavazos Tourist and Insurance Agency in Laredo, Texas, before the war, was responsible for keeping records of the members in his squadron. From South America, the squadron traveled around Africa, up to Madagascar and to the Red Sea. They spent five months in Egypt, during which Guerra worked with the Air Force Service Command and his squadron supported the British 8th Army. They went on to Tunisia, Libya, Sicily and Italy. His camp was bombed in Corsica, and Guerra was wounded in his left knee.
During his time in the service, Guerra corresponded with Elena Pimentel, who he had met at a train station before enlisting. He missed her so much that he proposed to her in a letter. She insisted he come home and meet her family before they started to make plans. Guerra returned home on Oct. 9, 1945, declining a commission to stay on and fight in Japan. He married Elena on April 6, 1946, and the couple had four children: Cristina, Juventino Jr., Olga and Victor. Guerra worked as an accountant, opening his own business when some of the company clients didn't think a "Mexican" was intelligent enough. He ran the business for 30 years and later became a real estate broker.