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War & Locale: World War II -- European Theater
Date of Birth:
By Lindsay Fitzpatrick
From the fields of west Texas to the beaches of Normandy, Henry Guerra has fought adverse conditions to succeed. He spent much of his young life under the scorching Texas sun, picking cotton, spinach and radishes, and later participated in some of the most gruesome battles of World War II.
Guerra left school to help support his family. A year later, he was drafted, and in November of 1940, he was inducted into the Army as an infantry soldier. After training at Texas’ Camp Bullis and Fort Sam Houston and Wisconsin’s Camp McCoy, Guerra was deployed to Europe, landing near Belfast, Ireland. He landed on Omaha Beach on June 7, 1944, the day after D-Day.
Guerra remembers the order from Eisenhower over the radio, and preparing to invade France. As he approached the shore, he recalls being told to keep his head down, and another soldier, Jesse Hill, disobeying orders to gaze out toward the shore.
He saw explosions and carnage everywhere as he approached the beach.
Normandy, however, was only the beginning; Guerra continued fighting with the 38th Infantry Regiment until the war's end.
He kept a journal detailing his service. Though filled with horrific, graphic images of death and destruction, a Bible passage urging faith and love is on the cover. Guerra says memories of the war haunted him well into his civilian life.
He was discharged in June of 1945, having earned the Purple Heart, three Bronze Stars and a host of other medals.
Guerra returned to Texas and earned his GED. He then began a career in civil service. He worked as a storekeeper and later as an industrial engineer.
Mr. Guerra was interviewed in San Antonio, Texas, on November 6, 2004, by Brenda Sendejo.