Young Cleto Rodriguez moved to the Westside of San Antonio at the age of nine to live with relatives after the death of both this parents. After working as a newsboy at the downtown Gunter Hotel, he joined the United States Army in 1944 to serve his country. That newsboy, Cleto Rodriguez, would be one of the 500,000 Mexican Americans from across the nation to fight in World War II. When he was deployed to the Pacific theater, it never occurred to him that he would return as one of the most decorated soldiers of the war. The war in the Pacific was extremely difficult for the American forces. After the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, America knew that they faced a determined enemy that had already managed to captur strategic territory in China and numerous Pacific islands including the Philippines. Army forces of the 37th Infantry Division were sent to the Philippines with the intent of capturing the capital city of Manila.
It took nearly two years of jungle fighting to reach Manila, where Japanese forces were heavily fortified. Private Rodriguez had been assigned to a small force that was sent to capture the Paco Railroad Station in Manilla. The enemy, numbering 300 soldiers, had managed to pin down Private Rodriguez’ rifle squad 100 yards from the coveted railroad station. The Japanese defenders had the advantage of pillboxes with deadly machine guns. In an effort to break the impasse, Private Rodriguez and his buddy John M. Reece of Oklahoma City, split from their platoon and advanced an additional forty yards. Taking cover at an abandoned house, the two Americans managed to kill more than thirty enemy soldiers. Again Rodriguez and Reece moved closer to the railroad station, and in doing so, managed to take out a enemy replacement squad attempting to reach the pillboxes.
Taking careful aim, these courageous soldiers shot and killed an additional forty enemy soldiers. Rodriguez made a bold move toward a building housing seven additional enemy soldiers with machine guns. The young private threw five grenades into the building which killed all the enemy soldiers and destroyed the 20mm gun. In over two hours fighting, Rodriguez and Reece killed more than eighty-two enemy soldiers and wounded many others. Their bravery allowed the American squad to eventually capture the railroad station. In their return to their company, however, Reece died from hostile gunfire. For their bravery, Rodriguez and Reece were awarded the Medal of Honor, Reece, posthumously. A l – though Sergeant Cleto Rodriguez received the nations highest military recognition, one of several Mexican Americans to earn such distinction, this was not the end of his military service.
He returned to serve the United States by enlisting in the Army during the early years of the Vietnam War and also served in the Air Force after World War II, completing another fifteen years in the military. While Cleto Rodriguez was in the service, his family lived on my street during the time I was growing up in the Westside of San Antonio. Regretfully, I never met him and I did not learn of his heroic accomplishments until I saw a mural at the Casino Homes dedicated to his memory. Young Cleto Rodriguez The story of Medal of Honor recipient Cleto Rodriguez taught me that heroes can live next door and we might not know their stories of heroism. Indeed, because we do not learn about them in our history classes, we are unable to assure that the broader community also knows about their patriotism and the extent of their sacrifices. To make sure that our Vietnam heroes are not forgotten, I put together a team to identify the fallen heroes of my generation—those who served and gave their lives in the Vietnam War. Our team “Faces with Names” has eight members, including the distinguished Army General Alfred Valenzuela. This team identified the names and gathered the photos of all of the 362 Fallen Heroes from Bexar County who lost their lives in the Vietnam conflict. This was done to assure that the young men from Bexar County who died in Vietnam will be remembered in the proposed new Vietnam Museum in Washington, DC. The Vietnam Wall Memorial in the nation’s capitol has all of their names, but not where they were from. Also missing were their photos. The “Faces with Names” project, which took eight years to complete, will make sure that these fallen heroes are properly recognized. The American death toll in Vietnam exceed 58,000. Today, the families of those who did not return can be assured that their husbands, sons and relatives who sacrificed for our freedom will not go unnoticed. This Fourth of July we pay tribute to those who defended our great nation.
Facebook Twitter Google+ Gmail Print Friendly Like 0 By R Eguia . Last month, scholars, community members and students gathered at the Southwest School of Art Coates Chapel to hear a conversation by the San Antonio Conservation Society Endowed Professor at UTSA, William Dupont, called A Resilient Heritage: Designing San Antonio’s Future to Preserve Our Past. The talk introduced Cultural Sustainability as the continuity of cultural systems of human existence. People have heritage identities and values that bind them to places and communities are essential for full sustainability. “Design with respect for Heritage,” was a key theme as Dupont...Read More
Facebook Twitter Google+ Gmail Print Friendly Like 0 Are you dependent on technology to bring you satisfaction in life? Dependency can be playing video games to escape reality, posting to social media to get attention or validation, compulsive online spending when anxious or bored, or visiting dating sites with the hopes of meeting the love of your life. Are there noticeable negative patterns surrounding your computer or internet activities? Are they causing problems in your relationships or affecting your work performance? Most of the time, these addictions are just distractions to real issues that people are not yet ready to face. They may feel anxious, impulsive or unfulfilled in life. These activities produce a “high”, filling a void and bringing pleasure that lasts momentarily. Overtime, these addictions have negative consequences that outweigh the positive feelings experienced. They can also have long-term negative effects on many areas of our lives. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research has shown that certain people are more susceptible to computer or internet addiction. These individuals include; those who have had prior addictions to other behaviors or substances; a history of depression or anxiety; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; or Low self-esteem. Recovering computer addicts reported feelings of euphoria when using the computer and feelings of depression, unfulfillment and irritability when not using it. They also described feeling withdrawn or neglected by family and...Read More
Facebook Twitter Google+ Gmail Print Friendly Like 0 On March 9, the local performance art collective, HoK (House of Kenzo) presented Permutations, a 20 minute production exploring systems, fluidity, work and cycles, at the Lawndale Art Center in Houston. The trio, Ledef (sound production), Brexxitt (choreography) and Grapefruit (concept design) embodied possibilities through splash choreography and projection mapping. Local carpenter company, Precision Woodworking Texas, assisted the group with an installation that included an indoor water trough, a 10 part pulley system and a network of clear bags filled with water tied onto natural rope. The performance was inspired by...Read More
Facebook Twitter Google+ Gmail Print Friendly Like 1 Many women have made their mark in the performance arts. In San Antonio, girls go to places like the Magik theatre to begin their journey. Like 14-year-old San Antonio actress, Lucero Garcia. She began acting at the age of 7 during The Magik Theatre’s summer camps and classes. She plays the role of Carmencita in the new show called Mariachi girl at the Magik Theatre. “I fell in love with musical theatre. All I could think about was being on stage singing and dancing and performing for people and making them...Read More
Facebook Twitter Google+ Gmail Print Friendly Like 0 By Melinda Gonzalez There is a renewed energy in the air and the culmination of efforts to re-establish the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center (GCAC) as the beacon of Chicano Art is paying off. Founded in 1980 and located in the heart of San Antonio’s historic Westside, the nonprofit organization serves over 100,000 people each year on a local, national and international scale through artistic, educational, and community programming. Jorge Piña who is a native San Antonian is back and fulfills a key leadership position for the GCAC after resigning from the...Read More