World War I Service Record for Antonio Gonzales, c. 1920
Suggested Teaching Instructions
Latinos have made an outstanding contribution to America by serving in the armed forces. Today, people of Spanish descent make up 9.5% of all active duty personnel. Hispanic Americans have been recognized for their bravery and valor, and Latinos as a group have received thirty-nine Medals of Honor in recognition of their accomplished service in the defense of our nation.
There are many stories that demonstrate the gallantry of Hispanic soldiers during the Great War. One such story involves a young private named Marcelino Serna. Private Serna was wounded on the battlefield in France, but continued to fight, and later captured twenty-four German soldiers. Private Serna was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery in the service of his country.
Latinos also volunteered in force during World War II. Although records from this war are incomplete, it is estimated that over 250,000 Latinos fought in the Second World War. Of these, 56,000 were from Puerto Rico.