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Nation's Largest and Oldest Latino Civil Rights Organization Requests Americans to Remember and Be Thankful to Its Servicemembers Lost in Uniform

Washington, D.C. — As the nation pauses to honor the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the United States, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) takes this moment to pay special tribute to the Latino military heroes who have given their lives in defense of our freedom and values.

"Memorial Day is a powerful reminder of the bravery and sacrifice of our military heroes," said Domingo Garcia, LULAC National President. "As we honor their memory, we must also recognize the significant contributions of Latino service members who have stood on the front lines, defending our nation with valor and distinction."

Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. This day is a solemn reminder of the cost of our liberties, a day for all Americans to remember and honor those who have died in military service to our country. Among the many who have died in uniform, the following service members in the extended LULAC family exemplify the courage and dedication that Memorial Day commemorates:

Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen: SPC Guillen, a proud Mexican American, served at Fort Hood, Texas. She was murdered on April 22, 2020, while on duty. Her death brought national attention to the issues of harassment and violence in the military, leading to significant policy changes to protect service members. Guillen's legacy inspires a movement for justice and equality within the armed forces. The Vanessa Guillen Act is a milestone in LULAC advocacy for America's servicemembers. "Vanessa's tragic death gave life to a movement, I Am Vanessa," says Analuisa Tapia, LULAC National Sargeant-at-Arms. "Living in the shadow of Ft. Cavazos where she died, I am reminded daily that Vanessa is still with us, and so is her love and courage."

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Caserta: Brandon Caserta was a 21-year-old naval squadron flight electrician who had been chronically bullied and abused by a toxic command that denied his requests for mental health services. Brandon died by suicide on June 25, 2018, in Norfolk, Virginia. He is the namesake of The Brandon Act, which enables servicemembers worldwide to seek mental health care during a crisis without command permission and makes retaliation unlawful. "Our son sacrificed his life so other servicemembers would not have to go through what Brandon did," said Patrick and Teri Caserta, Brandon's Gold Star parents. "He wanted to help save lives for generations to come," they added.

Army Capt. Jennifer Moreno: On October 5, 2013, Moreno and the other soldiers of her regiment were performing a raid on an enemy bomb-making compound in the Zhari District of Afghanistan when a suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device. Moreno, who was commissioned into the Army as a nurse, stepped on a landmine as she went to aid another soldier wounded in the attack. She was posthumously promoted to captain and awarded the Combat Action Badge, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Purple Heart, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and NATO Medal. "Capt. Moreno's actions embody the Soldier's Creed, 'I will never leave a fallen comrade,'" says Dee James, LULAC national military and veterans committee founding member.

Army Pfc. Juan Guzman: Private Guzman died on June 13, 1944, during the invasion of Normandy, which many historians refer to as one of the critical turning points in the liberation of Europe and the final victory against the Nazis. Guzman received the Purple Heart, World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, Army Presidential Unit Citation, Army Good Conduct Medal, and the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign. "He was my great uncle and set an example that has stayed with me my entire life," says Lawrence "Larry" Romo, Former National Commander of the American GI Forum. "We will never forget!" he vows.

Marine Corps Pfc. Antonio Ramos Sandoval: Sandoval was 19 years old and one of 13 U.S. troops who died together on May 15, 1975, during the Mayaguez Incident. He is remembered as the last Texas soldier to be killed in the Vietnam conflict. He attended Brackenridge High School in San Antonio and enlisted in the military to help his family financially. "He was my big brother and always cared for me," says Mary Sandoval, Antonio's sister and Texas LULAC State Treasurer. "It is still very difficult to believe that we lost him so young, and I still remember him all the time."

"There is one other special soldier, Army Staff Sgt. Marcario Garcia, we include this Memorial Day," says Garcia. "His service to our country went far beyond the final time he folded away his uniform. He served in WWII and was the first Mexican immigrant to receive the Medal of Honor for his courage on the battlefield in Germany. Garcia single-handedly stormed and destroyed two enemy machine gun positions in the face of intense machine gun fire, artillery, and mortar rounds that had his squad pinned down. He killed more than a half dozen enemy soldiers, captured four others, and refused to stop fighting despite being painfully wounded.

Yet, when he returned home to Sugarland, Texas, a decorated hero, he was refused service at a food diner, and the owner beat him with a baseball bat. When his story went national on a famous radio show by Walter Winchell, local police charged Garcia for the attack at the diner! Latinos rose in protest and, eventually, the authorities dropped the charges. Later, LULAC honored Garcia on November 21, 1963, at the dinner that President John F. Kennedy attended the night before his assassination. Garcia's case sparked a surge in LULAC membership as Latinos, many of them fellow veterans, awoke to the discrimination in the land they had defended. Today, schools and landmarks in the greater Houston community commemorate this brave Latino military hero," says Garcia.

Roman Palomares, Chair of the LULAC National Military and Veterans Affairs National Committee, also emphasized the importance of remembering these men and women. "The sacrifices of our Latino service members are woven into the very fabric of our nation's history," Palomares said. "We honor their memory by ensuring their stories are told, and their contributions are recognized."




The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest Hispanic civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 535 Councils and 145,000 members across the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services, and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting the critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit