Impact of World War II

Between 250,000 and 750,000 Latinos and Latinas across the United States served in the armed forces during World War II. They formed the largest nonwhite group both in military service and in military honors received. Lando Valadez of Des Moines was one of the few Iowans to receive the Silver Star during World War II.  It is difficult to obtain precise figures for their service because at that time the military categorized Latinos as "White," "Mexican," or "NA" in its official documents.  As a result, historians, educators, film producers, and members of the public have often overlooked their significant contributions to the war effort. By drawing on oral history interviews, letters, and photographs carefully preserved by World War II veterans and their families from Iowa and western Illinois, these pages offer a glimpse into their extraordinary contributions at home and abroad.