Life Histories

Being identified with a community or belonging to a country legally is a significant aspect of one's life. Such importance is associated with the fact that being a citizen of any country, especially the United States of America, one is entitled to many privileges such as health benefits, ability to obtain proper housing, and employment opportunities. Due to these reasons, many people coming to the United States of America strive to attain full citizenship for them to have access to these opportunities. There are various methods of securing citizenship such as naturalization, birth, and marriage to a person who is already a citizen of the country. Life histories of the two Asian Americans who gained American citizenship will be discussed, and the findings on their social history will be documented.

Large-scale immigration happened approximately the same time the discovery of gold was made in America (Stillman, 2004). However, immigration into America from China and other Asian countries was reduced, and the Asians already living in the country began to be marginalized. Most of them struggled to keep their dignity intact and be financially stable at these times. Nevertheless, threats of mob violence and discrimination were practiced towards these Asians. As a result, a facility in Francisco was arranged to accommodate such immigrants. At that place, more than 170,000 Asians were incarcerated. Destruction of immigrants’ records was caused by a catastrophic earthquake that had hit San Francisco. This event allowed many of the Asian Americans to obtain citizenship since at this time only people by birth or married to the locals were allowed to gain citizenship (Calisphere University of California, 2010). Due to their commitment and demonstration of their loyalty in combat, most of them were naturalized and entirely became United States citizens after the war and continued to serve until retirement. Other Asian Americans became citizens through expatriation whereby the immigrants married Americans thus gaining citizenship.

An example of such people is Jose Alveres who relocated to Brownsville; Colorado. He was born in San Benito 16 October 1923 as the only child to Benita Casarez and Jose Alveres. Having no other children, his parents raised him the best manner they could and supported him putting emphasis on discipline and handwork for him to get better future than the one they were currently living. When matured, Jose Alveres decided to try his luck in the armed forces after hearing the news about urging energetic young men to enlist in the army (Nix, 2017).

Jose Alveres was only seventeen years old when he enlisted in Brownsville and served in the Civil Conservation Corps. His reason for joining army was to serve his country and Roosevelt who was the president of the United States at that time. After serving for a while in the Civil Conservation Corps, Jose Alveres later enlisted in the navy because of the increasing love he had for the navy. None of his parents or immediate relatives had served either in the navy or other branches of the disciplined armed forces (Nix, 2017).

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Jose Alveres attended the naval training center which at that time was in Brownville and later on went for boot camps in San Diego. After completing his training, Jose was deployed and served in the Second World War, the Vietnam War, and the Korean War where he did two tours. In these tours, he served in the USS Tennessee which was a battleship between the years 1941 and 1946 (Nix, 2017).

The USS Tennessee traveled through the Pacific theatre that is from the Philippine Sea to the Aleutians and also to the South America and Suarez. The ship also voyaged to Japan and the whole of Pacific. In total, Jose Alveres was involved in 13 major battles in World War Two. Despite all his active missions, he never became a prisoner of war. In the USS, Jose served as a Boatswain’s mate whose duties was to direct, train, and supervise the personnel in the maintenance duties of the ship. The Boatswain’s mate’s actions related to boat seamanship, painting, deck, boats, marlinspike, maintenance of the vessels exterior structure, and rigging of equipment. He saw much combat aboard the UUS Tennessee where they used to have burials at sea almost daily due to the casualties they suffered at war (Nix, 2017).

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He got married to his wife Roberta Alveres a few years later after enlisting (Nix, 2017). At war, he kept in contact with his family by the use of V-mail which was a little piece of a letter that the personnel was allowed to send to their families’ once in a while. Much was covered in black ink since the military people censored most of the information written in the letters. 

After serving for over two decades in the navy, Jose was discharged in the year 1972 while at San Diego (Nix, 2017). Being used to the navy and ships, it was challenging for him to adjust to the civilian life. To adjust to new conditions, he used to go to the harbor drive where ships were built. In the navy, he made friends, among them there was Marty Martinez, a Boatswain mate who later died in Vietnam (Nix, 2017).

In the Korean War, Jose served in France where he did maintenance work for the boats and ships damaged in battles. Moreover, the army entitled him to perform military police duties when needed. The reason for his relocation to France was Jose’s some knowledge of the language, as he spoke three languages, namely English, French, and a little Spanish (Nix, 2017).

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Alveres was very popular in France and had good relationships with everybody. Thus, when he got transferred, the whole town in the neighborhood created a petition and signed it from store owners to his fellow servicemen to keep him there longer. In France, Jose served in Chateauroux, where he worked for 28 months. After retirement, he joined Retired Enlisted Men’s Association, American Legion, the Association of Uniformed services, and VFW (Nix, 2017). The two tours he did were between 1968 and 1973. During that time, he would retrieve damaged small crafts which would, in turn, be repaired aboard USS Lenawee (Nix, 2017).

Another army veteran is Juan Cruz Hernandez. Cruz was born 28 August 1927. He served in the 1st Calvary unit and 112th Calvary regiment of Texas Army National Guard after enlisting October 10, 1940. In fact, he was encouraged by his two elder brothers who were already serving in the army (Torres, 2017). He trained in minesweeping equipment aboard USS Gherardi which operated in the Pacific Ocean. Cruz served in World War Two and the Battle of Okinawa where he served as a gunner and a loader of the 20-mm firearm which was used to shoot enemy aircraft. He also served in the South Pacific, Admiralty Islands, New Guinea, Luzon, Leyte Island and Luzon, and Japan (Torres, 2017). After serving for several years, he was discharged. Later, he attended a mechanic and aircraft school in south Texas. He was married and blessed with a daughter Cynthia. However, the marriage did not last long and later ended in divorce.

He got engaged again to his childhood love Maria Gloria Fernandez whom he got married June 3, 1950. Together, they were blessed with two children, Maria Lourdes and Juan Jose (Torres, 2017). After his retirement from the active military, Juan Cruz volunteered to serve in the 122nd Calvary regiment Texas Army National Guard where he operated as a sergeant. While on this corps in 1964, he was in charge of training soldiers in survival and battle tactics in the jungle in Panama, and in Fort Polk, Los Angeles, he trained infantry tactics (Torres, 2017). While securing a place for a helicopter and evacuating the wounded in Ahn Loc, he was shot in the leg and back and was the only one who survived in his team.

As documented by Torres (2017) in his veteran history project, Cruz later served in Vietnam as an advisor to the United States government civil operations rural development support program in Vietnam. He officially retired in 1980 as a master sergeant and was entitled a management role in an alarm company. After working for a few years, Cruz began to work as a technician in the reconstruction of Auto Marts (Torres, 2017).

In conclusion, a number of Asian Americans served in the United States armed forces in the world wars and other expeditions and conflicts. However, the exact number of these people remains unknown. The main focus of these Asian Americans was that eventually after the war was over the government would recognize them as American citizens. As discussed, it is clear that many of them went through many trials and tribulations before they could obtain full citizenship. As much as there were various problems in the obtaining of the United States citizenship, it is evident from the life stories of these two veterans that serving in the United States military and proving oneself in uniform was one of the definite ways to get naturalized. They could even marry and be awarded medals in honor of their service to the nation.

 

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