When the United States entered the war in 1941, Latinos were among the many American citizens who joined the ranks of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps as volunteers or through the draft. At the time, Latinos were generally included in the white population census count. For this reason, it is uncertain how many Latinos actually served during World War II. It is estimated however, by the National World War II Museum, that between 250,000 and 500,000 Latinos served in the U.S. Armed Forces during WWII.
Many Latinos also served on the home front. Barred from serving in the armed forces, many Latinas found other ways to contribute to the war effort. Hundreds joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs) and Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) serving as nurses and in administrative positions. Many more took employment in the previously male occupied labor jobs in the manufacturing plants.
Latinos continue to serve in the armed forces today making up 12.3% of the active duty enlisted members in all branches. Today we honour their memory and say thank you for their service, both past and present.
We honour it specifically in a UK context since many American servicemen were deployed to England and specifically to the airfields of East Anglia. Over 3,000 American soldiers, Latinos included, have been laid to rest at the Madingley American Cemetery at Cambridge (featured above). 5,000 more are remembered on the Wall of the Missing. Becky honours this shared heritage and allegiance between the U.S. and UK today at her visit to the cemetery for Memorial Day.