“I graduated from high school in 1943 and joined the Marines the next day. I grew up in New Orleans and was working at a shipyard as an electrician’s helper before that. I volunteered in June of ’43 and my brother was wounded in July of ’43. I never saw him until after the war. I was stationed in Leyte in the Philippines putting up telephone lines and setting up communication. I was overseas for two years and in combat for six weeks. I was up a tree tying a knot in a telephone line and a bullet went flying by. It was friendly fire because he thought I was a sniper.
I went to Tulane on the GI Bill and got a degree in business. I owned the big toy store in New Orleans and sold it 34 years ago. My ancestors are from Spain and we have been in this city for a long, long time. Southeast of Madrid is a town named Villarubia after my family, but I never went there.
My wife and I honeymooned at the Admiral Semmes Hotel in Mobile. We were married for 61 years before she died ten years ago. We met when I was 12 and she was 11. She moved on my block and I loved her right away. She passed in front of my house on the way to school, and I would watch her walk by. Finally, I met her and we were together the whole time. We married nine years later. I was a zombie for a year after she died. I still miss her. Life is getting harder now. I have neuropathy in both of my legs and they are like stumps.
I turn 93 next week. I love coming to the museum and talking with people several days a week. I have put in almost 5,000 hours here.”