WWII veteran Aguilar recollects military time
NEDERLAND — Patrick Aguilar still proudly wears his baseball cap identifying him as a World War II veteran and member of the Army Air Corps 9th Division.
Aguilar, 95, is the last of five brothers who served in the military: Santos Aguilar, Frank Aguilar, Raymond Aguilar and Ignacio Aguilar were the others.
He and other veterans were honored for their service during a special program put on by Our Lady of Guadalupe Senior’s Club and held at the Nederland Knights of Columbus Hall.
Like many WWII veterans, Aguilar jumped at the chance to enlist to fight for his country. He has shared some of these stories with family and when he and his son Glenn watch war movies together the son asks the father about specifics, wondering if this is what it was like for the elder Aguilar while serving overseas.
How it began
An 18-year-old Aguilar learned his friend, whose last name was Orta, was going to enlist in the military. Aguilar told him to wait for him because he was going to the movies first.
“Hey, wait for me. I’ll go with you,” Glenn Aguilar said of the story his father told.
And he did. Aguilar enlisted before he graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School. Later, Aguilar’s wife was instrumental in him getting his high school diploma.
Sadly, the friend Orta “met his demise overseas.”
Patrick Aguilar served from around 1942 to 1945 then went back as a reserve for one year.
“My mom told him you have two little girls at home,” son Glenn Aguilar said.
Some WWII stories
Aguilar’s family has chronicled some of his military experiences:
- “Once I was on a ship being lowered on rope ladders to the boats below to take us to land. We set up our tents and slept overnight.
The next morning we went to Cherbourg, France, where they were building an airfield. At night we could hear cannons going off.
One day a German plane flew over just to see what was going on. Later at night another German plane flew over us. Both times I recognized the sound their engines made.
A Jeep with two men went down the street with a machine gun mounted on the Jeep and as they started to fire, the gun jammed. Fortunately, the German plane kept on going and “we were saved from any fighting.”
Glenn Aguilar said he often asks his dad details when watching movies and learned that next to the tents in Cherbourg there was a trench the airmen could roll into and grab a rifle, if needed.
- A villager once asked Aguilar for some strawberries and in turn promised to make ice cream for the troop. So he went and got the strawberries for the villager and several days later he received the promised ice cream.
- Once, while in Reims, France he saw some long (German) cars pull up and men in trench coats emerge. The men were there to sign papers ending the war.
- Aguilar was around fighter planes while in the military and he took care of equipment and supplies for the planes.
Our WWII veterans
According to the National World War II Museum, about 496,777 of the 16 million Americans who served in the war are alive in 2018. About 348 of these veterans die every day.