Patriots from the Barrio (Paperback)
The Story of Company E, 141st Infantry: The Only All Mexican American Army Unit in World War II
As a child, Dave Gutierrez hung on every word his father recalled about his cousin Ramon, “El Sancudo” (the mosquito), and his service in World War II, where he earned a Silver Star, three Purple Hearts, and escaped from the Germans twice. Ramon Gutierrez was a member of Company E, 141st Infantry that was comprised entirely of Mexican Americans—the only such unit in the entire U.S. Army. As part of the 36th “Texas” Division, the 141st landed at Salerno, Italy, in 1943, among first American soldiers to set foot in Europe. In the ensuing months, Company E and the rest of the division would battle their way up the mountainous Italian peninsula against some of Nazi Germany’s best troops. In addition to the rain, mud, and jagged peaks, swift cold rivers crisscrossed the region, including the Rapido, where Company E would face its greatest challenge. In an infamous episode, the 36th Division was ordered to cross the Rapido despite reports that the opposite bank was heavily defended. In the ensuing debacle, the division was ripped apart, with Company E sustaining appalling casual- ties. The company ultimately recovered and was part of the landings at Anzio, and later southern France, for a final push into Germany. The men of Company E distinguished themselves as rugged fighters capable of warring amid the rubble of destroyed villages and in the devastated country- side.
Based on extensive archival research and veteran and family accounts, Patriots from the Barrio: The Story of Company E, 141st Infantry: The Only All Mexican American Army Unit in World War II brings to life the soldiers whose service should never have gone unrecognized for so long. With its memorable personalities, stories of hope and immigration, and riveting battle scenes, this beautifully written book is a testament to the shared beliefs of all who have fought for the ideals of the American flag.