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Barona Veteran's Wall of Honor

Caetano 'Guy' Curo
(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)

Army Served : WWII era

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Charles ‘Charley’ Curo                    

(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)

“Charley was a radioman in Col. Doolittle’s plane. He was on board when the plane photographed the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki right after the bomb was dropped. Charley said all they saw was blackness and didn’t understand the significance of what they were seeing.”

Private First Class (Army Air Corps)

Enlisted and Served: WWII        

Basic training: Ft. Rosecrans, CA

Stationed: Pacific Theatre

Medals and Awards: American Campaign, Asiatic Pacific Campaign, Good Conduct, WWII Victory medals.

Charley served together with his brothers Gene and Buddy in WWII. He was a radio operator.

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Eugene ‘Gene’ Paul Curo
(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)

Of Gene’s wartime experience, his mother Dora said, “My son went away and another person came back in his place.”

Private First Class (Army)

Enlisted and Served: 1944-1947 

Basic training: Ft. Ord, CA

Stationed: Normandy, European Theatre. Saw action in Morocco, Tunisia, and Naples; G Company, 168 Infantry Regiment during WWII.

Medals and Awards: Occupation of Germany; WWII Victory Medal, Victory American Theatre; American Defense; Distinguished Service; Honorable Service Lapel Button

Gene met his wife Wanda in Italy, married her and sent her home to the Reservation.

Photo courtesy of Shirley Curo Ruis.

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Melvin ‘Blackie’ Edward Curo              

(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)

“Uncle Mel was sent to Japan and was asked to be a ski instructor.  He didn’t know how to ski.”

Army and Air Force

Drafted and Served: Drafted for two years in the Army and later enlisted in the Air Force

Basic training: Ft. Ord, CA  

Stationed: Japan for Army and the U.S. for Air Force

Photo courtesy of Blackie’s sister, Josephine Romero.

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Manuel ‘Chief’ Hernandez                               

(Barona Tribal Member)       

“Going into the Army…gave me focus and direction.”

Major (Army)

Enlisted and served:  December 1988-1991; West Point Class of 1995

Commissioned Officer: 1995-2012

Basic training: Ft. Benning, GA (Infantry)

Officer basic course: Ft. Rucker, AL (Aviation Pilot)

Stationed: Fort Bragg, NC (82nd Airborne Division), Guatemala, Korea, Egypt, Uzbekistan (Operation Enduring Freedom)

Like many Indians in the service, Manuel was given the nickname “Chief"

by his fellow soldiers, a nickname he still assumes to this date. After graduating

from West Point, Chief served as a UH-60 Helicopter pilot. Immediately after the

9/11 attacks, he deployed to Uzbekistan (Afghanistan) for six months in support of

Operation Enduring Freedom. During his 20 years of service to this great Nation,

Chief deployed all over the world before retiring in 2012.

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David LaChappa                                                   

(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)

Private First Class (Army)

Enlisted and Served: WWII

Stationed: He was on the Carrier U.S.S. Yorktown to the Pacific Theatre where he saw action.


Donald F. ‘Tiny’ LaChappa                             

(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)

“Indians serve in the military as an outlet away from poverty…you know you’re going to be trained in something.”        

Private First Class (Army)

Enlisted and Served: 1964-1966 

Basic training: Ft. Ord, CA; Ft Dix, NJ

Stationed:  France and Germany

Tiny enlisted by himself but met Indians from Pala and La Jolla Reservations while serving.

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Frank ‘Hack’ LaChappa                                    

(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)

Tiny LaChappa recalls the story of his father Hack’s Purple Heart:

“It was a cold morning when he woke up. He looked over the barrier twice, on the third time the bullet went through the top of his helmet along the curve of the metal, came down through his shoulder and lodged in his upper torso. It missed bones and major blood vessels. He was sent to the hospital in Paris, patched up, and sent to Italy again.”

Private First Class (Army)

Enlisted and Served: 1941-1945, WWII

Medals and Awards: Purple Heart at the ‘Battle of the Bulge’ in Belgium; Combat Infantry Badge; Bronze Star; WWII Honorable Service Lapel Button, WWII Victory Medal.

Photo courtesy of Lucille LaChappa.

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Joe ‘BoBo’ Peter LaChappa                     

(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)

Army Private First Class

Enlisted and Served: 1940s , WWII

Stationed:  Pensacola, FL

Photo courtesy of Linda LaChappa.


Tommy LaChappa                                            (Barona Tribal Member, deceased)

“Tommy received a Purple Heart in Vietnam. He was wounded while flagging down a helicopter to save his unit.”


Enlisted and Served: 1966, Airborne            

Basic training: Ft. Benning, GA

Stationed: Vietnam

Medals and Awards: Purple Heart

Photo courtesy of Lucille LaChappa.

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James D. ‘Danny’ Magginni      

(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)       

Corporal (Army)

Stationed: Korea

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Vincent ‘Beans’ Mesa                      
(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)

Private (Army)

Served: 1959th SVC COMD Unit, WWII era

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Wesley John ‘Pee-wee’ Peters                         
(Barona Tribal Member)

“[Indians serve because] we come from a warrior society so there is a chance to bear arms.”

Private First Class (Army)

Enlisted and Served: 1962-1966           

Stationed: South Vietnam, Vietnam War

Basic Training: Ft. Polk, LA, Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Benning, GA


Rosemary Peters                                               (Barona Tribal Member)

“Those who served during wartime are the real veterans.”

Corporal (Army)

Enlisted and Served: 1987-1990 

Basic training: Ft. McClellan, Alabama   

Stationed: Munchweiler, Germany

Medals and Awards: Army Commendation Medal, Military Merit, Military Achievement.


Albert ‘Boxie’ Phoenix                              

(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)         

Corporal (Army)

Drafted and Served: 1953-1955  

Basic training: Camp San Luis Obispo CA

Stationed: Ft. Lewis, WA; Ft. Huachuca, AZ

Boxie attended Southwestern Signal Training Center. He achieved the

rank of Corporal by the end of service.


Martin ‘Goose’ Prieta                      

(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)

Army Served: WWII era

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Paul ‘Duck’ Prieta, Sr.                               

(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)


Served: WWII era

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Craig Van Wanseele

(Spouse of Barona Tribal Member Phyllis Van Wanseele and father of Barona Tribal Members Brian and Kevin Van Wanseele)

Specialist 4 (Army)

Enlisted & Served: 1968-1974

Basic Training: Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Stationed: San Diego, with the 728th Amphibious Unit

Metals & Awards: Marksman M-14, National Defense Service Metal

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Leland Prieto

(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)         

“At 18, I learned a lot from the white man’s world.”

Sergeant (Army)

Drafted and Served: 1968-1974

Basic training: Ft. Ord

Stationed:  Ft. Sill, OK for artillery training and then to Ft. Lewis, WA and was discharged from El Paso TX.

Leland was an outstanding mechanic. He thought the Army was great; he traveled, met people, and even learned to water ski.


Victor G. Rodriguez

(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)

Army Enlisted and Served: WWII                  

Stationed: Europe

While traveling in England, Vick thought the food tasted terrible. He was stationed in Europe with Joe LaChappa.

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Patrick ‘Butch’ E. Wallace

(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)

“Pat and Robbie Welch were in the National Guard together and were called to action for the Watts Riot in L.A.”

Army Drafted and Served: 1962-1964  

Basic training: Ft. Ord, CA; Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Sill, OK

Stationed: Germany

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Robert 'Robbie' Welch, Sr.                     
(Barona Tribal Member)

“Mom sent me tortillas and beans in the mail—it got there in a few days.”

Private First Class (Army)

Enlisted and Served: 1961–1963

Basic training: Ft. Ord, CA    

Stationed: Germany, in the 35th and 75th Field Artillery

Medals and Awards: Good Conduct


Leon ‘Slick’ Banegas                                        

(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)

“I was a sentry and dog handler… I liked working with the dogs. It was a good group of people to work with, also.”

Airman Third Class (Air Force)

Enlisted and Served: 1961-1964 

Basic training: San Antonio, TX

Stationed: Philippines and Kansas

Medals and Awards: Service and Good Conduct

“Indians serve because they want to protect the land.”

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Charles ‘Goncho’Rodriguez                            
(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)

Air Force

Basic training: Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas

Goncho received an Honorable Medical Discharge after seven months of service.

Alfred ‘Chief’ Rodriguez                          

(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)

“Every Indian was a chief in the Marine Corps.”

Staff Sergeant (Marine Corps)

Served: 1941-1945               

Basic Training: MCRD, San Diego

Stationed: 8th Marines, 1st Battalion B Company.  Pacific Theatre: Samoa, Kwajalein, Gilbert Islands, Tarawa, Okinawa, and after WWII in Hawaii with the Military Fire Department.  Later, he was in Korea in 1950 during the landing at Inch’on.

Medals and Awards: Received the Purple Heart for major injuries when he stepped on a landmine.

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Gilbert ‘Rowdy’ Rodriguez, Jr.              

(Barona Tribal Member)

‘When I got to Saudi Arabia [Gulf War], Father Alan had a mass for me here to pray for my safety.’

Private First Class (Marine Corps)

Enlisted and Served: 1988-1991 

Basic Training: MCRD, San Diego      

Stationed: Camp Lejeune, NC, Japan, and Saudi Arabia

Rowdy is proud of his service; he says it gave him direction. He saw action in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War.


John ‘Shorty’ Banegas                                     
(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)

“The hardship for Shorty was leaving his wife and kids behind.”

Seaman First Class (Navy)

Enlisted and Served: 1943 

Basic training: Furgut, ID

Stationed: Great Lakes, IL

Medals and Awards: WWII Victory Medal; American

Campaign Medal

This photo of Shorty was taken on Veterans Day around 1943.

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Joseph ‘Buddy’ Carl Curo, Sr.                        
(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)

“It’s a great honor to fight for your land when someone is trying to take it away.”

Seaman Apprentice (Navy)

Enlisted and Served: 1944

Basic training: Naval Training Center, San Diego

Medals and Awards: WWII Victory Medal

Buddy collapsed during basic training. He had a heart problem and received an Honorable Medical Discharge after a year-and-a-half at Long Beach Hospital.

Photo courtesy of Shirley Curo Ruis.

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William H. Adams                                            

(Father of Barona Tribal members Dolores Matheny and Evelyn Lloyd, deceased)

Sergeant (Army)

Enlisted and Served:  1940s in WWII, F Company, 119th Infantry Regiment, 30th Division in European-African-Middle-Eastern Theatre (EAME) as well as Normandy and Northern France; member of Lakeside VFW

Medals and Awards: Received a Purple Heart for wounds (shrapnel in the right leg) received in Germany in 1944; Marksman; Sharpshooter; European, African, and Middle East Medal; two Bronze Battle Stars.

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Robert Cruz                          

(Spouse of Barona Tribal Member Margie Cruz)

Specialist (Army)

Enlisted and Served: 1963-1966                    

Basic training: Fort Ord

Stationed: 7th Army, Germany and Vietnam

Medals and Awards: National Defense Expert Rifleman

Robert helped to guard the Berlin Wall and saw action in a 48-hour standoff with the Russians. His two brothers, also in the Army, were stationed

in Vietnam.

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Marc Cuero 
(Campo Reservation, deceased)


Served: WWII era

Dominic Wesley Donayre   

(Pascua Yaqui, Spouse of Barona Tribal Member Melissa Donayre)

“In my heart I feel good that I served my country.  I was ready to go if something happened—I was well trained.”

Sergeant (Army)

Enlisted and Served: 1978-1982 

Basic Training:  Ft. Gordon, GA

Stationed:  Ft. Lewis, WA

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Alfred Magginni           
(Santa Ysabel Tribal Member, deceased)

Private (Army)

Drafted and Served: 363rd Inf., Co. B, WWII

Medals and Awards: WWII Victory Medal; Honorable Service Lapel Button     

It was hard when Alfred left for the service. He had been helping his brother Charles and his children with finances. Josephine Whaley remembers him in his uniform and taking him to the train. Vincent Mesa of Barona went into the service at the same time.

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Russell Matheny                                

(Spouse of Barona Tribal Member Delores Matheny)

Private First Class (Army)

Enlisted and Served: 1961-1964 

Basic training: Ft. Leonard Wood, MO   

Stationed: Germany, guarding the Berlin Wall.

Medals and Awards: Marksman, pistol and rifle


Joseph Maxcy, Jr.

(‘Iipay California Indian, deceased)

Private First Class (Army)

Enlisted and Served: 1941-1945 

Basic training: Camp Elliot to Ft. Ord, CA

Stationed: Philippines where he saw action during WWII

Joseph Maxey, Jr. and his brothers Everett, Felix, Henry, and Ed joined the service after their brother Stanley was shot in the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Stanley died in the VA Hospital in Denver shortly after the attack.

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John Wallace Means

(Oglala Lakota, Deceased spouse of Barona Tribal Member Beverly Means)

Private (Army)

Enlisted and Served:  1965-1968

Basic Training:  Ft. Bragg, NC

Stationed:  173rd Airborne, Vietnam 1966-1967

John was a proud member of the 173rd airborne unit and earned many commendations including a Purple Heart.  He was also a life member of the Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion, and the Red Feather Society.


Wesley ‘Wes’ Peters                                    

(Pauma Tribal Member, deceased)

Sergeant (Army)

Enlisted and Served: WWII                 

Wes was a military policeman and reached the rank of Sergeant.

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Abel Ruis, Sr.                                                     
(Spouse of Barona Tribal Member Shirley Curo Ruis)

“I was a Switch Board operator and handled all the Top Brass communications. I put President Nixon through several times.”

Specialist (Army)

Drafted and Served:  1971-1974 

Basic training: Ft. Gordon GA

Stationed: Stuttgart, Germany

Medals and Awards: Rifleman

Abel said the service makes you grow up fast. The benefit for his family of ten kids—it was one less mouth to feed.


Babtista John Sloan, Jr.

(Deceased Mesa Grande Tribal Member and father of Barona Tribal Member Teri Sloan)

Teri Sloan speaks for the first time about her father who died when she was 15: “Bob was a very brave and courageous man… Bob worked with the [Navajo] Code Talkers. It was while he was performing his duties as a lineman when a bombshell landed near him blowing him out of a tree. It wasn’t until seventeen hours later that he received medical help.”

Private First Class (Army)

Enlisted and Served: 15th Infantry Regiment, WWII                 

Stationed: European Theatre

Awards and Medals: Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

He lost the use of his legs at age 18 from his war injuries. Bob felt that many misunderstood the extent of his injuries and he shied away from social events in the Indian community. Although confined to a wheelchair, he went on to have children and lead a quiet and productive life working in the home.

This photo of Bob was taken before he was wounded, courtesy of Teri Sloan.

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William ‘Billy’ A. Vicaldo 

(Spouse of Barona Tribal Member Penny Curo)

“I was proud to serve my country.”

Specialist (Army)

Enlisted and Served:  1973-1976

Basic training:  Ft. Ord, CA

Stationed:  Ft. Lewis, WA

Billy enjoyed being a truck driver for headquarters and wished he’d stayed in for 20 years. His father was also in the service. Two of his uncles died as POWs in Korea.

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Dan Yeats     

(Spouse of Barona Tribal Member Toddy Yeats)

Sergeant (Army)

Enlisted and Served: 1966-1969                    

Basic training: Fort Ord, CA

Stationed: Vietnam

Medals and Awards: Commendation Medal and Bronze Star

Dan saw action in Vietnam. Some of his strongest memories include seeing the burn victims of a Communist attack on a village.

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Sebastian ‘Yango’ Prieta

(Barona Tribal Member, deceased)


Served:  WWII era

Eddie I. Welch                          

(Deceased Father of Barona Tribal Members Robbie, Joe, Maxine, Margaret and Virginia Welch)  

Private (Army) and Chief Petty Officer (Navy)

Enlisted and Served: Army in WWI at 17, Navy in WWII

Medals and Awards:  WWI Victory Medal; WWII Victory Medal

Pictured on the right, he attended West Point for a short time and then served in the Cavalry. Later he joined the Navy. He was a Chief Petty Officer aboard ship in WWII, where he saw action. 

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Phillip Peters                                                    
(Pauma Tribal Member, deceased)

Peewee Peters said of his uncle, “Phillip served with his brothers Wesley and Steven in World War II.”

Pharmacists’ Mate Second Class (Navy)

Enlisted and Served: 1940s, WWII

Stationed: Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1942

Medals and Awards: Navy Unit Commendation

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Joseph ‘Cookie’ Abel Pico

(Viejas Tribal Member, deceased)

“The Red Cross brought Cookie home to see his dad before he died. He died as soon as he saw his son.”


Enlisted and Served: WWII        

Basic training:  Naval Training Center, San Diego

Stationed: He saw action on board ship overseas.

He enlisted with Barona Tribal Member Buddy Curo.


John Robbins Curo 

(Deceased Stepson of Barona Tribal Member Charley Curo)

Navy Enlisted and Served: 1964-1966 

Stationed: Flag Ship Admiral Fleet, Mediterranean

Johnny later served as a San Diego County Sheriff.

Photo courtesy of Edith Curo.

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Michael McGinty                                        

(Spouse of Barona Tribal Member Margie Magginni)


Benny Romero                                             

(Deceased spouse of Barona Tribal Member Sister Romero)

Petty Officer Second Class (Navy)

Enlisted and Served: 1944-1946 for WWII; 1951-1953 for Korea

Basic training: Naval Training Center, San Diego

Stationed: Served in WWII in the South Pacific and again in Korea.

Benny saw action during the invasion of the Philippines in October 1944. His first ship was the S.S. Sea Devil.  He achieved the rate of Metal Smith Petty Officer Second Class.

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Herman Osuna, Sr.                                    
(Santa Ysabel Tribal Member, deceased, and father of Barona Tribal Members Herman Jr., Roberta, Monica, and Danny)

Private First Class (Marine Corps)

Enlisted and Served: 1952-1955

Stationed: Camp Pendleton and Korea

Herman achieved the rank of Private First Class in the Marine Corps 1st Division. Photo taken in Korea in 1953.


Thomas ‘Pete’ Parcell, Sr.                       

(Deceased spouse of Tribal Member Mary Parcell)

Corporal (Marine Corps)

Enlisted and Served: 1949-1953  

Basic training: Parris Island, SC

Stationed: Guard duty at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego.

Pete served in the military police at MCRD and at Naval Bases. 

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Joan Phoenix          
(Deceased Otoe-Missouria Tribal Member and spouse of Barona Tribal Member Boxie Phoenix)

“I was born to be a Sergeant.”

Sergeant (Marine Corps)

Enlisted and Served: 1951-1953 

Basic training: Cherry Point, NC

Stationed: El Toro, CA


Stanley Rodriguez
(Santa Ysabel Tribal Member)

Petty Officer Second Class (Navy)

Enlisted and Served: 1985-1993, Operation Desert Storm (1991)

Basic training: Naval Training Center, San Diego

Stationed: 32nd Street Naval Station, San Diego

Medals & Awards: Expert Rifleman and Pistol Shot Medals, Sea Service Ribbon (twice), Good Conduct Medal (twice), National Defense Medal, Liberation of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia Medals, Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal, and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.

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