Jose Refugio Aguilar’s family served in the Army during WWII. He became interested in joining the service when he went to a Marine recruiting station with friends and learned he could join the Marines to serve with people from his neighborhood. He enlisted in 1948 and attended boot camp in San Diego, California.
Soon after training, Aguilar deployed to northern Korea in November 1950. He served at Chosin Reservoir in expectation of crossing the border into China. Aguilar’s division moved back south soon after. The enemy shot Aguilar in the leg and captured him. The communist Chinese army held him in Manchuria until July 1951, when the Chinese traded him and other American POWs for Chinese and North Korean POWs. After recuperating in Japan, Aguilar returned to the United States and discharged from the military in 1953. Aguilar received a Purple Heart and POW Medal.
After leaving the Marines, Aguilar worked for the Wallace Oil Company and the U.S. Postal Service in Corpus Christi, Texas until his retirement in 1996. Aguilar volunteered at the Corpus Christi VA Outpatient Clinic and serving on the Corpus Christi Memorial Service Team, which provided military funeral services for Veterans.
He also was a member of Disabled American Veterans and served as a drill instructor for the Corpus Christi Young Marines.
Aguilar passed away at the age of 80 in September 2012.
We honor his service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Sarah Concepcion