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Anthony Family Had Five Sons in World War II
Article first published in Vol. 25, 2006.
By Adrianna AlatorreAn Anthony, N. M. mother, Rosaura Moralez, prayed daily for her five boys to come home from service in World War II, and they did. After so many young Americans had lost their lives serving their country during the war, the odds did not favor Raul, Armando, Catarino, Ricardo and Esequiel Moralez all returning alive.
Image caption: Catarino "Cat" Moralez. Photo courtesy of the Moralez family.
The Moralez boys enlisted in the Army and Navy. The first to enlist were Catarino, 21, and Raul, 25, who both joined the Army in 1940, before America's official entry into the war. In a 2006 interview with Borderlands, Catarino, “Cat” for short, stated that the draft seemed inevitable, and so he volunteered. Raul Moralez was a man ready and very proud to serve his country, ac-cording to his sons during a recent interview. Raul volunteered, leaving his gas station behind. The two men would serve as soldiers in Italy, Africa, Germany, France and other locales.
Three Moralez brothers joined the Navy. Armando was the only married one and father of two. Ricardo, also known as “Richie,” left high school and joined the Navy on January 10, 1942. The last to join was Esequiel in 1943. Only 16, he lied about his age, and with the consent of his parents, he enlisted.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor launched the United States into the war, and submariners such as Richie Moralez were faced with uncertainty in the waters of the Pacific. Depth charges and Japanese submarines lurked in the murky and stormy seas. Richie served on the old war sub USS S-34 from Aug. 25, 1942, to March 13, 1944. In a February 2006 interview, Rebecca Cruz, Richie's second daughter, recalled her father telling her that he had to remain quiet for up to 12 hours to avoid detection in hostile waters. Because of the submarine's age, (it was commissioned in the early 1920s), it had to resurface every 24 hours to recharge its battery, something done only at night with extreme caution.
Image caption:Armando Moralez. Photo courtesy of the Moralez family.
He asked four guys sitting together at another bunk “just shooting the breeze” whether they knew Richie Moralez. To his surprise, one of the men was his brother Richie! Esequiel had walked right past him and had not recognized him. The two had a memorable reunion.
Raul and Cat were able to meet in Europe at Crom Castle in Northern Ireland. In an April 2006 interview, Raul's second son, Victor, said his father was allowed a pass to visit his brother Cat. When General George Patton became aware that the brothers were both in the European theater, he granted the pass to Raul, who at the time had just returned from fighting in Germany. On a train to Belfast, some of Cat's buddies from the 804th Tank Destroyer Battalion realized Raul was Cat's brother and celebrated the fact. Upon arrival at the castle, the men took Raul to Cat, sleeping in his bunk. It was the only time that the two brothers saw each other in five years.
The brothers were confronted with many challenges, and there were numerous close calls while they were fighting for their country. Cat Moralez recalled that, at times, the devastation and loss of human life was more than the men could handle. In his battalion's progression towards Rome in 1944, Cat described the scene as “horrifying.” There were bodies on both sides of the road stacked up as far as one could see. The stench, blood, flies and carnage were more than his tank commander could take, and he had to be restrained in a straight jacket for the remainder of the operation.
The conditions in which the brothers had to fight and survive were grueling at times. Raul “Sonny” Moralez, Jr., said in a March 2006 interview that his father, like many, was unaccustomed to Germany's frigid temperatures. The ground was so cold and hard that it was nearly impossible to dig a foxhole, and sleeping on it was like sleeping on ice. Much worse was the killing he witnessed. Sonny recalled the story of the day his father landed in Normandy, a couple of days following D-Day , with the water line still red with blood. Raul Sr. remembered a buddy of his standing at his side for one second, a mortar shell hitting the next second and then his buddy lying lifeless.
The brothers remained strong, always remembering their family and their home. Esequiel said, “I didn't think [about the war]. I was trying to stay alive.” Esequiel perceived his service as an adventure. Aboard a cargo ship accompanied by two destroyers and six other cargo ships sailing the Pacific, he remained relatively out of harm's way during his service. But he was witness to the ghastly aftermath of the battle of Tarawa , seeing limbs and other human remains floating in the water.
On the other side of the world, a worried mother waited and prayed diligently, always hopeful her sons would return alive and well. The women of the neighborhood gathered every Sunday and prayed a rosary for the safe return of the Moralez boys and all the young men from Anthony.
When the war ended in 1945, the prayers of Rosaura Cordero Moralez were answered: the five brothers returned safely home to their waiting mother. All of them married, had children and started lives of their own, carrying on the good name of Moralez. Of the five, Cat still lives in Anthony, while Esequiel lives in Blythe, Calif. Armando died at the young age of 37, Raul died in 2002, while Richie died in 2003. Several of the other 14 Moralez children live in Southern New Mexico, in Las Cruces, La Union and San Miguel.
None of the boys served together, unlike the five Sullivan brothers who perished aboard the USS Juneau in 1942. But like the Sullivans , these five “boys next door” served their country honorably. They fought in different battles all over the world, liberating grateful strangers and preserving American freedom.