The bond between those who have served in battle together is considered one of the strongest bonds known to man. For a very special U.S. Army unit that fought together in WWII, that bond has now transcended generations.
Dave Gutierrez is the author of the book,PATRIOTS from the BARRIO. It is the true WWII story of the men that serve in the U.S. Army's all Mexican American combat unit, the 36th Division, 141st Regiment, Company E. Gutierrez first set out to write the biography of relative Ramon Gutierrez from Del Rio Texas who served in the unit, when he discovered that
The unit was comprised entirely of Mexican Americans from Texas barrios. Through five years of research the author connected with over fifty different families of the men who served in Company E.
An original National Guard unit out of El Paso Texas, the unit was training out of Camp Bowie in Brownwood Texas before December 7 1941. At the break of WWII the 36th Division moved their training to Camp Blanding Florida, they participated in the Carolina Maneuvers before starting amphibious training at Camp Edwards Massachusetts. The T-Patchers as the 36th was known arrived in North Africa in April of 1943 where they continued amphibious training. The 36th Division was attached to the 5th Army and spearheaded the landing at Salerno Italy on September 9 1943. Company E would go on to fight in some of the most horrific battles of the Italian Campaign, including the disastrous Rapido River Crossing where the 36th Division lost over 2,000 men.
When it came time to hold his first book signing event, the author knew of the perfect place, Capt. John Chapin High School in El Paso. The school opened in 2000 and was named after the commanding officer of Company E who was killed in action at the deadly Rapido River. At the school is a beautiful rotunda memorial dedicated to the men of Company E. Every soldiers name is memorialized on the rotunda wall. The author invited all of the family members who had submitted stories, photos, and documents. They cam from California, Arizona, and all over Texas to continue the bond that had been forged on beaches, in mud, over mountains, and one deadly river in Italy over seventy years ago.
A Face Book page is dedicated to the book and the men of Company E. It has become a format for the families of the men of Company E to remain bonded by their heroes.