EL Paso mothers who had four or more sons who served in the United States in World War II celebrated

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice was declared between the allied nations and Germany in World War I.

A year later, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation commemorating November 11 as Armistice Day, the end of fighting in World War I, saying: “For us in America, reflections on Armistice Day are filled with a solemn pride in heroism his of those who died in the service of the country, and with gratitude for the victory, both for the cause he freed us from and for the opportunity he gave America to show his sympathy for peace and justice in the Councils of Nations to show…”

On May 13, 1938, November 11 was made a federal holiday, “dedicated to the cause of world peace and hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.'”

On June 1, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation changing the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. It is now a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

This original 1918 Armistice Day got El Pasoans celebrating in full force.

The El Paso Times described the scene as “the craziest celebration El Paso has ever seen.”

In 1944, The Times ran a series of articles celebrating El Paso mothers with four or more sons who served in the military. Here are a few:

Mrs. Mary D. Houser had six sons who served in the armed forces during World War II.

January 25, 1944, ‘Mrs. Houser sends family to war

Mrs. Mary D. Houser’s sixth son, 1119 Myrtle Ave., will report for duty in the armed forces this week. Another son was admitted last week.

Ed. C. Houser, 35, Mrs. Houser’s eldest son, left Monday for duty in the Houston Merchant Marines. Frank S. Houser, 22, was admitted to Fort Bliss and is now awaiting orders. Both boys attended the Crockett and Austin Schools here. The former owns Houser Resilient Floors Co., based on Texas Street. Frank was at Beauman Electric Co.

Mrs. Houser, who has lived in El Paso for about 30 years, moved here from Tennessee with her husband. She has one daughter, Mrs. Ruby Merrill, also of Myrtle Ave. 119 lives. Her husband, Ernest Merrill, was rated 1-A.

Sergeant since October 1942, Sgt. Hubert J. Houser, 33, was trained at San Diego, Fort Bliss and Camp Charles, Virginia. He also attended schools in Crockett and Austin.

Boatswain, Second Class Carl L. Houser, 28, enlisted in May 1941 and is stationed with the Coast Guard in New Orleans. He was formerly employed by the Mueller Neon and Electric Co. in Houston. He also attended schools in Crockett and Austin.

George D. Houser Jr., 23, third class electrician with the Sea Bees, was stationed in Davisville, RI. He was previously in Newfoundland and Williamsburg, Virginia and Providence, RI. He received his education at Morehead and El Paso High School.

Bill R. Houser, 20, is an electrician’s mate, third class, stationed at the Submarine Base in New London, Connecticut. He received his education at the University of Minnesota and in San Diego. He was employed in Eldorado, Ark., before entering service in April 1943. He also attended Morehead and El Paso High.

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Mrs. Manuel Provencio Sr. had four sons who served in the armed forces.

January 28, 1944, “Patriotic EP Woman on the Roll of Honor”

Mrs. Manuel Provencio Sr., 631 Prospect Ave., is another El Paso woman with four sons in the armed forces. There are 10 children in Ms. Provencio’s family.

All of Mrs. Provencio’s sons in service are in the army. Three are in the Air Corps and one is in the Infantry.

Lt. Juan J. Provencio, 22, is a pilot in the Army Air Corps. He is based in England and has taken part in numerous raids across Europe. He is a graduate of Cathedral High School.

Staff Sgt. Oscar Provencio, 33, who is in the Infantry, is stationed at Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Ark. He is a graduate of St. Ignatius School. His wife, Mrs. Lupe Provencio, lives with him.

Warrant Officer J. Alfredo Provencio, 27, is with the Army Air Corps at Barksdale Field, La. He graduated from Cathedral High School.

Pvt. Joe H. Provencio, 19, attends Army Radio Technician School in South Dakota. He attended Cathedral High School.

Mr. and Mrs. Provencio’s other children are Manuel Provencio Jr. of Fabens; Raul A. Provencio, student at College of Mines; Mrs. A. Royo, Chihuahua, Mexico; Paulina, Alice J. and Mary Grace Provencio, all from El Paso.

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Mrs. Virginia E. Varela had five sons who served in the armed forces.

Feb. 4, 1944, “EP mother entitled to a special prize”

Five sons of Mrs. Virginia E. Varela, 510 North Piedras St., natives of El Pasoan, serve in the armed forces.

All attended El Paso High School.

Willie Varela, gunner’s mate, third class, is now serving in the South Pacific. He enlisted in January 1943. After his training in San Diego, he served nine months in Australia and New Guinea. He stayed in San Pedro, California for a month before returning to active duty.

Capt. Alfonso Varela, 22, stationed at Seymour Johnson Field, NC, enlisted January 1942. He was employed by Lone Star Motor Co. before enlisting in the armed forces. He trained in Bangor, Maine and New Haven, Connecticut.

In service since January 1943, Pfc. George Varela is training as a paratrooper at Camp Polk, La. Prior to his induction, he was employed by the Southern Pacific Railway.

Trainee First Class Louie Varela, 18, enlisted in the Navy in February 1943. He was recently transferred from San Diego.

Pvt. Adolph Varela, 26, was drafted in October 1943 and is now stationed in Amarillo, Texas. Before being hired, he was employed by Watkins Motor Co. His wife, Mrs. Josephine Varela, and daughter Joan, 14 months old, live at 507 Hill St.

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Mrs. EH Portillo had four sons who served in the armed forces.

8 Feb 1944, ‘EP Mother Proud Of Sons In Uniform’

Mrs. EH Portillo, 2900 Magoffin Ave., is another in a growing number of El Paso mothers with four or more sons in the ministry. Mr. and Mrs. Portillo have four sons in the armed forces.

Second Pharmacist Mate Frank Portillo is in special training at San Diego Medical School after training at the US Naval Hospital in Washington. He attended Beall and El Paso High School.

Pfc. Rudy Portillo serves with a Mississippi Ordnance Division. He attended Beall and Bowie High School. He was employed by Magnolia Coca-Cola Bottling Co.

Pvt. Albert Portillo was recently home on vacation from San Diego, where he has been stationed with an anti-aircraft division for the past two years. He attended Beall School and was employed by Seven Up Bottling Co. prior to his induction.

Pvt. Gus Portillo is stationed in Muroc, California after completing basic training with the Air Corps at Barkley Field, California.

Trish Long can be reached at [email protected] or 915-546-6179.

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