Local resident, David Cortinas recently shared with the HC about his Father, Henry, who served our country during WWII. You can listen to the complete interview in the Radio Show section, but here are some of the take aways from our conversation….
Henry was born and grew up in Cameron, Texas. He was the youngest of three children born to Rafael and Christina Cortinas.
He was a member of the 7th Air Force and the 15th Fighter Group. The 15th Fighter group was re-equipped after the attack on Pearl Harbor and remained in Hawaii as part of the Hawaiian Defense Force, although they rotated squadrons with the 13th Air Force between Hawaii and the Central Pacific islands. In 1944 the 15th received the famous P-51 Mustang Fighters and began training for long range bomber escort missions.. In February 1945 the unit was deployed to Iwo Jima, and was reassigned to the 20th Air Force for the remainder of the war. The unit returned to Hawaii in November that same year.
Unfortunately, Henry was wounded in Iwo Jima by friendly fire, when a night flare, used to light the work of the night maintenance crews, inadvertently landed in an ammo dump close to where Henry was on patrol. He was burned badly on his back and wounded by shrapnel. As bad as it was for Henry, it was worse for his lieutenant who was mortally wounded.
After the war, Henry married the love of his life, Lena. They have raised four children to adulthood and have seen many grandchildren and great grandchildren born into the world. Henry was then, and is still today, a man of peace. He and Lena currently reside in Kerrville, Texas.
Henry is the gunner on the left.