Living Large in Limbo: A Medal of Honor Long Overdue

[Ed Note: This article originally appeared in The Argonaut newspaper in west Los Angeles.]

By Kelly Hayes-Raitt

Bill Lansford fought in WWII. He fought in Korea. And then the late Playa del Rey resident fought in L.A. County to build a memorial to Mexican-American soldiers who have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

“Of the nearly 4,000 Medals of Honor awarded since the Civil War, 40 have been given to Latino-Americans, making them the largest single ethnic group, in proportion to the number who served, to earn our nation’s highest award for bravery,” Lansford, the son of a Mexican mother, wrote on his web site.

One soldier who was denied this honor, however, was Maj. Gabriel Navarrete. He stood up to his commanding officer over what was “without a doubt, the most criticized of moves made by the United States Army in the European Theater in WWII,” wrote historian Raul Morin in “Among the Valiant: Mexican-Americans in WWII and Korea.”

Navarrete commanded E Company of the Texas 36th Division, America’s first all Mexican-American infantry unit. Continue reading

We’re Off to See the Wizard!

WizardofOzThis past year marked the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, which was recently named “the most watched movie ever” by the Library of Congress. Since the film’s debut in 1939, it is estimated that more than one billion people have seen the film — but the movie was not a hit when it was first released. Here are some other lesser-known facts about this classic which has been called (rightly) “the most beloved film of all time.” Continue reading

The Undirectible Director

BuddBudd Boetticher led a life that had more ups and downs than an elevator, but his was a life from which legends are made. To this day, old-timers in both Mexico City and Hollywood still speak of him with great respect, even though he never broke into the pantheon of world-famous film directors like Ford, Hitchcock and Huston. In many respects, he was much like the immensely talented and flamboyant John Huston — but without Huston’s inexhaustible good luck. Continue reading

In a Perfect World

flemingMost of us have experienced or heard about “coincidences” that seemed so mysteriously maneuvered that they took our breath away. On such occasions, it seemed that God was alive and well and still concerned about the universe. At such times, we might have thought that, despite millions of indicators to the contrary, there was order, justice and harmony in the world. Continue reading

You’ve Come a Lot Way, Nena!

womanIn the past ten years, Mexican women have come farther than even the most optimistic of them could have imagined. Here at Lakeside, women now hold responsible positions at several banks and many important businesses. In Guadalajara, women can be found in the executive offices in virtually every industry and organization. Moreover, the modern Mexican woman has even created a vital place for herself in the world of politics, one of the last all-male bastions to finally fall. Continue reading

My Most Embarrassing Moment

chimpMany years ago and seemingly in someone else’s lifetime, soon after graduating from SMU, I married into a prominent family in Dallas. My wife was a wonderful person and so was her father, who invited me to come into the family business. But I was hell-bent on making a career in the movie industry — an aspiration he thought indicative of mental instability. Continue reading

Life Can Be a Bitch

Ajijic ManI first arrived in Chapala some twenty-five ago with a motor home, two cars, two dogs and a distinctly dismal-looking future. I was coming off a couple of years in Hollywood where I had developed an acute case of the Midas Touch in Reverse and had finally decided that if I couldn’t change my luck, at least I would change my location. Continue reading