Augustine Delgadillo, 93, sits in the living room of his Sunnyside home wearing a freshly pressed Army uniform. It is the same one he wore when he returned from World War II in October 1948 after service in both the European and Pacific theaters of war.
Delgadillo is wearing the uniform once again as he prepares to drive to Williams to talk to students at Williams High School about his experiences in the war.
He was an 18-year-old sophomore at Seligman High School when his draft notice came.
“I was a country boy. The furthest place that I knew was Prescott. Seligman was my little world. Before I was drafted I had never been out of that tiny town with the exception of the rare trip to Prescott.” Delgadillo said.
When asked about military service, Delgadillo said:
“Anybody who wants to serve our country, it would be a good thing because in the military you learn to take orders, discipline, and do what you have to do. Our commander in chief is our commander and he can deploy us military people, regardless of our branch, to any part of the world that is having problems.
“We went to Europe to save the people, not to conquer them -- we went to liberate and I’m so proud that I served my country," Delgadillo added. "I love my country and I will always be thankful for what our country’s all about. We are a great nation.”
In Delgadillo’s home office sits a framed letter from his brother Angel thanking him and their two brothers for their military service. As each of the four Delgadillo boys turned 18, they received draft notices to join the war.
“I remember when brother Joe was drafted and then brother Juan to serve in WWII, then you were drafted as well," Angel wrote in the letter to his brother. "All three of my brothers were off to serve in the war. When I turned 18 years old, I too was drafted. I did not pass the physical due to my flat feet.”
As he gathered his things to make the journey to the presentation in Williams, Delgadillo talked of his experiences in the war.
“The war in Europe ended and we were then deployed to the Philippines," Delgadillo said. "One morning we woke up and heard they dropped the atomic bomb. We all wondered what the atomic bomb was. We heard that President Truman wanted to end the war to stop the loss of more life and the dropping of the bomb ended the war.
“When I came home I didn’t know what to do with myself. I really just wanted to go back into the service but I was engaged to be married to my wife and so we got married.”
Delgadillo said that he wears his old Army uniform from time to time for special occasions. The last time he wore it was for a trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the World War II Memorial.
Before stepping out of his front door to speak to a new generation of high school students, Delgadillo made sure that the uniform he first wore as a high school sophomore three quarters of a century ago was parade ground ready. It was time to march once more.