“He is so characteristic of those who have served in World War II,” said Collins. “They don’t take any personal credit for anything. They say, ‘I was only one of many.’ If it wasn’t for the caliber and the quality of people who served this nation during World War II, we would not exist as a Republic today.”
But Flores is a bit more open talking about his combat days than most WW II veterans, some of whom rarely want to relive those days in discussions with other people.
“Not the whole story, though, because there are lot of things we will take with us to our graves,” he said. “It is too emotional to tell. Sometimes we made mistakes and we got embarrassed, too.”
According to the city council resolution, Flores served during WW II in the 1st Battalion, 501 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He spent time at three different US-American military installations before being deployed to the European theater. He was stationed or saw action in England, northern France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Middle East.
Flores first learned of the honor while vacationing in Mexico City in May. While en route, he took part in a war memorial dedication in Texas, which was attended by former President George H.W. Bush, whom he had never met.
Flores received numerous medals, awards, and citations for his military service, leaving at the end of WW II with the rank of corporal. He earned a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, and Combat Infantry Badge among at least a dozen awards and decorations.
Flores married the former María de la Luz Perales in 1946 and moved to Toledo, became a barber and started his own businesses, which included a restaurant, beauty shop, and barber shop. The couple will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary in November.
“It was all in a little shopping center at Airport and Westwood,” explained Flores. “It’s still there.”
They also were instrumental in starting the Guadalupe Center, which is now known as the South Side Community Health Center. The original Guadalupe Family Health Center’s mission was to serve Latinos in east and south Toledo. Services are provided by a professional staff of doctors, nurses, and medical assistants. The health center is open five days a week, providing Medicaid and private insurance health tests and services, as well as Spanish translation when needed.
“We were very active in that,” Flores recalled, quickly pointing out the center was named for a nearby Catholic church, not him. “With the help of doctors from different hospitals, we were able to set up the clinic and get donations from different hospitals. That was very interesting.”
But Flores credited his wife for her dedication to the center, not his own contributions. She received recognition from the Ohio Senate for her volunteer work at the Guadalupe Center.
Flores and his wife have five adult children—Oscar, Richard, George, Mario, and Anna—as well as 13 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren, as well as one more on the way. The resolution describes family as the “joy of his life.”