Archive ID: 2020-023-1

Mary Quiroz outside house

Date Created: 1982-05-28

Created By: Suza Matczak

Donor: Christy Boyle

Media Type: Photograph


Mary Quiroz was the mother of Joseph Quiroz, a young soldier who lost his life in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star. He was 21 years old when he was killed on January 28, 1966. Joe Quiroz was the first of twelve Vietnam-era combat deaths among congregants at Our Lady of Guadalupe church in South Chicago, the oldest Spanish-speaking parish in the city. Some suggest this is the largest number of combat deaths of any parish in the country. In 1970, a memorial to the young men was erected near Our Lady of Guadalupe and, in 1990, Joe’s portrait was painted alongside the eleven others on a nearby mural. Quiroz’s older brother Anthony had also been a soldier and lost his life in Korea in 1950.

Mary Flores, the sister of Joseph and Anthony, recalled that Joe told her before he left, “Well, Sis, I’ll be gone like our brother Tony. I’m going to go and I’ll save the world.” She added, “That’s how crazy he was. But all the boys felt the same way. Once my brother left, they all started joining [from South Chicago.] A lot of them met over here. He said, “A lot of kids from South Chicago are over here too, Sis.” Mary also recalled the impact of his death on their mother: “Oh my god, she was beside herself because she had already lost one son in Korea and now the second one. She wasn’t herself anymore after that, and she went downhill. She was so broken-hearted to lose one and then another one. Here we give them birth and they’re taken away and they don’t come back.” This picture of Mary Quiroz was taken shortly after one of the war memorial commemoration services near Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was taken by Suza Matczak, a photographer for the Daily Calumet, a widely-read community newspaper. The picture was donated by Matczak’s daughter, Christy Boyle.

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