Former prisoner of war Julian Morales Quiroba Jr., born in Uvalde on Nov. 28, 1924, was a contributing member of the Greatest Generation. That’s the term for the age group that survived the Great Depression and fought World War II.
Quiroba was just 19 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943, but like a lot of young Americans of that day, he grew up quickly. World War II had engulfed the globe and there were fierce battles raging on all fronts.
Just over a year after he enlisted, Quiroba’s wife, Ascension H. Quiroba, was notified by the government that her husband had been reported as missing in action, since July 8, in France.
She received another notification on Aug. 21 that her husband was a prisoner of war, held by the German government.
At the time of his capture, Quiroba was a member of the 83rd Division, Medical Section, 1st Battalion, 330 Regiment. His duties were to administer emergency first aid treatment to the wounded.
The day he was captured by the Germans, the first aid stations of the First and Second Battalions, were set up near the front lines in Normandy, France.
The regiments made a sudden withdrawal to allow armored units to advance and first aid stations were left unprotected. The Germans advanced and captured both stations; they took personnel, officers and enlisted men outside.
Prisoners were walked to boxcars and trains took them to a POW camp in Limburg where they were interred for 15 days.
Then they were shipped to a concentration camp at Moosburg where, eight months later, on April 29, 1945, they were liberated by the American 14th Armored Division.
Moosburg, referred to as Stalag VII-A, turned out to be the largest German POW Camp. At the time of liberation there were as many as 130,000 Allied prisoners detained at the site. Reports indicated that 27,000 were American soldiers.
The 14th Armored Division became known as the liberators as they liberated several other POW camps.
Quiroba never had regrets about his WWII service. He continued his military career by re-enlisting and serving his country for 20-plus years.
Quiroba was the only child born to Simona Morales and Julian Quiroba Sr. He grew up on Nopal Street. He was raised with his cousins as a member of the Agustina Morales and Pedro Perez Quiroba household.
It was not uncommon during that era for children to forego an education in order to help provide necessities for the family. Therefore, when Quiroba enlisted in the Army he only had a fourth-grade education.
As a young lad he worked as a lanero, gathering wool in sacks during sheep shearing season. He also worked as a migrant farm laborer and, just prior to enlistment, worked for a construction company in Brackettville.
He had already married his high school sweetheart, Ascension Hernandez, prior to enlistment.
Quiroba always kept Uvalde as his home base. He died Dec. 19, 1990, at the age of 66. He is buried in Houston at the Houston National Cemetery, 10410 Veterans Memorial Drive, in Cemetery Section J, Burial Site 2524.
Mary Quiroba, niece of Julian Quiroba, contributed information for this article.