Press Release

Mason Lecture Series continues with February 7 veterans panel

Vets talk about the minority experience in WWII


NEW ORLEANS (January 28, 2009) – The National World War II Museum continues the highly successful General Raymond E. Mason  Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series on World War II  with a panel of very special veterans on Saturday, February 7, 2009 at 6:00 p.m.

The National World War II Museum welcomes veterans who experienced first-hand the fight for freedom abroad and equality at home. The panel will showcase the veterans’ stories of what it was like to be in combat, but also what it was like for them, as minorities, to serve in an overwhelmingly Caucasian military. On Sunday, February 8, 2009 at 12:30 p.m., the Museum will present an encore presentation of the panel. For more information, call 504-527-6012 x 331

This program is in conjunction with the special exhibit Fighting for Democracy: Who is the “We” in “We the People”?, presented in New Orleans by Chevron and on display through May 17, 2009

Please note that the originally scheduled speaker Senator Daniel Inouye will not be able to appear due to Congressional responsibilities.

Featured veterans include:

Lt. Col. Henry “Hank” Cervantes was born to migrant workers.  He joined the United States Army and was one of a very few Hispanics to be in the Air Corps.  He flew B-17s with the “Bloody 100th” Bomb Group in Europe from 1944-1945.  Hank pursued a military career in the United States Air Force, eventually reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and served as the Project Officer for the Strategic Air Command’s top secret B-58 “Hustler” bomber.  He retired from the Air Force in 1965 but continued his involvement with aviation, writing the pilot’s handbook for Northrop’s F-5 Freedom fighter and working in the contracting arm of the Department of Defense.  He still lives in California. Lt. Col. Cervantes book Piloto: Migrant Worker to Jet Pilot will be available for purchase and signing.

Domingo Los Baños followed the example of his older brothers and enlisted at the age of 18. He was assigned to the first Filipino Infantry regiment where the harshness of war inspired him to teach future generations that there was another way. He would go on to dedicate his life to public education teaching in Thailand and then Hawaii,  spending  his career teaching children to revere their own cultures while respecting the culture of others. Los Baños is featured in the special exhibition Fighting for Democracy: Who is the “We” in “We the People”?.

Calvin Moret was fascinated with airplanes since he was a young boy.  He dreamed of flying them one day, so when the Tuskegee Airmen were formed, he eagerly volunteered.  He became one of the best-of-the-best as he trained to fight overseas, be it against the Germans or the Japanese, all the while dealing with the Jim Crow laws that confronted him and his comrades. Moret resides in New Orleans, LA.

Charles Norman Shay is a Penobscot Indian from Maine.  On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Shay was a 19 year-old medic serving with the 16th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division.  His unit landed on Omaha Beach and it was there that Shay demonstrated “unselfish heroism” by exposing himself to enemy fire to tend to the wounded, pulling the incapacitated out of the sea and carrying his wounded comrades to safety.  For these actions, Shay received the Silver Star.

After Normandy Shay’s war took him through the Huertgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge, where he was captured for the duration of the war. After returning to the Penobscot reservation in 1945, Shay reenlisted and served in occupied Austria. He returned to combat as a medic in Korea, where he was awarded the Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf clusters for valor. Mr. Shay resides in Maine.

Devoted to the legacy of America’s largest war, the Mason Lecture Series is the latest in a series of local and national events presented by The National World War II Museum to underscore the war’s continuing relevance to both the 21st-century and the heirs of the Greatest Generation’s heirs – the sons and daughters of the men and women who served on the battlefront and the Home Front.

The next presentation in the Mason Lecture Series will be on Wednesday. March 4, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. Carlo D’Este, world renowned historian and bestselling author of Decision in Normandy, Patton: A Genius for War and Eisenhower: A Soldier’s Life will discuss his most recent book, Warlord: A Life of Winston Churchill at War 1874–1945.

The Raymond E. Mason Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series on World War II is made possible through the generosity of Major General and Mrs. Raymond E. Mason Jr. and the Raymond E. Mason Foundation.

This event is free and open to the public, however, seating is limited. To reserve your seat or for more information on this and future lectures in this series, call 504-527-6012 x 345 or email  Register online at