Dr. Hector P. Garcia helped found American GI Forum in 1948

“Veterans plan protest meet Friday night” was the unassuming headline on the front of the local section of the Corpus Christi Times on March 25, 1948. By the end of that meeting, Dr. Hector P. Garcia had convinced the assembled to form a new civil rights organization aimed at helping Hispanic veterans overcome problems within the system.

Dr. Garcia, already a member of LULAC which formed in the city in 1929, was concerned with the way veterans’ benefits were being handled, particularly for Mexican-American veterans. He called for other veterans unhappy with the problems with hospitalizations, pensions and disability payments to meet at Lamar Elementary School’s auditorium on Morris Street. He told the newspaper there was a chance a new veterans organization would be formed.

LEFT: The headline in the Corpus Christi Caller on Jan. 11, 1949 was the beginning of the Longoria Affair which catapulted the American GI Forum to a national spotlight. RIGHT: Dr. Hector P. Garcia, founder of the American GI Forum, in July 1965

Dr. Hector was right.

The meeting was attended by more than 400 people, mostly ex-service members, and the decision was made to form the American GI Forum. The group elected officers, with Garcia as president, John Huey as vice president, Fred H. Woodward as secretary and Gregorio Montoya as treasurer. The group discussed the lack of Latin American representation on the drafts boards, along with the delay in receiving pension and disability checks. The group also publicly denounced the anti-bonus stand taken by Texas Gov. Beauford Jester.

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