Since World War II, a member of Art Guzman’s family from Pacoima has served in every major conflict involving the United States.
His uncle Manuel served in WWII. Two other uncles, David and Ruport, were in Korea.
Then came Vietnam. Seven of 10 Guzman brothers served during that era.
Benjamin was the first one drafted. He was followed by Thomas, Ishmael and Art.
These last three, all members of the U.S. Army, were selected this year as 2015 Vietnam War Era Honorary Grand Marshals for the San Fernando Valley Veterans Parade.
“We’re shocked and very honored to represent the Vietnam veterans and those of that era,” said Art, who for decades has been speaking about the sacrifices he and his fellow soldiers made in that conflict, giving speeches and lectures at different schools.
“I do it for the guys on the (Vietnam) wall,” he said, noting that when it comes to those who serve in the military, “we’re all brothers and there’s no nationalities.”
Brothers Eddie and Frank would later join the Marines, followed by Steve who joined the Army.
“We served back to back,” Art said.
But it doesn’t stop there.
The military family tree continued with nephews who served in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. Another nephew will be joining the Marines next year.
The family often gathers on Veterans Day to pay tribute to their siblings and friends, those who made it home and those who didn’t.
At this year’s parade, a large contingent of the Guzman clan gathered at the corner of San Fernando Mission and Laurel Canyon boulevards, the start of the parade, to cheer on the brothers.
Art had T-Shirts made to commemorate the event — light brown in color, with his service insignia on the front and on the back a collage of images forming a GI in Vietnam.
He said the combined military history in his family might motivate the younger generation to keep joining and make the same sacrifice.
But it has also brought them closer.
“I think they’re trying to relate to their uncles and be part of what we were part of, the camaraderie,” Art said. “When they see the collection of Vietnam War stuff that I have, they understand there are no words that can explain being in the service, that it brings a real closeness.”