Highlighting Spokane Veterans Home Volunteer: Jose Cepeda
Jose Cepeda has been a volunteer at the Spokane Veterans Home since 2004. He was born and raised in Guam in a happy family of nine children. On Dec 8, 1941, Japanese forces bombed Guam. Two days later, Japanese captured Guam when Jose was only 9 years old. During this period Jose and his family moved to his uncle’ ranch. After Guam was overrun, the Japanese forces confiscated all forms of communications and vehicles. Everyone in Guam was forbidden to speak English and they were forced to learn Japanese. Along with learning Japanese, Jose remembers everyone going into force labor. Jose remembers going from the Japanese school to work in the farms clearing trees and rocks for the Japanese. It was hard and dangerous time for everyone involved. Guamanians had to be very careful with what they said because it affected families and their lives. The US liberated Guam in the summer on 1944. Everyone in the Japanese camps were taken into more secure US areas, while the US army continued to clear the Island of Japanese forces. Jose was 12 years old.
After the liberation of Guam, all the children repeated the grades they were in when the Japanese forces invaded Guam. Jose repeated the 3rd grade. He graduated in 1952 from Father Duenas Memorial High School and moved to New York to join a monastery. After one year he left the monastery and joined the Air Force. He was 21 years old. Jose was involved in the Korean and the Vietnam War. On Oct 30, 1973, Jose retired from the military. He subsequently worked for the US Postal Service for 22 years. During that time earned his degree from Eastern Washington University in General Studies. Jose received a black belt in Karate and in Tang Soo Do in 2002. Jose has ran Bloomsday since 2005 after his heart surgery. He has also hiked Diamond Head in Hawaii.
Jose has been married to Anna-Maria for 53 years. They met in Sembach Airforce Base in Germany. She was a civil service employee. They have 3 children, 7 grandchildren, and 9 great grandchildren.
Jose has been a very active volunteer over the last 12 years. His main role at the Spokane Veterans Home has been helping with Bingo on Wednesdays. He has helped in many other capacities when called upon. Jose has recruited and involved his family member over the years to help with bigger programs. Jose has always, said “My first pair of shoes were Marine boots and I have always wanted to give back!”