On April 26, 1896, in Chihuahua, Mexico, Marcelino Serna was born into a very poor family. He left home at the age of twenty, and crossed the border into the United States, traveling to El Paso, Texas to find a job and improve his life. Since he didn’t speak English, he had to take low-paying jobs and was soon working in Denver, Colorado on a sugar beet farm.
When the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, Serna was in Denver working with a group of men who were picked up by federal officers checking the draft status of potential soldiers. To prevent his deportation to Mexico, Serna volunteered to join the Army.