Alfonso Cabrera was born March 27, 1924 and was the first of five other siblings in the Cabrera household that lived on Dolan Street. Respect for parents and family and strong values was instilled in him while growing up. At an early age, Al wanted to help his family financially and looked for ways to do so. A gentleman by the name of Mr. Kroeger allowed young Al to do odd jobs for him at his shoe store. He took an interest in Al, and helped him start his shoe shine business on the side of the shoe store. This was on the corner of 2nd and Downey Ave. He also was a golf caddie at the country club and repaired bicycles at the hardware store. While in school, Al loved sports and played baseball, basketball, football and ran track. He broke the Downey High School record for the 100 yard dash.
In 1942, Al left Downey High to get a job to support his family. He joined the Army in May 1943 and served for 27 months as cannoneer and mine-sapper with the 182nd Infantry in New Guinea and the Philippines. As a mine-sapper, Al went ahead of the main forces to detect and deactivate enemy mine fields on beaches and inland areas. Al received the Bronze Star for heroic action in difficult circumstances. His official citation lists many heroic acts and he was recognized for his, “aggressive attitude, disregard for his safety and devotion to duty.”
He married Angie Alvarez after his honorable discharge from the Army and settled in Compton, CA. The couple had five children and Al became very involved in his community. He received awards and commendations over many years and is especially proud to have been presented with the Legend of Lifetime Humanitarian Award. He also served on the Board of the Veterans Post in Compton. In 2010, he was honored as a Community Leader of Yesterday for the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
Al has slowed down in the past ten years and recently celebrated his 89th birthday in March of this year. He has seven grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. He enjoys watching his favorite sports teams such as the Dodgers, Lakers, Clippers and all football games. He still resides in Compton and always enjoys hearing the latest new regarding Compton politics. He still drives himself to his doctor appointments and to the market for groceries.