Charley Trujillo

Charley Trujillo
Charles Trujillo
Born November 6, 1949(1949-11-06)
Hanford, California, United States
Occupation Author, Publisher, Director, Producer
Nationality Mexican-American
Genres Ethnic Literature

Charley Trujillo (born November 6, 1949) is a Chicano novelist, editor, publisher, and filmmaker. He is known for his novel and documentary Soldados: Chicanos in Việt Nam.


Early life

Charley Trujillo was born in Hanford, California in 1949, as one of seven children of Raymond and Guadalupe Trujillo. Raymond Trujillo’s family moved to Sweetwater, Texas from Silao Guanajuato, Mexico in 1908. Guadalupe Trujillo’s family had been in Texas since before the Texas Annexation in 1848.Raymond Trujillo moved to California when he was one-year-old and had received a sixth grade education and eventually served in World War II.[1] Guadalupe Trujillo had only received a second grade education and moved to California when she turned fourteen. The family settled in Corcoran, California where they picked cotton. Charley Trujillo was raised in Corcoran, in a typical Latino farm working family. Charley Trujillo worked in the fields with his family and attended Corcoran High school. Growing up in the 1960s he endured Corporal Punishment from the educators for speaking Spanish in the classroom. He faced discrimination in school and out of this family and fellow Chicanos. The segregation was emotionally damaging; however helped Charley preserve his Hispanic culture despite being a second generation Latino.

War Experience

Two weeks after graduating Corcoran high school in 1968, Charley Trujillo enlisted in the U.S. Army. Charley was not drafted, he chose to sign up for the army for the experience and to mature out of his hometown. He served in Germany as an infantryman in 1969. From there he volunteered for Vietnam. He served there as a sergeant in the infantry, earning both a Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal.[2] During his time in Vietnam, a piece of shrapnel landed in his right eye destroying his eye and making him a Disabled War Veteran. He served the U.S. Army from 1968 until 1970.


Charley Trujillo had a difficult time on his arrival back to America. The first thing Charley did when coming out of the military was go to church and light a candle for his then, recently deceased grandmother and gave thanks. He was then bed ridden with malaria three different times. Charley realized how much the war negatively affected all those involved and joined the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Once relieved of illness Charley went to work in the fields, however decided that he did not want to do menial for the rest of his life. Charley was able to pursue an education through the G.I. Bill and working part-time jobs. He attended Fresno City College from 1971 to 1972 and then Transferred to UC Berkeley where he received his BA in Chicano studies as class of 1976. He continued in the Teaching Credential Program in 1977. From there he continued his education at San Jose State University earning his MA in Chicano Studies.[3]


From 1978 to 1991 Charley Trujillo was a professor of Ethnic Studies, Social Sciences and Chicano Studies at De Anza College. Charley felt as though Chicanos are a demographic that have been neglected in society.[4] He then decided to document the experience of the Chicano soldiers in the war. He put together Soldados: Chicanos in Việt Nam, an accumulation of 19 Chicano war stories. He went to over 70 publishers and had his book rejected every time. His frustration led him to create his own Publishing company in 1990. Charley Trujillo is the Founder and currently editor and publisher of Chusma House Publications. The Chusma House Publications decided to focus on works of worth and significance rather than novels designed for commercial purposes. The Publication company has now published over 30 titles by other authors of different ethnicities.[5] Nationally, 38 colleges and universities have used Soldados as a textbook. The book has also been successful in the popular literature market.[6] He also wrote Dogs From Illusion, another Viet Nam war novel. He later moved on developing a movie version of his book. Charley directed and co-produced the documentary Soldados: Chicanos in Việt Nam for with Sonya Rhee, in 2003.[7] The documentary aired regionally on for POV on PBS from 2003–2008 and then aired nationally on PBS in 2003 and 2004. Charley Trujillo has lectured at over 60 universities and colleges, nationally and internationally.


Charley Trujillo is currently writing a Fictional memoir : The Real Life of a Dead Chicano: Patas de Perro. He has two films in the making. One is a video documentary on Tiburcio Vasquez the legendary bandit of 1800’s California. The Other film is a feature film based on Dogs From Illusion.[8] He now lives in San José, California, in a 1 bedroom apartment.[9]



  • Charley Trujillo, ed (1990). Soldados: Chicanos in Viet Nam and Dogs From Illusion. Chusma House Publications. ISBN 9780962453601. 
  • Dogs from illusion. Chusma House Publications. 1994. ISBN 9780962453656. 



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