Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Kleenix Required

Fair warning. Make sure you have some Kleenex or a handkerchief handy.

Fort Bliss soldiers honor a fallen comrade’s promise
Soldiers dressed in full Army Dress Blues filled the front seats of Mountain View High School graduation ceremony on June 7, 2014; a unique sight, even for a city located just outside a military installation. As Lluvia Loeza’s name was called, the Soldiers rose to their feet and rendered a salute.

Lluvia’s brother, Staff Sgt. Roberto Loeza, Jr., was an Infantry Rifle Squad Leader (in the) 1st Armored Division out of Fort Bliss, Texas. He deployed with the unit to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2011. Before leaving, he made a promise to his youngest sister, Lluvia, that he would be at her graduation to watch her walk the stage...

Roberto died of injuries sustained by indirect fire on May 25, 2012 while serving in Logar Province, Afghanistan.

Roberto’s brother, Esteban, wanted to surprise their sister. He sent out a message through Facebook to Roberto’s old unit asking for volunteers to stand in his place. The call was answered immediately.

Though the majority of the unit is deployed once again to Afghanistan, the Battalion’s rear detachment ... organized a group of Soldiers to attend Lluvia’s graduation.

More than 30 Soldiers from 1-4 Infantry Battalion attended the graduation. Also in attendance were several Soldiers from the Ft Bliss area that knew Roberto well...

Lluvia was completely surprised by the Straight and Stalwart Battalion Soldiers who gathered in their Army Service Uniforms. Making the event even more special for her, (Battalion Executive Officer Maj. George) Chigi was given permission by the school district’s superintendent to present Lluvia with her high school diploma.
Sgt. 1st Class Bernie Brooks congratulates Lluvia Loeza after her high school graduation.
Lluvia was just as impressive as her older brother; her discipline and drive earned her the distinction of the 4th highest grade point average in her high school. Lluvia’s brother is sure to have been proud to know that Lluvia’s efforts earned her more than $100,000 in college scholarships.

The entire Loeza family was overwhelmed with emotion. They were happy to see so much support from the Straight and Stalwart Battalion for their son and Lluvia. The families of the other graduating students were awestruck by 1-41 Infantry Battalion as it rendered honors to Lluvia, the family, and Roberto.

As the 1-41 Infantry Battalion soldiers gathered to say goodbye to the Loeza family, Berry presented Lluvia with a Straight and Stalwart Battalion coin. These coins are traditionally only given by the Battalion Commander and Command Sergeant Major to Soldiers for extreme excellence in the performance of their duties...
Damn dust in here is making my eyes water...

BTW - Ft. Bliss is located just outside El Paso, Texas. For those of you not familiar with Texas, that's as far west as you can go without leaving the state. El Paso is located in the Chihuahuan Desert of extreme west Texas. It's bordered by the Rio Grande and Mexico to the south, and New Mexico to the west. It's basically desert - dry and hot. I spent a few weeks TDY at Ft. Bliss one summer in the early 1970s. Whoever named that place has one warped sense of humor. There's nothing blissful about it.

When I was 'visiting' there Ft. Bliss was home to an Army Air Defense unit. At the time there was a German Army air defense unit also visiting for a joint exercise. Those poor guys were dying in the Texas summer sun and heat. Worst of all for them, they couldn't get any German beer. All the local bars had available was Mexican or American beer. I've never seen a group of people so happy to beat feet back home as those guys.


Old NFO said...

Yep, damn dusty in here...

Toejam said...

A truly heart-tugging story.

Thank God for the American military and let's all honor them on this July 4th!

Have a great 4th CCT & Old NFO!

CenTexTim said...

NFO - it sure is.

Toejam - thanks, and the same to you.