Army buddies reunited after 62 years apart

Charley Robinson

Staff writer

A friendship that started back in 1953 in Straubing, Germany, was revitalized last November when Isabel Contreras of Sabinal visited Josue Cabrera in College Station. They had not seen each other in 62 years.

The two U.S. Army veterans served together in Germany patrolling the Czechoslovakian border  until Cabrera suffered a leg injury and was transported to the hospital.

“I wasn’t a witness to the injury but when he didn’t come back one day they told me he had suffered a leg injury and was transferred to a hospital,”said Contreras.

“That was the last time I saw him, and I always wondered what happened to him,” said Contreras.

“My father talked about Josue a lot during the years and finally my mom and wife, using the internet, decided to try and locate the long, lost buddy,” said Contreras’ son, Ramiro.

They tracked Cabrera to his hometown of Temple, but the search didn’t end there. They were told he had moved to College Station. It took a lot of phone calls, but persistence paid off when they finally found Cabrera.

One of Contreras’ daughters Uvlmar Hernandez transported her dad to College Station for the long-awaited reunion.

“We had a great visit,” said Contreras. “We got to spend the afternoon together, had lunch, and looked at some of the old photos. He did not want me to leave. He wanted me to stay a couple of weeks.”

This story began back in 1953 when Contreras was drafted and shipped to Camp Roberts in San Miguel, California, for basic training. That’s when they became acquainted, but the friendship flourished during their 18-month assignment in Straubing.

Contreras finished his tour in Germany, but Cabrera’s injury separated the pair.

Contreras reiterated several times how cold it was in Straubing, which is located in lower Bavaria, in Southern Germany. He states that he still suffers in cold weather.

The 86-year-old appears younger and is in remarkable shape. He attributes that to hard work.

Son Ramiro points out that his mother is like his father, both in great physical shape.

“He’s worked hard all his life,” added Ramiro.

His early work experience was as a migrant laborer, traveling to New Mexico. Ramiro explained that his father disciplined, which can be attributed to his military experience.

“I don’t have any patience with anyone who won’t work,” inserted Isabel.

After service duty, Isabel spent his adult life as a heavy equipment operator, working over 20 of those years with the county of Uvalde. He also owned a truck and did some hauling.

“He still stays busy,” relates Ramiro. “He and mom can outwork anyone in the family. We have 30 acres outside of Sabinal and he tends to the goats. That keeps him busy.”

Isabel Contreras is extremely proud of his military service. He respects and holds in high regard those who have served their country.

He’s looking forward to his next visit with Josue and hopes it won’t be another 62 years before he sees his friend again.

crobinson@ulnnow.com, 830-278-3335



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