Uvalde Veterans Service Officer Everardo “Lalo” Zamora recently presented five brothers who served during the Vietnam era with a book commemorating the 50th anniversary of the war.
The book, a special limited edition Texas version of “A Time to Honor: Stories of Service, Duty, and Sacrifice,” is furnished to veterans courtesy of Governor Greg Abbott.
Texas is home to 1.7 million veterans, and approximately half a million of those served in Vietnam.
The book details heroic actions and sacrifices made in Vietnam, chronicles events of the time and pays tribute to all who served in Vietnam.
Uvaldean Ricardo S. Benavidez says that though he and his four brothers are now enjoying retirement, they still vividly remember serving in the military during the Vietnam era.
The brothers grew up in Eagle Pass on Williams Street, sons of Eloisa (Cantu) and Matias Benavidez.
His mother was old enough to recall World War II, and the death notifications made to families of soldiers. For her sons to receive military clearance, an officer in uniform and a man dressed in black showed up on the doorstep to speak to the couple regarding each of their children. The first time they appeared to talk to her about her eldest son, she fainted, fearing he had been killed in action.
The family is close – all five brothers served in the military, two retired from the same employer and two more retired from the U.S. Border Patrol office in Del Rio.
Eldest son Matias Benavidez Jr. served in the U.S. Army from 1962-64, during the beginning of the United States military involvement in the Vietnam War. He was a paratrooper stationed in Panama. He lives in San Antonio, and though he is now retired, he was self-employed as an appliance repairman after his military service.
Ricardo S. Benavidez served in the U.S. Air Force from 1966-70. He was stationed in Southeast Asia from 1968-69. He retired from Southwest Texas Junior College, where he was an instructor, after 37 years of employment.
Roberto C. Benavidez served in the U.S. Air Force from 1969-70, stationed in Guam, in the Philippines. He lives in Eagle Pass and retired from the Del Rio Sector Headquarters of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Rodolfo Benavidez was stationed in Germany and Texas, serving in the U.S. Army from 1972-75. He lives in Eagle Pass and also retired from the Del Rio Station of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, where he worked as a Border Patrol agent.
The youngest brother, Reynaldo C. Benavidez, likes to say he had to help clean up his brothers’ mess, as he served stateside towards the end of the Vietnam War. He served from 1972-75 in the U.S. Air Force. He retired from SWTJC after 37 years in the print shop, and he lives in Uvalde.
Tomorrow, when the American Legion Post 479 and Auxiliary Unit hosts a Veterans Day ceremony at 11 a.m. at the Uvalde County Event Center at the Fairplex, Zamora will have a sign-up sheet available for any area veterans who don’t have a copy of the book.
“Today and every day, we must honor the veterans and fallen heroes who bravely defended our freedoms on the battlefield,” Abbott said. “I encourage veterans throughout Texas to apply for and claim the state and federal benefits and support available to them. On behalf of the state of Texas, I extend my deepest gratitude to our Vietnam veterans and to all those who have worn the uniform of the United States Armed Forces.”
“As a veteran of the Vietnam War, I thank Governor Abbott for honoring our service and providing this book so that our duty and service to our country is not forgotten,” said Eliseo “Al” Cantu Jr., chairman of the Texas Veterans Commission and U.S. Army veteran.