America's last patrol honoring fallen marine
Tue, 24 Apr 2012 23:53:25 GMT —
The American flag that has flown high above Commander Ricardo Pena TMs yard for years is flying a bit lower today"as he honors another fallen serviceman from the Rio Grande Valley.
"Boy, everyone of them is rough," Pena said as he lowered the flag.
Just last year Pena was named Commander of America TMs Last Patrol.
The group dedicates their time to helping families of fallen servicemen and women cope with the devastating loss.
"I've gone through six KIA's (Killed In Action) as the commander," Pena said.
Despite that number, Pena said the walk to the front door never get any easier.
"That hits you in the heart. That really does get you"that is a tear dropper."
Juan Olivas accompanies Pena on many of these visits.
He said nothing can prepare a person for that first visit"as the families first start coming together to grieve.
"You see people grieving, crying, and breaking down, Olivas recalled. It is hard to take."
The latest casualty of Operation Enduring Freedom is Staff Sgt. Joseph Fankhauser.
He served as a marine for 12 years, completed 4 tours of duty in Iraq and was on his second tour of Afghanistan when he was killed.
Pena said they have down a flag raising ceremony for all fallen Valley servicemen and woman"but have bi laws to follow.
He said they must wait for the OK from Fankhauser TMs wife, Heather, before they proceed.
"We have to go through the steps first, Pena started. The first step is the wife and if she says it TMs fine to have the flag raising in McAllen we then go to the mom. If she says fine"then we go to the dad, Pena explained. We can do it at his house only if we have phone or written agreements that we can have the flag raising ceremony."