America's Last Patrol travels 1,200 miles to bring body of veteran home
Sat, 07 Sep 2013 03:38:35 GMT —
Just when Virginia Gutierrez thought all hope was lost with seeing her late father again, incredible acts of kindness help to bring him home.
"I'm so overwhelmed," she said. "I don't know how to express myself. I thought I would never see him again."
Rolando Gutierrez died last weekend in Knox City, Texas at a special nursing home for patients with dementia.
The Vietnam veteran was 65-years-old.
Virginia feared her father, who lived with her and her son in Harlingen up until 2009, wouldn't get a proper military funeral because of a lack of funds.
"I feel empty," she said Tuesday night on Action 4 News at Ten. "I feel alone."
Shortly after the story aired, Commander Ricardo Pena with America's Last Patrol volunteered to travel nearly 1,200 miles to help transport the body home.
"When we got the call from you Ryan, we needed to do something," he said. "We needed to step up to the plate and help this poor lady out. She was crying in the interview and didn't have any money saved up."
Administration at Heavenly Grace Memorial Park in La Feria wanted to do their part for the Harlingen woman as well by providing funeral services for free and setting up a military burial at the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery in Mission.
Doak Dunkin is vice president at Heavenly Grace.
"When I saw Virginia Gutierrez with a need to give her father a veteran's funeral... he was a veteran, an honored veteran... I felt like we needed to help out to make that a reality," he said.
Virginia can't find the words to thank those who helped her.
"Turning to Action 4 News changed my life," she said.
And while she prepares to see say her final goodbyes, Virginia no longer feels alone knowing there are people in the Valley who care.
"It makes me feel real strong," she said.
Funeral arrangements for her father have been set.
There will be a viewing at Heavenly Grace Memorial Park on Monday from 10am to 12pm.
Burial will follow at the RGV State Veterans Cemetery at 1pm.
America's Last Patrol members plan to be in attendance to support Virginia and their late fellow veteran.