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California Forumeer Former Natioal Commander Jake Alarid, with a sense of Pride, remembers,”My 2 Cents Worth" on the Moon Landing

American GI Forum of Texas, Inc Report: EL CAMINO REAL CHAPTER, CALIFORNIA – My parents always reminded me that being the oldest of 13 children I had to set an example for my brothers and sisters and that was to go to college and get an education.  My 5th grade teacher, Sister Mary Louis demanded to know what I wanted to be when I grew up, which prompted me to tell her I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer.

After my hitch in the Unites States Marine Corps, I used the Veterans Bill of Rights to go to get a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aeronautical Engineering.  I was hired by North American Rockwell in 1960 as a test engineer and began working on an Air to Surface Missile.  On May 5, 1951 President John F. Kennedy made a pledge that the United States would place an astronaut on the moon by the decade’s end, scoffing at critics of Project Apollo, NASA’s Moonshot Program. 

North American Rockwell had gotten the contract to design and develop the Apollo capsule that would ferry the astronauts to the moon and back to earth.  It would also develop the Main Propulsion System and the Service module.  It was an ambitious program which would involve several major aerospace companies from throughout the United States, not to mention small businesses that would produce nuts and bolts, electrical, plastics and other components that would be essential to assemble an Apollo Vehicle.  It was also an ambitious program to compete and establish space superiority over Russia, who had launched the Sputnik Satellite.  Shortly after, I was transferred to work on the Apollo Program as a Reliability Test Engineer.

The technology that came out from the Apollo Program far outpaced the federal investment (computer systems, microchips, lightweight materials, medical equipment, satellites, communication, agriculture, printing, clothing, Velcro, etc) and has earned its worth tenfold.

As a test engineer I played a small role investigating failures and anormalies that occurred during test and developing of the Apollo capsule and assuring that the failures were resolved.  I also feel a sense of pride that I was a test engineer on Apollo 11, which ferried Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon and back to earth.

On July 20, 1969 I was glued to the black and white television in our home, just like millions of people around the world, watching as the spider-like Lunar Module, the EAGLE landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong in his controlled pressure astronaut suit took “ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN, ONE GIANT STEP FOR MANKIND” and was followed by Buzz Aldrin, to become the first humans to set foot on the moon. I remember going out at night to graze at the moon 238,900 miles away and try to imagine what the astronauts were experiencing on the moon

I felt emotional with pride to have played a small part in history is something that I will never forget. The experience, the comrades and fellow employees relationships developed will always be remembered.  I hope my 2 cents worth working on the Apollo Moonshot Program made a difference. I'm sure it did!

–Jake Alarid, Past National Commander, American GI Forum  

From National Vice Commander Russell Lopez
Embassy of the Republic of Korea Seeks Korean War Veterans to Honor With the Ambassador for Peace Medal

American GI Forum of Texas, Inc. Report: DENVER, Colorado – National Vice Commander Russell Lopez is untaking an effort seeking Veterans who qualify for the Ambassador for Peace Medal. If you have a friend or family member who served in Korea and it doesn't matter whether they're alive or passed on. Commander Lope has a medal to award them and needs your help. Attached is the history, criteria, and application form for this medal. He will create an awards ceremony for the recipients once he gets the qualified veterans and medals. This is a recent medal that they probably haven't received yet.

The medal is an expression of appreciation from the Korean government to US service men and women who served in the Korean conflict. The Ambassador for Peace Medal began to be presented to veterans as a special memento for those of who returned to South Korea through the ‘Revisit Program’. The honor has since expanded to veterans who cannot travel long journey to Korea. 

To be eligible, the veterans must have served during the Korean War from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953. It is also available for the veterans who have participated in UN peacekeeping operations until the end of 1955.

The commemorative medals may be awarded posthumously. The next of kin, such as the spouse or descendants may apply for the medal on behalf of a deceased veteran. In order to apply for this commemorative medal, veterans or their family members have to complete the application form provided by RMVOP. Veterans need to provide a copy of the Veteran’s Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty along with their application form for verification purpose. This is an important document and must be safeguarded.

Application Form

AGIF National Vice Cmdr Lopez Attends Medal Presentation in Wheat Ridgeand and Valenzuela Mobil Unveiling in Colorado Springs 

Medal Presentation Ceremony

Amerian GI Forum of Texas Report: Wheat Ridge, CO (September 18th, 2018) – A presentation ceremony honoring the service of WWII veteran Sergeant William D. Peterson with the China War Memorial Medal. Present among friends and family, was Major General Mason C. Whitney, former Adjutant General, State of Colorado (left), who presented Sgt. Bill Peterson with the medal.

Peterson, and all WWII veterans deserves our respect and gratitude for their service and for their continued dedication to help build and better our communities upon their return.

Bill is a dear family friend of Colorado State House Representative Jessie Danielson (pictured 2nd).

A well-deserved thanks to, Sergeant Peterson, for his service to our nation.  Thanks also to National Vice Commander Russell Lopez for representing American GI Forum of the US at this ceremony. 

Vice Commander Russell Lopez helped with the research to find which medal SGT Peterson was supposed to be awarded since he did not have an official ceremony when he earned it.

Unveiling of the Valenzuela Veterans Justice Unit
The Valenzuela Brothers who are decorated combat veterans fighting against being deported by the US unveiled their newest tool against the fight for deported military veterans and those who are on the list to be deported.

Colorado State Senator Larry Crowder (R) spoke about deported veterans and his support to bring them home. Mr. Russell Lopez represented the American GI Forum of the US and also spoke in support of the Valenzuela Brothers mission. They plan to visit as many state capitals as they can and bring awareness to their plight. The AGIF-US adopted a resolution supporting the Valenzuela Brothers in 2011 and hopefully made its way into the Whitehouse. 

Also invited were Colorado State Representative Annie Gardener, Kevin Paterson - Leading Knight Elks post 734 Colorado Springs, Jay Magee - Pointman Ministries, Chicago's Susana Sandoval - United Nations human rights commissioner, Russell J Lopez - American GI Forum National Vice Commander, and producer and director of the documentary American Exile, Mr. John Valadez, filming the event to continue the story.

September 19, Third Wednesday in September is Dr. Hector P. Garcia Day in Texas

American GI Forum of Texas, Inc. Report: AUSTIN, Texas –September 19 was the third Wednesday in September the day set aside by the Texas state legislature to commemorate Dr. Hector P. Garcia. Dr. Garcia, the founder of the American GI Forum (AGIF) spent his life fighting for the rights of Hispanic Veterans and their families in this country. For this lifetime of dedication Dr. Garcia was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our country's highest civilian honor from President Ronald Regan. Young Dr. Garcia was an army veteran who served during WWII as a soldier and later as a medical doctor. Garcia earned a Bronze Star and six battle stars for his military service.

In 2009, the Texas State Legislature designated the third Wednesday in September as Dr. Hector P. Garcia Day through Senate Bill 495. The bill authorized the observance of the day by schools and state agencies to honor Dr. Garcia. Dr. Garcia had been honored before in many ways. He has had U.S. Post Offices, Public Schools, Hospital wings and a National Guard Armory named in his honor.  In Corpus Christi Texas, a portion of State Highway 286 was named Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Highway.

After returning from WWII, Dr. Garcia, a physician founded the American GI Forum to help Mexican-American Veterans fight for their rights that were being denied by the VA, including pensions, their educational, medical and housing benefits and most importantly job opportunities.

Dr. Garcia together with other Mexican-American AGIF Veterans fought for voting rights, against discrimination in public schools, housing, jobs and fought for the underserved, for the right of all citizens to be given the same opportunities and rights. They fought the Courts for the right of fair trials by juries of their peers. Garcia and his teams fought hard, taking a case all the way to the supreme court fighting and winning equal justice system reforms.

Dr. Garcia, a true American, served in many capacities including ambassador to the United Nations, as a member of the Commission on Civil Rights, as advisor to Presidents, Governors, Senators and Congressmen, always advocating for justice and equality of all citizen members of our communities.

Let us all, members of the American GI Forum, remember Dr. Hector P. Garcia, as an extraordinary leader, founder of our great organization, a dedicated public servant and an advocate of equal treatment for all. Dr. Garcia fought for the rights of Veterans and Latinos. Within the American GI Forum, he assisted in staring programs such as the Veterans Outreach Program, SER, the Hispanic Education Foundation, and the National Archives to help break down the barriers in education, health care, housing, to have a fair and open job market. The American GI Forum honors him today by continuing to fight to protect our liberties and ensure that all Americans are treated equally with dignity and respect."

Former National Chairwoman Patsy M. Vazquez-Contes Honored
47th Annual NAACP – H. Boyd Hall Branch Martin Luther King Jr., Freedom Fund Banquet in Corpus Christi, Texas

American GI Forum of Texas, Inc. Report: CORPUS CHRISTI Texas – Former National Chairwoman Patsy M. Vazquez-Contes Was invited to attend the 47th Annual NAACP – H. Boyd Hall Branch Martin Luther King Jr., Freedom Fund Banquet on January 14, 2015 at the American Bank Center as a recipient of the NAACP Presidential Award.

"It was an honor to be on the stage with the following recipients whom were also recognize during the banquet for their outstanding leadership and work that helps perpetuate the amazing spirit of Dr. King," said Ms. Contes. (see Photos below)

President Terry Mills, welcome everyone to the annual event. Mrs. Rosie Gonzalez Collin Director of Community Relations, Port of Corpus Christi Authority was the Mistress of Ceremonies and Mayor Ivy Taylor of San Antonio was the Keynote Speaker.

Social Justice Awards

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation, Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Federal Bureau of investigation, Houston, Texas
  • United States Attorney office for the Southern District of Texas – Department of Justice

Civil Rights Awards 

  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Civil Rights, Equality and Justice for All
  • Mr. Daniel Covich, Attorney at Law

Presidential Awards

  • Mr. James Bright
  • Mrs. Gabi S. Canales
  • Mr. Lorenzo Cardona
  • Mr. Richard F. Cortez
  • Mr. Marlon Griffin
  • Mr. Joe A. Martinez
  • Superintendent Daniel Robinson
  • Mrs. Marvinette Smith
  • Mrs. Patsy M. Vazquez-Contes

NAACP Awards Banquet

Pinning Ceremony Honors Corpus Christi Area Vietnam Veterans

American GI Forum of Texas, Inc. Report: CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The American GI Forum of the U.S. hosted a ceremony on Saturday morning October 15, 2016, to commemorate Vietnam War veterans. National Commander Angel Zuniga assisted by Past National Commander Luis Vazquez Contes performed the pinning ceremony to Welcome Home and Honor Vietnam Era Veterans on the 50th anniversary of that war.

The American GI Forum has performed several Pinning ceremonies throughout the State and the Nation as part of the national observation of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Zuniga pinned several Forum members at a similar ceremony at the State Conference in San Marcos last June. The ceremony was also repeated at the State Board Meeting in Del Rio, Texas on Saturday October 22, and the McAllen Chapter participated in one in San Benito on October 24, 2016.

Veterans who served active duty in the Armed Forces from Nov. 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975, are eligible to receive a pin. National Commander Angel Zuniga has been performing this ceremony as have other Commanders of other Veterans Organizations.

This event took place at the Tejano Civil Rights Museum in Corpus Christi, Texas. The guest speaker for the event was LULAC Council No. 1 President Nick Adame. American GI Forum National Commander Angel Zuniga once again performed the pinning ceremony. Below are the Honorees:

  • Donald Anderson
  • Armando G. Caceres
  • Rodolfo A. Caceres
  • Jorge L. Casanova
  • Emilio G. Casarez
  • Ermilo G. Casarez
  • Eloy R. Ceballos
  • Ausgustin Collin
  • Geard V. D'Alessio
  • Amador Y. Duran
  • Jack Esparza
  • Leo Estrada
  • Neal Estrada
  • Eddie G. Franco
  • Jerry G. Franco
  • Jose G. Franco
  • Richard G. Franco
  • Salvador G. Franco
  • Fernando V. Garcia
  • Jesse V. Garcia
  • Herbie Garza
  • Robert Gilbert Garcia
  • Pablo Garza Jr.
  • Ricardo Hankenson
  • Alfredo Jimenez
  • Fred Jimenez
  • James W. Kurth
  • Danny Martinez
  • Johnny Martinez
  • Frank Montoya
  • Ismael P. Mora
  • Jose Lino Presas

Vietnam Era Veterans are Honored in Corpus Christi