EDINBURG – There was a buzz in the gymnasium of the Freddy Gonzalez elementary school. Students, teachers, administrators and veterans all gathered to celebrate U.S. Marine Sgt. Alfredo Gonzalez, who was killed during the Vietnam War.
Feb. 4 marks the 50th anniversary of Freddy's death. For Frank Garcia, a 10-year veteran of the United States Air Force, celebrating Freddy hits close to home.
“I'm the one that took Freddy to the recruiter's office to decide what he wanted to join,” he said.
In 1965 Frank and Freddy went to the local recruiter, which at the time was the Army and the Navy. Upon arrival Freddy was not too happy with the uniforms and he certainly did not like bell bottoms.
Along they went to the next branch of the military recruiting in McAllen, the Air Force. No luck there as the blue was too dull.
Finally after the 30-mile drive to Harlingen, Alfredo “Freddy” Gonzalez joined the Marines based on their uniform.
After 50 years Garcia still remembers spending countless hours together during high school. His biggest regret was not being able to attend his friend's funeral because of his commitment to the Air Force.
“I was stationed in Alaska and I could not make it to the funeral,” he said. “That was kind of hard, but other than that I knew Freddy and the type of guy that he was and I knew he was protective.”
Garcia said deep down he knew Freddy would have no problem putting his life on the line for his fellow Marines.
Also in attendance during the ceremony was Dolia “Dolly” Gonzalez, Freddy's mother, the Marines from the 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment that survived the Battle of Hue.
State Representative Terry Canales was also in attendance and presented Dolia with a Texas House Resolution.