Saturday, November 04, 2006

Day Four of Veterans March

Veterans of America's Last Patrol Post #3 marched their fourth day in a row on their Brownsville to Roma walk to raise awareness for the need for a Veterans Hospital in the Rio Grande Valley. The group started around 8:30 in the morning at the Veterans Memorial on 29th Street in McAllen. Today's walk ended just outside of Rio Grande City. I first joined the group halfway between Bryan Rd and Conway Ave. in Mission.

This was my second day walking with them. Yesterday, I worked at the dedication of the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery and could not participate in the walk. From start to end, Juan Vela was like a machine. He just keeps going and going. The group kept asking him to slow down and wait for them to catch up.

The group had another show of kindness by a local business owner in Mission. Gordhan "Victor" Bharat, owner of the Executive Inn & Suites and Mi Hacienda Restaurant, offered lemonade for all of us. He had read about the group and was quick to offer us refreshment when he saw us walking by. Victor also volunteered use of his parking lot by members of the group who had just joined us.

The walk today was pretty straightforward through Mission, Palview, and La Joya. We stopped for lunch at the Whataburger in La Joya. There was discussion about underestimating the distance between La Joya and Rio Grande City, so we figured out how to cover the distance in a shorter time to allow the group to arrive in Roma by Sunday afternoon. Essentially, we did what they called relays. We split the group into two. Each group would cover two miles and then leapfrog ahead of the other team at their two mile mark. This allowed us to cover four miles in the same time it would have taken to cover two miles by a single group.

I was in the group with Jesus Bocanegra, Mike Escobar, Robert Gomez, Jimmy Krummel, and Eddie Avila driving the chase vehicle. Our group did three relays, I think; which amount to 6 miles. In our last relay, Robert went with the other group because a couple of people in that group had to leave early. Krummel rode on the back of the chase car. He didn't want to overdo it as he has a pacemaker. Bocanegra and Escobar joked that he shouldn't worry, they had jumper cables to bring Jimmy back if the pacemaker gave out. In the last relay, in order to mess with Jimmy's pace timing, we decided to run about a quarter mile. Within a few hundred yards, we realized that it was going to kill us, so we decided to keep going to the top of the hill. This way we could walk downhill while recovering from the run. Once you leave La Joya going west, the terrain starts to get hilly.

At the end of the walk, the whole group got together. We were asked to pose for a group photo by a couple of residents who saw us coming. One of the ladies is related to General Sanchez who we had seen just the day before in Mission.

My family will be celebrating my son's birthday tomorrow, so I won't be able to accompany America's Last Patrol Post #3 tomorrow on their final and important installment of the walk. They start the walk at the Wal-Mart in Rio Grande City and end it at the VFW in Roma. At 4 pm, they will have an open microphone for veterans to speak their grievances for two minutes. Last word is that both Frank Enriquez and Henry Cuellar will be present. I wish the veterans the best for tomorrow.

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