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No Soldier Left Behind : State Senator Archuleta Helps Bring Vietnam War Journalist’s Remains Back to His Montebello Home After 52 Years

Raúl Guerra

24th May 2019

 

BY BRIAN HEWS

Almost 52 years ago, a plane crashed over Vietnam, killing all souls aboard including Navy War Journalist Raúl Guerra.

Guerra was born and raised in Montebello attending Montebello High and Eastmont Elementary, where he met his eventual best friend Ruben Valencia.

And now Ruben, with the help of State Senator Bob Archuleta (D-Norwalk), and U.S. Reps. Grace Napolitano and Linda Sanchez, is bringing Guerra’s remains home for burial.

“Ruben did all the work,” said Archuleta, a veteran himself with the 82ndAirborne Division, “it was my honor to help and I was blessed to be able to help bring Guerra home.”

Valencia tried everything to bring his brother home, even securing a court order to take the body home.

But the Department of Defense, according to Valencia, would have nothing to do with the “local” court order, and did not release Guerra into Valencia’s custody.

Frustrated, Valencia contacted Sen. Archuleta who made several phone calls, finally talking to a high-ranking officer in Hawaii.

The officer informed Archuleta that if he and Valencia could get family members to give their DNA, the Navy could run the DNA through the system, confirm they are related to Guerra, and release the body.

The officer also indicated that if all family members refuse to provide DNA, the Navy could release the body to Valencia.

So Archuleta and Valencia set out on a mission to find the families who were all local.

Surprisingly, no Guerra family members wanted to give their DNA, Valencia and Archuleta in turn secured the proper DNA denial papers.

The next day, Archuleta and Valencia were ecstatic, “we hugged each other and cried,” said Archuleta, “we could not believe we accomplished the final step.”

Filled with anticipation and anxiety, the two sent the DNA denials to the officer, anticipating that he would keep his word and release the body.

The officer signed off and the remains arrived this past Tuesday April 23, 2019 at Los Angeles International Airport with full military honors.

Guerra’s body was met by a Navy Honor Guard with hundreds of people watching as it was placed in a hearse.

The hearse left the tarmac, with the 100-strong veteran motorcycle group the Patriot Riders, following the hearse.

“It was all about Ruben Valencia who would not give up,” said Archuleta, “for twelve years Valencia fought every political foe and I thank God he found me and I was able to participate in the last leg of the marathon and make it happen.”

As one last tribute, Valencia gave his plot at Rose Hills to his buddy Guerra.

A Mass will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, 532 S. Atlantic Blvd., in East Los Angeles.

A caravan of family and friends, along with the Patriot Riders, will salute Guerra as they ride through city streets to Rose Hills National Shrine.

At 11:10 am tomorrow the caravan will start and go eastbound from Whittier and Atlantic arriving at Whittier and Garfield at 11:15; Whittier and Rosemead at 11:20; Whittier and Norwalk at 11:25 then head north to Rose Hills.

Burial will follow at Rose Hills National Shrine Gate 9, 3888 Workman Mill Road, Whittier.

 

 

 

 

 

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