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Rubio Family

Dear American Legion,

My name is Joe Rubio and I’m writing in response to your notice in April’s magazine reference shared feelings of people who have proudly served in the U.S. Military. I’m writing about my family; The Rubio’s from San Bernardino, California. I’m only sorry that I didn’t do this year’s ago when our mother and father were still with us.

The attached photo is sent only to show how some of us continued to “serve,” after the hitches.

Our mom and dad had 14 kids; two girls and 12 boys. Of the 12 boys, “NINE” served in the U.S. Military. The three that didn’t go in, wanted to, but us older ones told them that we’d serve for them. One of the three had just opened up a shoe repair shop in Portland, Oregon. Our sisters stayed home and helped mom and dad.

I contacted my brothers, and together we tried to recall when, and where we served, and what we did as servicemen. It was so long ago, but we still have our DD214’s so I know that the following really happened.

The first brother in was our oldest; Eduardo Jr. He was the only “Lifer.” He joined the U.S. Navy in 1957 and served as a corpsman. After “Basic” he was stationed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In 65’ he was sent to Vietnam for the first time and served there with the 4th Marines. He was there for eight months, after which he was sent back to the Brooklyn Yard. When that base closed he was reassigned to “Nam.” This time he was there for 13 months, and worked with the 11th Marines. He then served tours in Okinawa, Japan and the Philippines. In the Philippines he met and married his wife Letty. In 1974 he was again with the U.S. Marines but this time for 2 ½ years in Kansas City, Missouri. His last duty before retirement was in Okinawa. He mustered out in 1978.

After retirement he brought his family back home to California where he wound up serving five or six years as a Correctional Officer for the California Penal System. He attained the rank of Sergeant before retiring for good. Note: His oldest daughter, Maria, is currently serving our country as a “Lifer” in the U.S. Navy.

The next brother to serve was Panfilo. He served back in 1964-67 in the U.S. Army. He was in his early 20’s at the time. After his basic training at Ft. Ord, California he was sent to Ft. Eustace in Virginia and worked as a helicopter mechanic. He was then sent to Germany for six or seven months. Back in the U.S. he served at Ft. Hood, Texas. He also recalls spending time at Ft. Benning, Georgia. There, his unit developed equipment for use in Vietnam. He was sent along with that gear to “Nam,” and spent nine months in that war zone. One good thing did happen there; He had the occasion to run across our older brother Ed who was also in that country, but in a different area. He was able to get time off and hitched a ride with some Marines and the two brothers visited as if they were at home. This time lasted barely a day. After his tour in “Nam,” he left the Army and made a career out of being a California Correctional Officer. He was a Sergeant when he retired from that position.

The next brother to go in was Felipe. He volunteered his draft in 1965, and served two years of active duty in the U.S. Army. He served tours in Korea, and in Germany. Upon mustering out, he too made a career out of being a California Correctional Officer. He was a Lieutenant when he retired. I note here that Felipe passed away three years ago and we were unable to get or recall more information on his military activities. His wife, Mary, served six years in the U.S. Marines in the clerical field. Additionally, his son, Robert, is currently serving in the U.S. Navy.

I also entered the “Service” in 1965. I joined the U.S. Air Force and served for almost five years of active duty. After “Basic” at Lackland A.F.B. in Texas, I was sent to Loring A.F.B. in the beautiful State of Maine. I was in the motor pool there. I used to take the air crews out to their air crafts. I was so amazed and impressed with the B-52’s and KC-135’s. A bonus was that I got to know the flyers, and played them in handball when off duty. In fact, I won the handball tournament one year and was sent to the big Air Force Tourney at Barksdale A.F.B. in Louisiana. The Air Force sent me there via Air-Hops. I didn’t win, but saw so much of our beautiful country, that handball was almost forgotten. –Only in the Air Force!

After a year at Loring A.F.B. I was able to cross-train into a “Top-Secret,” photography unit. As luck would have it, I was assigned to the photo unit at Barksdale A.F.B. After about a year there, I was sent to Yokota A.F.B. in Japan. –I can’t tell you what I did there – “Top Secret!” I still tell my brothers how important and secret my work was and they still try to belittle me. We enjoy bragging about our branch of service. I loved the U.S. Air Force and all the neat places I got sent to. I met so many good people from all over. I almost stayed in, but missed family and home too much.

After the “Service” I was lucky enough to become a Police Officer for the City of Riverside, California. I retired as a Patrol Sergeant after 27 years in law enforcement.

The next brother in the U.S. Army was Tomas’. He served from January of 67’ to January of 69’. He was 19 years old when he volunteered his draft status. He trained at Ft. Ord in California and was subsequently sent to Ft. Lee in Virginia where he was involved in A.I.T. as well as supply and small arms training. After some time he was sent to Ft. Mead, Maryland and then on to Ft. Devons in Massachusetts. From there he was sent to Vietnam. Note: The third brother sent there. While in “Nam” his unit was involved with the 91st Medivac Unit. It was their duty to send home to America our deceased soldiers. Tom is still haunted on an almost daily basis by that time. After a year in the war area, he was mustered out at Ft. Lewis, Washington.

The next Rubio brother to serve was Mauricio; aka Max. He volunteered his draft and joined the U.S. Army in 1967. He served two years active duty. After his basic training at Ft. Ord he was sent to Korea for 14 months. He was involved in A.I.T. and served in the infantry. After his two years he was mustered out and was sent home. Of the nine Rubio brothers he was the only one to be recalled for reserve training. He was sent to Ft. Lewis for two weeks of training almost a full year after his regular duty. This extra training did not result in any further military service. Years later his son, David, also served in the U.S. Army. He was an M.P. His son-in-law, Dennis Smith, was an infantry man in the army and served in Germany.

The next brother to serve was Frank. He was in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 71’. After Ft. Ord, he spent most of his active duty overseas in Germany. After his military service, he too became a Correctional Officer. He retired from that career as a Sergeant. Our brother Frank passed away several years ago, hence we were unable to get more information on his military exploits.

This next brother’s military service really showed us how special our parents were. John Mike joined the army in 1970 and served for two years as an American soldier. What was so unique about his stint is explained as follows.

After his basic training at Ft. Ord he was sent home for a short “leave” before having to go to Ft. Lewis in Washington, from where he was to be sent to Vietnam. Well, believe it or not, those orders upset our parents. The Rubio boys had up to that time served seven enlistments in the U.S. Military and as part of those tours four years were spent in Vietnam by three brothers. With God’s blessing none of us had been hurt. Our folks had hoped and prayed for our safety and had been able to cope with our “service,” but their fear and patience had finally taken its toll on them. They asked friends and neighbors for advice and an old friend, Jim Sullivan, an ex-G.I., suggested they contact their local congressman. Well, they did that very thing. They were able to meet with Rep. Jerry Pettis. His office was in the Loma Linda area close to our home town of San Bernardino, California. They spoke to him and explained their concerns to him. Mr. Pettis, an ex air force man in WWII listened to them and told them that he would try to help them. Well, he was true to his word. John Mike’s orders were changed and he was reassigned to Korea. The Rubio Family will never forget Mr. Pettis and what he did for us.

In Korea he was stationed at Ft. Hovey. While there, he was involved in transporting gear and munitions to our troops at the DMZ. After his time was up he came home safe and sound.

The next brother; and last one to go in was the youngest one. Mario joined the U.S. Navy in 1977 and was sent to basic training in San Diego, California. He was willing and ready to serve, but our luck finally ran out. He hurt his back while involved in his training. The Navy was good enough to give him the options of waiting there to heal, and start basic training all over again, or accept an early “honorable discharge.” He took his DD214 and returned home. I note that Mario’s daughter, Amanda, just joined the Air National Guard.

This is the story of the Rubio Family’s contribution to our country. We were happy and proud to serve. We are still a close knit family, and get together for all kinds of events, i.e., Holidays, BBQ’s, Poker Games, etc., and we still have fun talking about our old military times. They still get irked when I brag about the Air Force’s S.A.C., of which I was a part. Of course they quickly come back at me with the U.S. Army’s heroics. The one thing that we all agree on is how special our mom and dad were. They loved and respected our America, and they taught us to do the same.

The two younger brothers that were talked out of serving in the military served in their own way by going into law enforcement. Jerry served as a Correctional Officer for 25 years in the California Department of Corrections. His wife, Lynette, also had 25 years in that department. Their son-in-law, Joel Keller, also served three years in the U.S. Army involved in small arms repairs. Carlos also served in law enforcement, but he served as a police officer with the San Bernardino Police Department for 20 years.


Thank you,

Jose Antonio Rubio



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