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Latins United hosts ‘Salute to Veterans’ brunch

By La Prensa Staff

Latins United and other organizations offered a ‘Thank-You’ to former and current members of various branches of the U.S. military during the fifth annual Salute to Veterans’ ceremony and brunch held Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. The ceremony is the first of many to be held across the U.S. before this year’s observance of Veterans Day on Nov. 11.

A committee sifted through nominations before choosing four military veterans to honor. There were nearly 20 veterans overall in attendance, some of them relatives of the honorees.

Sgt. Enedino “Andy” De León, 61 of Bradner, OH served 15 years in the Army, his first three years stationed in Germany in the late 1970s. He enlisted right out of high school in 1977, heading to basic training one week after graduation. He served another 12 years in the Army Reserves, as part of the 983rd Engineering Company. He volunteered to serve in Operation Desert Storm, but was not chosen because he had just become a father.

“I’m proud to be a service member. I love my country and would do whatever it takes,” he said.

Sgt. DeLeón was a heavy equipment operator and demolitions expert. He would sweep for mines to clear an area to bulldoze to make runways for supply planes and other aircraft. That military experience led to a career as a heavy equipment operator locally. He remains active with American Legion Post #338 in Bradner.

Bob Baker, Ededino De León,
Chico Losoya, and Gary Johnson at
Latins United Hall.


Roy Hernández

“Very honorable. It takes my breath away, because I know a lot of men in my family around me have had boots in the sand, like my nephew, who did two tours in Iraq and never got hurt, thank God,” Sgt. DeLeón said. “I’m proud, thankful, and honored.”

Corporal Bob Baker, 69, is a highly-decorated former Marine who served in the Vietnam War. He was wounded from shell fragments in combat and received a Purple Heart, along with a number of other military commendations, including multiple Bronze Stars and a Silver Star.

Cpl. Baker quit school to enlist and was sent to the war as part of the Tet Offensive less than a year later with the 3rd Battalion, 27th Marines. Cpl. Baker recalled his unit heard a speech and got greeted by President Lyndon B. Johnson just before they left for Vietnam.

“He went up and down the aisles and came up to me, shook my hand, and said ‘Happy Birthday. You’re going to Vietnam,’” he recalled. “It was two weeks after my birthday. They told him.”

Cpl. Baker stated he never suffered the same disrespect other Vietnam vets faced when he returned from a four-year hitch. He walked through airports in his military uniform without incident. He said that many of his friends were spit on and labeled baby-killers when they returned stateside.

“They had more respect for the Marines, I think,” he said. “We had a job to do and we did it.”

Since then, Cpl. Baker has volunteered to help other former military members through the Lucas County Veteran Service Commission. He also joined the Marine Corps League and conducts a PIO/MIA ceremony alongside Roy Hernández at military commemorations, such as Sunday’s veteran’s appreciation lunch. That ceremony uses a small table with a single place setting.

“All of you who served with them and call them comrades, who depend upon their might and aid, and rely upon them, for surely they have not forsaken you, remember,” said Hernández. “Remember until the day they come home.”

Jesse Torres Ruiz, who could not be present, served three tours of duty in Vietnam as an infantryman. The former Toledo Jeep worker was tending to his wife, who recently fell ill.

Sgt. Monique Losoya enlisted in the Army National Guard in 2012, serving in Oklahoma first. But she will soon return to Ohio for her next assignment with a National Guard unit based in Walbridge. Her father, Chico, accepted the award in her absence.

“I’m glad she’s getting recognized for this. She’s more me than I’d like her to be,” he said. “But she’s a lot of me I’m so damn proud that she is.”

Lucas County Auditor Anita López and Toledo City Council member Gary Johnson presented proclamations to each of the veterans honored. Former Marine Roberto Torres served as emcee.

“We just thought our Latinos weren’t being recognized. So that’s why we started it, to recognize our Latino veterans and people who served in the military,” said Usevio “Chevo” Torres, Latins United president. “We’re not saying you had to serve in a war; just as long as you honorably served, we want to recognize you.”

Monica Wachowiak read a poem honoring Veterans. El Camino Real restaurants donated brunch.



Copyright © 1989 to 2019 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11/05/19 19:54:22 -0800.




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