EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A U.S. Marine Corps flag can be seen flying in the Lower Valley front yard of Vietnam Veteran Sgt. Jose Alvarez.
Alvarez served for eight years and served four tours in Vietnam and was wounded multiple times.
“You can see right here, where it says the name ‘Alvarez’ and then there’s a Purple Heart,” said Alvarez, as he showed KTSM 9 News awards and photos of his time in the military.
One photo Alvarez shared is a picture of him lying in a hospital bed after being wounded fighting in Vietnam and awarded his third Purple Heart. Now Alvarez is retired in El Paso, passing his stories along to his grandchildren.
“July 1969, my young brother called me and he tell me that he got a call from the draft and I told him, ‘don’t, I’ll take care of it,'” he said.
Alvarez volunteered to serve when he was just 17 years old. He again volunteered years later to serve in place of his younger brother.
This Veterans Day, Alvarez’s children, who are spread across the U.S., decided to surprise him with a video.
“He is a hero, a respected soldier, he is a son, a brother, an uncle, a husband, a father and a grandfather,” his children said as pictures of their father serving flashed across the screen. “He’s my dad, he’s my dad, he’s my dad, he’s my dad, retired Sgt. Jose Alvarez of the United States Marine Corps.”
His grandson who lives in El Paso searched through old photos of his grandpa to help with the surprise video, photos he had never seen before.
“What really kind of spoke to me was the fact that my grandfather is the same age as me in those pictures. And to think of just how different our lives are,” said grandson Jonathan Summers.
While he’s a hero to his family, Alvarez doesn’t consider himself one, despite the three Purple Hearts and the Silver Star, he was awarded.
“I’m not a hero, what I call ’em, you know. But I was with some of them that were and that’s what makes me feel like a hero — that I was with them,” said Alvarez.
Alvarez told KTSM that when he came back from fighting in Vietnam, there were no parades and no one was thanking the Marines.
This is why he says he is so grateful to his family and to all the people who still stop years later to thank him for his service.