We have added monthly drawings at our General Membership Meetings. One drawing is for attendance and another for that Month’s Birthday. So come to the meetings and be eligible to win Gift baskets, Gift Cards or Cash. Must be present to win.
See you at the Meeting!
Next ROMEO Breakfast: February 28 @Dos Hermanos @7236 W Military Dr any time after 8am
‘This is a brotherhood:’ History, West Side pride, military service unite Edgewood District Veterans
(A 22-year veteran of the Air Force, Vincent T. Davis embarked on a second career as a journalist and found his calling. Observing and listening across San Antonio, he finds intriguing tales to tell about everyday people. He shares his stories with Express-News subscribers every Monday morning.)
SAN ANTONIO, Each Wednesday morning, members of the Edgewood District Veterans rise early for breakfasts they call R.O.M.E.O. — Retired Old Men Eating Out. Many wear trademark red polo shirts and windbreakers. Baseball caps are embroidered with former units, divisions and squadrons, some dotted with a military insignia pin on the side.
On Wednesday, they broke bread at Vicky’s Mexican Restaurant on Pinn Road, near Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. The aroma of strong coffee and warm tortillas drifted above as they stretched across tables to shake hands and slap shoulders. Over the clamor and clatter of plates, they swapped stories of military service in distant locales, far from their old neighborhood.
The organization, formed in 2006, offers a place where everyone understands each other and camaraderie is in big supply. The members, estimated at 300, honor fallen military members from the Edgewood Independent School District who enlisted and were drafted during the Vietnam War.
“We all live beyond the original 16-square miles,” he said, “but we all come back home. These are my friends, my neighbors. This is a brotherhood.”
The group pays tribute to those who came before them. They took part in the Veterans Day Ceremony at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery and the Veterans Day Parade downtown. Each Memorial Day, the veterans honor the young men from the district who died in the Vietnam War.
Army veteran Richard L. Lopez aka “Dickie,” is one of the volunteers at the ceremony that takes place on Memorial Day at Edgewood Veterans Stadium. He carries a carnation that’s placed before a portrait of his namesake and classmate, Richard V. Lopez. Then, as he has for the past several years, he renders a salute as the name of the fallen is read. Lopez said every member unselfishly gives of their time to remember those of the present and the past.
“It’s a group of passionate people who help those in need,” he said. “That’s why I’m a part of the group.”
They have monthly general meetings in the neighborhood at The Neighborhood Place on Rivas Street. Their charter calls for them to raise funds for scholarships and the West Side community. Their initiatives include Project Warm Hoodies, spaghetti dinners and golf classic tournament fundraisers.
The veterans meet at a different restaurant each week to support small businesses on the West Side, where many members grew up. They all have one thing in common —— they either lived, went to school or worked in the Edgewood Independent School District.
They are drawn together by a shared past. Some members talk about being among the 400 students who walked out of Edgewood High School on May 16, 1968, to protest unequal educational opportunities, unqualified teachers and subpar facilities. They all remember the 55 Edgewood ISD students who enlisted or were drafted to fight in the Vietnam War where they lost their lives.
“I tell everybody I’m West Side until I die,” vice president Daniel L. Gomez, 65, said. “They’re awesome friends (and) a bunch of caring guys. Everybody helps each other out.”
Past president Victor Mena, 78, said his tours of duty included Vietnam, Panama, Granada, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Somalia.
“We all consider ourselves equal,” the retired chief master sergeant said. “We have no rank here. Everybody is a Edgewood veteran. We know if there’s a need they’ll be there.”
Their breakfasts buzz with catch-up conversations, thread with official matters. They shout out nicknames, such as when Army veteran Hilario “Slick” Saldivar, 74, arrived. Saldivar said his nickname was one of the only things he brought back from the Vietnam War. The other thing was himself.
“I volunteered,” said Saldivar, the group’s treasurer. “I went in on the buddy system with Roland Torres (also a member). I did two tours. I went over, came home, went back and came home.”
Army retired Lt. Col. Rosendo Ted Gutierrez Jr., is president of the group. A 1968 Edgewood graduate, he emphasized their commitment to students with past fundraisers that totaled $13,000 for educational scholarships and back-to-school school supply events.
“We give back to the community,” Gutierrez, 73, said, “especially the children in Edgewood.”
Edna Kitchen, 71, served in the Army as a medic and Air Force Reserve as a paralegal. She said when the group is at events, people often think she’s the wife of one of the men. Kitchen said she’s proud to be recognized as a women veteran from the Edgewood community.
Army veteran Joe L. Martinez, 73, has been a member for the past three years. He joined to be with the members who had the same upbringing in the same barrio where he grew up.
“As you get older, your friends from childhood kind of go their own way,” Martinez said. “We’re all linked together. You have somewhere to go.”
Welcome to the Edgewood District Veterans Wreaths Across America (WAA) REMEMBER the Fallen. . . HONOR those who Serve. . . TEACH our children the value of Freedom.
Project Warm – Hoodies for Kids
EDV 2024 Fiesta Medals – For information or purchase of Fiesta Medals Contact Johnny Castillo.
EDV Memorial Plaque: Johnny Castillo
A Memorial Plaque is being designed by Juan Martinez. It features a Battle Cross and medallions for all the service branches and an EDV Challenge Coin. More will be revealed.
Honor Flight: 2 honor flights to Washington DC are offered per year. There is no cost to the veteran but if they wish to take a caretaker, they will have to pave $500.
The You Are Not Forgotten Organization will sponsor an Honor Flight in 2 years for the 10th Anniversary
2023 Christmas Party: For more information, contact Charles Zambrano. The 2023 Christmas Party will be held in the Cafetorium after the December 16 General Membership Meeting. The menu will be tamales, rice and beans, tea, water and pan dulce. We are looking for donations for any of these items, so if you know of any restaurant, please contact them and see if they are willing to help, we will need to know by the November meeting. We are looking at serving approximately 70 people. Food warmers and donations to buy supplies re welcomed. Spouses are invited and RSVP Cards will be mailed out soon. Contact Charlie if you can help in any way.