Weather affects everyone. It has a relationship with all of us. And to have a specialist help you navigate that relationship is more than fortuitous, it’s a blessing.
In Del Rio, that specialist is meteorologist Dan Schreiber of Smalltown Weather.
Established in 2015, the Del Rio-based Smalltown Weather was the brainchild of Schreiber, a former U.S. Air Force meteorologist.
The service, or more specifically, Schreiber, seeks to provide weather expertise and information across a wide spectrum of applications including personal, commercial, legal, educational and public safety.
Most small towns don’t have access to a weather expert so Del Rio having its own is a problem solver.
He has taught meteorology classes for local first responders and school district employees; teaching them to be aware of dangerous weather events moving through Mexico.
“Since the National Weather Service doesn’t provide alerts for storms that are happening in Mexico…I provide that expertise to the community, largely…the emergency folks here so that they do have a little bit of a heads up on what could potentially happen,” he explained.
Similarly, when Schreiber was stationed at Laughlin Air Force Base most of the aircraft were not under cover. Issuing an accurate forecast was critical.
“If there was a hailstorm coming, you’re talking $1 billion plus of aircraft that were just sitting outside…that happened back in 2016…you’re talking a billion dollars in taxpayer money that could be destroyed in a matter of a couple of minutes,” he said.
Extensive damage to aircraft during that weather event didn’t occur he noted.
Schreiber said that Del Rio experiences unique weather patterns in contrast to other regions in the state; Val Verde County is positioned between three climate zones.
“And never has there been two weather forecasts that have been the same,” he revealed. “Weather’s always changing. It’s always a challenge.”
The native Californian became interested in weather while growing up in San Diego near the beach.
“I got really big into surfing…and obviously, weather impacts waves and the ocean quite a bit,” he commented. “I was always checking the forecast to see if the waves were going to be good if they’re going to be big if they’re going to be blown out.”
In high school, he secured an Air Force scholarship that underwrote his education at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona where he received an undergraduate degree in meteorology — he has broken the school’s previously-held forecast accuracy record. Next, came a six-year stint as an Air Force meteorologist.
Schreiber gets much of his data from the airport and the weather service supercomputers, distilling it into a forecast that the layperson can understand.
“I’ll take that information…and I’ll start interpreting it to, ‘Well, we know there’s a cold front coming, it’s going to be a little bit cooler, it’s going to be windier, maybe it’s going to be a bit of some rain.” So I’ll look at all that data and come up with a forecast,” he said.
Interestingly, Schreiber consults with lawyers and ordinary citizens who require what he labels as forensic weather reports for airplane crash investigations, house damage insurance claims, personal injury cases, etc. It’s a part-time gig that he would like to see become full time.
“It’s like one of those things that I just got a passion for it…I’m a weather nerd,” he admitted.
What compels a man or woman to run for public office? Good question. One way to find out is to go to the source.
“Basically, I’ve been in public service my whole adult life as a peace officer and game warden. So, this was just a continuation of that,” said Texas State Sen. Peter Flores.
Is it that simple? Not exactly...
“There was a senator in place (federally convicted felon Carlos Uresti) and a machine in place that I didn’t agree with and so when you do that...there’s two things you can do: You can stand by and take it or you can stand up and throw in. So that’s what I did, threw in,” he added.
Flores, who represents District 19, which includes Val Verde County, defeated Uresti in a September 2018 election after losing to the former state senator in 2016.
A few years ago, Flores had been giving speeches around the Pleasanton area where he lives and people began to take note of what was being said. A seasoned public speaker, he soon got the attention of a group of Republicans in Atascosa County who approached him about running for office.
“I just happened to be at hand when it came up...and it happened to be what the Good Lord put in my path,” he said.
The former game warden believes he possesses a life- experience toolbox that contains what is necessary for the legislative worksite.
“I’m from a military family, I grew up on the border...I worked my way through college...a state game warden, I served all around the state,” Flores explained.
He had stops in San Antonio as a captain and regional director of the far west and 10 years in Austin as the top administrator of the law enforcement division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
“I worked with the House and the Senate and state government here (Austin),” Flores said.
He said he established relationships on both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate which could prove invaluable as he heads into his first legislative session as an elected official.
“While I’m not a special person, I was specially prepared,” he expressed with humility.
Flores grew up on the border in Laredo and then matriculated to Aggieland before embarking on a career path with the state. He ended his 27-year career as the Director of Law Enforcement, Colonel Warden.
He’s been married to Elizabeth Flores for 37 years and has two daughters and two grandchildren.
Flores is adamant about the issues that are most important to his constituents and Texans. He indicated that property tax reform and school finance reform are the top priorities for the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the house.
“And they certainly are for myself and most of my colleagues in the Senate,” he commented.
Flores insists that sticking to the major issues and refraining from tangling with the periphery is best practices-legislation.
“Stay with the basics, stay out of the weeds and let’s take care of the foundations of the house,” he asserted.
And what does Flores hope for after his days in office have run their final lap?
“I hope that my great-grandchildren will not curse me for the work I did in the Texas Senate,” he said unaffectedly.
“For I know the thoughts and plans I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome,” reads the quote from Jeremiah 29:11 on the pamphlet of the Casa Hogar El Corazón de Rey children’s home in Acuña.
The mission of White Stone Ministries, who operate the nonprofit home, is predicated on that scriptural verse. The home is a place of shelter, care, comfort and safety for children who have been abandoned, forgotten, abused and neglected. The 6,000 square foot structure is located three blocks from the port in downtown Acuna and currently houses 35 children including infants. The central figure in the home isn’t Ron Sherman, co-founder of the home, but Christ.
However, Sherman, along with his wife Anna Sherman, an ordained minister and native of South Africa, are the Earthly facilitators of El Corazón de Rey home. Setting out to be an orchestra conductor/music teacher, Ron Sherman, who has his Ph.D. in Christian counseling and is a certified behavioral consultant, became disillusioned with public education and took the path less traveled journeying to the deep south to teach at a Christian drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Alabama. When that facility closed its doors, he was led to open two children’s homes in Uvalde and an emergency shelter in San Antonio. After nine years, the state cut its support for nonprofit children’s homes, which comprised 99 percent of the funding for Ron Sherman’s sites, and he found himself without a home so to speak. “I’m not a fundraiser. Our budget was...a third of a million dollars every year,” he said.
Ron Sherman soon began doing consulting work in Mexican orphanages.
“I just got hooked with what I saw in Mexico, because the orphanages, children’s homes were...they’re bad.” He couldn’t believe what he saw. The first home he was invited to was in Mexico City. Just blocks from the Zócalo. “It was a five-story office building that had been converted into a children’s home and they had 600 kids in there. It was horrible, horrible, horrible in there. Good people...but they would have 35 kids in one bedroom,” he commented. He explained the situation wasn’t intentional, but the staff was completely overwhelmed.
Eventually, he was asked to travel to South Africa to visit a church and orphanages. In local townships and in Zambia, he witnessed heart wrenching and gut-churning situations. One of the first children he held there was dying of AIDS like many of the others who surrounded her. “I never held a child that I knew was dying. That was gonna die,” he said. The administrator at that particular home indicated to Ron Sherman that all the kids there were three to four months away from death. He came back home and ultimately, after walking through a variety of barriers and stumbling blocks in Mexico, started the home in Acuña with Anna.
“A year into it we had a surprise visit from the head lady at the top (Coahuila child protective services), the head attorney for child protective services for the state level and head psychologist...They spent seven hours with us...so when they left they said congratulations you have the best home in the state...and so every year for the last eight years that’s the way we are. And they took our stuff and turned it into a manual for the state,” he said. More than 400 kids have come through the home during the past nine years without funding from any level of government in Mexico.
White Stone Ministries’ funding comes from private donors, churches and their thrift and consignment store in
Del Rio. (Repurposed For A Purpose at 1010 Veterans Boulevard; www.facebook.com/revron209.) For more information on their mission and donating please visit www.facebook.com/whitestone.min and www.whtestonekids.org.
If you’re in want of a hunt rom Barbary sheep to Native American pottery hen Clint Beckham’s your guy. Definitely.
Beckham looks like adventure. It’s displayed on his wiry and rugged frame. A frame that conveys an enthusiastic and optimistic confidence. Hard to believe he spent several years in the foodservice industry. Of course, that was to support his rodeoing habit. At least initially. And now, the varied landscapes of Texas fittingly serve as his workplace.
Beckham’s outdoor work life began when he secured a job as a government trapper in Comstock which quickly morphed into a lucrative hunting guide gig.
“They (the government) said, ‘What do you want to do? Do you want to be an outfitter or do you want to be a government trapper?’” he sardonically commented.
Eventually, Beckham commenced guiding on a remote ranch in the Van Horn area as well where he had a memorable survival experience. After running out of water, with daylight decreasing, he and the client lost their way.
They had to slog their way through treacherous terrain to the polluted Rio Grande. Surrounded by feral hog feces, they drew the border water into a LifeStraw and consumed it. Literally crawling, the duo made it back to their vehicle.
His signature animal is the aoudad. He’s one of the premier aoudad guides in Texas. (Pronounced awe-dad). What is the aoudad? It’s from the goat/antelope family and is native to North Africa. It was introduced to Texas in the late 1940s.
Beckham, who is trained in wilderness first-aid, also offers axis, whitetail deer and hog hunts. Known for his aoudad skills 57 of his clients have registered kills e ironically, has never attempted to bring one down. But that’s about to change. SilencerCo, a gun-suppressor manufacturer, filmed a Beckham aoudad hunt with MMA fighter Chad Mendes ho lost to Conor McGregor in a 2015 UFC main event bout in Las Vegas hich proved to be successful and now want to film Beckham hunting an aoudad.
“They think that it was interesting…they just think that it’s weird that I haven’t killed one…Hopefully, I won’t miss,” he kidded.
More recently, Beckham has received attention for his foray into commercial artifact digs. He had always been a keen collector and forager of well-crafted Native American arrowheads and after attending several digs organized by a particular man an entrepreneurial itch developed. He had observed a multitude of arrowheads on ranches where he conducted hunts.
“I’ve been to a bunch of his and I was paying two to three-hundred dollars a day…and then one day I thought, ‘You know what? If he can do it…I can do that.’” He started a camp in Tarpley, Texas that contained a wealth of artifacts, even a well-preserved tablet with symbols and colors that resembled the rock art in Seminole Canyon.
Rumor has it the Smithsonian is interested in the piece. Beckham said the digger who found it sold it for $17,000 to another person who then flipped it for $50,000. At his digs, what you find is what you keep.
His business services up to 34 collecting enthusiasts a day. Locally, he conducted a commercial dig at a ranch in Comstock that was rich in historical items.
“It was awesome. We found a lot of stuff,” he said. “We dug for like two months. It was a huge site. And now we’re doing cave digs out there.”
At one site, located on Mason Creek outside of Bandera, where pterodactyl claws had been discovered, 22 people found between 100-200 arrowheads each.
Beckham said there are only four to five commercial diggers in Texas and he’s probably the most-respected one.
“People have realized that I’m the most honest…I’ve got them coming from Montana, Idaho, Louisiana.”
Face to Face with the past
It was once written that the late Del Rio artist, Consuelo “Chelo” González Amézcua, was a naive visionary, seemingly implying that she knows not what she did. However, one glance at her work and one pass through her history clearly indicate that the use of a word defined “as lack of experience, wisdom or judgment” is a gross misnomer; erroneous.
So, it is the present’s duty to correct the past’s errors. But let’s start a few months back; give this narrative some context. While digging for research in a file cabinet at the Whitehead Memorial Museum (for a piece on the Border Radio) I came across a manila folder labeled “Gonzalez, Chelo.” I would have skipped over it but a slightly yellowing page from the San Antonio Express-News was protruding and I was able to see “Del Rio artist...Smithsonian exhibit.” The words “artist” and “Smithsonian” aren’t commonly found in the same sentence. Naturally, this piqued my interest. After anxiously consuming the contents of the folder, I soon realized that Del Rio had been home to an artistic icon who, unfortunately, experienced the proverbial 15 minutes of Andy Warhol-defined fame. Actually, you could argue that she should have been as revered and renown as Mr. Pop Art. Anyhow, I quickly decided Del Rio needed a reunion with the artist known as “Chelo.” Anything but would be an injustice. And voila, an article was born. A completely self-taught artist, González’ works were amazingly created in the 1960s with a pedestrian ballpoint pen and cardboard. Amazingly, she was already rolling through her sixties by then.
According to the Express-News article, each drawing required nearly 90 hours of labor spanning a period of 18 days. Hers had to be a cathartic labor of love. The specific work that compelled people to take note was “ABen-amar the Christian,” a drawing steeped in medieval Spanish culture, Moorish structural sensibilities and Arabic designs. It is now housed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum along with “Untitled” and “Prince Abu Zabi y Su Jardin.,” the latter two created in a style similar to “ABen-amar the Christian.” González referred to her artistic creations as “filigree drawings” in reference to a jewelry making style used in Mexico. Born in Piedras Negras, González received only six years of formal education and was working at a dime store when her art was discovered by Dr. Amy Freeman Lee. Lee had given an art lecture at the Val Verde County Library in 1967, and after the talk, she was honored at the home of a local resident. While at the home she noticed one of González’ paintings and was mesmerized. In 1968, the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio hosted Chelo’s first exhibition where every item was sold.
Her art was subsequently featured in a multitude of exhibitions at prominent galleries from Austin to New York as well as Mexico. Four of her drawings were included in a one-year national tour sponsored by Illinois Bell Telephone. Chelo’s subject matter was a reflection of her varied interests. In particular, Ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology and Christian themes. What was unusually satisfying about her artwork was the accompaniment of poetry. “ABen-amar the Christian” was complemented with a poem that told the story of a captured Christian woman and the son of a Moor who converted to Christianity. A bio written for a González exhibition at the Galerias Paco in New York stated that Chelo had painted a work on the Texcoco poet and king, Nezahualcoyotl.
Poetry with art is normally associated with Asian artistic practices but Chelo displayed an uncanny and high degree of art intelligence. “She intuitively knew of that tradition and, like the Chinese, wasn’t afraid to include a poem as part of her work,” said Lee in the San Antonio Express-News article. Chelo passed away in 1975 but the impact of her art carried on until the Smithsonian’s acceptance of her work in the early 1990s. After that, her legacy and magnetic oeuvres seemed to have been purloined by time and artistic apathy. This article aims to steal them back.
When Eduardo Venegas stepped foot in Tucson, Ariz. in 1999, after a decade stint in the U.S. Air Force, he wasn’t sure what path life would divert him to. Certainly not one behind a camera or in a room trying to piece together a story through clips and dialogue. And little did he know that his interest in music would be the catalyst taking him into a world of pretend and imagination.
“I had actually heard that there was a director here locally, in Tucson, Ariz., shooting a full-feature film and I had a buddy who mentioned it to me and he said, ‘You know, I know you do music and maybe this guy would be interested in listening to your music,’” said Venegas. The director didn’t have any use for music at the time but invited Venegas to the set to observe the production.
“Lo and behold...I guess the sound guy had not shown up or wasn’t able to make it that day and he had mentioned to me they were looking for a sound guy and if I was interested in helping them out. It was kind of being in the right place at the right time,” he explained.
In due course, Venegas was mentored by the director and his crew, working as a production assistant, loader, gaffer and grip, launching him on a trajectory to produce independent films. “Originally, it was never that I was really interested in filmmaking, I was interested in the process, the production side of everything and obviously the music,” he said. Venegas took advantage of the situation soaking up as much knowledge as possible before venturing out on his own. Ben Lopez, presently the executive director of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) and the director who was gracious enough to invite Venegas onto the set, became his most influential mentor “I wouldn’t be doing films if it weren’t for him,” Venegas asserted. Through a less-is-more pedagogical approach, the teacher encouraged the student to find the answer; to climb the ropes rather than be shown them.
Venegas feels that Lopez’ methodology was a very effective, yet indirect, way to develop his erudition. “It kind of robs you of your own drive when people just kind of give you the answers,” he affirmed. Venegas, who left Del Rio when he was 16 years old, said that growing up in the faded and flat environment of 1980s Del Rio gave him a storytelling platform. A place and time that forced creativity and imagination out of the aspiring artist. “What I latched onto was the ability to tell your own story...It taught me you have to create your own opportunities,” he said.
After staking his cinematic claim, Venegas formed Maldito Films (www.malditofilms.com), his unintended quest to become a filmmaker coming to fruition. Maldito’s most recent project, “Redington” is an engaging short that is a vehicle for a web series based on the story. Venegas has received solid feedback on the production’s acting, aesthetic and editing. But the headliner waiting to go on stage is “Bonaparte.”
A tale of a man detoured from his path by family and the tense and contentious relationship he has with his father. Penned by Del Rio author, Ronnie Stich, the movie was slated to run 17 to 18 minutes. Venegas has shot nearly 60 minutes of film and now is almost certain that it will be turned into a full-length feature film. “Bonaparte is still not a 100 percent out there yet,” he revealed.
Currently, only a trailer has been released. However, that was enough to pique the interest of actor J.T. Campos from the highly-popular USA Network series, “Queen of the South,” who subsequently joined the project.
Venegas is projecting an October of 2018 release. Check Maldito Films out on social media at www.facebook.com/Malditofilms.
When a player considers a baseball or softball glove, you’d assume Wilson or Rawlings would be crossing his or her mind. Right? But how about a Rundown mitt? Ever contemplate that brand? Rundown Gloves is a Del Rio, Texas startup that began offering quality gloves in November of 2017. And it has been hitting dingers ever since. Rundown owner, Jose Luis Rivera, said they have sold nearly 200 units since inception. They offer infielder, outfielder first-base, catcher, softball and kids gloves. The sizes span from nine to 15 inches. All of the gloves are made from 100-percent cowhide leather and manufactured in Mexico. Yet, what’s really cool about Rundown gloves is that customers can design their own glove. We’re talking name, jersey number and colors. “Have their name, have their flags...have the colors that they want,” Rivera said. Currently, customers provide Rundown sales representatives with their design request, which is then submitted to Rivera and sent to Mexico. He said the process will be streamlined once their website is fully developed. Customers will then be able to create their glove online, bypassing the sales reps. Rivera said the turnaround from order placement to delivery of the glove is a two-week window. However, he usually tells the buyer that it’s a three-week period in case of shipping delays. “Most companies will get you the glove between six to eight weeks. We get gloves done in less than two weeks,” he commented.
Rivera’s initial goal was to develop a line of wood bats, but he quickly realized that was a very complicated undertaking. Then the idea of customized gloves was born, albeit as more of a side interest. However, positive feedback from major league and minor league players, and customers in general, induced Rivera to think about it differently. “It was a hobby, but it’s becoming more serious...we never thought we were going to be that big,” he said. Rivera, originally from Puerto Rico, grew up in a baseball family and eventually ended up playing college ball at Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas, followed by a stint in professional baseball. After the side was retired on his competitive days, he decided to plant his entrepreneurial stake in Del Rio (his wife is from here). His strong ties to baseball have allowed a variety of doors to open. “My family is all baseball so we know a lot of baseball players...and a lot of coaches,” Rivera said. Rundown has representatives in San Antonio, Puerto Rico, New York, South Carolina, Florida and Oklahoma; California is next. Besides the glove company, Rundown is also very involved in the Del Rio community. They sponsor and coordinate an annual baseball/softball camp, a yearly baseball clinic that utilizes professional players as instructors and a Del Rio celebrity softball tournament that occurs on the same day as the clinic. The ultimate game plan is to have a line of practical apparel and accessories such as shirts, shorts, shoes, batting gloves and cleats. But in the here and now, it’s the gloves. And customers are loving it. “A lot of people like it, a lot of people loving it...I haven’t had any complaints yet and I haven’t had anybody return it yet.” www.facebook.com/Rundowngloves
Del Rio High School graduate (2016), and fleet of distance foot, Olivia Flores, is a runner. Was. Is. Will be. Presently, her running transpires on the stage of NCAA Division I cross country and track and field. To compete at that level, running must partially or wholly inform your life. What compels her to run? It’s all explained below. Flores, who will begin her junior year at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) at the end of the summer, graciously participated in a Q&A Face to Face interview via email. (Please note that the answers have been edited for space.)
FTF: What does running mean to your life?
OF: Running always has and always will hold a special place in my heart...It may just seem like a recreational activity for many people, but for us distance runners, it’s a way of life and a perfect metaphor for life. It has taught me that you can’t go out too fast or else you will burn out and you can’t go too slow or else everything will pass you by...it’s simply about picking a pace in your life and enjoying the scenery.
FTF: What events do you compete in at UTSA? Was it a difficult or fairly easy transition from high school to college?
OF: My main events are the 3k Steeplechase and the 5k flat race. As for cross country, I’ve had the opportunity to participate at the Conference USA (5k) meet both years, but this past year was my first time competing at the NCAA regionals cross country meet (6k) which took me by surprise but now I’m looking forward to my junior season. My goal for my 2018 XC season is to just build off my weak spots...and placing at least top 35 in the conference...2019 track season is to make it to the conference indoor meet for the 3k flat race with a 10:10 time (there’s no steeple race) and for
outdoor, my end goal is to medal at conference in the 3k steeplechase. The transition from high school to college was fairly easy besides the fact that I still had lots to learn. I wasn’t such an expert at distance running in high school and surely wasn’t the best...I went into distance running not knowing anything about it, not knowing how to take pace and how many miles were supposed to be kept on a pair of running shoes, I injured myself one year with a stress fracture, but I quickly learned from that injury.
FTF: How did participating in cross country and track at Del Rio High School prepare you for the collegiate level?
OF: College running has looked very similar to my high school days, the only thing different that I wish I could tell 16-year-old Olivia is that Sunday long runs are very crucial and every day of the week counts, even weekends, I never knew what the coaches in high school were talking about.
FTF: Can you tell us about your family?
OF: I grew up with my mom (Leonor Torres) and my sister (Bernice Flores)...who have been my main anchors of support just by picking me up when I failed at little things. My dad (Javier Flores) who is still a part of my life but remarried, has also helped me a lot by being the smarter voice in my head, getting me to reach for bigger goals like college, which five years ago, I didn’t think I was good for.
FTF: Your major at UTSA?
OF: I’m currently majoring in Criminal Justice, with a minor in digital forensics, where I hope to accomplish my dreams of working my way through the Federal world and eventually become an FBI agent.
FTF: What is most important in your life and why?
OF: The most important thing in my life is to always remember the person I do these things for and that is my Lord and Savior, it is by His grace that I am who I am, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s just a matter of constantly trusting the plan because He knows exactly what He’s doing.
Paying dues and leaps of faith seem to be the defining actions of artistic individuals who seek and attain the lucrative results of the precarious music industry. These artists are special because they inadvertently, or cathartically, embed their joyful yet arduous journey into their songs, providing listeners with a more rich and robust experience. (The Nashville manufactured country-pop imitators can now promptly exit stage left.Thank you.)
In Del Rio, Peter Herrera III, or PH3, is one of those music artists who has ground down the wheel while logging countless gigs throughout the Lone Star State. From small Whitehead Memorial Museum events to opening for major Texas country music stars in Austin and San Antonio, playing alone or with his band, he has done it all.
“I do a solo gig a lot…that’s actually my livelihood, Herrera said. “It was a big leap of faith having to take that step and stop working a 9-to-5 job…but I think at the end of the day I was meant to do what I’m doing now.”
And he’s crushing it. Herrera is constantly in demand and his band Texas Roots Revival is headed to the studio to record a full-length album. PH3 authored all of the
“There’s so much going on right now…I’m super excited about that to have a full band behind it and that’s excited to be with me. I think it’s going to open up some really big
doors for us, for me,” he said. “I’ve got radio stations clear across the country that are ready to listen to the music.”
Closer to home, Herrera has recorded a solo single, entitled, “Del Rio.” A popular tune in his performance set list that has resonated with folks in the border town.
“I also have a song that I wrote about Del Rio coming out real soon. That’s already been recorded. It’s ready to be uploaded,” he explained. “We’re waiting for the video to be produced…I can’t wait for that.”
Music came early to Herrera. You could say he was born into it.
“I was raised in church. I was raised in a Pentecostal church and…a lot of people don’t know much about the Pentecostal churches, especially Hispanic ones, they don’t mess around when it comes to music. They get down in there,” he commented.
He took up drumming when he was nine years old but seeking an outlet for his teenage angst, he found therapy in the guitar. His father taught him three chords and the rest he picked up by ear.
And with a little bit of unintentional help from Staind frontman-turned country artist Aaron Lewis, Herrera was ready to embark on the journey.
“Aaron Lewis is the reason I started playing music, man. I saw Aaron Lewis do “Outside” by himself and in front of thousands and thousands of people in Biloxi, Miss. My jaw was on the floor and I said I want to do that. I feel that is what I need to be doing and so I did,” Herrera said.
PH3 prefers not to define his music feeling that paints artists into a corner, but categorizes it without really categorizing it.
“You get put into a box enough as it is in the industry. And it’s a hard enough industry to be in…and if you don’t fit into a certain genre then you need to be over here…I think if I had to…it would just be country, traditional with a little Texas rock n’ roll feel.”
Ramon’s medal wins the day In 1940, several hundred Mexican-American men reported for duty at Camp Bowie in Brownwood, Texas, home of the U.S. Army’s 36th Infantry Division or “Texas Division.” Legends were born that day. Particularly in Company E, which was comprised of Hispanics only.
“It’s a story that should have been told many, many years ago,” said Dave Gutierrez, author of the book, ‘Patriots From The Barrio.’ “This is a story that…I’ve always felt should have been written 60 years ago.”
In his non-fiction work, Dave Gutierrez chronicles the accounts and highlights the patriotic heroics of his cousin Ramon Gutierrez and several other Mexican-American soldiers who served in Company E.
“I wanted to show Mexican-American contributions to this nation. Real, significant Mexican-American contributions,” he said. “These men were part of our greatest generation and they should not be forgotten. That’s why I wrote the book.”
The Rapido River crossing serves as the climax to the book where the 36th Division lost 2,000 men in a span of 48 hours in one of the colossal U.S. Army blunders during World War II. Though “Patriots From The Barrio” spotlights a number of soldiers, Ramon Gutierrez’ story is what really drives this narrative.
Arguably, the most interesting individual account in the book is how Ramon Gutierrez was awarded the Order of Patriotic War 2nd Degree from the Soviet Union.
“He became one of only a few Americans to be decorated for valor on the battlefield by the Soviet Union during World War II,” Dave Gutierrez said.
The Soviets had sent an observer to watch the 36th Division landing at Salerno. He overheard what Ramon Gutierrez had done at the landing and was impressed.
When Ramon Gutierrez’ Company E unit disembarked waist deep in water at Salerno his squad was immediately pinned down by German tanks and machine gun fire. After witnessing the demise of two of his comrades, Ramon Gutierrez, with uncontrollable rage and fury, initiated a charge of the machine gun nest. While rapidly approaching the nest he was struck in the arm and subsequently lost his Browning automatic rifle. Despite losing his rifle, he continued the charge and used a hand grenade to dispose of the nest.
“And then he jumped into the foxhole, killed the last German soldier in hand-to-hand combat,” Dave Gutierrez commented. That action earned him the Silver Star and the Soviet medal. On his return from Italy, Ramon received the Order of Patriotic War 2nd Degree degree in Washington D.C. The medal had been given to the Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, by the Soviet ambassador, Andrei Gromyko.
The intriguing stories from “Patriots From The Barrio” have not gone unnoticed by Hollywood. Actor Wilmer Valderrama’s production company has purchased the film rights and is planning to create a six to eight-episode series based on it. Valderrama is known for TV-series, “That ‘70s Show” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” plus films, “Fast Food Nation” and “Larry Crowne.”
But at the end of any story it’s the depth and essence of character that matter.
When Dave Gutierrez heard the call to write this book he knew it was to curate and catalog important stories about the accomplishments and sacrifices of Mexican-Americans.
“I think Latinos in general, we need to look in the mirror and figure out how we can record and document our own history because that is the key that I feel that we need to improve on as Latinos.” (The Casa de la Cultura will be hosting a Dave Gutierrez lecture and book signing (the just-released 2nd edition that includes new stories) May 25.
For more information, please visit authordavegutierrez.com or http://www.lacasadelacultura.org.)