Two Southland congresswomen Thursday introduced a resolution to honor Petty Officer Raul Guerra, a U.S. Navy journalist and Montebello native who was killed during a 1967 combat mission in Vietnam, and the friends and family members who led the effort to bring his remains back home.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency positively identified Guerra’s remains and returned them to California, where his family was able to lay him to rest on April 25 — 52 years after his plane was shot down in hostile territory during a major air strike over northern Vietnam on Oct. 8, 1967.
“While Petty Officer Raul Guerra paid the ultimate price, his story affirms our commitment to bringing home the brave Americans who serve our country,” said Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Norwalk. “For several years, I worked closely with former U.S. Marine Ruben Valencia and the rest of the Bring Raul Home Committee to identify and return Petty Officer Guerra’s remains to the United States.
“They never lost hope or gave up,” she said. “It is a true testament to the life and sacrifice of this serviceman, who was decorated with the National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and the Vietnam Campaign Medal, that his loved ones remained so dedicated to ensuring he was not forgotten. His service, patriotism, and memory deserve to live on, which is why I’m proud to introduce this resolution with Congresswoman (Grace) Napolitano.”
Napolitano, D-El Monte, said the resolution was introduced “to pay tribute to the courage and character of Petty Officer Raul Guerra and to recognize the dedication of those who worked tirelessly to bring his remains home to California.”
Guerra “was thought to be missing forever, but because of the perseverance of his former classmates, friends and loved ones, his body was recovered and finally returned home this year, 52 years after he was pronounced killed in action,” she said.
Guerra, a Montebello High School graduate who attended East Los Angeles College, enlisted in the Navy Reserves in 1965. After completing basic training, his unit was activated and he was deployed to Vietnam as a Navy journalist. He was 24 years old when he died.
Guerra’s former classmates, Ruben Valencia and Donna and Gary Peterson, formed the Bring Raul Home Committee, which for more than 12 years “diligently spread the news and the story of Petty Officer Guerra to fellow veterans and their communities, searched for family members, and held several meetings with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency,” according to the resolution.
The DPAA notified the committee in February that Guerra’s remains would finally return home.
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