By Isiah REYES
Three local Pasadena veterans were honored at Brookside Golf Course on Sept. 27 by the Pasadena Mexican American History Assn.
The three veterans were Art Del Rey, Ezekiel “Kelly” Lopez and Robert Gutierrez. They all received recognitions and their children, now adults, gave speeches on their behalf.
Sandi Mejia, chairman of the board of the Duarte Chamber of Commerce, said the three honorees were chosen because they are strong leaders who have strong roots in Pasadena.
“It was ideal for us to honor these men as veterans, but we also recognize several others who are here today,” Mejia said. “So the veterans are one part of our history-making and we have several families within the community that have contributed to Pasadena in more ways than we can acknowledge but the veterans are for today.”
Gutierrez enlisted in the Marine Corp on Dec. 11, 1942, and received three Purple Hearts. The first was for wounds he received in action during the Gilbert Islands Occupation on Nov. 2, 1943. In lieu of a second Purple Heart he was awarded a Gold Star for wounds received in action in Saipan, Mariana Islands on June 17, 1944, and the last Purple Heart was for wounds received at Tinian which required hospitalization. He also received the Presidential Unit Citation.
“The event was great and well put together,” said Bobby Gutierrez, the son of Robert Gutierrez. “When you see recognition like this it’s pretty nice. I’m very appreciative for what they did for our families and all the other veterans in here.”
Del Rey was about 20 years old when he volunteered in 1942 to go to war. After the war, he became a real estate agent and eventually opened up his own real estate business in 1976. He retired at the age of 67 but soon discovered he could not completely leave the real estate business so he is still a real estate investor and consultant.
“I am honored to represent the many other veterans from Pasadena that are here and not here,” Del Rey said. “We all served our country and kept the enemy away from our own families.”
Lopez voluntarily enlisted in 1941 at age 20. What he remembers most from the war was when he was a mechanic crew chief and he lost four B-17s that were shot down with 10 men in each. He humbly said that he did not deserve the recognition because other men did a lot more than he.
The reception was attended by many veterans who each had the opportunity to stand up and be individually recognized for their service to the country.
Maxine Garcia Wordell, one of the founders of the Pasadena Mexican American History Association, said the recognition of these veterans was long overdue.
“The event was wonderful with a good turn out,” Wordell said. “It was pleasant.”