LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — Community and base members gathered to dedicate the Science Technology Engineering Mechanics elementary school to Roberto (Bobby) Barrera at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, on Jan. 18, 2019.
Barrera, an educator, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam, and a community member whose sacrifice for his country was great, gave his name to the school and spoke about his life experience and his will to live and do good.
Dr. Carlos Rios, San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District superintendent of schools, told Barrera’s story of heroism and perseverance before the ribbon cutting. He described how Barrera and his fellow marines were injured in an enemy blast in Vietnam, and Barrera, regaining consciousness first, worked through intense pain and injury to save the seven other troops.
Capt. Sean Ballard, chaplain, gave his thoughts on the school being named for the Del Rio, Texas hero. Ballard thinks of the adversity Barrera experienced, and how he was supported by his family and friends, and that gives him inspiration to defeat his own challenges.
“It was a heart-wrenching story, and it makes us realize the job we’re doing is important. It can be scary at times, but it’s a job worth doing,” Ballard said. “I went to a lot of different schools named after different people, but I thought, ‘that’s just a name.’ If you don’t know the story behind it, it might as well be named after a tree.”
Barrera was injured severely, went through numerous surgeries, but he didn’t give up. He persevered with his education, and with his service. He didn’t let the fact he got injured not only physically but psychologically stop him.
Parents in attendance value that their children were able to meet the man the school was named after and hear his story, unlike many children who go to schools named after people whose heritage is not shared.