To raise awareness about the Veteran Memorial Park in Pecos, TX. Also, to raise enough money to see all phases of the Veterans Memorial Park built.
To finish Both phases of the Veteran Memorial Park for the citizens in Pecos, TX and around the Country.
was made possible by the generosity of Pecos Citizens and businesses in cooperation with the Veterans Affairs Committee. To date, The outside sidewalk, parking, main memorial with entrance signage, stone work, and flagpole have been completed.
The following is still needed to complete the Veteran’s Memorial Park; sidewalk, water feature, fountain, landscaping/trees, irrigation system, equipment memorial, memorial bridge, benches and picnic tables. We have a $80,000 goal for Phase two.
“Never was so much owed by so many to so few”
My story starts back in 2003. I was glued to the TV after hearing about a group of Americans who were ambushed, some taken hostage, and others, sadly KIA. I was already angry because of Sept 11 and this new story made we want to join the Marines. Unfortunately, I was too old. The cut-off age was 28, I was 33. I went on in life, but was glued to the TV watching and wishing I could do something. In late 2005, I heard a radio commercial. I remember at the end of the commercial they needed people to join the Army, they were giving $20,000 signup bonus, and they had raised the age to 42. I was just laid off my job, and this was what I was waiting for. I discussed with my wife, friends, and family, and then on April 11, 2006 I was off to Ft. Benning, GA to become an infantryman.
During my deployment to Iraq, I was a gunner doing convoy security. One of my missions in Iraq, with a convoy of around 50 semi trucks and 4 gun trucks, we made a wrong turn. We were told we just made the same wrong turn as the 507th Maintenance Company. Our LT made it a point to tell us where we were (which does give you a strange feeling of FEAR), but he lead us out and back on mission without incident. However, later in my deployment I was injured in an IED blast and I never returned to Combat.
After returning home, like most Combat Veterans, I suffered mentally, physically and seemed lost for the first 10 years. I decided to buy a motorcycle, which motivated me to charter the American Legion Riders Chapter 133 in Huntington Beach, CA. Being involved with the American Legion Riders, I was able to be of service and started meeting other Veterans wanting to do something to help themselves and other Veterans. That is when I heard about Run For The Wall. A motorcycle run from Ontario, CA to Washington D.C. honoring POW/MIA soldiers. The run attracts around 1,500 plus motorcycles who consist of Veterans, their families, and Patriotic Americans. We ride for those who can't! During this ride, I was riding in the missing man formation in remembrance to my cousin who I served with in Iraq. Joseph Hudson was the missing man coordinator. I did not know who Joseph was, but later I found out he was one of the POW soldiers from the 507th Maintenance Company. It did not register to me at the time, because I was so emotional about riding in honor of my cousin.
A day or two later, while on the run, I was approached by Cupcake, an outreach coordinator for Run for the Wall. She asked us if I wanted to do a side mission. She didn’t say much about it, except she picked us for a specific reason. I thought it was because I was an Iraq Veteran and would be interested in seeing a Veteran Memorial in honor of a KIA Iraq soldier. Later she said she picked us because she saw how much we wanted to serve.
The day we split off from the main pack, about 20 or so riders, to do this side mission to Pecos, TX, we visited the family of Johnny V. Mata (KIA during the 507th Maintenance Company ambush). The Mata family showed us a Veteran Memorial Park that was being built for the Veterans in this area. One of the riders with us, was someone who was part of the recovery mission of the 507th Maintenance Company. This was the first time he had met the family and was able to comfort the Mata family about the recovery of Johnny. As I’m watching all of this unfold, I had to scoot to the back because I was crying. Actually, I think everyone was. After meeting the family, all the people who were involved, and the emotions of everyone there, I felt God was talking to me to help. At that moment, I decided to make this Memorial our next mission to serve.
This next segment was an article from ABC7 in Pecos.
“During Thursday night’s city council meeting, it was evident that the city is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure the project is funded. CBS 7 News was at the meeting and had a chance to speak with Rosa Salinas, the woman behind the project. After Salinas' brother was killed in action back in 2003, she made it her mission to make sure he and all of Pecos' local war heroes would never be forgotten, and now she's doing just that. "He loved Pecos, regardless of where he was, no matter where he was stationed at, he always said I'm going to go back home," Salinas said. Unfortunately Chief Warrant Officer Two Johnny Villareal Mata never did make it back to the place he had plan to grow old in. "The president declared war Sunday, and Johnny was killed March 23, 2003 that Wednesday," Salinas said. Salinas’ older brother was just 35 when his crew was ambushed in Iraq. He and eight other soldiers were captured and killed -- it wasn't until a month later that their bodies were found and brought back home. Given the sacrifices that her brother and every soldier have gone, or are going through, Salinas always had it on her heart to build a memorial park in their honor.So when she learned that a man out of Fort Worth was donating a memorial stone in honor of Johnny and other local veterans, she approached the city with her idea. An idea that is now one step closer to becoming a reality. The city has already designated a section of land inside Maxey Park and prepared an outline of what it's going to look like. However that's not all, the county has promised to spend $7,500 on a flagpole. "The saying goes, ‘a man never dies until he's forgotten,’ my mission is to never forget him," Salinas said. The construction of the park is expected to cost $60,000. “Whatever short falls it’s going to cost to get it completed, I want to make sure that the city funds whatever it takes to get it done,” said councilman Chuck Knudsen. The city is accepting donations to help with the upkeep and maintenance of the park. To make a donation contact city hall and ask that go towards the Veterans Memorial Park.”
By DeAnn Lopez | Posted: Thu 11:22 PM, Nov 12, 2015
All of America has heard of the 507th Maintenance Company ambush because of Jessica Lynch. If you know her, you should know about Johnny V. Mata. He was one of the 11 KIA during the ambush and he has a memorial stone at the Pecos, TX Veteran Memorial Park. It has been 16 years since his passing, and I truly believe this Veteran Memorial Park should be completed. Not only for Johnny V Mata (who is from Pecos, TX), but for all past and future Veterans who are from Pecos, TX. The memorial will be for family and fellow Americans who would like a place to reflect. People like the “Run For The Wall” riders, who visit every year, and The American Legion Riders, from around the country, who want to start riding to Memorials for our Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans to visit and heal. Phase 1 has been completed and now they are raising money for phase two of the project. The following is still needed to complete the Veteran’s Memorial Park: sidewalk, water feature, fountain, landscaping/trees, irrigation system, equipment memorial, memorial bridge, benches and picnic tables. We have a $80,000 goal for phase two. This work can only be completed with help from your donation.