little town of Brady is found in the Hill Country of central Texas. Almost smack dab in the middle of the State, which is why
folks there refer to it as the ‘Heart of Texas’.
As with so many small towns in Texas, the proud young men of Brady would
don the uniforms of this Nation and serve in one branch of the Armed Forces or
another. Particularly during times
Of six Torres brothers – all joined the military to serve their Country. Two of them, Raymond and Benito, chose the United States Marine Corps. There’s really nothing unique about that. Other families have produced Marine brothers before. But, these two brothers have two things in common. They both served in the same rifle company in Vietnam, although at different times. And, both were wounded in action during the performance of their duties while with this company.
enlisted in the Marines first. In
November of 1967, he joined Lima Company, Third Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment
in Vietnam as an 0331-Machinegunner. He
was hit in the legs by shrapnel on June 6, 1968, while on patrol, and med-evaced
from the country.
was still in high school when he learned that his brother had been wounded.
He and his buddy, Reymondo ‘Rey’ Sanchez immediately enlisted in the
Marines. They went in on the
‘buddy system’. They went
through Boot Camp in San Diego, CA together, and then went off to Vietnam
together. That’s where they
parted company. For a while.
was sent to First Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment (1/4), and his friend, Rey
Sanchez, by a stroke of luck ended up with Lima Company, 3rd
Battalion, 5th Marines (Raymond Torres’s old rifle company).
Rey served as an 0341 – with Mortars.
about six months with 1/4, Benito devised a plan to get into L Company, 3/5.
“Not enough action going on in 1/4,”
he says, “And I wanted to
be with Rey.” Plus he remembered
“My brother didn’t get a chance to finish his job with L 3/5 . . .
I wanted to finish it for him.”
an amusing story of how he managed to talk his way into a transfer to the 5th
Marines. Then, he finagled his way
into Lima Company. By that time, it
was October of 1969. Benito was
assigned to the company as an 0311 - rifleman scout.
He was happy – and he was ‘home’.
Maybe it was because he was part Comanche and he had grown up tracking animals and reading trail, but many times he was selected to walk ‘point’ – while looking for the enemy.
December 29, 1969, his squad hit a massive enemy explosive device while on
patrol. It is believed the
explosion leveled five men. Benito
was one of them. He survived, but
lost both of his legs. To this day,
he can’t remember whether he was the point man or not.
you enter Benito’s modest home in Brady, the American Bald Eagle with the
American Flag in porcelain and paint is seen on every wall and in every pose of
His Comanche heritage is there too - in feather and flint.
And, of course, the Marine Corps is proudly displayed everywhere you
look. His medals highlight one
wall, while the others are full of pictures of his family. The
rooms reflect the pride and love of a dedicated man.
His parents, son Ben, and daughter Jean, are among the many pictures
which also include grandkids, brothers and sister, nephews and nieces. He is a role model to many, including his nephews, Ben and
Victor, who stop in and help him with household chores.
His younger sister, Mary, also lives close enough to stop by to visit him
I asked if he had any regrets, he told me:
“In spite of everything. The
long road to recovery and the pain - I’m proud of being a Marine, and I’m
proud to have served my Country with Lima Company 3/5.”
He continued “The only
regret I have, is they didn’t take me seriously when I wanted to go back to
the desire, but curious - I asked him why he’d make such a statement.
He said “Well, once I got used to the wheelchair, I realized I could
carry more guns, ammo and grenades than I ever could have carried on foot.”
He went on, “If they’d have just sent me back and put me on a hill in
front of the enemy - I could have rolled that chair downhill loaded with guns
and ammo . . .” With eyes
glistening, he concluded, saying “and
finished the job for Raymond and me.”
In Benito’s citation for the Bronze Star Award for valor, it reads in part: ‘. . . and exemplary performance, Lance Corporal Benito Torres’s dedication to duty remains a constant inspiration to the men of his unit.’
Well, you’re an inspiration to me, my friend. Semper Fi!