When 93-year-old Ventura Baca served in the US Army during WWII, he was assigned to a horseback unit. Baca’s unit guarded a stretch of 25 miles along the German and Czechoslovakia border that was occupied by the Soviet Army. There were thick forests and no roads, said Baca.
The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association recognized the San Antonio veteran with a warrior appreciation ride last week.
“We honor combat veterans, veterans from the past,” said Mike Wallace, NM 47-3 Chapter Commander. “We appreciate what they gave and sacrificed ahead of us.”
Baca and his wife Rosa stood in front of their San Antonio home surrounded by family as a line of brightly colored motorcycles pulled up along the street.
The motorcyclists parked their bikes in a line in front of the house. The bikers, all former combat veterans, stood at attention while Baca was given a certificate and pin to show their appreciation for his military service. Then they formed a line to shake his hand.
The Bacas invited the group into the backyard for posole and chilled sodas.
Baca’s nephew Dennis read out a speech thanking the association and sharing the story of Baca’s time in the military.
Baca wanted to enlist at just 16, but his parents wouldn’t let him join the military until he was 17-years-old. He was sent to Fort Bliss, Texas, where he got his physical exam and “a new style haircut.” Then he was sent to Camp Lee for basic training.
Baca was part of a constabulary unit that did police-type work. His outfit was disbanded in 1949 when the military began using helicopters instead of horseback to patrol the border they were guarding and Baca was reassigned. He got his discharge in 1950.
After completing his military service, Baca became the postmaster for San Antonio in 1953 until he retired in 1993.
“I know there are millions of veterans more entitled to all this,” Baca’s speech read. “I also want to thank you for all your service.”
This was the ninth warrior appreciation ride that the chapter has completed. The national organization began as a way to help veterans with VA claims and to help offer support with PTSD. The group’s mission is vets helping vets.
“It was brotherhood outside of the military,” said Wallace.
One of the reasons that mission is so important, he said, is the high rate of veteran suicides.
“This gives us the opportunity to support each other, because we have a unique history, being combat vets,” said Wallace.
The chapter has been in operation for a year and has done things like clean up disabled veterans’ yards, and helped rebuild a wheelchair ramp for one veteran.
“We’re just very proud to be able to honor a fellow combat veteran,” said Jerry Moya, the group’s state sergeant at arms.