Reservist joins in honoring fallen soldiers during Victoria ceremony

Jennifer Lee Preyss By Jennifer Lee Preyss

May 28, 2012 at 12:28 a.m.
Updated May 29, 2012 at 12:29 a.m.

Harrison Raska salutes the Korean War commemorative wreath in the Placing of Wreaths during the Memorial Day ceremony  at DeLeon Plaza.

Harrison Raska salutes the Korean War commemorative wreath in the Placing of Wreaths during the Memorial Day ceremony at DeLeon Plaza.

When Sgt. Henry Salas turned 18, he felt compelled to enroll in the Army.

"It was something I knew I had to do," Salas, 40, said.

More than two decades later, Salas continues to serve his country as a reservist. He has served two tours in Iraq and has no plans to retire from the Army.

At Monday's Memorial Day service in DeLeon Plaza, Salas joined his wife, Hope Salas, and their 12-year-old son, Raphael, to honor the fallen servicemen and women who gave their lives serving their country.

"It was great to be here. I just wanted to honor the veterans of Vietnam and the World Wars - all the wars, really," Salas said. "It has been an honor to serve alongside the men I've worked with."

Salas' wife said she's proud of her husband, who has dedicated his life to military service. As the daughter and wife of a long tradition of military soldiers, she knows firsthand the sacrifice they and their families make during wartime.

"It's been a challenge, especially when he left on his tours," Hope Salas said of her husband's military orders to spend two years in Iraq. "When he left for Iraq the first time, our son was only 3 years old, and it was a time he needed his dad. ... The least I can do is come out here and show my appreciation for the soldiers."

More than 100 attendees came out to the veterans ceremony, which included a three-volley salute, a playing of taps, and keynote speaker Army Col. Michael Petrash.

"When I looked out at the crowd, it seemed like we were like-minded ... we were kindred spirits," Petrash said. "It was really good to see people who have not served come out here and honor the people who've died in action."

The ceremony's organizer, Victoria Veterans Council Secretary Marvin Lockhart, said he was pleased with the turnout.

"I hope people leave with a sense of pride for their community," Lockhart said. "It's clear people care about their community because if you're not community-minded, you don't come out to things like this."

The Salases said they try to instill a sense of patriotic pride in their son every day, not just on Memorial Day, so he knows at an early age the sacrifices American soldiers make to allow him his daily freedoms.

"I'm proud of my dad because he fights for our country," Raphael said. "A lot of our people don't realize that if we didn't fight, we wouldn't be free."

Hope Salas also brought her 3-year-old nephew, Ethan Valadez, to the ceremony to honor Ethan's father, Sgt. Issac Valadez, who is currently serving on a military tour in Afghanistan.

"I understand what the wives and husbands give up when their spouses goes oversees," Hope Salas said. My husband "is a good man. I'm so proud him."



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