Efforts underway to help 94-year-old war hero return to his home

Home of Purple Heart, Bronze Star recipient badly needs repair

SAN ANTONIO – What began with a concerned family member asking for help on Facebook has led to several efforts, including that of the local Military Order of the Purple Heart, to come to the rescue of a fellow Purple Heart recipient whose home had fallen into disrepair.

Alfred Guerra, 94, also earned a Bronze Star in the Pacific War during World War II.

“As combat warriors, we leave nobody behind. And as veterans, we leave no veteran behind,” said Tony Roman, former commander of Alamo Chapter 1836 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Guerra’s daughter, Maria, said Roman was the first to call her offering his help. Since then, she said, word has spread.

“With all the help that these people are giving, the organizations that are willing to help, I’m amazed and I’m grateful for all of it,” Maria Guerra said.

A city spokesman said in a statement that the city’s Department of Human Services and Department of Military Affairs have partnered with the Military Order of the Purple Heart and VFW Post 76 “to assess the house and Mr. Guerra’s needs.”

The statement also said Broken Warriors Angels, a faith-based organization, is trying to make temporary roof repairs until a permanent roof can be added.

“Although Mr. Guerra has his own home, Human Services is committed to ending veteran homelessness and keeping veterans in their homes," the statement said.

Although Maria Guerra said her father’s memory isn’t what it used to be, her father said, “I feel like I’m getting started all over again.”

Maria Guerra said she and her brother had been working on the house, but he passed away from cancer last summer.

“It was a tremendous blow to the family because he was a part of the glue that held the family together,” she said.

Maria Guerra said her father already had lost his wife to cancer and still lived in the family home until his daughter convinced him that he should stay with her because the house was no longer safe enough for him to live in.

She said besides the leaky roof, an undetected leak rotted the kitchen floor.

“I was very grateful that he did not go through the floor because I went through the floor,” she said. It would have been a devastating injury if he had, Maria Guerra said. Even so, she said, “He tells me all the time, he’s ready to come home.”

Guerra’s daughter said her father enjoyed working in his garden and tending the roses he named for his wife, Emma.

Learning of Guerra’s plight, Roman said he contacted the city of San Antonio’s military liaison and others he thought could help.

“We called all different people that we know and their buddies are on board. They’re going to come out and help,” Roman said.

Funding to cover the costs is still in the works, Roman said.

But if everything comes together like they hope it will, Guerra’s daughter said, “It’d be a wonderful Christmas gift for him to get him back home.”

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.