SAN ANTONIO – Fifty years after the U.S.’s withdrawal from Vietnam, a book is being written about the heavy toll the war took on the Edgewood Independent School District.
“The Edgewood Independent School District has the distinction, the national distinction of having the highest Latino American casualties in the Vietnam War,” said Mario Longoria, Ph.D., with Edgewood District Veterans.
As a 1966 Kennedy High School graduate who served in the U.S. Navy patrolling Vietnamese waters, Longoria has a Ph.D. in English literature.
Using his academic background, Longoria said he’s been researching and writing a book since 2014 about the young Latinos in the Edgewood district who died in Vietnam.
“I fully identified 55 Latinos,” Longoria said. “There were seven from Kennedy High School. Then there was one from Holy Cross High School within the district.”
He said there were also others living in the district.
But, Longoria said the hardest hit was Edgewood High School.
“The class of ‘67 from Edgewood sustained the most casualties in Vietnam War in 1968,” Longoria said. “It was about 14 in one year.
He said while many were drafted, others volunteered out of a sense of duty like their fathers had in World War II.
Longoria said he knew many of them from his neighborhood, like Chris Delgado.
His sister, Imelda Delgado, said her brother joined the Navy like their father.
However, Chris Delgado was killed when his riverboat loaded with diesel for U.S. Marines in a fierce battle, was hit by a rocket.
Not long after that, the knock on the door came at Delgado’s home.
Imelda Delgado said when she saw their parish priest and a Naval officer at the door, she knew why they were there.
“I remember yelling to my parents because everyone had gone asleep,” she said. “I don’t remember after that what happened.”
Although the Vietnam War was highly unpopular, Delgado said her brother and those he served with believed they were fighting to protect America’s freedom.
Longoria said, “We fought because we wanted to.”
Besides, he said, “We kicked their tails, but politically, we lost it.”
Delgado said she still wears red, white and blue every day to honor America’s military and her brother’s memory.
She said, “I couldn’t have asked for a better brother.”