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Emilio "Ray" Aguirre loving husband, father, grandfather and brother went to be with his Lord and Savior on April 26, 2013 at the age of 84. He is now reunited with his great love, wife of 62 years, Dolores. He was born on January 7, 1929 in Laredo, Texas. He is predeceased by his mother Jovita Santos Bonilla and sister Irma B. Yanez. He is survived by his children, Elsa A. Villalpando (Roodi), Edmund A. Aguirre (Brenda), Linda Aguirre-Pike (Greg), and Ernest A. Aguirre (Sonia); 8 grandchildren; brother, Reynaldo Aguirre (Elisa); brother-in-law; Santos Aguilar Jr.; numerous nieces, nephews and other relatives. Mr. Aguirre graduated from Sidney Lanier HS in 1946. He joined the United States Marines Corp and served as a Sergeant during the Korean Conflict where he fought in the Battle at the Chosin Reservoir. He was awarded the Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation award, two bronze stars; Victory Medal World War II, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and Korean Service Medal for injuries sustained and heroic actions. He subsequently wrote about his experiences in the book, "We'll Be Home for Christmas" published in 1959. Mr. Aguirre was also sought out as a resource by authors writing of the Korean War. As a father of four, he was a respected leader within the Loma Park community, active in youth athletics and fundraising for various causes. After his service, he became a curator for the Museum of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base. His painting of the first man on the moon still stands inside the historic Brooks City Base Hanger 9. His artistic talents lead him to a subsequent occupation as a medical book illustrator. As an artist, his paintings featuring the Chicano Image were chosen to represent San Antonio in our Country's Bicentennial. In 1989, his Korean War paintings were selected by Vista Magazine for an article on "Latinos Remember the Forgotten War". Many of his paintings were also featured in several educational books. In August of 1991, Mr. Aguirre received an award from the San Antonio Police Officers Association for leadership and giving to his community. He also gave his time as a block walker in support of various different political campaigns. He was a founder of the San Antonio Chapter of the Chosin Few and a member of the Purple Heart Association and Disabled American Veterans Association. He served as Past President of the VFW Post 9186. During his retirement he also served as a volunteer for the Memorial Detachment Service at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. His passion for art and dedication to fellow Korean War veterans served as inspiration to design and direct the building of the Korean War Veterans Memorial that stands in front of the Municipal Auditorium, dedicated in December of 1994. In 2009, Mr. Aguirre was recognized by the Senate of the State of Texas for the Texas Community Health Network's first annual Unsung Heroes Award. Our most sincere Thanks to Ms. Rosa Elva Hernandez (caregiver) who took such wonderful care of our Father. We would also like to Thank Dr. Laura Chiodo (VA Hospital), Dr. Carlos E. Alvarez-Meraz and Odyssey Hospice for their wonderful care and support. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his name to The Chosin Few National Association; 238 Cornwall Circle, Chalfort, PA 18914. Visitation will be at Sunset Northwest Funeral Home on Bandera Road on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 from 5:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. with a rosary at 7:00 P.M. The procession will depart the funeral home at 11:00 A.M. Thursday, May 2, 2013 for an 11:30 A.M. funeral mass at St. Dominic Catholic Church, 5919 Ingram Rd. Interment will follow at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery with U.S. Marines military honors. Please sign the guest book at www.sunsetnwfuneralhome.com
Published in Express-News on Apr. 30, 2013