Submitted by: LTC (R) Jerry W Cheatom
Photos by: LTC (R) Jerry W Cheatom
Mr. Fernando C. Aguirre (Cadet Captain) Class of 1943 requested a tour and small celebration with his JROTC Battalion and campus last Friday. Mr. Aguirre participated in a walking tour of his campus and JROTC building. While outside the JROTC building the Lanier Mariachi Band entertained Mr. Aguirre, followed by a demonstration by the Vok Battalion Raider Challenge Team, construction, and negotiation of one rope bridge, and Raina Obstacle course. In addition, he was present a “Quilt of Valor by the San Antonio Quilts of Valor Chapter and South Texas CASA. While inside the JROTC Building his biological and JROTC families’ sung happy birthday to him. His actual 100th birthday is 29 May2023.
Fernando C. Aguirre was born in San Antonio, Texas, on 29 May 1923. He was eleven years old when he first enrolled in school in the San Antonio Independent School District. Advancing to secondary school, he attended Sidney Lanier High School where he became a proud member of the JROTC program holding the rank of Major and serving as Commander of Company A. Additionally, Fernando served as a senior class officer and was a member of various student organizations including the JROTC Choral Club, Hi-Y Club, and The Symphonia Club.
Fernando was an avid boxer and participated in 19 tournament bouts during high school, winning 17 by knockouts and losing two by decision between 1938-1943. Shortly before graduating in the Spring of 1943, he won the Texas state flyweight division boxing championship after knocking out an Army soldier who was stationed in San Antonio. Fernando accomplished these boxing honors despite the fact that he is visually impaired – having lost his left eye in an accident during his early teen years.
Fernando graduated from Lanier High School on 26 May 1943 and traded his Junior ROTC uniform for the real thing – enlisting in the Army on 16 June 1943. Because of his visual impairment, he was assigned to a medical unit serving stateside for the duration of WWII.
Fernando entered the Army at Ft. Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas, training as a medical/surgical technician at Brooke Army Hospital before being stationed at La Garde Military Hospital in New Orleans, LA. There, he “assisted in every type of surgery that results from war.”
Fernando was honorably discharged from the service while stationed at the William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Ft. Bliss, Texas, on 28 March 1946, having served in the 1883rd Medical Detachment Unit.
On 11 June 1944 Fernando married Hortencia Martinez Bernal, to whom he was married for 70 years until her death in 2015.
In 1978 Fernando retired from the US Postal Service after a 30-year career as a mail carrier – most of which was in the 78207-zip code. He enjoyed subsequent careers in TV and radio repair, car sales, and lawnmower repair.
Having a wonderful voice, Fernando used to love to sing and was often heard singing over Lanier’s PA system and, later in life, at Sunday Mass in celebration of his Catholic faith. Today, Fernando loves to play golf, enjoys a great game of rummy, and spends time with his dear companion, Polly Gloria.
Fernando has eight children, ten grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.