The last time Frank Garcia was in Washington D.C. World War II had just ended and he was returning to the United States after a number of years with the Army in Europe.
Now he is returning to the nation’s capital and that very war he was returning from 60 years earlier, is the reason for his return.
Garcia, a life-long resident of Tucumcari is heading back for the commemoration of the capital’s newest monument – the monument to those soldiers who served in the armed forces during World War II. “I am pretty excited about it, I guess,” said Garcia about the trip that he and his wife Julia will take next week. “I am very honored that our (VFW) post picked me.” The former 18-year-old draftee said he was asked by the commander of the Tucumcari VFW Post if he were interested in going as the post’s representative and initially he said he was unsure about the honor.
“I told them I wanted to think about it a little,” said Garcia who was attached to a mobile anti-aircraft unit during the war. “So I went home and talked about it with my wife and we decided that it would be good to go.” So at the next meeting of the post he said he would accept.
The former private first class said the idea of traveling the length of the country and then standing with around 500,000 people half way between the Lincoln and the Washington memorials is something of a daunting experience. “It’s going to be hard, I guess. It will mean a lot of walking,” said Garcia. “But I guess I’m lucky because I’m in better shape than a lot of those guys who’ll be there. I go to the VA (hospital) in Amarillo and a lot of them are in very bad condition.”
Garcia’s outfit saw action in a number of different locations during the second World War. He was at Normandy, northern France, in the Arden, the Rhineland and Central Europe. In fact he keeps a letter from General George S. Patton commander of the U.S. Third Army commending him for his actions in the drive to rescue trapped American Troops at the Battle of the Bulge. Julia Garcia said there is another reason that her husband and she decided to represent Tucumcari at the ceremonies May 28-30. “It will be an opportunity to see the Viet Nam Memorial Wall,” said Julia. “You see, we lost our only son in Viet Nam. And that is a big reason for us going – to see his name on the wall.”
So Julia said, it will be a chance to not only salute Frank Sr. but Frank Jr. as well who would have been 56 on those same days that the two Garcias will be in Washington.
Ceremonies include three separate reunions of specific military groups, a memorial service, the dedication service and an evening of entertainment.