A note from the filmmaker: This is a letter I received from Tina regarding her father's involvement in the Vietnam war and a little of his backstory. We just had to share it.
Hello My name is Tina Duran Ruvalcaba and I am the daughter of Sgt. Jesus Santiago Duran, Medal of Honor Recipient March 18, 2014 ~ Valor 24.
My father Jesus “Chuy” was born on July 26, 1948 in Cuidad Juarez Mexico. He was the 6th of 12 children.
He came with his family to the United States of America In December of 1963. A few weeks after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. My grandparents, my father and his siblings resided in El Paso, Texas for a couple of weeks and then moved to Southern California, Riverside, in the Eastside Community.
My father and mother met at a dance in Riverside. My mother was engaged to someone else and somehow my Mother and father crossed paths at that dance…
Needless to say, my mother’s engagement ended and she and my father started to date. Both of my parents were very young when they met my mother was at the very early age of 17 and my father was 19. Their love moved quickly and they married on March 2, 1968 at the Mission Inn in Riverside, California. My father enlisted (I believe he was drafted) and in May of 1968 he was sent to boot camp and then sent to Vietnam.
I was born on December 23, 1968 and my father was in Vietnam. I have some letters that my father wrote to my mother during his time and although I have not read them, The few that I opened, I did see my name and he seemed happy to know he had a little girl waiting for him to return.
My parent’s marriage unfortunately did not survive, due to Their early separation or their age. So, I did not live with my father at any time. Although I have a few memories of my father, I wish God would have given us a little bit more time with one another. My father remarried in Feb. 1972 and with his second wife, had a son.
I do recall visiting with my father occasionally but again, my memories are few. My father was very young at his time of death… 28 years old. I often wonder what type of man my father would have been. It is incredible to think that this February.on the 17th, 2017…. It will be the 40th anniversary of his murder.
I have had the opportunity to meet several men who served with my father in Vietnam. These men shared with me kind memories of the kind of man my father was. They let me know that while in Vietnam, he was very happy to have learned that His young wife had had a little girl.
One of the gentlemen I had the opportunity of meeting shared with me, that while in Vietnam, the men would name their machine guns after loved ones back at home. My father’s M-60 was named “TINA”.
And what a huge Honor and also such sadness comes to me…. Trying to figure out whether the M-60 turned out in helping come back home….
I was 8 years old when my father was murdered. He and I were robbed of being able to have a relationship. Him seeing me go to middle and high school ~ graduations... My first boyfriend, my proms/dances.
Meeting my husband and walking me down the aisle, and never having the opportunity to meet his granddaughter.
What I am grateful for is all of this recognition…. Time took time. I am forever grateful to Mitch Libman and his tireless effort on behalf of his friend Leonard Kravitz. Without Mr. Libman, I don’t think I would be a part of this wonderful project.
My hope for this project/documentary is that It will be seen all over the country. That children and families and teachers Will be able to view this documentary and to share the experiences of these men. Who gave of themselves, for OUR COUNTRY. This Beautiful Country.
I am grateful to the city of Riverside, Mayor Rusty Bailey And his Chief of staff Dr. Cheryl Marie O. Hansberger (current) And former Maureen Cain. They have honored my father's memory and continue to work tirelessly.
My father has had a library named after him. Spc.Jesus S.Duran Eastside Library. In a few short months, there will also be a freeway sign along the 91 E between Madison and I believe 3rd st in Riverside named after three Medal of Honor Recipients from Eastside and the Casa Blanca communities in Riverside. There is also a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building in San Bernardino, CA that has honored my Father.
My father fought for the United States of America and unfortunately, NEVER became a United States citizen.
I am forever grateful to so many people for ALL OF the Kindness, their tireless efforts who have helped to honor my father’s memory. Mr. Lorenzo Maya, the councilmen and ladies of the City Council of Riverside. Senator Richard Roth and his staff. Grant Gautche director of the VA’s office in Riverside. Ms. Linda Salinas-Thompson and Ms. Leah P. Collier.
These women have also very kind in their efforts in honoring my father’s service. Jeremy Doublestein and YOUR ENTIRE TEAM…
Thank you Thank you Thank you……. For being so kind and inviting me to be a small part of this documentary. I am forever Grateful ~ Thank you for being Kind and Generous and wanting to have this movie made to Honor these men and the acts of Courage they each have shown.
-Tina Duran Ruvalcaba