By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Rey David Cuervo was just out of high school when he enlisted in the Army in 1999. It was peacetime, but that didn’t matter. For Cuervo, serving in the military was something he’d always wanted to do, said his sister, Valentina Barrientez, speaking from Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, Calif.
It also didn’t matter to Cuervo that the United States was his adopted country. The Mexican native had lived in the Laguna Madre region almost his entire life. In one of the last conversations they ever had, Cuervo told his sister “he didn’t need a paper to tell him that he was an American,” she said. “For him being an American was in his heart. He was serving his country,” she said.
Cuervo was stationed in Hawaii on Sept. 11, 2001, but not long afterward he was part of the wave of troops sent into Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, which would eventually stretch into the decade-long Iraq War.
He was deployed to Iraq in August 2003, Barrientez said. At about the same time, her husband, Timoteo Barrientez, was in between his first and second deployments. In mid-December of that year, Barrientez, a marine, received notice that he would be deployed again. Just 10 days later —on Dec. 28 — Cuervo was killed when the vehicle he was traveling in drove over an improvised explosive device (IED) while on a reconnaissance patrol. He was killed instantly, Barrientez said.
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