CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Some veterans’ groups, like the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, are well known.
However, there's another group, based out of Benavides, that helps and honors veterans in their community.
Since the 1980's, America’s Last Patrol has called a 10 acres ranch in Benavides home.
The group was formed by Vietnam vets who wanted to bring attention to their missing comrades.
“The issue was POW/MIA at the time,” said founding member Alberto Mendoza. “We made a relay walk from McAllen to the doorstep of The Alamo for POW/MIA. That’s how we started.”
Those early beginnings are marked with a section of the group's memorial wall honoring former POW/MIA.
That wall has grown over the years, and as it has evolved, so has the mission of America’s Last Patrol.
“We try to help veterans in distress,” said Arturo Pecos, a member since 1985. “Whenever a veteran approaches us, or a family, we try to help them out.”
At its peak, America's Last Patrol had three posts from Houston to the Rio Grande Valley, and Post 1 in Benavides had more than 100 active members.
“We need a little more help,” said Post 1 Commander Adrian Trevino. “Veterans like myself, the Iraq era, Afghanistan era.”
Trevino isn’t a Vietnam veteran, but he served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He’s one of fewer than 20 active members today.
“We struggle to do our color guard at every parade,” Trevino said. “Whoever shows up, shows up and we roll.”
Marching the colors in area parades is only one way America's Last Patrol supports veterans.
They also hold ceremonies twice a year, on Veteran’s and Memorial Days at the ranch.
“It’s a great honor to represent our organization and our prior veterans,” Trevino said. “The ones that passed away, we do it for them.”
“Making a trip down here to the Last Patrol Ranch, you know, they come from all over,” added Pecos.
The land was owned by Domingo Ramirez, a Korean War veteran and early member, who leased it to the group for 100 years at $1/year.
“We’re all going to be gone, but the Last Patrol Ranch will be here,” Pecos said.
A lasting legacy to American heroes.
Contact Veterans In Focus reporters: Greg Chandler at email@example.com and Pat Simon at firstname.lastname@example.org