CommunityVeterans In Focus


Navy veteran spending retirement serving neighbors

Posted at 3:10 PM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 19:18:46-04

ALICE, Texas — A Jim Wells county veteran is spending his retirement years serving his neighbors, and this humble man said he does it because that's who he is.

Meeting Oscar Ortiz, you can tell this quiet, unassuming man has an amazing heart. Just ask his neighbors who rely on him, and know that a simple 'thanks' is reward enough.

“Oh, I'm very grateful, he's a very helpful man,” said Velia Trevino.

Trevino said she doesn't know what she'd do without Ortiz. They've been friends and neighbors on the outskirts of Alice for years. Their bond strengthened when Trevino's husband Juan got sick in early 2020.

“We built him a ramp,” Trevino said of a project he and a another neighbor worked on. “But he passed away a couple months later.”

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Ortiz, now 79 years old, enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1963. He served aboard the USS Semmes, patrolling the seas off Cuba and then Asia. After his honorable discharge in 1967, Ortiz went to work in the oil field.

Now retired, Ortiz spends his days with his grandchildren, doing what he can. That includes mowing the field across from his house.

“I’ve been cutting it since 1994 or ’95,” said Ortiz. “The lady that owned the place, she knew one of my uncles.”

That neighbor has since passed away, yet Ortiz keeps cutting the lawn.

“That's the way I am,” he said.

“Every little thing I need, I call him and he's always there for me,” said Trevino.

Juan Trevino passed away last October. Since then, Ortiz has been there for whatever Velia needs.

“When we had the freeze, I had a leak inside the house,” she said. “He and his son came and helped me with that.”

He helps, often paying for supplies or materials out of his own pocket.

“I can't do too much, but I try to do what I can, try to help them out,” said Ortiz.

“I offer him (money) and he says 'no,'” Trevino added. “He never takes any money.”

Ortiz may not take money, but he gladly accepts Trevino's cooking in return for his help.