CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Almost as important as the men and women who serve are the families who support them, and when a member of our military is killed while serving, the loved ones they leave behind become a 'Gold Star Family'.
Teresa Alaniz, a prominent member of the local Gold Star community, died Jan. 18 at the age of 79.
Of the four Coastal Bend natives killed during Operation Desert Storm, only one was from Corpus Christi, Andy Alaniz, Teresa’s son.
She honored his sacrifice until her death. Her presence will be missed among the veteran community.
“She was the epitome of the Gold Star Mother,” said son Albert Alaniz, a veteran himself.
It was a role she never asked for, yet one she willingly embraced. Teresa Alaniz's world changed February 27, 1991; the day Andy died. The day she became a Gold Star Mother.
“She was so proud of him,” said Albert. “So proud for what he accomplished.”
Albert remembers vividly when his mother learned that Andy had had been killed in action.
“My mother was devastated,” he said. “I remember coming home and having to remind her that Andy was in a better place now.”
Out of that tragedy, she found purpose. Both Teresa and her husband became regulars at local veterans’ events, honoring their son, who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“Anything to do with veterans, anything to do with Purple Heart, anything to do with Gold Star, she always attended,” Albert said.
“She was a constant, never missed," said Corpus Christi Veterans Band Director Ram Chavez.
Chavez’s bond with Teresa ran deeper than ceremonies. The two were old friends, having first met while they both worked at Ray High School.
“Knowing Mrs. Alaniz before she was a Gold Star Mother, I think that made it easier for her and I to talk,” Chavez said.
In the more than 20 years that followed, they talked a lot. Often of Andy, who was never far from his mother's thoughts.
“She always carried his picture,” said Chavez. “I don't think I ever saw her without a picture of Andy.”
“He meant the world to my mom in how he served his country,” added Albert, who is comforted that Andy and his mom are reunited. However, that comfort comes with loss.
“It was hard for her then and it's going to be hard for us now,” he said.
Mrs. Alaniz is now buried near her son and husband at Corpus Christi’s Rose Hill Cemetery.