Posted: Jun 27, 2013 9:44 PM
Updated: Nov 1, 2013 3:45 PM
MERCEDES - A raging fire took a World War II veteran's wife and home. The blaze, however, did not manage to erase the countless memories the aging warrior has accumulated in more than 80 years.
Raul Vera is full of memories. There are some he wants to forget, including the ones from the June 7.
"Sometimes I have to wake up at night, hearing my wife calling me ... when she was burning-up. I couldn't help her ... I couldn't help her," he said.
The ailing veteran was home with his wife, Martina, when a lighting bolt set their house on fire.
Most of his pets, his Bronze and Silver stars survived the fire. The love of his life succumbed to her injuries weeks after the blaze. She died in a hospital in San Antonio.
"We're the only ones ... my dogs and me," he said.
Vera fights the urge to become lost in his grief. He focuses on rebuilding his home.
"That's what I'm fighting for," Vera said.
Vera said he wants a small dwelling, to be close to the pets his wife loved.
"That's good ...They're going to keep you going pop," Irma Agueros said. She is helping the veteran rebuild.
"He needs the help. He's a personal friend of my dad, and my dad literally told me, ayudalo (help him)," Agueros said.
Agueros gathered people from the community to help clean up after the fire.
"He's a very deserving, kind and dedicated man. He was very dedicated to his wife. Now, his puppies are all he has left. He's dedicating himself to them, so we need to keep him close by," Agueros said.
Agueros made Vera's fight her own.
"My wife was very proud if me. In every parade she'd say, ‘come on let's go.' She'd show me off," Vera said.
Agueros believes Martina Vera is still very proud of her husband.
Donors have stepped up and offered to set up a mobile home at the site. The city, however, will not allow that.