Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Central Texas Remembers Staff Sergeant Richard Vazquez

Courtesy of the U.S. Army Special Forces.
Staff Sergeant Richard Vazquez.

The Seguin community is honoring a fallen soldier.

Staff Sergeant Richard Vazquez died Nov. 13 after he was wounded in Afghanistan. As a child, his family moved a lot, but his high school years in Seguin gave definition to his early life. That’s why, after each of his multiple tours of duty, he always came back to Central Texas to spend time with the people he loved.

Staff Sgt. Richard Vazquez and his older brother Romario were inseparable as children - in part because they were only 11-months apart.

After their parents’ divorce, the brothers developed a special bond.

Back then they lived in Louisiana. “We always played like we were Army guys,” says older brother Romario. “[We] had all the guns and [were] out in the woods.” Both loved the outdoors: scouting, hunting, and fishing.

But, then, the family moved to Texas. And that’s when the teenagers began shaping their own paths.

Sgt. Vazquez fell in love with football: a new type of combat. He was so committed to the sport that nothing else seemed to matter.

Retired English teacher Gerry Richardson remembers the first day he walked into her classroom. “He didn’t understand the importance of taking senior English.” He’d ask her what most teenagers ask, at one point or another, while they’re in high school: “What am I going to do with this?”

With Vazquez, Richardson took the question as a challenge. Since she loves history, she figured a boy who professed a love for the Army, combat and wars would likely enjoy a “war-infused” English class. So, she challenged him with literature from the Crusades. “And it just really captivated him.”

The class turned from a chore into a joy. And just like everything else he enjoyed, he committed to it with heart and soul.

Vazquez became a speaker in Richardson’s classes. He made it a point to visit after every one of his multiple deployments. He’d talk to her students about how history is not dead, but instead it’s something we create every day. He’d also tell them the story about how he earned his purple heart.

As children, Romario knew Richard would inevitably enlist; it was his love, his passion.

Romario says it was also inevitable to talk about what they’d do if they ever lost each other. The brothers figured Puff Daddy and Faith Evans’ interpretation of the song “I’ll be missing you” would be their way of expressing their brotherly love. “We used to sing that song, like there’s no tomorrow,” Romario says. “We’d repeat it and repeat it.”

This would’ve been Vazquez’ last tour. Instead, it was his final. He was 28 and full of life. And though his final resting place will be in Louisiana, his second home was Texas. His parents and siblings say college football was his other love - and the Texas Longhorns his other passion.

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.