EL PASO, Texas — Local El Pasoans Oscar Barreda, Jr. and his father Oscar Barreda, Sr. visit the Fort Bliss National Cemetery every year to honor the sacrifice their loved one, U.S. Army Air Corps Staff Sgt. Fernando Barreda, made 78 years ago.
“If you hit 25 missions you came home. He was on his 24th” said Oscar Barreda, Fernando Barreda’s nephew.
Fernando’s brother, Oscar Barreda, Sr. a U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class (Retired), also served during World War II and is one of the few surviving veterans of the war.
Fernando Barreda, a radio operator assigned to the 7th Bombardment Squadron, 34th Bombardment Group was killed on January 14, 1945 just 11 days before The Battle of the Bulge ended. Over 70,000 Americans were killed in the battle.
According to Barreda Sr., Fernando was a well-known man around the El Paso community. He was known for his acts of kindness and desire to help others.
“He was a very good man,” Barreda, Sr. said.” He was a handyman around El Paso, he was a very good and hardworking man.”
The two brothers were raised in a poor neighborhood in El Paso. Often they would walk together to school due to their circumstances. Many of the memories that Barreda Sr. has about his brother are related to Cathedral High School in El Paso where Fernando participated in football, choir, and other activities.
“We used to walk there everyday to Cathedral up the street,” Barreda, Sr. said.” That was a lot of walking. Everyday, but we enjoyed it.”
Fernando Barreda decided to fight for his country when the U.S. joined World War II shortly after he graduated from high school. Four years later, Barreda was killed when his aircraft was hit by a enemy fire enroute to a bombardment mission over Derben, Germany. He died eight months before World War II ended and just four months before Germany surrendered.
Every Memorial Day, 100-year-old Oscar Barreda, Sr, and his family drive to the Fort Bliss Cemetery to pay their respects to their fallen loved one, who died serving his country.
“It's my main thing, to come and celebrate this day,” Barreda, Sr. said. “To come and see my brother.”