Memorial by Jimmie Salazar – January 24, 2003
I first met Sergeant Benito Alaniz in September 1966
during Advanced Infantry Training at Fort Riley, Kansas when I was a young draftee.
I clearly remember when he joined our unit as one of the non-commissioned training officers. I still remember how well we used to get along because he would give me a lot of advice to help me as I was acting Buck Sergeant Squad Leader at that time. During free time, Benito and I hung out together – sometimes we would just get together to drink beer and "shoot the bull" at the EM Club, or go to Junction City or to Manhattan to fool around. In January of 1967, when we left Fort Riley on the troop train for Oakland, California, we visited each other and joked around with the other guys just to kill time. While headed for Viet Nam on the troop ship, the USS General John Pope, Benito and I used to get together with Mario Lopez, Jose Sauceda and rest of our "Santa Anna Brigade" to play guitars and sing on the top deck until we were told to go to our bunks. Once we arrived at Camp Bearcat, I did not see him too much because our 2nd Platoon spent much time patrolling a nearby rubber plantation and his platoon worked ambush patrols around Camp Bearcat's perimeter. It was in March of 1967 when I received the horrible news that my very good friend, Sergeant Benito Alaniz was killed on a routine patrol. From then on during quiet nights and when I had time to think I gave silent prayers for my friend – I still do that to this very day. When Benito died I promised myself to visit his family when I returned home. But sadly, I was never able to fulfill that promise and then my life became so hectic raising a family, maintaining a home and just making ends meet – I just got so involved with catching up with life before I knew who and where I was. Decades passed until I finally found some of my old buddies on the Internet. I am so grateful that I was able to meet them a few years ago at a Charlie Company Reunion - if only Benito could have been there too. Benito, I will never, ever forget you, ole friend. . .