By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
U.S. Navy Pvt. Marcelo Rendon Casas died serving his country in World War II; he was only 17.
The son of Desiderio and Maria Casas of San Benito, Marcelo was killed on Nov. 29, 1944, when his ship, which was off the coast of Asia according to a newspaper article published at the time, was attacked by the Japanese.
A letter from President Franklin Roosevelt praised Marcelo as a soldier who “died in service of his country at sea” while assigned to the USS Aulick. “He stands in the broken line of patriots who have dared to die that freedom might live and grow, and increase in its blessing. Freedom lives and, through it, he lives—in a way that humbles the undertaking of most men,” Roosevelt’s letter read.
Also accompanying the article was a photo of Marcelo in his Navy uniform. He’s smiling in the picture and appears happy.
Aside from knowing that Marcelo enlisted in the Navy at the age of 16, the aforementioned information is all that his nephew, named Marcelo Casas in memory of the World War II casualty, knows about him.
Marcelo’s sister, Celia, decided to name her son after her brother. “I was born near the time when he was killed in the Navy, and my mother and grandmother decided to give me his name in honor of him,” Casas, 67, said. “They’ve never really said much other than he was very tall, whereas everyone was short.”
According to Casas, who was born in 1945, his relatives on Marcelo’s side of the family, including his mother and grandmother, died before they could offer more information about his uncle.
“It just never came up; we never talked about him. All they told me is that he gave his life to the Navy while serving our country and that he was tall,” Casas said about his uncle Marcelo. “I sure would (like to know more)… I’m more interested about that.”
Until that time comes, Casas hopes others will appreciate the sacrifice his uncle made for the freedoms Americans enjoy today. Aiding in that regard, Casas, who works in construction, visited the San Benito News office Friday carrying newspaper clippings and photos of Marcelo in hopes of gaining recognition for his uncle.
“It’s going to be Veterans Day on Monday (Nov. 11),” Casas said. “I just wanted to honor him.”