SAN ANTONIO — Pictured in his uniform, Lance Cpl. Guillermo Perez flashes a big smile. At 20 years old, he was living his dream of serving our country.
New Braunfels Mayor Rusty Brockman said Perez understood the importance of giving back, not just by serving his country, but his community.
"He made a commitment when he was in middle school that when he got to high school, he wanted to be in the Marine Junior ROTC program," Brockman said.
An official with New Braunfels ISD said Perez spent the majority of his time at New Braunfels High School before graduating from the School of Choice in March of 2019.
Brockman said Lt. Mark House, the senior marine instructor at NBHS, knew Perez had a promising future in the military.
"According to Lt. Col.House, he was an outstanding cadet," Brockman said. "He showed leadership, he had lots of friends, he was a strong student."
The New Braunfels native was training off the coast of California last week with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Authorities said he was inside an amphibilus assault vehicle when it stared to take on water. The Department of Defense released a statement that nine service members were lost, including Perez.
Brockman said he's been working with local military to help bring Perez home. He said he should arrive in San Antonio in about two weeks' time, and will be escorted home by the New Braunfels Police Department. The mayor said the New Braunfels Fire Department will be waiting for him, too.
"And from there the fire department will be involved with a ladder truck flying a flag," Brockman said. "Flags will be placed along Seguin Street and Around the plaza. This will be special for him."
As a member of a military family himself, Brockman said it's important for him to make sure Perez gets the respect he deserves from his community.
"We are proud of him," Brockman said. "We appreciate his service so we want to be there for him and his family."
Brockman added that Perez volunteered with the New Braunfels Noon Lions Club. He helped them during Wurstfest throughout his time in high school. Members from the club will place those flags around the city in his honor.
Brockman said the City of New Braunfels will make additional public announcements has more details for the procession and funeral are set.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help cover the cost of Perez's funeral. In just a few days, people have donated more than $14,000.