Thursday, November 11, 2010

Felipe Cuevas: Decorated Military Veteran Ousted Posthumously from Pechanga

We at Original Pechanga's Blog would like to thank all our veterans for their sacrifices. Thought they are offering free meals to veterans today, what they really want is for them to spend their retirement pay on their slot machines.   Vets would do better by taking a baggie of shrimp home from the buffet.

Here is an appreciation of a father, by his son, ME that we wrote for last year's Veteran's Day.

On this Veteran’s Day, I want to remember my father, Felipe Cuevas, born July 13, 1928. He was the son of Phillip and Olive Cuevas. Olive was the daughter of Mary Ann Miller, who, in turn, was the daughter of Paulina Hunter of Pechanga. Paulina was the matriarch of the Hunter Clan who was given her 20 acres of land on the Pechanga Reservation as the head of the Family.

My father grew up in Los Angeles, a graduate of Roosevelt High School and the oldest of five children, all of whom served in our military. He entered the U.S. Army in 1948 and served in many capacities, primarily as a drill instructor. He was stationed in Germany, where his wife Alice bore a son, as well as Korea, Ft. Ord, CA, Ft. Lewis, WA where I was born, and Ft. Benning, GA. At all of these posts he trained young men to serve our country. He served two tours in Vietnam, once an advisor with a South Vietnamese Army Battalion, both tours were near the end of his career.

He always taught us about our family roots at Pechanga, having helped to build the cabin on Hunter Lane in 1957 with his cousins and uncles. My first time on the reservation was when he served his first tour in Vietnam in 1966. My Aunt Tillie and Uncle Bars took my brother and me to spend time at the cabin. That was when you could still hunt on the rez, for rabbit and dove. He was proud to be Pechanga and he was happy that family members were able to bring us to the reservation while he was in Southeast Asia.

As it is Veteran’s Day, I’m proud to write about one of his achievements. This Pechanga warrior was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with “V” Device (valor). Since my scanner is down, I’ll re-type the citation here, but will have a copy linked as soon as I can, so there can be no "Rathergate" claims. Here's what the citation says:

Date action: 3 July 1967
Theater: Republic of Vietnam

For heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force: Sergeant First Class Cuevas distinguished himself by heroic action on 3 July 1967 while serving as Light Weapons Infantry Advisor to the 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment, Army of the Republic of Vietnam. On that date, the Viet Cong opened fire on the battalion headquarters compound with machinegun, small arms and 82mm mortar fire. Eight Vietnamese soldiers and dependents were seriously wounded during the initial phase of the attack and an aerial evacuation was requested. Sergeant Cuevas voluntarily proceeded to the helicopter landing area. Sergeant Cuevas remained in the exposed area assisting in sorting the wounded and determining priority for evacuation. Only when all wounded personnel were safely aboard an aircraft and airborne did Sergeant Cuevas return to a safe position. As result of Sergeant Cuevas’s prompt and courageous efforts, the rapid and efficient evacuation of all wounded was accomplished. Sergeant First Class Cuevas’ heroic actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the military service.

Colonel, USA
Adjutant General

My father was also awarded the Bronze Star. You don’t “win” these by the way. But he was proud of his service, proud that he was able to make young men ready to defend themselves and our country. He served 23 years in the Army.

Sadly, he was never able to enjoy the largesse that came with the successful opening of the Pechanga Resort and Casino, which brought much needed funds to the reservation and our people. Conversely, he also was never able to feel the sting of seeing his birthright ripped from his family, which now includes five grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren by a "disenrollment" committee that included: Ruth Masiel, Ihrene Scearce, Frances Miranda and Bobbi LeMere. Pechanga proudly displays his name as a Pechanga Veteran on their website, along with his brother and sisters, yet now, they also say, HE IS NOT PECHANGA. On July 13, 2006, on what would have been his 78th birthday, the Pechanga Tribal Council heard our family’s appeal of our unconstitutional disenrollment and later did not allow our appeal. Much of that story is written here on this blog.

My father always encouraged my brother and me to do our best, to do what is right and THAT is why we continue to fight for our rights and against the evil that has been done to our family.

Dad, thank you for all that you gave to your family and to your country. I am proud to be your son. It is shameful that Pechanga doesn't reward your memory by following the rule of law and the will of the people.  Even more scurrilous, the Pechanga Tribal Council has seen fit to remove it's page honoring tribal veterans.


Nora said...

You honor your father greatly by being a good son who knows how to be a true man. You are caring for your people which is a gift to God, your father, your brothers and to your soul. No one can take THAT from you. In the same way, no council can take away who you are...Pechanga


loose lips sink ships said...

Don,t you think these stories should turn into videos?

Really put it out there,you got to put a face behind the story.

Show the whole world how cut throat pechanga is?

Anonymous said...

Original pechanga your site is dying down , responses are low,what are you going to do for you loyal watchers?


Anonymous said...

Wouldn't anonymous question be better put to those who feel they've been wronged?

No wonder Pechanga ran them over like pussies in the street. Loyal watchers? Ha ha.. those that hope someone will help them more likely.

'aamokat said...

Real class huh? people taking cheap shots on a thread honoring a veteran who served our country with honor and doing so just after veterans day.

Have you no shame?

Is the word honor even in your vocabulary at all?

They should thank people like Mr. Cuevas who put himself on the line so that they can post such dribble.

Anonymous said...

Hay you mexican wetback want to be a indian . you know nothing of honor or respect. when the truth comes out you will be the pile of shit sitting on the street so craul under your rock and go away

Anonymous said...

ATTENTION ALL MORATORIUM PEOPLE meeting at pechanga office . to meet with enrollment people JANUARY 3 2011 to discuss REVIEW of enrollment papers. all moratorium people welcome come and ask question meet other people with same views lets get something started

Anonymous said...

That's a great idea! Make sure you have a camera and record all the action.

Anonymous said...

What the heck? whats that talk all about ,wetback? I just saw this post?

Anonymous said...

I find it incredible that your tribe doesn't think military service is honorable.

I won't be going back to your casino.

Anonymous said...

Veterans should be honored by all Americans for their service.

Tribal veterans are a much smaller group and with all the criminals on the Pechanga rez, you'd think they would take something they could honor and do that. It's sad that they have taken one good facet of their history and forsaken it.

Anonymous said...

Sgt Cuevas. Great grandson of original Pechanga Paulina Hunter. Thank you
Pechanga where is your honor?

Anonymous said...

American Military Veterans should stay away from Pechanga because of the way they treated their own veterans.

Anonymous said...

What a stellar individual. He brought honor to the Pechanga people.

Apparently,honor is not held in good stead at the tribal council.

How can honor be recognized by a council that destroys the very people whose ancestors founded the reservation

Anonymous said...

Heroic actions by a Pechanga Indian. Kind of reminds you of Raymond Jr, it's so similar. NOT!