The death of a fellow soldier and best friend, two broken ankles and a hurt back was what Cpl. Octaviano “Okie” Suarez suffered while serving his country in 2005 but his story doesn't end with pain. Suarez, an Alice resident, will be honored for his military service in the third annual Veterans Cast N' Blast in Riveria.
Suarez graduated from Premont High School in 2000 and in 2001 he joined the Marine Corps.
“I wanted to make something of myself and I'd be proud to serve my country,” he said. “I knew what joining the Marine Corps meant. I knew I could get called out at any time.”
He was a Reserve Officer with an infantry unit based in Corpus Christi until his unit was activated and deployed to Iraq in 2004.
He and his fellow Marines were part of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2.
In January 2005, Suarez was hurt during an improvised explosive device (IED) blast that threw him 40 feet into the air and 30 feet away from his unit.
“I'm lucky to be alive,” Suarez said. “My best friend wasn't.”
Suarez was medically retired in April 2006 due to his extensive injuries. He returned to reside in Alice, in a wheelchair with his family.
Suarez who has always loved the outdoors and begged his father and brother to take him fishing. After they agreed, Suarez remembers his wheelchair rocking along with the boat and finding tranquility outdoors.
Due to his love of the outdoors, Suarez is working on obtaining his Bachelors in Wildlife Management at Texas A&M University in Kingsville.
To thank Suarez for his military service he was entered and chosen as the 2016 Veterans Cast N' Blast recipient.
“I found out I was chosen through a Facebook message,” Suarez said. “I was surprised they chose me. I feel honored.”
The third annual Veterans Cast N' Blast starts on Friday, Sept. 30 with a fishing tournament for veterans, boat captains and title sponsors only. On Saturday, there will be a Dove Hunt with the veterans that is open to the first 35 registered hunters. At 4:30 p.m. a gala will begin. There will be a dinner, auction and a Texas Country Music Concert.
For more information on sponsorship or to purchase concert tickets contact Daniella Molina at 361-562-4046 or Jonathan Molina at 361-562-1499.
Suarez plans to enjoy this years event and hopes to help the organization in the future.