ARVIN, Calif. (KERO) — Driving into Kern County on Highway 46, travelers might notice the sign that says “Kern County: Where we honor our veterans.” Residents in Arvin proved that statement true when they gathered Friday to honor the life of Vietnam veteran David Leal.
David S. Leal served in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, where he saw quite a bit of combat, and was wounded in the late 60s. The USMC recognized his service and his heroism when he was awarded the Purple Heart. Leal was honorably discharged in 1970.
After his discharge, Leal went on to volunteer with the Honor Guard. He also performed military honors for hundreds of veterans, and served as a guardian for Honor Flight Kern County.
David Leal was laid to rest Friday at the Bakersfield National Cemetery. Family, friends, and loved ones gathered to remember him at a service with full military honors.
“He loved this country and would do anything for anybody,” said Leal’s wife Sandra. “He protected his neighborhood, Bakersfield, he was there always for everybody.”
Sandra Leal says that from the moment she met David, she knew he was the one.
“David and I, we were married for over eight years, and rom day one I fell in love with him,” said Mrs. Leal.
Leal dedicated a lot of his time and energy to serving and honoring those who served beside him, and his wife says in his free time, Leal loved going on cruises, dancing, and spending time with his family.
“He was a good grandpa, a good father, a good friend, and he was a good husband,” said Mrs. Leal.
Many Marines gathered at Bakersfield National Cemetery to say their final goodbye to their fellow veteran, and to honor a man who spent so much of his time and energy after serving into caring for those who served with him.
Leal’s wife says he would have been in awe of the ceremony and will be remembered as a proud Marine.
“This was a beautiful honoring for him and I’ll never forget it,” said Sandra Leal. “I know he’s watching us and probably telling us, ‘OK, you guys got it right.’”