“When the horse came up to him he actually opened his eyes…”
Vietnam veteran Roberto Gonzalez’s final wish was granted Saturday when he was reunited with his beloved horses — Ringo and Sugar — outside of a Texas VA hospital.
Gonzalez, of Premont, Texas, who was shot and paralyzed during the war, was wheeled outside the front doors of Audie Murphy Veterans Hospital in San Antonio where he was greeted by the horses he had raised for decades, mySA.com reported.
Gonzalez, who was one of the hospital’s first patients when it opened in 1974, had asked his family to see his horses one last time. The family passed along the request to hospital staff who gladly obliged. Ringo and Sugar then made the 150-mile trip to the hospital to see him.
“Horses are his life,” his wife, Rosario Gonzalez, told KABB. “We’ve been training and raising horses for 30, 40 years.”
The South Texas Veterans Health Care System posted a photo of the meeting on its Facebook page on Sunday, calling Gonzalez a great American and identifying him as one of the first patients at the hospital.
“A heartfelt Thank you, to all at Audie L. Murphy V A Hospital,” Rosario Gonzalez posted in response. “A special thank you to the spinal cord staff, all of you became a part of our family.
“The care you have been giving my husband and to me goes above and beyond,” she wrote. “You are our angels God Bless you all.”
Gonzalez reportedly learned that his kidneys and liver were failing when he recently visited the hospital for a back wound.
“He never let his injuries slow him down. He loved horses, he loved cattle, he loved ranching and farming. He was proud to serve his country,” Rosario Gonzalez told ABC affiliate KSAT.
Gonzalez’s May 21 visit with the horses came 46 years to the day after he was wounded in Vietnam. His wife told local media stations that her husband was one of the only licensed, handicapped horse trainers in Texas.
“When the horse came up to him he actually opened his eyes. They came up to him and I think they were actually kissing him,” Gonzalez told News4SA.com.