Roy Cisneros: Extraordinary Young Man, Friend, Neighbor, Edgewood District Student, and Hero

    (Researched & written by Mario Longoria)

    As many will attest, Roy Cisneros was an extraordinary young man growing up in San Antonio’s Westside where he attended schools in the Edgewood School  District, an area well known in San Antonio for its large Hispanic population. Lifelong friend and restaurant owner Danny Avila remembers his friend Roy Cisneros “as a smart young man, very determined, and a great friend to have.” He further states, “We grew up in a time with many challenges but maintained our friendship despite all that has happened since then.” Both Roy and Danny attended Cenizo Park Elementary, Truman Middle School, and Edgewood High School. They were good students, best friends for many years as they parted company after graduation.



    Both graduated from Edgewood High School in 1967, and with the Vietnam War waging in Southeast Asia, Roy Cisneros solidified his commitment to the military and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. According to his friend Mr. Danny Avila, Roy was anxious to become a marine. His two older brothers were career marines. Notwithstanding, Roy looked forward to marine service; he enlisted his senior year, and left to bootcamp training in San Diego two weeks after graduation. Upon completion of boot training, he received orders to join the Third Marine Division in South Vietnam.

    From the letters that Roy Cisneros wrote to his friend Danny Avila there is mention of the constant violence, killing, and death. Danny cites that Roy was tired of the killing on both sides and looked forward to returning home for some rest. He also talked about his girlfriend and about the plans that he and Danny had made after his tour in Vietnam. Unfortunately, the Vietnam War would take its toll to disrupt his return home and future plans.


    In May of 1968, another Edgewood neighborhood friend U.S. Marine Lance-corporal Ruben Perez recalls encountering Roy at a rear camp just south of the DMZ near Dong Ha and Quang Tri. Lance-corporal Perez says he was glad to see Roy, he appeared well, and noticed he sustained a wound in his back that seemed infected. Perez remembers they met at the chow hall and talked briefly about home and their assignments. However, Roy talked very little about his wound and instead seemed anxious to return to the bush. Afterwards, Perez returned to “D” Company and Roy to “B.”


    On a fateful September 11, 1968, in the Quang Tri Province, Corporal Roy Cisneros and a squad of marines from Company B set out on a reconnaissance patrol and spotted a company of North Vietnamese soldiers occupying a position on a hill near their operations area. Within seconds, a firefight erupted and Corporal Cisneros directed his squad to respond to enemy fire. The enemy had the squad trapped until Roy worked his way around the enemy bunkers. With courage and determination, Roy utilized grenades, an anti-tank assault weapon, and devastating fire from his squad changed the outcome of the fight. The result was the destruction of 3 enemy bunkers and 45 North Vietnamese soldiers confirmed killed.


    However, the greatest casualty of the firefight was Corporal Roy Cisneros. He suffered mortal wounds as he led the attack against the enemy. His friend Danny Avila remembers the day he received word that Roy died in Vietnam, he states, “Roy can never be replaced as a friend, I miss him dearly and think of him each day.” Lance-corporal Ruben Perez, who had spent time with Roy in the field, comments he was recovering from wounds in an Army Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan,when he read of Roy’s death in the Stars & Stripes newspaper. “I was shocked, I felt bad, and got very emotional, I cried learning that Roy had been killed.” No doubt, Corporal Roy Cisneros was a patriot, a hero and friend to many people. He died fighting for his country and the Marine Corps he surely loved and honored.


    We the members of the Edgewood School District Veterans organization, San Antonio, Texas pay tribute and honor to Corporal Roy Cisneros for his service, duty, and sacrifice. His courage and actions not only reflects great credit upon himself, his country, and the U.S. Marine Corps, but his family, friends, and the Edgewood District as well. We mourn his loss and honor his memory.  


    In September 2009, the Edgewood School District Veterans proposed and petitioned the Edgewood School District Board of Trustees to rename a school in his honor. The Board reviewed the proposal and voted unanimously to change the name of Cenizo Park Elementary, the first school that Roy attended in the district, to Roy Cisneros ElementarySchool. A fitting tribute and honor to one of Edgewood’s finest young men and heroes.

    Avila, Danny.“Personal Interview.” 20 May 2013.

    Perez, Ruben.“Personal Interview.”  22 May 2013

    Preyor-Johnson, Nancy. “Its Roy Cisneros Elementary: Campaign to change name was complicated,passionate.” 29 September 2009 http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/military/aticle/It-s-Roy-Cisneros-Elementary



    For Extraordinary Heroism while serving as a Squad Leader with Company B, First Battalion, Third Marine Division in the Republic of Vietnam on

    11 September 1968.

    While conducting a reconnaissance in force, Company B came under intense small arms and automatic
    weapons fire from a North Vietnam Army Company occupying fortified positions on Hill 461 in Quang Tri Province.
    During the ensuing firefight, Corporal Cisneros skillfully maneuvered his squad across the hazardous terrain
    and, directing the fire of his men with devastating accuracy, was instrumental in the destruction of three enemy bunkers.

    When his men were pinned-down by a heavy volume of fire from a fourth emplacement, he boldly advanced and single-handedly attempted to destroy the enemy position. After firing a light anti-tank assault weapon into the bunker, he fearlessly hurled hand grenades at the defenders as he aggressively continued the assault.

    Disregarding his own safety, he commenced rifle fire and delivered effective fire upon the North Vietnamese emplacements, when mortally wounded by enemy fire. His resolute determination and intrepid fighting spirit inspired all who observed him and were instrumental in his unit accounting for 45 North Vietnamese soldiers confirmed killed. By his courage, aggressive leadership and self-less devotion to duty,
    Corporal Cisneros upheld the highest tradition of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

    (Source:Stevens, Paul Drew, edited by.The Navy Cross: Citations of Awards of the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps, 1964-1973. Forest Ranch: Sharp & Dunnigan Publications,1987. Page 63)

  • Please share your thoughts and memories of Roy Cisneros.

    Posted by Jason Gatell on 11/11/2014
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