Capt. Bernardino P. Vargas passed away on Wednesday, January 15, 2020, in Floresville. He was 73 years old and a resident of Poteet in Atascosa County. He was born in Poteet on May 20, 1946, to Hilario P. Vargas, Sr. and Fermina G. Peña.
He is survived by his children, Monica M. Vargas (Yvette), Rochelle A. Sula, and Jeffery Herrera (Gil), eight grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and siblings, Ernestina V. Guerra (Dan), Virginia V. Olivares (Johnny Joe), Isabel V. Treviño (the late Jimmy Treviño), Enrique P. Vargas (Mary Helen), Daniel P. Vargas (Tish), Natalia V. Morantes (Robert), Stilita Vargas-Smith (Ramon), Cleotilde P. Vargas, Hilario P. Vargas, Jr. (Luisa), and Richard P., Vargas, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Capt. Vargas is preceded in death by his parents, Hilario P. Vargas, Sr. and Fermina G. Peña, grandparents Cruz and Felicitas Vargas of Asherton, Texas and Refugio Peña and Florinda G. Peña of Poteet.
Capt. Vargas was the firstborn of 11 children. He would go with his “pop” almost everywhere, including gatherings where most of the men were either WWII or Korean Conflict veterans. He enjoyed listening to them share their stories of life during their military service. In fact, Bernie and his pop, were both stationed at different times at Camp Wolters near Mineral Wells.
One of the things Capt. “Bernie” Vargas most appreciated about his pop is that he made sure all his children graduated from high school; and in fact his mother’s tutoring ensured he could recite his alphabet and read a little in both English and Spanish before he entered the first grade. Bernie broke many barriers in his youth, resulting in his achieving Valedictorian of the 1963 Poteet High School graduating class at the age of 17 years and one week.
He started college, but was later drafted into the U.S. Army, November 2, 1967 and was honorably discharged September 4, 1973. He saw action in Vietnam from January 17, 1969 thru November 26, 1969.
Military decorations, medals, commendations awarded are Vietnam Service Medal with four Bronze Service Stars; Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal; Distinguished Flying Cross with four Oak Leaf Clusters; Army Commendation Medal; Purple Heart; Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star; Army Aviator Badge; Vietnamese Civil Actions Honor Medal and Air Medal.
Bernie pursued a bachelor’s degree in Technology with a major in Business Technology from the University of Houston. He was a Life Member of Post 6970, Texas, Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Bernie worked in a variety of fields, including sales, landscaping, bus driver, Pizza Inn manager, process operator at Uncle Ben’s, relief auditor for hotel chain, project manager for Associated Building Services, and civil servant at Brooks Air Force Base.
He loved to garden and was a master at growing tomatoes, other vegetables and took pride in his roses. He loved to fish – any kind – and would take his daughters with him when they were young. He also enjoyed barbecuing for his family and friends.
Bernie loved the Dallas Cowboys and you could say “bled blue and silver.” His family and relatives see Bernie with the late Ralph De La Fuente and the late cousin, Johnny Peña having front row seats to all games from now on.
He loved to talk about his grandchildren and did so non-stop. He thrilled in their school achievements and encouraged them to reach for the stars.
If Bernie could do so today, he would urge any veteran whose life has been affected by the traumas of war and military life to seek a better quality of life through the Veteran’s Administration. He finally sought this help after decades of trying to do it on his own and it made a difference, even though some may say he should have done so earlier.
In lieu of flowers, please feel free to donate to the Poteet Library, the local animal shelter, the Disabled Veterans of America, your local VFW Post or any other organization of your choice.
Funeral services provided by Hurley Funeral Home in Pleasanton. A rosary is scheduled for Monday, January 27 at 7 p.m. at St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church in Poteet. The funeral Mass is scheduled for Tuesday, January 28 at 12 p.m., at St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church in Poteet. The burial is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio followed by a reception at 4 p.m. that afternoon at St. Philip Benizi Fellowship Hall in Poteet.