"There is nothing nobler than risking your life for your country." - Nick Lampson
Some called him Fred, some called him Alfred, some called him Al, and some called him Alfie, but what everyone agrees on is that he was a friendly guy who always had a smile, was very kind, had a sense of humor and on top of all that, he possessed a ton of talent. He was remembered as that skinny guy with a smile and also for being quiet in school. I didn't know him but when I first saw his picture as one of the KIA, I recognized him. He graduated from my high school in 1968, a year after me. A few years ago a woman posted a remembrance of him on the vvmf website. She had been best friends with a girl he dated for awhile. They used to walk downtown together after school and she said that he walked so slow that it would take him an hour when normally they could do it in ten minutes. Yet he had those long legs! She referred to him as a tall drink of water and her girlfriend had been crazy about him. She reported that he was never in a hurry and always made her laugh.
Alfred Mauro Quiroz inherited his artistic talent from his father who was a sign painter for a local company. Alfred is remembered by those who knew him as being an extremely talented artist who could draw anything from portraits to cartoons.
He was also musically inclined and played the guitar in a local band called 8th Wonder. They played at a lot of local venues including a place called Surf's Up which was a dance place for teenagers. One fellow recalls Alfred coming over to his house to jam with some of the Sentinals, a local surf rock band that had national success.
Through an Operations Grassroots Center, Alfred was chairman of a teen center. I remember a teen center that was opening and a friend had asked me to help work on it one day so it could open. It was 50 years ago but what I think I remember is prepping the walls to get it ready to paint. There were many local teens working all that day inside that downtown building. I don't recall any other teen centers in those days so Alfred must have been there that day if he was the chairman. Now that I'm trying to recall it, I maybe have a faint memory, like a whisper, of a tall, skinny teen who seemed to be in charge. But then, maybe not, it's too long ago.
After high school, he worked for the forest service, but not for long. He was drafted before the month of June was over. Following basic training in Fort Ord, California and then Fort Knox, Kentucky for AIT, he landed in Vietnam on December 7, 1968, just 2 months after his 20th birthday. He served as an E3 Corporal with C Troop, 2nd squadron, 1st Calvary Division, 4th Infantry Division as an armor reconnaissance specialist.
One day, in the Pleiku area of Vietnam, near Saigon, Alfred had completed a combat mission with his squadron and was cleaning his rifle when it accidentally discharged. His young life was ended in that moment, only about six weeks into his tour of duty.
He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Alfredo P. Quiroz and was the oldest of five children, two sisters and two brothers. He had been born in Mexico City and his parents immigrated to the United States when he was very young. They initially settled in Texas but eventually ended up on the central coast of California where Alfred became such a huge part of teen life in our small community.
He was born in Mexico but died fighting for the United States, a true hero. Alfred Quiroz, you never got to live an adult life, but the rest of us who never saw war will never go through such bravery in our lifetimes as you went through in your young life in those six weeks in Vietnam. May you rest in peace and know that your spirit lives on, even 50 years later, in the hearts of many.