TIJERINA, ALBERT, JR.
TIJERINA, ALBERT, JR.
Rank / Branch:
CPT. US AIR FORCE
Date of Birth:
TG635243 (MILITARY COORDINATES)
HOSTILE, CRASH HELIC
CH 53 HELICOPTER
Awards & Decorations:
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list by County
ALBERT TIJERINA, JR. , CAPTAIN, U.S. AIR FORCE, SAN ANGELO, TOM GREEN COUNTY, TEXAS
AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Air Force Aviator Wings (Dual Rated Fixed and Rotary), Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Force Commendation's Medal, Air Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal
Albert was born in Ozona, Crockett County, Texas. He was the oldest son and second child born to Belia Basan and Alberto Tijerina. There was the older sister, Sylvia Ann born the year before and a second son, Andres was born a year later. Their father abandoned the family and thus they struggled to make ends meet. When they were young, their mother became ill and the children lived with other families. They lived in O' Donnel and in Miles. When their mother became well enough, the family reunited and moved into San Angelo. Mrs. Tijerina then raised the three children. Albert attended San Angelo schools and was a very good student and was very popular. Albert and his brother Andres worked summers doing what ever he could to help the family and help to finance his education. In high school at San Angelo Central, he was active in the band and was drum major of the band. He was also active in the Math Club and was a member of the National Honor Society. He graduated with honors from San Angelo Central High School in 1961.
San Angelo Central High School-1961
Albert received a math scholarship to Texas A&M University, where he continued to excel. He joined the Corp of Cadets and was active in the Aggie Band. At A&M, he was the student senator on the Corps Staff, coveted Aggie Buglar of the Corp his sophomore year, President of the San Angelo West Texas Hometown Club, and Combined Band Head Drum Major of the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band his senior year. He was a 1965 distinguished graduate and was commissioned as a 2 LT. in the U.S. Air Force. After graduating he began flight school. He married Amanda Ann Duke of San Angelo, his high school sweetheart on April 16, 1966 while he was in flight school. The marriage produced three children, the oldest Albert born in Big Spring, while Albert was in flight school at Webb Air Force Base.
Combined Drum Major, Texas A&M, Corp of Cadets
After flight school, he flew B-52's and then began flight school to transition to the helicopter. His Vietnam tour started on December 14, 1970. He was assigned to the 21st SOS. The group flew highly classified missions ferrying personnel in and out of Laos. On such a mission, March 1, 1971, KNIVE 34, with Captain Tijerina as co-pilot, departed Nakon Phamom RTAFB at 0830 to deliver Laotian troops to Lima Site 20 (Sam Thuong) in northern Laos. KNIFE 34 was hit by enemy fire withle enroute, knocking out one engine, but the crew was able to sustain flight until they reached LS20. KNIFE 34 crashed on landing, spun right, rolled downhill, flipped and burst into flames. on March 1, 1971, he was the co-pilot and the aircraft was shot down. Both Captain Tijerina and the pilot were killed in the crash. The flight engineers were able to escape the aircraft and were rescued.
Captain Tijerina was buried with full military honors in the Calvary Catholic Cemetery in San Angelo, Texas. He was survived by his wife and his three children, all of San Angelo, by his mother, his older sister Sylvia and his brother Andres, a PH.D and Texas A&M graduate, class of 67.
Calvary Catholic Cemetery, San Angelo, Texas
Tijerina Hall at Goodfellow Air Forced Base in San Angelo was named for Captain Tijerina in 1985.
Tijerina Family at Tijerina Hall 2010