Freddy Fender: 100% Tejano, 100% Patriot, 100% US Marine

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My classmates and I came of age to the music of Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin, and Freddy Fender, all talented and all were born and raised in Texas.

Freddy Fender was his professional moniker, but Baldemar Huerta is the name with which he was born.

What set Freddy apart from his peers was his character. Although as happens to many professional musicians, I refer to alcohol and drug addictions,  he was a gentle soul, a peacemaker wherever he was.

His social philosophy can be distilled down to his refusal to participate in societal segregation. In a 1977 Washington Post interview he said, “Whenever I run into prejudice, I smile and feel sorry for them, and I say to myself, `There’s one more argument for birth control.‘”

His music enjoyed cross-cultural popularity. He frequently interlaced Spanish and English verses. The following is possibly the best example: Before The Next Teardrop Falls

From MCRD San Diego, a brief biographical sketch of this famous Texan.

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Before Freddy Fender became famous, he was a Marine. Freddy served in the United States Marine Corps from 1954-1957.

Freddy’s real name was Baldemar Huerta, and he grew up poor, living in a Hispanic neighborhood in San Benito, Texas. Freddy wanted to be like JOHN WAYNE in the Sands of Iwo Jima. His mother lied about his age, and Freddy enlisted in the Marines when he was just sixteen years old.

Even while he was in boot camp, Freddy was known for his musical skill. His Drill Instructors would wake him up in the middle of the night to serenade the platoon. Later in his Marine Corps career when he was stationed on Okinawa, he continued to play music for his fellow Marines.

Freddy’s music career spanned more than four decades. He received numerous accolades for his contributions to rock, country, Tejano, blues, and pop music. Freddy played for three U.S. Presidents, received three Grammy awards, and has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Freddy never forgot the struggles of his life. He believed, “We should all try to give something back.” An average student when he was in high school, Freddy later established a scholarship fund for average students who earned ‘B’s and ‘C’s. Freddy battled drug and alcohol addiction during a period in his life. After getting sober, he raised money for Charlie’s Place Recovery Center, a rehab facility for alcoholics. He also raised money for diabetes education and children’s services.

Though he spent a small amount of his life in the Marine Corps, Freddy was proud of his service. “Hey, little did I know that I would be the future Freddy Fender, the Singing Marine, and proud of it!” He played at military bases overseas to raise the morale of servicemen and women.

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Performing artists who served on the USO tours performed a highly-valued service to our country. Freddy’s service ranks up there with that of Bob Hope, Glenn Miller, and other American artists who used their God-given gifts to enhance the lives and morale of our armed forces.

May God bless the memory of Freddy Fender.

John White
Rockwall, Texas

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