Ruben Acosta: 'I don't consider myself a hero, I just done my job, and that's it' (Photo: Headlight File Photo)
DEMING – North Korea is escalating tension on a global scale with unchecked nuclear testing, for one Deming man the daily headlines hit closer to home.
Ruben Acosta served in the Korean War from 1950-54 as part of a United State Air Force Sea Rescue detail. He flew over 85 combat rescue missions in a helicopter behind enemy lines, and knows all too well the horrors of conventional warfare.
“I don’t consider myself a hero,” said Acosta who turns 86 on Sept. 20, 2017, “I just done my job, and that’s it.”
Acosta has been decorated for his service to his country and was awarded two Bronze Stars, Distinguished Medal, National Defense Medal and the United Nations Service Medal.
For this service, Acosta has been invited to participate in the Honor Flight of Southern New Mexico. The chapter will fly a group of American veterans to Washington DC to a two-day tour of the nation’s capital, including the Korean War Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial and the World War II Memorial.
Ruben Acosta served in the Korean War from 1950-54 as part of a United State Air Force Sea Rescue detail. He flew over 85 combat rescue missions in a helicopter behind enemy lines, (Photo: Courtesy photo)
“I am deeply honored to have served my country and to have provided the freedoms we now have,” a choked-up Acosta said. “I hope to put Deming on the map.”
Acosta and his comrades will have an overnight stay in Las Cruces before catching a plane in El Paso bound for Washington DC. He will be part of the group from Oct. 4-6.
The Korean War erupted when North Korea invaded South Korea and China joined in the fight by backing the North, with help from the then-Soviet Union.
In the final two years, the conflict became a war of attrition as the battle line was drawn at the 38th parallel, separating the North from the South. Much the tail end of the war was fought from above with bombing raids and dogfights.
While rescuing downed pilots, the wounded and pinned down soldiers, Acosta’s crew flew into harm’s way and received constant anti-aircraft fire.
“I knew I would be drafted, so I enlisted in the Air Force,” Acosta said. “I thank God that I am still here.”
Born and raised in Deming, Acosta graduated from Deming High School in 1950. He joined the National Guard out 1/2 of high school and trained at Fort Bliss. “My captain came to me and told me I was no longer needed in the National Guard and told me I needed to go home and take care of my father,” Acosta recalled. “I was so angry that I enlisted in the Air Force.”
Chaplain Dan Kline of the American Legion Bataan Post 4 will accompany Acosta on his Honor Flight. “It will be an honor to spend time with my fellow veterans who went through similar experiences during war time,” Acosta stated.
Acosta had a successful career after the war as a Deming businessman. He worked at Brem Chevrolet for 14 years and for Ben Meeks at the Luna Motor Co. he saved enough money to purchase three liquor establishments and owned the Susibelle Lounge, the Central Bar and the Pine St. Liquor Store. He also ran two liquor stores in the Midwest.
“Climate in the Midwest drove Acosta back home to Deming. “This is where I belong,” he said. “I’m supposed to die in the desert.”
Acosta’s wife, Barbara, passed away on Aug. 29, 2013 and his son died at age 43. He has a daughter who lives in Bryant. TX.
Bill Armendariz can be reached at 575-546-2611 (ext. 2606) or firstname.lastname@example.org.