One namesake of Lopez-Riggins remembered

One namesake of Lopez-Riggins Elementary remembered
Posted on 01/29/2019
This is the image for the news article titled One namesake of Lopez-Riggins Elementary rememberedRene Lopez and James Patrick Riggins are believed to be the only two Los Fresnos residents to die in Vietnam War.

In 1985, the Los Fresnos CISD Board of Trustees voted to name its newest school at the time after them – Lopez-Riggins Elementary.

Riggins was remembered by his brother Richard on the 50th anniversary of his death on Jan. 25 with a wreath that has been placed by his photo on the wall of the school. Lopez died in 1966 at the age of 25.

James Riggins was a 1967 graduate of Los Fresnos High School and was an all-district tackle for the Falcons football team.

James was the fifth of the six children. "He was the brain of the family," Richard said. "He made A's all the time."

The Riggins family moved to Bayview in 1955. The family had six children. James and Richard's father was a colonel in the U.S. Army and graduated from West Point in 1925. He fought in World War II.

So it was only fitting for James to enlist in the Army on June 10, 1968. He reached the rank of Sergeant in the 9th Infantry Division. His battalion was at the Plain of Reeds in the Mekong Delta of the Kien Tuong Province near the Vietnamese border with Cambodia.

"Plain of Reeds is a swamp that is surrounded by jungle, and there were machine gun boxes buried in the jungle," Richard recalled. "When the helicopter landed, they were under intensive fire. The commanding officer went ahead and was wounded. My brother tried to pull him out and was shot at the same time. He passed away in the medevac unit of the helicopter transporting him."

He was 19 years old upon his death. Riggins, who had received two previous Bronze Star medals, won a Silver Star for his actions.

"When the news got back to Los Fresnos, and they had the funeral at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, all of Los Fresnos showed up for the funeral."

Pictured are (left to right) officers of the LRE Student Council Santiago de la Fuente, Alyssa Perez, Arantza Rueda, Valeria Garza and Karina Solis, Richard and Yolanda Riggins, and LRE principal Oscar de la Rosa.
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