PROFILE OF A MUSEUM VOLUNTEER
Jesse Fabela was born to Jose Florencio and Josefa Fabela October 14, 1948 in Fresno, California. His parents emigrated from Durango, Mexico to find a better life for themselves and their children. Jesse’s ten siblings John, Joe, Floyd, Gilbert, David, Manuel, Virginia, Alice, Evelyn and Josie are living proof that America is the land of opportunity for those who make the effort. Three brothers have earned masters degrees in education, two were probation officers, one sister became a registered nurse, one a vocational nurse, and two are teachers. All of Jesse’s brothers served in the military.
Jesse grew up in Selma, California where he attended Grammar, Junior High, and Selma High School, graduating in 1966. He continued his studies at Reedley Junior College in California.
While attending a dance at the Rainbow Ballroom in Fresno, California, Jesse met Lupe Dominguez, a young lady from the Pinedale area. Their relationship developed, but was put on hold. Upon leaving college Jesse received a “Greetings from Uncle Sam” letter, and was ordered to report to the Fresno Induction Center July 10, 1968. He was sent to Ft. Lewis, Washington for basic and advanced infantry training. After a 21 day leave Jesse reported to the Oakland Army Depot in California where his orders were for deployment to the Republic of South Vietnam.
Jesse arrived at the 90th Replacement Battalion in Long Bien where he was assigned to the 199th Light Infantry Brigade, (separate and light) B Company, 5th Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment. He served as point man for the first three months, then became an M-60 machine gunner for the following six months. Jesse then filled in on a little bit of everything, including operating the M-79 grenade launcher, as a rifleman, and carrying the radio. Good Friday, April 4, 1969 Jesse received a shrapnel wound to the back of his leg from the result of a booby trap. He spent one week at the 3rd Field Hospital in Saigon. After 21 days of recuperation in Cam Ranh Bay, he was returned to the field.
Jesse returned stateside in December, 1969 and was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Purple Heart Medal, the Army Commendation, and the National Defense Medal. After a 30 day leave Jesse finished his two year commitment at Ft. Lewis, Washington.
Upon returning to Fresno, Jesse and Lupe were reunited and became engaged on Christmas Eve, 1970. They were married April 8, 1972 and have three children and one granddaughter.
Jesse was employed at the I.R.S. in Fresno for seven years as a tax examiner. After taking a test for the Postal Service, he spent the next 26 years as a letter carrier in Madera, California, retiring January 2, 2003.
Every Veterans Day Jesse would visit the Veterans Memorial Museum, “Home of the Legion of Valor”. His family had discovered that he was becoming bored with all of the empty time retirement had provided, and prodded him to join the museum’s staff of volunteers. As a child growing up in the 50’s and 60’s the WWII soldiers were Jesse’s heroes. Serving as a museum docent, Jesse is able to visit and talk to them about their experiences and how they parallel his own combat experiences. Jesse suffers from PTSD and finds his time at the museum as being rather good therapy. He would encourage any veteran to consider volunteering their time to such a great place.