Linda Cervantes’ father was already a permanent American resident as a musician before she legally immigrated to Texas from Mexico with her mother when she was 2 years old.
“My mom had an eye on the prize,” Cervantes said. “She did it on her own. She never learned English, but she always praised the U.S.”
Her mother’s pride in the country carried over to Cervantes’ high school years in the 1970s, when she wanted to join the U.S. Army.
“I told Papi, ‘Sergeant is going to talk with you,’” she said. “My dad wanted nothing to do with it.”
That never panned out, and Cervantes married early.
But four of Cervantes’ daughters and two sons have served or are serving in the armed forces.
“They drew inspiration from each other,” Cervantes said. “I’m so proud of them.”
Below are details of each of Cervantes’ children who have served or are serving in the armed forces, according to Cervantes.
Linda (Flores) Mejia
Mejia, 38, served six years in the U.S. Army, re-enlisting after three years and achieving the rank of sergeant. She was an armored expert shooter and assembled weapons.
Mejia was stationed in South Korea and at Fort Sill, Okla.
Michelle (Flores) Ramirez
Ramirez, 36, graduated Los Banos High School in 1998 before joining the U.S. Air Force in 1999. She completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, and has been stationed in South Korea, Italy, Texas, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada and Nebraska.
Ramirez, who still serves in the Air Force, has been in the U.S. Strategic Command and the U.S. Stratcom Intelligence Directorate. She also gathered intelligence in Afghanistan. She plans to retire in less than two years.
Flores, 32, graduated in 2002 from Los Banos High School and went to boot camp at Camp Pendleton in San Diego for the Marine Corps.
Flores participated in the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, with a second tour of nine months in Fallujah and Kandahar, and a third tour in Fallujah for seven months.
Flores was a gunner and received a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for combat with valor stemming from an incident in which he ran through an open field without regard for his own life to gather ammunition for his unit. He left the service with a rank of sergeant.
Following his military service, Flores briefly joined the Los Banos Police Department as an officer, and was chosen to travel in the second car behind President Barack Obama when he came to Los Banos in 2014.
Star Cervantes, 25, is in the Air Force. She joined in 2009, right after graduating high school, and graduated from basic training at Lackland Air Force Base.
A staff sergeant, Star Cervantes has been stationed in South Korea, Florida, Hawaii, Alaska, Mississippi, New Jersey and now in Stockton.
Christian Cervantes, 22, is an Army reservist who completed basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia. He earned his spurs with the 1st Squadron of the 7th Cavalry Regiment. He served for three years in Fort Hood, Texas, and Germany.
He currently reports to the 324th Military Police Battalion.
Sky Cervantes, 20, graduated high school in Los Banos in 2014 and joined the Army. Her mother pinned her wings as a parachutist when she graduated basic training in May 2015 from Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C., from which her eldest half-sister, Linda Mejia, graduated.
Sky Cervantes has 25 jumps of experience as a paratrooper. She is stationed at Fort Bragg with the 82nd Airborne Division as a human resources specialist.