Sierra saw action in three wars

March 17, 2018 GMT

Armando H. Sierra, who served in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars before retiring as a sergeant first class from the Army in 1971, died Feb. 27 at 93.

Raised by a single mother who was a nurse at Santa Rosa Hospital, Sierra was the youngest of four boys who all started working at an early age.

Having joined the Civilian Conservation Corps at 17, Sierra worked in Nevada building a flood drainage canal for six months before joining the Army just days after turning 18, in 1942.

Sent to the Pacific Theater, Sierra fought with the 7th Australian Division against the Japanese on New Guinea and in the Philippines. He became infected with malaria and was sent home.

Sierra married a childhood friend from Monterrey, Mexico, in 1946.

“His mother would send my dad to Monterrey to visit cousins” as a child, his daughter Guadalupe “Lupe” Paredes said. “My mom lived in the same neighborhood and they would all play together.”

Sent into battle again during the Korean War, Sierra later “wouldn’t talk a lot about that,” Paredes said. “My mother said he was very hard to sleep with because he was always waking up during the night, or if he heard a loud noise, he would jump.”

While in the military, he moved his growing family to Germany, Louisiana and Virginia. Sierra served with a transportation unit and trained soldiers to operate amphibious trucks.

Sierra was 45 when he went to Vietnam in 1970 and served with the 589th Engineer Battalion.

Returning home about 10 months later, he retired the same year, in 1971.

Civilian life was an adjustment.

Coping with seven children and day-to-day life during her husband’s career, Sierra’s wife had become independent; she could drive, make family decisions and was selling Stanley Home Products.

“When my dad got home … she told my dad she wasn’t going to be strictly a wife,” Paredes said. “Eventually, my dad started helping her when she got the merchandise … got used to knowing my mom was going to do something.”

Sierra soon became the family handyman.

“He was always looking out for everybody,” his grandson Joe Paredes said. “He went to all the houses of my aunts and my mom and fixed things.”

Enjoying their retirement years together, Sierra and his wife especially enjoyed going on cruises.

“They loved to travel,” Paredes said. “My mom would tell us, ‘We don’t babysit any grandkids on the weekends; now it’s time for your dad and I to have a good time.’”