Sergeant Major Bruno's Story
Sgt. Maj. Bruno Balderrama, USMC (Ret), 86, died Saturday, March 25, 2017, at Weatherford Regional Medical Center, after succumbing to the effects of cardiac arrest.
A Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, April 9, 2017, in Weatherford. He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery at a future date.
Memorials: The family asks that in lieu of flowers donations be made in Bruno's honor to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.
Born in El Paso, Texas on Aug. 9, 1930, he was the only surviving child of Rito and Asunción Balderrama. He spent most of his youth in Firebaugh, Calif. where he worked various jobs, was a Boy Scout and played on the Dos Palos varsity football team.
In 1947, he entered the Marine Corps at the age of 17. Bruno often joked that he served "only" 27 years of active duty as a Marine because "he didn't want to make it a career." During those years he served two tours as a recruiter, was the senior enlisted Marine at the Company, Battalion, Squadron and Marine Aircraft Group levels, and saw combat action in Korea and three tours in Vietnam. After retiring from the Marine Corps in 1975, he briefly attended California State University, Fullerton, while also working in retail. He then joined the U.S. Postal Service and retired after 25 years of civil service.
His first marriage to Maria Lara Balderrama ended in divorce after 53 years. She predeceased him in 2013. In 2007, he married the former Jo Carol Gettys. They enjoyed traveling the country in their RV with their pets, visiting friends and family, going to estate sales and attending Marine Corps reunions.
Bruno will be remembered as a gregarious man of courage and strength, a loving husband, father, and grandfather who also loved his country and Corps. His love for his family was unconditional, unrelenting and unselfish. His faith and love of God was boundless and firm. He is now eternally in heaven with his Sovereign and Deliverer and lives forever in the hearts of his family.
Besides his wife of almost 10 years, Jo Carol, he is survived by his sons, Vincent Balderrama and his wife, Elizabeth, of Annapolis, Md., and Bruno Balderrama Jr. of Garden Grove, Calif., and his daughter, Barbara Reid and her husband, Richard, of Tustin, Calif. He also leaves behind five grandchildren, Michael Balderrama, of Washington, DC, Bruno Balderrama, III and his wife, Kelli, and Alison Garrett and her husband, Jayson, both of Orange, Calif., Megan Balderrama of Costa Mesa, Calif., and Harley Balderrama of Garden Grove, Calif. He also had two great-grandchildren, Liam Garrett and Brynn Balderrama.
Published on April 5, 2017