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Memorial marker, flag pole proposed for veteran who rescued two teens

Marine Corps vet and Purple Heart recipient, MSGT Rodney Buentello, lost his life saving two teenagers from drowning in the Medina River last week.

SAN ANTONIO -- Marine Corps vet and Purple Heart recipient, MSGT Rodney Buentello, lost his life saving two teenagers from drowning in the Medina River last week.

Many paid their respects to the Buentello family at the visitation at Castle Ridge Mortuary Thursday afternoon.

Thursday night at a city council meeting in Bandera, Bandera Marshals proposed that a marker and a flag pole be placed inside Bandera City Park with the American flag, the Texas flag, and the Marine Corps flag flying together in honor of Rodney Buentello.

"To us here at the Marshals Office, that sacrifice is just awesome. I would hope that given that opportunity, myself or any of my officers would do the same thing. I just don't know if we could have done as good as Sgt. Buentello did that day," said Will Dietrich of the Bandera Marshal's Office.

June 8, Bandera Marshals reported that a teenage girl tried to walk across the dam at Bandera City Park and slipped in the water. When a friend tried to rescue her, he also went under.

Without a moment's hesitation, Buentello, 42, jumped in to rescue them.

RELATED: Man who died saving drowning teens was decorated Marine, John Jay employee

"I saw that his last, conscious, available act was just to just shove that boy as hard as he could," Dietrich recalled. "I don't think he had anymore energy and that was going to be the last thing he could do. He made that last act count."

Buentello was at the park with his family at the time. Bandera was always a popular destination for the veteran.

This past Sunday, Buentello's family returned to Bandera for a church service by the dam.

"They put a carnation in the water for each of the classmates that had passed, and they provided her a red rose with his name on it so she could put it in the water," Dietrich said. "His best man at the wedding was there. He said it's hard for them to come over here, but they hope they'll be able to come back in the near future to enjoy it in his memory like they used to."

The Purple Heart recipient was a father of three and former coach at John Jay High School.

RELATED: John Jay High School holds vigil for former coach

In addition to the proposed flag pole and marker in his name, a local sign company in Bandera also offered to donate a custom metal sign for the veteran.

"Another construction company, I believe somehow they're friends with the family members, they've offered to donate and completely build a pavilion down there. They will donate it and do the labor and everything dedicated in his memory," Dietrich said.

Bandera Marshals said that a makeshift memorial for the Marine that is sitting near the dam is growing a little each day.

Rodney Buentello memorial

Marshals told KENS 5 that the young lady who initially walked across the dam faces a citation for violating a city ordinance, with a maximum fine of $200. If she's found guilty, Marshal Dietrich plans to suggest to the municipal judge that she instead be sentenced to some form of community service dedicated to helping veterans.

"Something so she will have an opportunity to think about what she did instead of fining her father or mother," Dietrich said. "Also an opportunity for her to finally get some closure out of this and maybe feel like she's paid her debt back to the people that have sacrificed so much for her."

A rosary for Buentello was held at Resurrection of the Lord Catholic Church Thursday evening. The funeral service will take place at the same church Friday at 1:00 p.m., followed by a burial at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetary.

A GoFundMe account for Buentello has already raised more than $75,000: https://www.gofundme.com/28kwg78.

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