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'Hero was lost' | Bandera community raises funds for Marine who died saving teens at Medina River

The Bandera ProRodeo Association is raising funds for highway signs that will be named after Master Sergeant Rodney Lee Buentello.

SAN ANTONIO — The Bandera community wants to honor a war hero killed while saving strangers. In 2016,  Master Sergeant Rodney Lee Buentello rescued two teens who were swept away by waters. They survived, but he ended up losing his own life. The Marine served multiple tours in combat and was a Purple Heart recipient. 

The Bandera ProRodeo Association is raising funds for highway signs that will be named after the hero. President of the association Jana Lindig is spearheading the effort. She recounts the heroic actions that occurred in June 2016. She said Buentello was at Bandera City Park with his family when he noticed two teenagers trying to cross the dam.

"This is a very tricky dangerous area for the river," she said. "They were swept away by the swollen river." 

She said without hesitation the father jumped in to save the teens. He brought both of them to shore. But, Buentello struggled with the second person. 

"It was obvious he was having difficulty," she said. "But, he was able to get that second teen to the shore by basically pushing off, which caused him to go backwards. He disappeared in the swollen river." 

A memorial is placed near the river to never forget the man who survived war but would be killed saving the lives of strangers.  

"A hero was lost basically in Bandera," Lindig said. 

Now years later, the Bandera ProRodeo Association is leading the charge to name a portion of Highway 173. It has been approved by the state legislature to name seven miles the 'Master Sergeant Rodney Lee Buentello Memorial Highway.'

"We felt like this was a good way to make sure that the heroism never dies," she said. 

The Bandera community needs nearly $6,000 for the highway signs and is seeking donations. 

"I think it is a good time to recognize good deeds done by people," Lindig said. 

The goal is to have the signs up next year, but the focus is to raise the funds. You can click here, to donate.

Buentello's wife told KENS 5 the family is honored and amazed by these efforts. She said her husband was an amazing man and that they are proud of the outpouring support to honor his legacy.

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