SAN ANTONIO — Sergeant Jose L. Cardenas was a U.S. Army paratrooper from San Antonio, TX.
On June 6, 1944, he jumped from a plane with his troops, but a strong wind dispersed them, and he landed far from his unit under the pressure of enemy fire. He survived – alone – long enough to be considered missing in action before he found his way back, rounded up his men and reached another unit led by a lieutenant that encouraged him to stay close.
Cardenas’s daughter, Norma-Jean Case, shared his story with KENS 5, explaining the difficulties her father had after the war.
“He left not long after (he and my mother) were married and their first child was born May 25, and that was Yolanda Irene, and he jumped June 6th,” Case said.
She shared pictures and letters from her father, explaining him to be a charitable man. She said that, before he died in 1987, he was quick to give the shirt off his back without a second thought.
He struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but received little assistance.
“No one really knew what PTSD was back then, so he struggled a lot,” Case said. “He turned to alcoholism and relived many of the difficult things he experienced, but in spite his struggles, he always gave to anyone who needed him.”
Cardenas was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his bravery in battle.
“I’ve always felt I have my dad’s spirit,” she said. “Helping people is something I feel I learned from Dad…sharing of yourself and what you have.”
She took up his mantle when she married her husband, Lynn Case. The two began missionary work in Guatemala to engage in a different type of battle: fighting poverty .
With as few as 10 companions from various ministries, Case and her husband have traveled to Guatemala on multiple occasions to provide resources to underserved communities. Their most recent trip was just after the recent volcano eruption.
Case told KENS 5 her father shared stories and imparted courage to all six of his children. She’s the youngest of the bunch, and keeps his legacy alive by fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves.
Case and her husband leave for Guatemala this weekend for another missionary trip. They call on San Antonio for prayers and support; financial donations can be sent to their Go Fund Me link here.