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UTSA Military Appreciation Game Has Special Meaning For Family of Salvador Reyes

by Sean Cartell

SAN ANTONIO – Loyalty was always a central theme in the life of Salvador Reyes, ’77. 

Reyes, who passed away on Oct. 22, was a proud member of the first graduating class at UTSA and was one of the first season-ticket holders beginning with the Roadrunners’ inaugural football season in 2011. He served his country in the U.S. Army, fighting in the Vietnam War. 

His love for his family, the military and UTSA permeated every aspect of his life. 

“He was a great father,” said Nadia Alfaro, ’14, his daughter. “He was always there to celebrate us no matter how small the wins. Loyalty is a great word. He was a veteran and wore his hats with pride. He always carried a U.S. flag, as well as a Roadrunners flag.” 

Reyes enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1969 at the age of 18. He was sent to Vietnam, fighting as a member of the Infantry Branch, eventually rising to the rank of Sergeant. 

“That gave him a great sense of pride and he carried that on,” Alfaro said. “He loved to buy meals for veterans and pick up their tabs. Anything he could do to support all veterans; he was always showing up for parades. He was very responsible and taught us to be strong the way he was.” 

Reyes’ tenure in the Army first brought him to San Antonio, and he would remain in the area for the rest of his life, owning Southwest Pallets in Hondo for more than 40 years. 

“Anyone who asked him, he let them know that he was a UTSA alumni” Alfaro said. “He was always a member of the Alumni Association and really loved being part of that group. When we got our football team in 2011, he was one of the first ones to go and get tickets. He was one of the team’s traveling supporters. He loved being a ‘Runner.” 

Attending UTSA football games became a family affair for Reyes. He traveled all over the country to watch the Roadrunners with his wife, Isabel, and his children – Alfaro, Salvador Reyes, Jr., ‘07, Julius Ramon and Brissa Martinez. 

“He’s always been a traveler,” Alfaro said. “He loved his Roadrunners and he loved traveling. It was the perfect combination for him. What I love is that he got to see so much of the U.S. because he followed the Roadrunners. We went to go see them play at Arizona in 2013 and we made it a whole family trip. We went to the Grand Canyon for the first time, we hiked and we went to see them play. For the last 10 years, his trips have been surrounded by the Roadrunners’ schedule. That was one of the most memorable trips and biggest highlights for him.” 

Both Alfaro and Reyes, Jr., followed in their father’s footsteps, attending UTSA. Alfaro was a student during UTSA’s inaugural football season. 

But the bond with her father and their university extended far beyond the gridiron. Some of her favorite memories include lunch with her father at the Subway in the H-E-B Student Union and their walks around campus. 

“It was the best experience for me as a student,” she said. “I used to work at the rec center as part of the outdoor resource center program. He would come to the university and I would take him rock climbing and we would do events at UTSA. We used to do the Rowdy 5K every February. Every single time he got to come to campus, he was always excited and surprised at how much it had changed. He thought it was amazing.” 

Bringing together two of his biggest passions, UTSA’s annual Military Appreciation Game was always one of Reyes’ favorites and he looked forward to whenever the Roadrunners would face Army.  

“Anyone who knew him knew that he was a veteran and knew that he was a UTSA alumni,” Alfaro said. “He was always wearing an Army shirt and a UTSA hat, or vice versa. He always did the Birds Up in every single picture. It was his signature picture pose, it didn’t matter if we were at a game or at a wedding.”

As the 2023 season began, Reyes’ health prevented him from attending UTSA football games for the first time. Still, the Roadrunners weren’t far from his mind. 

“It was a really rough couple of months,” Alfaro said. “I was going to the tailgates here and I would buy him all of the new shirts I could find. He still always wore UTSA shirts. We would watch the games at home. If it was Saturday, he knew the ‘Runners were playing.” 

It seems only fitting that this Saturday, UTSA will take the field on Veterans Day for its annual Military Appreciation Game against Rice. Reyes’ memory will be front and center for his family and friends. For the last 12 years of his life, UTSA football brought Reyes some of his greatest joys. 

“It was one of the highlights of his life.”