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SSgt. Robert Pedro Mendoza AUGUST 13, 1976 – APRIL 20, 2020
By: Katie Rasdorf
Robert Pedro Mendoza, loving father, son, and brother, passed away on April 20, 2020 at the age of 43.
Robert was born on August 13, 1976 in Houston, Texas to Robert and Yolanda (Romero) Mendoza. Growing up, he attended various catholic schools in the Houston area. Robert was very outgoing and mischievous and the school principals knew him very well. In May 1994, he graduated from Sam Rayburn High School in Pasadena, Texas.
In July of 1994, at the age of 17, Robert left for the United States Marine Corps boot camp in San Diego, California. In 2003, he transitioned from Active Duty to Reserve Duty to focus on starting a family and becoming a father.
Robert was honorably discharged and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. His accomplishments in the United States Marine Corps are highlighted below:
Jump Master, Scout Sniper Platoon Sergeant, Force Reconnaissance Parachute Rigger, Marine Corps Martial Arts Program Black Belt Instructor
Military Service: 7/18/1994 – 08/08/2002: USMC Active Duty; 02/03/2003 – 01/05/2008: USMC Reserves
Deployments: 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom I and II, Task Force 58, Afghanistan, Operational Detachment 516, 5th Special Forces Group
Awards: National Defense Service Medal (2nd Award), Good Conduct Medal (2nd Award), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with 1 star and combat distinguishing device, Combat Action Ribbon, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medal, Pistol Expert, Rifle Expert (2nd Award)
Units: 1st Transportation Battalion, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, I Marine Expeditionary Force, III Marine Expeditionary Force, 2nd Battalion 23rd Marines
Robert’s travels took him all over the world. During his deployment to Okinawa, Japan, he returned to the United States for a special ops training. During that training, he suffered an injury that broke his pelvis and femur bone. Robert was told he would never be able to jump out of a plane again. He was determined to jump again and he did, completing over 200 jumps in his military career. During one of his tours to Iraq, Robert served on the I MEF personnel security detail for former United States Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis and several other distinguished dignitaries. When he was on the USS Peleliu, he was on the team that guarded the ‘American Taliban’, John Philip Walker Lind. He was proud of all his accomplishments and kept a map with pins inserted to the various locations the Marine Corps took him to so he could show his son one day.
In 2004, he married Lina Hernandez and in 2010, they had their son, Christian. Robert was obsessed with Christian and Christian was obsessed with his ‘Papa’. They were ‘best buddies’. Although Robert and Lina divorced in 2013, they maintained a relationship to co-parent Christian who they both love very much.
After his military service, Robert became self-employed as the owner of Tactical Defense Systems USA in Oceanside, California. His clients included the Oceanside Police Department, Throwdown, the United States Air Force, United States Border Patrol, and the United States Marine Corps to name a few. Robert’s military background helped him understand the importance for military and law enforcement agencies to have the proper tactical gear. He had a strong commitment to provide that need. He worked long hours. When he would talk to his family about the stress from work and his family would ask why he didn’t just get a regular 9-5 job he would immediately turn the idea down because he wanted the flexibility with his hours to be there for his son. Christian inherited Robert’s outgoing personality and Robert was becoming friends with Christian’s school principal. Life was coming full circle. Christian is Robert’s ‘mini-me’ and everyone knew it. Robert’s life was full with his main loves: his son, his family and his work.
Robert and his parents shared a special bond. Robert called his mom 2-3 times a day. Robert’s mom traveled to California often to spend time with Robert and Christian during Christian’s school breaks. Robert and his dad took annual ‘boys’ trips to the Shot Show in Las Vegas. Robert’s dad made several annual trips to California to help Robert maintain his shop and to spend time with Christian. His dad immensely enjoyed these visits because they were ‘boys only’ trips- for the three of them to spend time together. Robert and his dad would have extensive daily conversations about life, work and Christian. Robert also talked to his sister almost daily, mostly to fill her in on his and Christian’s latest shenanigans or to talk mess about politics or sports. Robert always made sure to have Christian involved in his family’s lives.
Robert had a passion for living life his way. If someone told him he couldn’t do something, chances were he would find a way. He had deep Texas roots and loved country music and would sing songs with Christian in the truck. He earned three black belts in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo and the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. He introduced Christian to karate and was so proud of how well Christian was doing in his classes. Robert was a man of faith. He was known for his compassion, hard work ethic, friendship and love for his country. His friends were his extended family and he would always be there for them if they needed anything.
Robert was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Gilbert C. and Victoria Romero; his paternal grandparents, Pedro and Luisa (Cerda) Mendoza; his uncle, Robert Romero and his aunts, Laura Madrid and Irma Contreras. He is survived by his son, Christian; his parents, Robert C. and Yolanda Mendoza, and his sister, Patricia Mendoza. Robert comes from a huge family with lots of aunts, uncles, cousins, and godparents who love him very much and will miss him terribly. He considered his military buddies his family and lost many in the Iraq and Afghanistan war.
Robert’s final resting place will be at the Veteran’s Administration National Cemetery in Houston, Texas. Memorial services will be held at a later date in California and in Texas.