His list of titles is only surpassed by the patches on his motorcycle vests.

Gomez, who served in the U.S. Army from 1998-2020, currently holds multiple positions of leadership and service. He is the vice commander of American Legion Post 81 in Belen, the district commander of the American Legion, and the vice commander of the Sons of the American Legion.

He also serves as an Honor Guard at Post 13 in Albuquerque, as a flag guardian for Flags of Honor Escorts, and as a board director for Project Roll Call.

Gomez was nominated and selected as an Unsung Hero because of his service to veterans and the community.

“I don’t do things to be recognized, but I always say it’s nice to be recognized every once in a while for the things that you do,” says Gomez.

He is in a multitude of motorcycle organizations too — director of the American Legion riding group, he’s a Moose Rider, a Patriot Guard rider and in the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association

“He’s one of the best people I’ve ever met,” said Christopher Bass, who nominated Gomez as an Unsung Hero. “He’s always doing something for somebody on a grand scale or small scale. He’s always doing something for somebody.”

The organizations that Gomez is involved with are all nonprofits to better the community.

“I always tell people, ‘Do it because it’s the right thing to do not because it’s your job,’” Gomez said. “You don’t need a title to do it. Just do it because it needs to get done.”

Gomez is deeply invested in an important project known as the Run for the Wall. It is an annual motorcycle ride that begins in California and ends in Washington, D.C., at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. From Washington, the ride continues to the Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial in Marseilles, Ill.

The ride was started 34 years ago by James “Gunny” Gregory, a U.S. Marine who was on the last helicopter leaving the U.S. Embassy at the end of the Vietnam War. The ride honors veterans and raises awareness for POW and MIA accountability.

“Even after every last Vietnam veteran is gone, I know I will still ride to your wall to visit your brothers and sisters before, I go visit my brothers or sisters,” said Gomez of a conversation he had with Gunny.

Gomez is constantly raising money for charities or fellow veterans who are in need. They recently raised more than $7,000 for a veteran who is going through chemotherapy for cancer.

Besides helping to raise money for charities, the American Legion supports the children of the community such as the local ROTC, 4-H and the Rocket Teen Center in Belen. Gomez says if children or groups need help with activities, they can ask the Legion for assistance.

Patriotism is very important to Gomez. He hopes one project will enhance the beauty of the city of Belen.

 

The Legion bought 50 American flags and offered them to businesses on Main Street, Reinken and Becker avenues in the hopes of beautifying Belen through patriotic expression. However, only one business asked for and received a flag, which was disheartening for Gomez. Nevertheless, he remains optimistic that more businesses will show interest in displaying the American flag.

“The program has kind of evolved to teach flag etiquette and to let people know about our flag so that they’re more respectful of it,” he said.

Gomez is also trying to bring the Museum of the American Military Family to Belen. The museum, currently located in Tijeras, is looking for a new home. If the museum does not find a new location, they may be forced to move out of state.

He also is trying to get a Woody Williams Foundation Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Belen. The monuments are two-sided, black-granite tributes to those who lost loved ones in military service. There are 103 monuments in all 50 states, with 72 more in the planning stages.

When Gomez is not out raising money for charities or riding with his motorcycle groups, you can find him at the American Legion post in Belen.

He never stops working there either. His goal is to make sure the post grows and succeeds and he will do whatever it takes. Sometimes that means jumping into the kitchen or bartending if somebody cannot make it in for a shift.

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Jesse Jones lives in Albuquerque with his wife and son. Jesse graduated from of the University of New Mexico twice. This spring, he graduated with a degree in multimedia journalism and, in 2006, he received a bachelor’s degree in university studies with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a current fellow of the New Mexico Local News Fund.