Tornillo Port of Entry officially renamed after local war hero Marcelino Serna

The Marcelino Serna Port of Entry in Tornillo was named after an El Paso resident who severed in World War I and became the most decorated WW1 veteran from Texas. His daughter, Gloria Serna, 91, attended a ceremony on April 19, 2017. Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

If you cross the border in Tornillo, you'll find that the newest port of entry has a new name.

On Wednesday, hundreds of people gathered for a ceremony where it was renamed after a local war hero, Pvt. Marcelino Serna.

Six generations of Serna's family watched proudly as the Tornillo Port of Entry was officially renamed in his honor.

Family members tell me they hope this will be a testament to the hard-working spirit of the people of the region.

"I guess you understand what I mean when I say that I don't have any words to express my gratitude," said 91-year-old Gloria Serna, his last surviving daughter.

Serna was an undocumented Mexican immigrant who served in World War I.

He was born in the Mexican state of Chihuahua and crossed over into El Paso in 1916 to search for a job and a better life.

After being picked up by federal officials and facing the possibility of being deported, he instead volunteered to serve in the Army.

He then went on to become one of the most decorated WWI veterans in Texas.

He was honored by the U.S. Army with two Purple Hearts and was the first Hispanic to be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

U.S. Rep. Will Hurd introduced a bill to name the port after him, and now it's finally happened.

"One of the coolest things I've been able to do in my job in Congress is call Gloria when the bill was passed in the House and Senate and tell her that this was going to become a reality," Hurd said.

"It's just been a big blessing, really, is what it's been, and we're really glad that our grandma is alive to see this happen," said Serna's great-granddaughter Genny Stopani.

In the midst of the sea of people at the ceremony, Gloria Serna stopped to reflect on the impact she hopes this will have on future generations of El Pasoans.

She hopes they'll stop and remember these words:

"If he did this, I can do this, especially the boys, the Mexican American boys that are in the service. There's no war, but I can accomplish a lot," she said.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off