Remembering My Dad: Son’s personal journey inspires others

Mario Ybarra Jr. never knew his father. PFC Mario Ybarra was killed as a result of a gunshot wound to the head on March 5, 1966 in the Quang Ngai Province of Vietnam. His death came just eight days shy of his son’s first birthday.

Mario Ybarra, Jr. stands in front of the coffin of his father, PFC Mario Ybarra.

Mario Ybarra, Jr. stands in front of the coffin of his father, PFC Mario Ybarra.

Over the years, Jr. has come to terms with his father’s loss. Jr. has revisited the most heart-wrenching and historical moments of his father’s service, opening his eyes to a story of valor, sacrifice, and hope. His continued discovery has also provoked an unrelenting energy in acquiring closure. The search for closure consists of Jr. delving into the “right side” of his brain through intimate, expressive,and creative forms of art.

Jr.’s personal journey of healing and expression have also inspired those close to him, including a young lady named Genesis Keren Nava. Genesis was a performer at an art exhibit Jr. was hosting to honor the service and sacrifice of his father this past year.

After hearing Jr.’s story and being moved through the lessons of loss and love, Genesis and her father would later leave with exhibit with inspiration. That inspiration would turn itself into a beautifully written song.

“They felt compelled to tell a story that would be meant for healing. To help those who have not had closure, to offer hope, and to instill faith.” Jr. recalls.

“I was both humbled and flattered when I learned that my mere hint of pain and suffering was transformed into a beautiful and most moving song. I literally stopped in my tracks when I first heard it. It’s as if Genesis and her dad had been in my mind and had dissected every ounce of my misery. I couldn’t stop the tears.” 

Jr. is captivated by the heartfelt words of Genesis Keren Nava’s first original, inspired by his own story of grief and perseverance.

Momma said you left When I was only three

To fight a war, far away across the sea

I was too young to understand,

Why I never knew the man

My momma held the flag so tight

Why did you have to go and fight?

So tell me how, do I say good bye

To the one I never knew It’s just so hard holding onto you

So tell me how, do I say good bye

How was I supposed to know?

That I wouldn’t want to let you go

So tell me how, Do I say good bye,

When I haven’t even, no I haven’t even said hello

Listen to the full song that inspired the loss of one man’s father in the Vietnam War here.

Learn about the more than 58,000 Vietnam veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country here.