Before his death on Monday evening, a paralyzed Vietnam veteran who was in critical condition at a hospital in Texas had one wish – to have one final meeting with his beloved horses.
Roberto Gonzalez, a rancher from Premont, Texas, was receiving care at San Antonio’s Audie Murphy Veterans Hospital when the staff asked if he and his family if there was anything he wanted to cheer him up.
“Most people request to see their dogs or cats,” Lupe Hernandez, a spokesperson for the hospital told Fox News Latino.
Gonzalez was the only paralyzed horse trainer in Texas. One of his horses raced in the Lone Star State and in Arizona. He was an active hunter and rancher, and, Hernandez told FNL, throughout his life Gonzalez loved horses.
“The only thing that he's passionate about is horses,” Hernandez said.
His family relayed the request to see his horses one last time to the hospital staff who approved bringing his animals to the center. On Saturday, Gonzalez was wheeled on his hospital bed out through the front doors to see his horses while surrounded by a group of friends and family.
Despite being in critical condition, Hernandez said that Gonzalez opened his eyes and acknowledged his much-loved animals. In all, Gonzalez was able to spend about an hour outside with the horses before returning to his hospital room.
His wife, Rosario Gonzalez, posted a heartfelt message on social media to the spinal cord staff at the hospital, calling them angels for helping her husband.
“A special thank you to the spinal cord staff, all of you became a part of our family,” she wrote on Facebook. “The care you have been giving my husband, and to me, goes above and beyond. You are our angels. God Bless you all.”
Gonzalez, who was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1970 when he was 19, was one of the first patients to receive care at the Audie Murphy Veterans Hospital when it opened in 1974. During his tour of duty in Vietnam, he was paralyzed after being shot four times in combat.
On Tuesday, the South Texas Veterans Health Care System issued a statement on behalf of the Gonzalez family announcing his death. It read, “Gonzalez passed away peacefully with his family and friends by his side. We thank the South Texas Veterans Health Care System for allowing Mr. Gonzalez to see his beloved horses for one last time. We are appreciative and overwhelmed for the outpouring love, support and prayers from everyone during this difficult time."