Mr. David Lopez was born in Watts, California, on April 5, 1948. Mr. Lopez enlisted into the Marine Corps in April 1966 and upon graduating from Cathedral High School in Los Angeles at the age of 17, he promptly attended Boot Camp, followed by Advanced Infantry Training. Upon graduation from Advanced Infantry Training, he was immediately deployed to the Republic of South Vietnam where he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines.
While in Vietnam, he served roles of:
Fire team leader
Infantryman “grunt” tunnel rat
Mr. Lopez was critically injured twice during his tour, once by a grenade and then by booby trap in which his lower extremities were severely injured. His tour of duty was cut short and doctors told him he would probably not walk again. After several months of hard work and hospital rehabilitation, he was able to complete his enlistment, serving as a rifle and pistol instructor at Camp Pendleton and then as the Sergeant of the Guard at Seal Beach.
Mr. Lopez separated from the Marine Corps in April 1969 to pursue his education. He earned an associate of arts degree from Cypress College in 1972 and proceeded to attend California State University of Long Beach, where he earned a degree in criminal justice in 1974. Mr. Lopez then completed his master’s degree in public administration from Pepperdine University in 1975. He put this degree to work while serving in the field of Law Enforcement for over 20 years as a parole agent and gang officer.
Mr. Lopez taught at the Fullerton College Police Academy from 1988-2001 and is currently a criminal justice teacher at Magnolia and Western High Schools.
Mr. Lopez’s war experiences are the subject of a film documentary titled, “Our Father’s War” and will air on HBO or PBS in the near future.
Mr. Lopez’s has received numerous awards and decorations:
2 Purple Heart
Combat Action Ribbon
Presidential Unit Citation
Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry
Even after being told he would never walk again, Mr. Lopez carried the Olympic Torch in 1984.
Mr. Lopez is married to the former Adela Gutierrez and they have 3 children, Ruben, Miguel, and Carlos.