ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (KOAT) — “She had a focus in life and she made sure she completed those ambitions that she had,” Bernadette Bachtel said.

She is the proud daughter of Maria Lourdes Maes — one of the first Latina women to serve in the Marine Corps during World War II.

Bernadette describes her mother as a perfectionist. She says when her mother met the man who would later become her husband they fell deeply in love. In a time of turmoil and war during WWII, the two would write to each other frequently.

“She gets very worried about him and you could just see the love they had for each other,” Bachtel said.

As a child, Bernadette says she would hear about her mother’s experiences in the Marine Corps. Looking back at those times years later — it leaves her in awe.

Maria eventually passed in March of 1998 from a stroke. The loss of her mother impacted her entire family, especially her dad.

“It was really difficult for my dad, and so he lived the last few years just kind of yearning for my mom,” Bachtel said.

Maria Lourdes Maes’ memory is forever immortalized at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. However, Maria rests at the National Cemetery in Santa Fe.

Bernadette gets emotional when she thinks of what she would say to her mom right now — if she could.

“That makes me choke up a little bit,” Bachtel said. “I would just say I hope I have made you proud and have followed through with the qualities and all the tools that you gave me to get through life.”

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