Friday, December 10, 2010

A Soldier's Life- José García Rivero, Guardia Civil in Spain

Sebastián García and his family in Spain.
This photo was taken about 1914.
José is the little boy. His brother Joaquín
also became a Guardia Civil.
José García Rivero was born 28 November 1908 in La Bouza, Salamanca, Spain, and he died on 3 December 1994 at the military hospital in Madrid, Spain. His father before him, Sebastián García Muñoz (1878 - 1962) was a military man- a carabinero or national police officer. José became a Guardia Civil- another national police division with a more military organization. This was just on the eve of the Spanish Civil War, and the Guardia Civil became a symbol of Generalissimo Franco. The famous tricorn hats and uniforms are symbolic of the Guardia Civil. Although many Americans equate the Guardia Civil with Franco and the failed attempt at a coup of the Spanish government in 1981, the Guardia Civil have a long history of peace keeping in Spain and abroad. They lost seven members in the war in Iraq before the 11 March 2004 attack in Madrid caused Spain to withdraw from that conflict. Spain continues to send troops to Afganistan, which it believes is the center for the terrorists who caused the 11 March attack.
José as a young military cadet,
about 1925

15 October 1956
José with his wife and daughter
in front of the Royal Palace, Madrid

The dress uniform of a captain, 1971
José was my husband's grandfather. He went to a military academy and with his brother, became a Guardia Civil. He fought the Spanish Civil War in Navarra, along the French border. José attained the rank of captain, and was much respected in his neighborhood. I remember visiting Spain when he was still alive, and the men in the local pub would call him "Don José" out of respect.

My husband now has his grandfather's Guardia Civil uniform and medals. Two of his tricorn hats, his spurs and his sword are on display in our home in New Hampshire. I'm glad my daughter has memories of her Bisabuelo (great grandfather) and that we can remember his role in Spanish history. His service spanned serving a monarch and a dictator, and he lived to see Spain become a parlimentary democracy.

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Wonderful post, Heather. It was a very complex century in Europe, one where many didn't have the luxury of choosing sides or political parties. I so admired the Spanish transition from Franco to Juan Carlos. If only the Soviet rulers to the east had done something similar.

  2. Nice piece, and how fortunate that you and your husband have the photos and uniform/medals. Also the fact that you are putting this information on paper for your descendants. Good for you.