My First Scar

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Luis Loza Gutierrez
  • 319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
One day I was in a meeting with some fellow Airmen.

"I'm sure you already heard about it, but the base had another Airman get arrested for driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence," our superintendent said. "So what can we do as a public affairs unit to help be part of the solution and help prevent them from reoccurring?"

Like many times before my fellow military journalists began brainstorming and within seconds had about a dozen suggestions. One of them was to come up with a new story idea that focused on the importance of having a good plan if you are going to drink alcohol and need to travel home afterward.

I stood up and told everyone that this is all fine and dandy, but I don't think it's really going to be very effective. I told them years of attending social gatherings at night clubs and bars have shown me beyond a shadow of a doubt that sometimes it takes just one alcoholic drink to dismiss your plans for the evening.

Some people drink specifically to forget. The forgetfulness may be temporary, but nevertheless whatever they may have had troubling their mind is temporarily dismissed.

The bottom line is plans come and go quicker than summers in North Dakota, but do you know what people seem to never forget about? Their scars.

The scars of your life have a way of sticking with you, and I'm not just talking about physical ones. We all have them. While some scars may cause some people to pick up the bottle to forget their troubles, my scars are the very thing that have kept me from being drunk no more than twice in my life and have kept me from ever driving under the influence of alcohol.

This is my first scar. This is the main reason why I don't drink and drive.

Shortly after nightfall in January 1982, approximately two months before I was born, my biological father was run off the road by a suspected drunk driver and died when his vehicle fell off the edge of a steep mountain side in a rural area. He was on his way home after several weeks on site at an agricultural engineering project.

According to my mother, one witness told authorities he saw my father swerve to avoid the vehicle of a man who was veering back and forth and ultimately ended up driving in the wrong lane. They never found the person responsible; only a trail of beer bottles miles down the road in the direction the drunk driver came from.

So because of a drunk driver I never got to meet my biological father who, from what my mother has told me, was a wonderful, smart and charming guy.

This was the first scar of my life--a scar given to me by one thoughtless person. I was scarred before my mother ever held me in her arms or before I was officially named.

It is a scar that would unavoidably cause me to learn the dangerous consequences of drinking and driving since the age of three, which is when my mother first sat down and explained to me what had happened. I remember her hesitation to explain, saying that I was too little and too young to understand.

I recall the tears that ran down her face and I becoming so sad that I gave her a hug and started to cry with her, not because of what she was saying, but because I didn't and still don't like seeing my mother cry.

I realized later that I had given my mother very little choice because I had insisted and begged her to tell me where my daddy was and why he was not with us.

I think after she explained things to me she realized I was a much smarter than most three-year-olds.

As years went by I heard and read about other innocent people being negatively impacted by drinking and driving, the worst of which involved an entire family being killed.

These stories along with my own led me to decide at about age 10 that there was one scar I would never want to have -- the scar of knowing that I killed innocent people because I was too selfish and lacked the courage to not drink and drive. I also imagined it would be even worse if the innocent included a child.

For most of my life this was just a sincere thought; however, today I feel 100 percent confident and certain to call this one of my strongest personal convictions, for I know first-hand what it is to lose your children.

Earlier this year, I drove 1,657 miles in three-days to burry my twin baby boys in my hometown of Mercedes, Texas.

Losing my sons so suddenly has been most the most painful thing I have experienced in my 32 years of life. I didn't lose my sons to a drunk driver, but I would argue that the pain of losing your children is the horrible and profound no matter the cause. It is an experience like no other and something you will always remember no matter how much alcohol you may use to drown your sorrows and try to forget. The experience of losing your child leaves a scar deep in your heart and soul.

So I publicly beseech those of you who may read this to do more than try to remember your plan for drinking responsibly because the odds are against you to forget.

Instead, think of the scars of your life and those carried by the people you know, for there you may find like me the true reason that keeps you from drinking and getting behind the wheel, and maybe, just maybe, those scars will become the source of courage to keeps one more drunk driver from scarring the life of others.

Editor's note: If you have a story about how a DUI negatively impacted (scarred) you or someone close to you, please share your story,by sending it to the 319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office at Your story may help prevent more DUIs and may save lives.