By Heather Janssen

MODESTO (CBS13) — A Modesto woman has been on a mission to fulfill her dad’s dying wish, while he battles COVID-19. He hopes to be buried in his Marine Corps dress blues, but his were stolen decades ago.

“One day he might be feeling really good and you think he’s getting better,” said Melissa Regacho, whose dad, Miguel Cardenas, has had COVID-19 since January.

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Cardenas is back in the hospital a second time. This time on a ventilator, with his health taking an unfortunate turn of events.

“Took all of us for a loop. That time just isn’t there anymore,” Regacho said.

Miguel Cardenas in his dress blues. photo credit: Melissa Regacho

The Marine Corps veteran served in the Vietnam War but had everything stolen from him when he returned, except his love for others.

“He’s just that type of person where if he could help – he’ll help,” Regacho said.

Now, though, he needs the community’s help to replace the dress blues stolen from him decades ago, so he can be buried in them.

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“We’re basically brothers helping brothers,” said Joseph Sicilian, the vice commandant of the Marine Corps League of Modesto. They’re one group trying to live by Semper Fi by staying always faithful to their brother in blue.

“When you’re a Marine, you’re a Marine for life,” Sicilian said.

The phrase is tried and true.

“My dad always used to say one for all and all for one – and that’s what they’ve been proving,” Regacho said.

Dedication till death to corps and to country — the community has rallied to make this Marine Corps man’s final wish come true. Regacho shared with CBS13 that thanks to the help of local veterans and the power of social media, American Veterans First is sending Cardenas dress blues from Camp Pendleton.

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The blues will arrive in just a matter of days. It’s welcome news for Regacho, who’s amazed by the outpouring of support for her entire family.

Heather Janssen