Growing up in a single family house, Patricio not only learned to work hard, but also to take advice from his older sister, Laura, who was another matriarchal figure in his life. While Patricio was finishing high school, Laura was serving in the Navy. When she returned from her first deployment, she asked him what he planned to do after he graduated.
"He said he was just going to go to college, and I said, 'No you won't, because you wouldn't finish it,'" recalled Laura. "So we went on down to MEPS [Military Entrance Processing Station] and got him signed up. He was only 17 at the time, so I brought my mom the form [allowing him to enlist early] and told her to sign it and that he was going to join as an MA after he graduated, but I did let him have his summer so he could have some fun."
Just one month after Patricio enlisted, the September 11 attacks rattled the United States, and his family began to worry what would happen next.
"I was scared knowing he was eventually going to [Iraq]. Not really knowing where he was going to be at most of the time, put me on edge," said his mother.
He never went into detail of what he did while he was there because that was just the type of person he was. He would share the good things with me, but never the ugly or bad things." - Valerie Zamarripa
From family accounts, his experience in the Navy and multiple deployments only strengthened Patricio's character and his dedication to serve.
"I just saw him become a man. Even though he was still my baby, I saw him become a bigger and better person, and to appreciate what he had and what he knew," said Valerie.
After leaving active duty service, Patricio moved back to his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, joined the Navy Reserves and returned to his dream of protecting and serving his community as a police officer.
"It was a struggle for him," recalled his mother. "He was married and was trying to juggle being at the academy and his family, but he was very proud and excited to finish the academy and start doing police work."
He enjoyed the camaraderie with his brothers on the force, just like his shipmates in the Navy. Just like the military, law enforcement service can provide the opportunity for people who have never met to share experiences and learn and grow from each other, bonding them in a unique way.