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Miami VA Healthcare System

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Veteran reunites with friend one last time

man kisses horse

Mainella kisses Chico during their emotional reunion.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Marine Corps Veteran Warren Mainella opened his arms and embraced his friend’s face for the last time.

“Chico, come here. Give daddy one more kiss goodbye,” Mainella said.

The terminally ill Vietnam Veteran said farewell to his friend and “one true love”—a horse named Chico—during an emotional reunion at the Bruce W. Carter VA Medical Center April 30. The visit was coordinated by the Miami VA employees in the Community Living Center and Ardicio Galvao and Christy Wales, owners of Double Flush Stables.

three people smiling next to horse

Mainella, center, feeds Chico carrots with Miami VA employees Erica Lara, left, social worker, and Victor Arvizu, nurse.

“I’m only going to be here for a short time, so this is a really nice thing for people to do. Great idea,” Mainella said.

During the visit, Mainella fed Chico carrots and introduced him to Miami VA employees. Erica Lara, social worker at the Miami VA, worked with Mainella during his stay in the hospice unit and said the reunion was emotional and rewarding.

“When he saw Chico for the first time, my eyes watered,” Lara said. “I was overwhelmed with feelings of sadness and happiness at the same time. I feel lucky to have been able to help give Mr. Mainella one more joy-filled moment with his friend. He was smiling for days.”

two men shake hands smiling, a woman smiles

Ardicio Galvao, center, and Christy Wales, left, shake hands with their friend, Mainella, right.

Mainella passed away at the medical center at the age of 76 on Memorial Day, May 28. On behalf of the Miami VA Healthcare System, we honor and remember Marine Corps Veteran Warren Mainella and his service to our nation.

Warren Frank Mainella's Memorial Service** will be held at 4 p.m. Friday, June 1 at the Fred Hunter Memorial Home. The address is 6301 Taft St., Hollywood, FL 33024.

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