Formerly homeless Air Force veteran vows to ‘leave no one behind’

BERKELEY — Following a stint in the Air Force, Mark Mendoza worked as an undercover police officer rooting illegal drugs out of Northern California high schools and later as a federal agent trying to stop the illegal flow of narcotics and people over the southern border.

Mendoza led an orderly, disciplined life rooted in duty and service until 2008, when, in the span of two months, he had a heart attack and his 17-year-old daughter died in a tragic accident, sending him into an emotional tailspin.

Consumed by grief and despair, Mendoza drifted, staying sporadically with family.
“I wanted to fade into the ether and just disappear and die,” he said. “I didn’t see any purpose for me anymore.”

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