There are those that say that there is no bigger bond than the one forged by blood. Blood family is everything; but if there is anything that even comes close to that type of bond, it is the one we forge with our fraternity brothers in Omega Delta Phi. For a select few brothers, the bond comes twice for they are not only members of the same fraternity, but also family by blood.
In the twenty two year history of the Delta Chapter at Texas A&M University, our chapter lineage has become intertwined with that of our bloodlines. Younger brothers have followed in the footsteps of older brothers and become fraternity brothers swearing to uphold the same principles and the legacy of the Delta Chapter.
Daniel Escobar, of the Gamma Line was the first chapter legacy who joined the brotherhood immediately after his brother David was activated as a member of the Beta Line. Like him, several other members have pursued membership at Delta Chapter as legacies and been fortunate to revel in the fraternal ties that make this fraternity so great.
One of the first Delta Chapter legacies was Stanley Bertrand, member of the Zeta Line of Spring 1994 who joined the brotherhood following in the footsteps of his older but shorter brother Daniel, activated with the Delta Line of Fall 1992 and who would eventually become National President of the fraternity. Stanley credited Daniel’s involvement with the brotherhood as a big influence in his decision to pursue membership.
“I was able to get a rundown before I pledged, I got to meet a lot of brothers too” Stanley noted. When asked if he believed being a legacy added extra stress, pressure to his pledge process, as it was known at the time, brother Stanley shared this: “Hell yes. I felt I had to represent my family and brother well, along with myself. That is probably why I went for pledge class president.’ Bertrand felt that the brotherhood helped enhance his relationship with his older brother; he said that they, to this day, cover up the grip in front of their family members. It means that much to them and allows them to have something that is just theirs within their family.
This sentiment is well known among other legacies in the chapter. Brother Armando Gonzalez, activated in Spring 1996 as part of the Kappa Line, identifies with it, and perhaps even to a higher level. As a legacy to Delta Chapter founder Tony Gonzalez, Armando felt he had a lot to prove and the pressure to become a full-fledged member was at an all-time high.
“Tony being in ODPhi, it had everything to do with me joining” Armando shared.
Jaime Noriega, Fall 1994 member of the Eta Pledge Line is a household name at the Delta Chapter for he was instrumental in the molding and shaping of Delta Chapter’s pledge program which would be used as a model nationally in future years. Jaime’s influence on the traditions of the Delta chapter gave way for added pressure to be put on Leo Noriega, his younger brother who pledged with the Tau Pledge Line in the Spring of 2001.
“Yes. It’s a clear target on your back. They want you to succeed and live up to your ‘legacy’. The only real question is, will you wilt? Or rise to the occasion?” Leo shared.
As roommates during Leo’s first year at Texas A&M and Jaime’s last; the younger Noriega was given an early introduction to the brotherhood. Jaime did not try to recruit his brother for the brotherhood as he felt other brothers could handle that task while Leo reminisced on the fact that brothers took him in and made him feel at home, long after Jaime graduated and before he decided to pledge.
Jaime said the brotherhood helped strengthen his relationship with his younger brother. “I missed most of his teenage years since I was in college” he said. “It was definitely enhanced. We share something that we don’t with our other 2 brothers.”
The younger Noriega spoke to the influence his brother had on his decision to pledge ODPhi and how Jaime provided a sympathetic ear and voice of reason throughout the process and to this very day. The mentorship of his big brother was especially instrumental when Leo served as Pledge Educator during his tenure at Delta Chapter, a role that Jaime had assumed early on in the chapter’s history.
In another twist of fate, Leo’s pledge educator turned out to be one of Jaime’s pledge brothers from the Eta Line, Isaac Hernandez further reaffirming the two’s fraternal bonds. Interestingly enough, another two legacies tested their resolve as members of the Tau Line. One of them happened to be Eric Ramirez, younger brother to Vincent Ramirez from the Omicron Line. The other, Adrian Ornelas, younger brother to Joe Ornelas from the Alpha Line, did not complete the process with Tau but came back the following semester and was activated as a member of the Upsilon Line.
More recently, two young men followed in their uncle’s footsteps and both became brothers, one semester apart and solidified their family ties to ODPhi and the Delta Chapter. Tomas Reta was the first to be activated in the Spring of 2010 while his brother Aaron was activated in the Fall of 2010 as a member of the Alpha Omicron Line. But long before they donned the scarlet and silver and earned the right to call themselves Delta Knights, their uncle Benito Suarez paved the way for them to do so as legacies in the future when he was activated as a member of the Pi Class in Fall of 1999.
“The whole experience was something that I’ll never forget, be it community service events like Adopt-A-Highway and Big Event, or just the usual shenanigans my brother and I got into; the brotherhood definitely enhanced our bond and relationship” Tomas shared.
Jose Sandoval’s journey through Omega Delta Phi was atypical and a solemn one as well. He pledged first as a member of the Alpha Alpha pledge class in Fall of 2002. He did not complete the prospective member process but was influenced to give it another go several years later after seeing the glow in his younger brother Noe’s eyes when talking about the fraternity. Brother Noe Israel Sandoval was activated in the Spring of 2004 at the Eta Chapter at Sam Houston State University. Jose was inspired by his brother’s involvement with ODPhi and the gratification it brought him from being so active in his chapter.
“Knowing and seeing what my brother was able to experience I wanted to be a part of it too and after meeting the brothers; I knew I wanted to, without hesitation, pledge for this brotherhood and made the decision to do so in the Fall of 2005 at Delta Chapter” he shared.
In a strange turn of fate, Jose, older than Noe, became a legacy at Delta Chapter when activated as an initiate of the Alpha Epsilon Line. Life threw Jose and his family a heartbreaking curveball and Noe was inducted into the Omega Chapter after passing away in September of 2005.
“Being a member of a brotherhood and sharing experiences is gratifying in and of itself but when you are able to share them with your brother, like I was privileged to; it bears much more meaning,” he said. ”Since my brother’s passing, these are some of the last memories I have of him and some of the most cherished. I miss him greatly”
All in all, the fraternal bonds that bind us resonate and bleed into our actual blood lines for we come to love and appreciate our fraternity brothers as if they were our very own blood. And for these Delta Knights, the fact that their brother or family member has the same blood running through their veins makes it a lasting and memorable experience; one that enhances and strengthens the family ties that already link them to one another.