Residents show support to Villalon’s family during visitation

Arnold Fernandez older brother of U.S. Army Spc. Miguel Angel Villalon who was killed in Afghanistan early this year mourns at his brothers wake Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, as Fernandez is comforted by Aryssa Alapizco at the Brownsville Event Center. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald via AP)

Hundreds of people attended the visitation for U.S. Army Spc. Miguel Angel Villalon Friday at the Brownsville Event Center to give their condolences to his family.

With matching black T-shirts with a portrait of Villalon on them, his family sat at the very front of the room while loved ones, neighbors, former teachers, veterans and strangers waited in line to hug them, shake their hands and offer support.

“It’s very important for us, as a brother in arms, a sister in arms, that they’re not forgotten and that they will never be forgotten, no matter what their job was,” Lazaro O. Camarillo III, a veteran and part of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, said.

Camarillo said he has been paying his respects at visitations of veterans throughout Texas since 1998. He said it is very important to show the support to the family, even if they have never met before.

“Pray for the family and if you see a veteran out there thank them because of them we continue to have a tomorrow,” he said.

At the visitation, a video showing several photographs of Villalon and his family was played. In some of the photographs he is seen as a little baby playing with his brother, as an older boy at a restaurant, wearing his JROTC uniform on a sidewalk, sharing selfies with his mom, being a chambelán at a quinceañera and wearing his Army uniform in more recent ones.

Villalon, 21 a Brownsville native, was killed in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, on Jan. 11 while conducting operations in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, part of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission.

He joined the Army in 2018 to be a combat engineer and reported to the 307th as his first assignment. His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Army Achievement Medal with “V” device (awarded to service members who perform “meritoriously under the most arduous combat conditions”) and the Combat Action Badge.

Vietnam veteran Charles E. Fredieu said Villalon’s death hurts him as he exited the visitation. He is part of the Disabled American Veterans Chapter No.121.

“We’re all brothers, always,” he said.

Villalon’s funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Brownsville Event Center and will be followed by the burial at Buena Vista Burial Park. The public is invited to pay their respects.