Seven months after U.S. Army Spc. Miguel Angel Villalon was put to eternal rest at the Buena Vista Burial Park with a ceremony in Brownsville that drew hundreds of community members to pay their respects, the veterans group Warriors United in Arms on Wednesday erected a U.S. flag next to the slain veteran’s grave.
The flag now flies from a pole with a gold eagle on top.
Joaquin Garcia, a member of the Warriors United in Arms who attended the funeral services for the fallen soldier, said as a veteran himself he does not only feel grateful for the sacrifice Villalon paid for his country but also an immense amount of respect and admiration for being brave at such a young age. Villalon was only 21 years old when he 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.
“His family is so proud that he went to the Army … he was a paratrooper by the way, I didn’t go airborne because I was scared to jump from planes and he did that!” Garcia said, standing behind the grave and the recently installed U.S. flag. “I have much more than respect for him and I am also very proud for the whole family, everyone who was part of him, part of his service, part of his funeral services, they did an amazing job.”
Villalon 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.
After raising the flag, the mask-wearing attendees recited the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. Flag and paid a minute of silence for the young soldier. All veterans themselves, the Warriors United in Arms group hopes to place a flag on each veteran’s grave in Brownsville. So far, they have placed more than 700 flags at the Buena Vista Burial Park after they received a grant from Home Depot.
“He is a Brownsville hero,” Rolando Moody from the Warriors United in Arms said. “We do this in remembrance of him and his family who provided us with such a noble individual and we are grateful for that.”