Hundreds give final goodbye to Villalon

BROWNSVILLE — At least 300 people attended the funeral service for U.S. Army Spc. Miguel Angel Villalon at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Brownsville Events Center where a religious ceremony was held to give the soldier a final blessing.

Community members and elected officials such as U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez and City Commissioner Jessica Tetreau, among many more, attended the funeral to give their final goodbye and express their support to the family.

“It was very devastating to know that we lost one of our own and as a city official it was my job to make sure that we honor him in the highest and most honorable way that we could,” Tetreau said.

“We are with the family 110 percent and losing their son is a pain and I can’t even imagine what they’re going through. But we are here as a family and he was one of ours and we intend to honor him in every way possible and it doesn’t stop here. Every Memorial Day, every chance that we get to celebrate his contribution and his ultimate sacrifice to our freedom we will celebrate him and his legacy.”

At 11 a.m. the remains of Villalon, his family and attendees made their way to the Buena Vista Burial Park for the final ceremony. There, his loved ones celebrated his life with mariachi and songs such as “Amor Eterno” and “A Mi Manera.”

“I love the fact that there’s not only veterans there’s Brownsville life and it is a beautiful way to honor our fallen soldier with the giant flag and it’s going to be hard because not every day we lose one of our own,” said Joaquin Garcia, a Vietnam veteran who witnessed the arrival of Villalon’s remains at the airport and also attended the funeral. “That’s really why I’m here because we have one of our citizens here that has fallen and it’s only right for us to be here as veterans.”

On Saturday, Villalon’s loved ones were seen wearing black T-shirts that said, “I did my duty, I paid the supreme price. I pray you’ll remember, my sacrifice. My life was short, I did my best. God grant me peace, in my eternal rest.”

During the religious ceremony at the park, Villalon’s family placed red roses on top of the casket while hundreds waited in line to give their condolences to the family.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection honor guard stand by during the graveside service for U.S. Army Spc. Miguel Angel Villalon on Saturday at Buena Vista Burial Park in Brownsville. (Denise Cathey | Brownsville Herald)

“If we lose one, we lose one too many,” Garcia said.

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.

“As a community we mourn,” Tetreau said.

nreyna@brownsvilleherald.com