Based: Schweinfurt, Germany
9th Engineer Battalion, 1st Infantry Division
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: September 27, 2004
Hometown: Los Angeles
Foreign Country of Birth: Philippines
Burial: Forest Lawn Memorial-Park, Hollywood Hills
Last September 27th, when we remembered Army Sergeant 1st Class Joselito O. Villanueva, we received a personal remembrance of him by his old friend Carlos Maguina. We have read it many times since we received it. Here it is:
Thank you for this blog.Thank you Carlos Maguina. For loving your friend Joselito O. Villanueva and his family, for remembering him and them for us.
Lito (as he was known to his friends and family) went to bootcamp in 1986 at 18 years of age, joining as a reservist. In 1993, he opted to go active duty. His whole adult life was the Army. It was almost inevitable. I never met anyone more into the military than Lito. We became friends in junior high school, and remained so. He was just a plain ole good guy, and doing right just came naturally to him. Laughing was his legacy, but he was a serious guy behind that cheerful personality, and every now and then we waxed philosophically about life and women. Like most of us, he looked forward to the day where he could marry and start a family. I don't know this for sure, but I suspect Lito was in love with someone or other pretty much throughout his life. His heart was that big.
He's missed by his friends and family. He was part of a big group of friends who respected and cared for him. He was the confidant of more than one of them, I know. His family, naturally, was deeply affected by his loss. You cannot walk into their home without remembering Lito. He loved life as much as the next guy. He enjoyed it more than most. Yet he put his life on the line for his men and his country, and if anyone of us didn't know it while he was alive, we all soon learned that he was the best among us. His death hit all of us hard, and the sadness we felt was tempered if only a little by the pride we have in him.
He had the right values and the convictions to see them through. A man died in his thirties, full of life, love, and dreams for the future, and so his death seems a bit tragic. Yet I have never mourned for my friend the way others do. He chose the Army, he chose to serve during war and there was no way he wasn't going to be there with his men. He died a warrior's death living a good man's life. He will forever be the best among us, for none of us could ever surpass the life he lived.
From his old friend,
Carlos Maguina (SSGT, USMC Reserves, 1986-1995)
From the LA Times:
Villanueva, a former Los Angeles resident, was killed by a sniper Monday during an ambush in Balad, Iraq. He was posthumously awarded a second Purple Heart and a Bronze Star to add to his other commendations, including two National Defense medals, four good conduct medals and four Army achievement medals.Read the entire LA Times article about Army Sergeant 1st Class Joselito O. Villanueva here and read more here and here.
[1st Sgt. David L.] Morgan said the officer known as "Sgt. V" was part of another convoy conducting a routine patrol about 8:30 a.m. when an Iraqi national was erratically driving his truck, which rolled over. When Villanueva and others stopped to assist, they were fired upon. Only Villanueva was hit.
In a telephone interview from the battalion's home base in Schweinfurt, Germany, Morgan said news of Villanueva's death was difficult to take.
"I kind of treat them all like my sons. You get a bond, a friendship, a trust. When you lose one of your own, it hits you very hard," said Morgan, who is wrapping up a two-week leave before shipping out Monday morning for a return trip to Iraq. "I had to go out walking for a couple of hours. I had to cool off."
Villanueva, 36, was a combat engineer whose job involved working with an armored division to defuse explosives, set up mine fields and use munitions to tear down obstacles to troop advancement. Villanueva joined the Army in April 1993 and began his Iraq tour in February.
"He was well-trained and believed deeply in what he was doing," said Sgt. Michael Anderson of Ft. Schweinfurt, who once served under Villanueva. "He was always there for his solders and his friends."
Morgan said a "ramp ceremony" was staged last week by those in Villanueva's platoon -- half a dozen carried his casket into a transport plane while other members saluted or presented arms. A formal ceremony, with full military honors, will be held on base Thursday, he said.
Villanueva, who was not married, will be buried in Southern California. He is survived by his parents, Edito and Pilarita Villanueva of Van Nuys.