Monday, July 13, 2009

Some Gave All: Pfc. Justin A. Casillas

Nineteen-year-old Pfc. Justin Aaron Casillas was one of two soldiers killed when a truck bomb exploded at Combat Outpost Zerok. Also killed was 20-year-old Pfc. Aaron Fairbairn of Aberdeen, Wash.

The attack also injured seven other U.S. soldiers.

Casillas and Fairbairn were assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) of the 25th Infantry Division based at Fort Richardson, Alaska.

Casillas, of Dunnigan, was a paratrooper who had been deployed only four months. He graduated from Pierce High School in Arbuckle last year...(from Honor the Fallen here)

From SA Living Legends team:

Pfc. Justin A. Casillas, 19, of Dunnigan, Calif.
PFC Justin Casillas
Justin Casillas, 19, of Dunnigan, graduated from Pierce High School last year, according to American Legion member Larry Schapiro. He was a paratrooper with the U.S. Army's 509th Airborne out of Alaska. His grandfather, Joe Casillas Sr., served in the Pacific theater in World War II, and his father, Joe Jr., served in the Air Force in the Vietnam War.

Justin's mother, Donna, left for Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to collect his remains. Joe Jr. said they would be back Sunday.

"I don't know how to explain this ... but I'm proud of him, and I want to celebrate him," Joe Jr. said. "We talked a little bit about this, before he went over ... he wanted to do his part."

Joe Jr. said Casillas had been in Afghanistan for four months.

Justin Casillas was the chivalrous young man who asked his girlfriend's father for permission to date the man's daughter, the high school football player who wouldn't let his smaller frame stop him from tackling bigger boys and the patriotic young man who dreamed of becoming a soldier.

"That was what he felt his calling was," said Roy Perkins, Casillas' football coach at Pierce High School in Arbuckle.

He had been deployed only four months.

At 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, Casillas was small for football. But as No. 54, the fun-loving young man played hard as an offensive lineman and defensive end, even when he sprained his ankle twice during his senior season, Perkins said. "He was one of those athletes who maximized the abilities he had," Perkins said. "He was very coachable."

Perkins said Casillas spoke several times to friends about his desire to join the military.

A month before Casillas was deployed overseas, Perkins said the young man stopped by in his military fatigues to say goodbye to his coaches and teachers. Happy and excited, Casillas was looking forward to his assignment, Perkins said. "He was a very lovable person," said Casillas' grandfather, Joe Casillas Sr., a World War II veteran.

Justin Casillas also has a younger sister who is planning to join the Navy. Joe Casillas Sr. said Justin's parents are in Delaware to collect his remains. "It's a big loss," Perkins said. "Justin was doing something of incredible importance. He was doing something that not many teenagers are going to volunteer to do."

Pfc. Justin Aaron Casillas is survived by his parents, Donna and Joe,Jr. and by a younger sister.
Michelle Malkin also wrote about this fallen hero here.

Always remembered and honoured.

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