Illinois town sets public memorial for local soldier killed in Afghanistan
By STEVE LORD | The Beacon-News | Published: January 23, 2020
AURORA, Ill. (Tribune News Service) — The town of Aurora, Ill. has set a public memorial for U.S. Army Spc. Miguel Villalon, who was killed in action earlier this month in Afghanistan.
The memorial will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, at the East Aurora High School auditorium. This week, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin said the memorial is appropriately being held where Villalon graduated from high school.
The mayor, who made announcement of the memorial the main topic of his press briefing this week, said Villalon’s death was “personal” to him. Irvin also joined the Army shortly after high school, as Villalon did.
“I, too, was about the same age when I joined the U.S. Army,” he said. “I sacrificed some, Miguel Villalon sacrificed all.”
Villalon will be laid to rest this weekend in Brownsville, Texas, where he grew up, attending elementary and middle schools there. Irvin acknowledged that many friends and family are traveling to Texas for the funeral this weekend.
Visitation is from 1 to 10 p.m. Friday in Brownsville, with a special Rosary at 7 p.m. Services will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. Both will be hosted at the Brownsville Events Center, 1 Event Center in Brownsville, Texas.
Irvin said after talking with Olivia Guzman Villalon, the soldier’s mother, city officials thought that out of respect the city would wait until after he was laid to rest to have a memorial in Aurora.
The mayor said she told him stories about her son, painting him as a young man who “went above and beyond” with efforts to help his family. She remembered a favorite T-shirt he had, even as a boy, that said on it “Airborne.”
Irvin said that many people have asked about making donations to the family, and they can only be made at collection boxes that will be at the memorial, which is open to the public, or by contacting the Aurora Mayor’s Office at 630-256-3010, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Villalon attended Waldo Middle School and East Aurora High School. He joined the United States Army in 2018 and, after completing basic combat training and advanced individual training in 2019 at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, he was assigned to Fort Bragg in North Carolina where he served as a combat engineer. His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with "C'' Device, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal and the Combat Action Badge.
He was one of two U.S. service members killed Jan. 11 when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device while on duty in Afghanistan.
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