To the Editor:

In my 26 years as an Army officer, I served five years with U.S. Army Special Forces during the Cuban Missile Crisis, two years in two combat tours in Vietnam, and one three-year tour in Germany. In Germany, I commanded the first battalion in U.S. Army Europe to integrate its company barracks, doing away with the “WAC Barracks”.

During those 26 years, I was privileged to command troops at the platoon, company, battalion and brigade level. I know that you do not get the privilege of command in the U.S. Army unless you accomplish assigned missions while at the same time taking care of your soldiers.

I have been a member of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) for 35 years, and a charter member of the Killeen-Fort Hood LULAC Council 4535, the oldest council in Bell County. Our council is well known for its generous scholarship program and U.S. citizenship classes.

After retiring from the Army 35 years ago, I served two years as a Killeen City Council member, six years as mayor of Killeen, and four years as Juvenile Judge.

I have been married for 62 years to my college sweetheart, and we are proud to claim three sons, two grandsons, two granddaughters, three great-grandsons and two great-granddaughters.

One of my sons served in the U.S. Air Force and his son also served as a Marine in Fallujah, Although service to my country was my contribution to society, love for my family was paramount. I share the grief of the Guillen family with the loss of their daughter SP-4 Vanessa Guillen, a true patriot who volunteered to serve her nation, but was tragically killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood. She deserved better! No parent should have to bury their child!

I am impressed that our law enforcement agencies, both civilian as well as military, have identified Vanessa’s killer and apprehended his associate, although that will not alleviate the pain felt by her friends and family.

I also understand that revealing details about an investigation before all the facts are collected could hamper prosecution of the perpetrators.

I know that the investigators will not rest until they find the motive, or any other participants in this savage killing, if there were any,

I am seriously concerned about demonstrators and protesters who travel to our area demanding the closure of Fort Hood, deactivation of the 3rd ACR, and condemnation of the entire chain of command. Those closures would unfairly punish my Central Texas community.

I am bothered that my LULAC is encouraging Latinas to not serve in the Army. They have and will continue to provide honorable service to this great nation.

Sexual harassment is a serious problem in our society, not just the in the Armed Forces. The Army is a microcosm of our nation, with problems that are not unique to the military.

My Army is a diverse organization that has led the way in integrating minorities as well as women into what was previously an all-white, all-male organization. Such prohibitions, closures and restrictions would set back our progress unjustly.

I join the call for justice for Vanessa, but do not support the condemnation of the Fort Hood leadership being suggested. I believe in them and their commanders and that eventually, justice will prevail. I also do not support the concept of mass punishment of this community because of the actions of a few.

To the leadership of Fort Hood: You are family, and an essential part of our community. Please let us know how we can help!

Retired Col. Raul G. Villaronga

Killeen

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