El Paso community provides shining support to the military
Claudia R. Kennedy,
DoMaD Public Affairs:
Members of the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce and the Omar N. Bradley Association of the United States Army recognized and granted money to two deserving active-duty Soldiers on Fort Bliss during their monthly meeting at the Chamber of Commerce in downtown El Paso Oct. 4.
The American Red Cross, YMCA, and representatives from Fort Bliss were also in attendance to discuss local and military issues and events.
The highlight of the meeting was the recognition of Sgt. 1st Class Danny Casillas, Jr., a scout platoon sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, awarded by Michael Guerra, Chairman of Armed Forces Division, GEPCC.
Casillas was conducting a patrol in the Charkh District of Logar Province, Afghanistan when his platoon came under heavy contact. As Casillas directed fire onto the enemy to allow a maneuvering section to approach the enemy, he was struck in the helmet by an enemy sniper round that knocked him unconscious. After a brief moment, he gained consciousness and immediately took control of his section. Casillas continued to fight and direct his machine guns onto the enemy allowing the platoon to press forward, causing the enemy to flee.
“Soldiers make the ultimate sacrifice and accomplish extreme hardships,” said Guerra. “Yet they are still able to rise to the top with their significant actions. This is the type of accomplishment that makes the El Paso community and the Chamber of Commerce appreciate what they do.”
He presented Casillas with an “Official Star Lighter” certificate and gift certificate to Applebees restaurant. The star on the Franklin Mountains was lit in honor of Casillas Oct. 4 for his extreme accomplishments in Afghanistan.
Afterwards, Gus J. Rodriguez, president of the Omar N. Bradley Chapter AUSA, presented Sgt. Maj. James Blake, directorate of Mobilization and Deployment personnel division sergeant major, a check to pay for an airline ticket for a Soldier in need.
Blake explained DoMaD received an emergency Red Cross message for an Active Guard/Reserve Soldier, who was tasked to deploy with the 576th Transportation Company. The Soldier, whose identity is private, was completing mobilization training and getting ready to leave for theater when he learned that his wife needed immediate medical care. Since the Soldier is considered active duty, the army does not fund his emergency leave transportation, if the emergency leave does not meet certain criteria.
DoMaD worked to get the Soldier a flight back home to be with his wife, but he would have to pay for the ticket. Sgt. Maj. Blake mentioned the situation to incoming DoMaD director, Col. John F. Dorney, who linked Blake up with Rodriguez from AUSA.
“AUSA is very supportive of the military community,” said Blake. “Once they heard about the situation, they said, ‘get us the cost of the ticket and we’ll take care of it.’ They committed to helping the Soldier and getting the Soldier home.”
AUSA and GEPCC are extremely active with Fort Bliss, the federal government and the El Paso community. The committee remains vigilant in the growth of Fort Bliss and how they can build bonds and connect businesses in the community to the military. Both organizations are made of volunteers committed to being the voice, support, and work to actively improve issues and relations in the El Paso business community and opportunities for the American Soldier and their families.
“By helping Soldiers in need or by recognizing a Soldier for their service, it’s a reflection of the love that the El Paso community has for the Soldiers and the commitment of their family,” said Rodriguez.
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