THE RARE BREED |
Recognizing Area Veterans Of World War II
Arnulfo Villarreal Wounded, POW,
Rescued And Kept On Fighting
Arnulfo Villarreal (left) and brother, Frank Castillo in
Los Angeles, Calif. May 29, 1943
Arnulfo Castillo Villarreal was born in the small town of Charco, just outside of Goliad, Texas on June 14, 1917. He was number three of six sons born to David and Guadalupe Villarreal.
Losing his mother to influenza when he was seven years old, Arnulfo started working as a migrant farmer with his father and older brothers to support their family. So, school was not an option for him.
With barely a first grade education, he was drafted into the Army to serve his country. On Dec. 12, 1942, at the age of 25, he arrived in Topeka, Kans., and became a member of 28th Infantry, 8th Division, Company M, where he received his training as a 2nd Class Heavy Machine Gunner.
He also received training with a SS Carbine, MM Rifle 03, and MM Carbine M-1.
Arnulfo arrived with his outfit in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Dec. 15, 1943. Twenty-eight days after the June 6, 1944 D-Day invasion, on America's Independence Day, July 4, 1944, he landed on Omaha Beach.
He was wounded in action on July 26, 1944, then taken prisoner of war by the Germans. After 21 days he was rescued by U.S. forces and returned to his outfit.
Arnulfo's tour of war zone duty took him from Normandy to Northern France, into the Rhineland and through Central Europe. The medals he received during this time, included three Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, European African Middle Eastern Campaign, American Campaign, American Defense Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.
He received his discharge, with the rank of Private First Class, at San Antonio on Oct. 31, 1945 and came home.
At the age of 35, he married Luisa Amaro of Old Gulf, Texas in 1951 and moved to Palacios. He worked for a short time at Alcoa. After a brief illness, he left Alcoa and began his career as a commercial shrimper. He retired in 1986 after working some 40 years in the shrimping business with his cousin, Homer Aparicio, Sr.
He continued working around the bay, making nets, unloading boats, just helping where ever he was needed.
Arnulfo and Luisa were married for 50 years until the death of Luisa in August of 2001. They had two daughters: Maria Villarreal-Elizondo and Eva De Leon, both of Pearland; and two sons, Robert Juarez of Baytown and Ancelmo Juarez, Jr. of New Orleans, La. There are also 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Today, Arnulfo lives in Pearland, near his daughters.
Arnulfo Villarreal, 2002
Mr. Villarreal died in February 2004 at the age of 86.
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