Friday, April 22, 2011

Army Sgt. John P. Castro

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. John P. Castro, 25, of Andrews, Texas

Sgt Castro was assigned to 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.; died April 22, 2011 in FOB Sharana, Afghanistan of wounds sustained when his unit was attacked by small-arms fire.

Family, friends remember fallen soldier

Sgt. John Paul Castro was the youngest of three children, but it never stopped him from taking on big challenges.

“Being the baby, we tried to protect him,” sister Blanca Castro, 31, said about a family vacation one year to South Padre Island when they were children. “We got to the beach and he ran straight into the ocean. He didn’t want to be left with the ‘what-ifs.’ ”

Sgt. John Paul Castro, 25, was killed Friday at Paktika province, Afghanistan when his unit was attacked by small arms fire, a Department of Defense news release stated. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky. He was on his third tour of duty.

Blanca Castro said she received a call Friday from her father, David Castro Sr., who said he heard rumors that something might have happened to her brother.

“(Andrews) is small. When you’ve got an Army chaplain and an officer driving around, word spreads quickly,” Blanca Castro said.

The support since the news of her brother’s death from the community has been tremendous, Blanca Castro said. She said everyone from the county judge to high school band mates have come out to “show gratitude for his sacrifice.”

During his tenure with the Army, he received several awards, including the Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal with Valor device; Army Achievement Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal; Iraq Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; North Atlantic Treaty Organization medal, Combat Infantryman Badge and two Purple Hearts.

“His first one came while he was in Iraq and the vehicle he was in drove over an IED (Improvised Explosive Device),” Blanca Castro said. “Four died and several were wounded. He was treated in Germany and then flown home for physical therapy.”

Blanca Castro said his second Purple Heart came from injuries received from shrapnel while in Iraq, but were not severe enough to send him stateside for treatment.

John Paul Castro joined the Army after he graduated from Andrews High School in 2004. His sister said he signed up with a friend after graduation. While Army life was not his first choice in life, she said when it was time to re-enlist, John Paul Castro immediately signed back up.

“It’s what he wanted to do,” Blanca Castro said.

John Paul Castro played tuba in high school for the Andrews Mustangs band, but his real passion was baseball.

Raymond Oliver and his wife Michelle Oliver coached John Paul Castro from the ages of 10 to 16 years old. Raymond called John Paul Castro the most competitive young man he’s ever seen in his life.

Recalling a game John Paul Castro played in when he was a teenager, the younger pitcher gave up back-to-back home runs when Raymond Oliver, whom John Paul called ‘Coach” even into his adult years, came out to talk to him.

“I came out and told him, ‘J.P., eye of the tiger. I don’t want to see you give up another home run.’ ”

“Yes sir,” the young John Paul Castro replied.

Raymond Oliver said his team won that game 13-2.

When the Olivers heard the news of John Paul Castro’s death, they first though it was only rumors about the young man who was once offered a contract to play with the St. Louis Cardinals.

“We were in denial,” Michelle Castro said.

Once they knew the rumors were facts, the Olivers went to visit the family of the man they said they loved like their own son.

“He’s an all around good person that Andrews is going to miss,” Raymond Oliver said.

A memorial service for John Paul Castro is scheduled in Andrews before his body is flown to Tennessee for burial. Castro is survived by his wife, Delia Castro of Clarksville, Tenn.; daughter, Natalia Castro of Fort Benning, Ga., and stepson, Kamren Buchholz of Clarksville, Tenn; mother Carmen Castro of Andrews; father, David Castro Sr. of Odessa; sister Blanca Castro of Irving; and brother David Castro Jr. of Irving.

Army Sgt. John P. Castro was killed in action on 4/22/11.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Two corrections to make, He received Two Bronze Stars. And he received a third Purple Heart for the injury that took his life.