Sunday, December 12, 2010

Army Spc. Jorge E. Villacis

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Jorge E. Villacis, 24, of Sunrise, Fla.

Spc. Villacis was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died Dec. 12, 2010 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. Also killed were Cpl. Sean M. Collins, Cpl. Willie A. McLawhorn Jr., Spc. Patrick D. Deans, Spc. Kenneth E. Necochea Jr. and Spc. Derek T. Simonetta.

Before he returned to Afghanistan late last month after a 15-day leave, Army Spc. Jorge Villacis responded to his family's fears about his safety with a smiling reassurance.

"He just said, 'I have to go back and finish the job. And then I'll be home,'" said the soldier's sister, Jessica Geribon of Pembroke Pines. "He didn't like to stress."

The 24-year-old Sunrise man was among six Army soldiers killed Sunday in Afghanistan's Kandahar province when his unit was attacked by an insurgent using a vehicle rigged with an improvised bomb, the Defense Department announced Tuesday.

The suicide attack used enough explosives to bring down the building the soldiers were in, their commander, Maj. Gen. John Campbell, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Villacis' death came just less than a month after one of his closest friends, Staff Sgt. Juan Rivadeneira, 27, was killed in in a similar incident in Kandahar. Two other soldiers with the 502nd Infantry Regiment died in that attack.

Jessica Geribon, along with her husband Ricardo, her sister Jannina Salterini of Miramar, and Villacis' parents Jorge and Segunda Villacis, of Hollywood, were all at the South Florida VA National Cemetery, west of Lake Worth, on Nov. 30 for Rivadeneira's burial.

As she stood next to Rivadeneira's flag-draped casket, Jessica Geribon said she could not help thinking, "I don't want to be here again for my brother. I don't want to relive this."

Villacis and Rivadeneira met at Fort Campbell and became friends. Rivadeneira's heritage was Venezuelan. Villacis' parents are from Ecuador. Through the soldiers' friendship, their families became close. In November 2009, members of both families celebrated that most American of holidays, Thanksgiving, together at Fort Campbell.

The two soldiers deployed together in June, but served in different units in Afghanistan.

Melissa, Juan's widow, who lives in Miami, rushed to the Geribons' home Sunday when she got word of Villacis' death. "She told me, 'Now they are together again,'" said Jessica Geribon.

Born in New Jersey, Villacis graduated from American Senior High School in Hialeah. He worked as a mechanic before enlisting in the Army in September 2008. He also attended Broward College, and planned on returning to school.

At home, he liked to toss the football in the yard with his nieces and nephews, play Madden NFL video games, and root with passion for the New York Yankees.

Said Ricardo Geribon, "He is a hero. He was just a great kid, with a wonderful smile. He was never mad at anyone." At the time of his enlistment, he lived in Sunrise.

He is survived by his wife, Melissa Villacis; and children Zackert T. Devereaux (7), Julian E. Villacis (2) and Jocelyn E. Villacis (1), all of Fort Campbell; mother Segunda Villacis and father Jorge E. Villacis of Hollywood, Fla.

Army Spc. Jorge E. Villacis was killed in action on 12/12/10.

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