Sunday, May 12, 2013


Character always wins out.

This story doesn't surprise me.

I knew Sergeant First Class Raymond Castillo as Cadet Candidate Castillo when we were CCs together at USMAPS. I was older, prior service, and higher in the class ranking; nonetheless, I admired him. As young as he was, Castillo shone with the right stuff even then. He was thoughtful, self-aware, tough, and a true believer of duty, honor, country - a born soldier. More, Castillo was a born leader of soldiers in the ideal sense. Even then, he was sure in his principles and lived and breathed the Army values. I wasn't surprised that Castillo enlisted and joined the Infantry after leaving USMAPS. The only reason he didn't make it to West Point with the rest of us was he couldn't write despite that the best CC writers at USMAPS, including me, did our best to tutor him. It was frustrating because Castillo was smart enough, otherwise a good student, skilled at math, well-spoken, willing to learn, and a hard worker. If he would have simply written his papers the same way he spoke, he would have been fine, but for some reason, there was a disconnect in his brain between his mind and his writing.

Castillo will always be one of my favorite people. My civil-military advocacy in college and my efforts to counter misrepresentations of the Iraq mission were motivated by soldiers like him. They are good, honorable men - worthier, stronger men than I am - the best of Americans who have risked themselves for duty, honor, country. They've earned it. They are righteous. They deserve to be empowered and honored for their selfless service and sacrifice.


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