In order to make all of these great memories here at the 83rd Annual Texas FFA Convention, or even just to be here today, we must realize what makes all of it possible; all the current and past soldiers of the United States military.
Retired Marine Cpl. Anthony Villarreal from Lubbock, Texas is one of those veterans. He was recognized yesterday and received a very boisterous standing ovation for his service to the United States. Three months after Villarreal graduated from Lubbock-Coronado high school, he joined boot camp and began training to be in the United States Marines.
“My uncles and grandpas were a big part (in deciding to join the Marines),” Villarreal said. “I was in World Geography during 9/11; after watching the 2nd tower fall in class, I knew that I wanted to volunteer. From there on, I haven’t looked back; I don’t regret it.”
After two combat tours in Iraq, Villarreal went to Afghanistan for his third. On June 20, 2008, during his third tour, a vehicle he was driving during a mail and water run passed over a pressure bomb. He lost his right arm, the fingers on his left hand, and suffered from severe burns. A few months after this accident, he was honorably discharged from the Marines. However, he does not let any of this hold him back.
Currently, Villarreal is studying business administration in hopes of one day owning a restaurant. From there, he plans on enrolling in a culinary school to broaden the variety of food that he can cook.
“In Texas, we all know how to make barbecue,” Villarreal said. “I plan on having a wide variety of foods; whatever people like.”
Villarreal said it is very important to appreciate veterans and those currently in the service. When he travels to places to speak, he wants to show the importance of helping the countless number of veterans who have become disabled while in the military.
“It doesn’t matter what you think of the war,” Villarreal said. “Just help out the veterans.”
Despite the daily struggles that he goes through, Villarreal still loves to just have a good time “Everyone needs to have a laugh once in a while,” Villarreal said.