South Texas Heroes: Victor Villarreal

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One 30-year Army veteran from Laredo wants pass his knowledge of the military on to younger Americans. He's gone as far as writing a book about his experiences in hopes of inspiring new soldiers and helping Americans remember the sacrifices made.

From hungry wildlife to bomb attacks to injuries from a bazooka blast, Victor Villarreal has seen and experienced it all. And it all started when he was drafted during Vietnam.

It's a book decades in the making. It's called "I No Hero," something Villarreal said as a small boy to a teacher who suggested he go into the military. Years later, in 1966 Villarreal was still apprehensive when Uncle Sam called him to duty. Little did he know he'd still be serving his country 30 years later.

"I was drafted and later I liked it so I stayed in," Villarreal told us. And while he was initially assigned to administrative duty he knew he wanted to be in the infantry.

"You did get to learn a lot of things about survival," he said, "getting ready for the big trip across the seas."

He went to officer school and became a second lieutenant and before he knew it he was headed to Vietnam for a year-long tour. His first impression of the country was one he'll never forget.

"From the time we got off the plane, the North Vietnamese were shelling us at the airport, so we had to run in and get in the bunkers," he said.

The officer was the leader of a platoon he loved, respected and admired.

"I was assigned to a very good platoon that the men, they took care of me, because I was their leader," he told us.

And they played a significant role in cutting supplies off from the enemy, food in particular.

"We were credited with taking down the biggest rice cache, which was 209 tons of it, on the way to Saigon. And we got credited with disrupting the attack on Saigon because they didn't have anything to eat," he said.

They were shot at, bombed, he even became the victim of a bazooka blast.

"I was hit in the back of shoulder by some shrapnel," he said.

And he suffered hearing damage from the constant explosions. But after a year of service he was able to come home and he was thankful to be alive, but hurt for those lost.

"Every day you didn't know if you were going to make it or not. And I lost some of the men right toward the end. They were ready to come back and they stepped on a mine or got blasted by the rockets," he said.

When he returned home he attended college and became a member of the reserves. He was commander of a local reserve unit, part of a battalion in San Antonio, and served as an instructor for younger officers. "They all want to hear war stories, especially the young ones who were about to go, and I'm sure they were scared," he told us.

And he wanted to write a book to share his experiences and pass his knowledge on to soldiers headed into combat.

He said, "it's a good feeling because they're very eager and they want to pick up as much as possible so hopefully they won't get hurt."

And he wanted to preserve the sacrifices of others.