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Cloverdale High School grad receives Purple Heart

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 | Posted by

Master Sgt. Pedro Villa was recognized as the recipient of a Purple Heart during halftime of the Sacramento Kings’ basketball game at Military Appreciation Night.

Master Sgt. Pedro Villa, a 1983 graduate of Cloverdale High School, was recently presented with the Purple Heart at an official ceremony on Beale Air Force Base. Colonel Kevin Cavanagh, commander of the 940th Wing, made the presentation.

Villa is an employee of Union Pacific who serves in the Air Force Reserve. He also was recognized during halftime at the Sacramento Kings’ basketball game on Nov. 9, Military Appreciation Night.

Villa is an electrical superintendent assigned to the 940th Civil Engineer Squadron at Beale Air Force Base near Sacramento. He was wounded during a mortar attack on May 5 while deployed to Afghanistan.

“Master Sgt. Villa and a crew of Air Force Civil Engineers attached to the 577th Expeditionary Prime Beef Group were just finishing up the work day,” according to an official Air Force press release. “The team of 10 active duty, guard and reserve members was building a clamshell-type facility, a metal truss covered with thick tarp for use by the Army at a remote deployed location inside Afghanistan.

“Suddenly, the enemy launched the first mortar of the day, hitting the truss just overhead. A few team members were hit with shrapnel; one had to be MEDevaced out. Immediately after the initial explosion, Villa went to the bunker and administered first aid to the seriously wounded tech sergeant. Villa himself suffered a concussion and a minor shrapnel wound in the attack.”

Villa says his memory of being hit is one of extreme pain and confusion. It was very windy and dusty that particular day, and the blast kicked up even more dust.

Though he suffered a concussion when the force of the explosion threw him forward and sideways, his instinctive reaction was to get up and check on the other guys, which is exactly what he did.

Villa spent eight days in a remote military hospital, then another week recovering in his tent before being sent back out to build another similar building during his last 15 days in Afghanistan. He returned stateside in July, much to the relief of friends and family.

Villa joined the Air Force in 1984 and also served a tour in Iraq. He and his brother brother Shannon went through boot camp together, and even had bunks next to each other. “With our hair cut off,” Villa laughs, “people sometimes had a hard time telling us apart.” Shannon arrived at Lackland Air Force Base the day after he did.

His parents, Pedro Villa of Cloverdale and Katherine Villa of Geyserville, are understandably proud. Three of their four sons went into the Air Force, but Katherine says when her son was deployed to Afghanistan, “he took my heart with him.”

The concussion and some short-term memory loss have delayed Villa’s return to work as a locomotive engineer with the Union Pacific Railroad. Looking to the future, he says he wouldn’t mind being the engineer on the SMART train’s Cloverdale route one of these days.

The 940th Wing is the Air Force Reserve Command’s leading provider of command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and is home to the RQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft. Nearly 1,200 rReservists are assigned to the 940th Wing, with five geographically separated units at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia, March Air Reserve Base in southern California, and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

  • Tami D’Angelo

    We should all be so proud of our military men and women. Pedro comes from an awesome, loving family. I am thankful he made it home alive. God bless the Villa family. Thanks MaryJo for yet another terrific article!

  • http://cloverdale.towns.pressdemocrat.com/2012/12/news/cloverdale-high-school-grad-receives-purple-heart/ Christie Jepsen Archer

    Congratulations Pedro!

    • Meri Austin Melani

      Pedro – thank you to you and all your family for the service to our country. You are the reason we are able to live in this beautiful country. I love when one our small town heroes is recognized for their service.

  • http://alveteransreunion.org Gary Mills

    A true HERO and warrior. I salute the Villa Family and Mst. Sgt. Pedro Villa. We need to back all our Veterans!……..SALUTE……..Back to Back Pedro

  • Skippy

    Every member of that family is admirable. We have so much for which to be proud.

  • Greg Lands

    Pedro, I’m sure that Tony is looking down and is so proud of you. Thank You so much for your service. Love and miss you all. Greg….

  • Rick Rilea

    Thank you for your service and your sacrifice.

  • Kyle

    Thank you for your service sir!

  • Carmen Villarreal

    Congratulations, Pedro. We are very proud of you and all the servicemen and veterans who have put their private lives on hold for a good cause. Love you, cousin.

  • Skippy

    Pedro, tell Lance that Jess will try to be back for Crab Cioppino night.
    CHS reunion time!

  • Ron Shafer

    Thank you Pedro and the entire Villa family for your service and sacrifice.

  • http://norcaljobs.com Jason Mobbs

    Wonderful coverage on a great local story! Thanks Mary Jo.

  • Pedro Villa

    I have a lot of good friends who do the same as I do. I am only ONE example of us. Please don’t forget that they too sacrifice and put their lives on hold for this freedom of the press and all other freedoms. I would do it all over again just as I have done before.

    Hi Greg and Carmen.

    Christie, long time no see.

    Thank you all for all the kind words.

    With Love and Thanks,


  • Shannon

    My brother knows how proud and honored I am that I AM his brother. There is no one I look up to more than Pedro. Pedro has sacrificed so much and will do so as long as he can to protect us, along with so many other veterans. I am so relieved that he is home safe. Let’s keep brewing some beers.
    I love you, Shannon

  • Jenine Rose

    So glad that you’re back home safe Pedro. You and your brothers are the best [and your mom too]!

  • Jessamyn S.E.

    So proud of you, Master Sergeant Villa! Such an honor to serve alongside of you. I’m glad you’re healing up and doing well. Take care, Pedro! Sending love from the ‘Stan,


  • Al Delsid

    Thank you for your service and heroism. It took an act of courage to put your own injuries and pain aside to help others. You are a true hero. Once again, Thank You

  • Gil

    Hey Pedro, damn proud of you and Shannon. Long time no see primos. Glad you guys made it back safe and sound. Had I known about your presentation I would have gotten tix to the game, damn it. Thanks to you, Shannon and your other military brothers and sisters who are sacrificing your/their time and energies to protect us all. May God bless, happy holidays and SAFE returns to all. Your cousin Gil

  • Dale Wilson

    Pedro, thanks for your service.

  • Jaci rainwater

    Thank you Pedro, Shannon and the Villa family for your service and sacrifices. Thank you for continuing to allow us the freedoms we have today. God bless you, and here’s to another year. Take care!! Thx for posting the info Mary Jo!

  • Todd Ridgway

    Congratulations Pedro. You’re a great and honorable man.

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Mary Jo Winter is our Cloverdale correspondent.
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