It was a poignant moment when Angie and Santiago Lopez, the parents of L.Cpl. Hilario Lopez, approached the round glass cabinet in the Ingleside Public Library. The library set up a display honoring Lopez, the only Ingleside resident killed in Iraq, along with Pfc. Feliberto Villa, for whom Villa Drive is named, the only Ingleside resident to die in Viet Nam.
On the top shelf is the uniform of L. Cpl. Hilario Lopez, along with his picture, medal and his story. Lopez, 22, was killed in Iraq Dec. 12, 2004 and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device for providing security which allowed his squad to reorganize and reposition, saving many lives at the cost of his own.
Mrs. Lopez's bright smile showed how proud she is of her son. But her quavering voice and misty eyes showed just how deep the ache is in her heart. "His friends are missing him almost as much as we are. They send their respects today. He's in their hearts as much as he is in ours, and will always be there." She added, "I'm glad that some of his things are on display for everyone to see."
On the second shelf is the uniform, picture and story of Pfc. Feliberto Villa,19, who had been in the Marine Corps since June of 1965. He had been in Viet Nam about three months when he was killed April 13, 1966. He was a member of the First Battalion 3rd Marines, BRAVO Company, 2nd Platoon. He was the son of on of Felipe and Eva Villa, and left six brothers, Rodolfo, Andres, Felipe Jr., Leopold, Leanarod and Jesus, and four sisters, Mrs. Helen Ramirez, Mrs. Theresa Alegria, Mrs. Nieves Rodriguez and Miss Lupe Villa.
Before he left, he gave his watch to his brother Andres' pregnant wife, saying "I know it will be a boy. Give him my watch to remember me." That baby was a girl, Gloria Villa Wright of Ingleside, and she was given the watch anyway. She was there at the opening of the display, and allowed the watch be included in the display of her uncle's memorabilia. She may someday give it to her own son.
The glass display case was donated by the Ingleside Women's Club. "This is exactly the kind of display we had envisioned when we donated the case," said Cindy Simmons, a member of the Women's Club who also volunteered with the exhibit. "I was honored to work setting up this display, and I hope everyone will come here and spend a few minutes looking it over."
Ingleside Public Library Manager Susan Pierson said the display will be available for at leasta month. If anyone wishes to honor someone, or to propose another display, please contact her at (361) 776-5355.