Lockhart soldiers reunite while serving in Kuwait
By Maj. Carol McClelland
1st Theater Sustainment Command
SPECIAL TO THE POST-REGISTER
“We’re just two Lockhart boys meeting overseas in the desert,” said deployed Soldier Michael A. Castillo.
Castillo, a “buck private” just out of advanced individual training where he learned how to drive military vehicles, and another Texan, a major in a
staff job, discovered they were from the same small hometown about 15 miles west from their San Marcos Army Reserve unit.
But that was nearly 20 years ago.
Now, Castillo is a staff sergeant and the former major, Gary G. Bunch is a one-star general in charge of thousands of troops, including Castillo.
“I was coming off a [combat logistical patrol] and going to eat breakfast, and I got a magazine that had Brig. Gen. Bunch’s picture in it and I said to my buddies, ‘Oh my gosh, I know this guy,’” Castillo explained.
The 38-year-old decided to use his chain of command to see if he could get an appointment to visit the general, whose unit provides command and control of logistics across the theater of operations, spanning several countries.
But everyone Castillo encountered warned him.
“They all told me, ‘You know he’s a very busy man,’ but I took a chance and innocently e-mailed him directly,” Castillo said.
Within a day the general responded and congratulated Castillo on his rank and convoy commander status.
“Those are impressive accomplishments!” Bunch wrote. “I am very proud to be associated, again, with a fellow citizen of Lockhart who has served his country so well and honorably under such difficult conditions.”
About three days later, Castillo, who is assigned to the 546th Transportation Company, based out of Fort Bragg, N.C., found himself in Bunch’s office catching up over coffee.
“We talked about old times, Texas A&M, the Longhorn game, how he started his career, where I’ve been and the deployments I have had, mutual people we know and missing Texas,” Castillo said.
Before leaving his office, the staff sergeant gave Bunch a week-old copy of their hometown newspaper he had just received in the mail.
“It was good to see Mike again and learn what a tremendous career he has had so far,” said the deputy commanding general of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command. “I remember he was mobilized for Desert Shield / Desert Storm and drove for a company commander during the liberation of Kuwait in the early 1990’s. It was fitting that we should meet again in Kuwait where Staff Sgt. Castillo has one of the most dangerous and responsible jobs over here as a convoy commander on the roads of Iraq,” said Bunch, 54, about the sergeant who’s completed 22 convoy missions during his tour.
“I’ve told everyone in my chain of command this guy is awesome; he’s got a football field named after him!” Castillo said. “And I’m really honored I got to meet him. He doesn’t know this, but meeting him just lifted my spirits.”
The feeling was mutual.
“It’s always a pleasure to meet with the Soldiers that do the real work and when one is from your hometown, well that’s doubly special,” Bunch said.