Lance Cpl. Guillermo Perez was “loud, adventurous, hyper and dirty” as a child, his family says, and loved being out of the house.
An obituary on the website of Zoeller Funeral Home in New Braunfels described his boyhood in Kingsville that way. It was good training for a future Marine rifleman.
“He spent the majority of his childhood outside, avoiding the shower, and always being a kid full of life. It seemed as if he never ran out of energy.”
On Thursday, family, friends and the Corps paid a final salute to Perez, who at 20 was among nine Marines killed July 30 in a training accident off the Southern California coast. A service at Tree of Life Church in New Braunfels, his hometown, was followed with burial at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.
The family welcomed everyone to the church service, but attendance was limited at the cemetery because of its coronavirus pandemic restrictions.
Family and friends knew Guillermo Sammuel Carrizales Perez as “Willie.” His obituary said he “was a kid who, once you met, you could never forget.” He liked to roughhouse with his family, but was helpful and proud. He liked learning new things and took a lot of pleasure in showing off that knowledge.
“Willie could find any stick outside and chase you with it with continuous laughter in (an) attempt to hit you,” his obituary said. “Forever fighting with his siblings, especially his brother, we all knew and now cherish the tough love! Others would say he was caring, optimistic, a helper, and a loving person — which are also true. With him being the youngest, he still did a lot for his family and loved ones.”
Perez is the third San Antonio-area serviceman to die in the line of duty this year.
Spc. Vincent Sebastian Ibarria, 21, of San Antonio was given a soldier’s burial at Fort Sam on July 22, nearly three weeks after his death in a rollover accident in Afghanistan. He died July 3 while serving with a 10th Mountain Division combat team in Farah, a town 15 hours west of Kabul.
Sgt. 1st Class Javier Jaguar Gutierrez, 28, of San Antonio, was buried in late February at Fort Sam. A Special Forces veteran and 2009 Burbank High School graduate, he was killed Feb. 8 with another Green Beret in Afghanistan, Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Rey Rodriguez, 28, of Las Cruces, N.M..
Rodriguez was on his 10th deployment and Gutierrez on his second when killed by a man posing as a member of Afghanistan’s armed forces.
The Marines said Perez lost his life when his landing craft took on water off San Clemente Island, Calif.. In all, nine Marines perished in the incident. Eight other Marines were rescued, two of them injured.
The Marines, Navy, and Coast Guard searched more than 1,000 nautical miles using helicopters, ships and watercraft, ending the rescue effort after 40 hours. The Marines were in an amphibious assault vehicle used for beach landings since 1972. It can carry a crew of three and 25 Marines and doubles as an armored personnel carrier.
Perez was gung-ho about joining the Marines even before graduating from New Braunfels High School last year. He entered the corps as soon as he got his diploma. He became a private first class and recently had been promoted to lance corporal, earning his Infantry Rifleman certificate and sharpshooter badge.
“He enjoyed his teenage years,” the obituary said, noting that Perez spent 3½ years working at Schlotzsky’s with four of his best friends. He volunteered with the New Braunfels Lions Club throughout high school.
When he came back to New Braunfels on leave, “he would address Whataburger first,” the family wrote. “He would then take the time to go visit the entirety of his family — surprising his sisters and making it special for them.”
In his final return home in mid-August, Perez was given a hero’s welcome, with New Braunfels Police Department officers escorting the casket from San Antonio Antonio International Airport, taking it beneath a flag-draped arch formed by a pair of New Braunfels Fire Department ladder trucks as it entered Main Plaza.
As Thursday began, the Fire Department parked two ladder trucks at the exit to the church, recreating the arch. New Braunfels police and other area law enforcement agencies escorted Perez to Fort Sam down Interstate 35 South.
Perez is survived by his parents, Romelia and Jose Escobedo and Faustino T. Jr. and Erika Perez, and fiancée, Monika Mendoza.
“Not only did we lose a special person, we lost a loving son, brother, fiancé, cousin, nephew, and friend! He touched so many people’s hearts,” his family wrote. “He was literally one of a kind. If you didn’t know him, you truly did miss out in one of the good things in life!”
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