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Vanessa Guillen’s Family Calls for Change in the Military

  • July 06, 2020

“At the end of the day, God does things a certain way, and if he needed a good soldier with him, Vanessa was the one,” Mayra Guillen said. “That’s the way we see it.”

A federal complaint filed Thursday alleges that another soldier — who fatally shot himself with a pistol as the police approached him — killed Specialist Guillen and then hid her body in a large box. The soldier’s girlfriend is accused of helping him dismember and burn Specialist Guillen’s remains.

Partial remains were found on June 30 near the Leon River in Bell County, Texas. The family confirmed on Sunday night that they belonged to the specialist.

“I do feel that, at this point, it was kind of like God’s gift to me that we were able to find her despite the circumstances,” Ms. Guillen said. “People can go missing for years, and having no answers is much worse than having the answer.”

Specialist Guillen had dreamed of being in the military since childhood, her relatives said. Only a decade ago, she was playing with her brother’s toy pistol and telling her mother she wanted to defend her homeland.

Her mother expressed her hesitations, but Mayra Guillen supported all of her little sister’s ambitions. One day, when Specialist Guillen was 18, she told her family she had enlisted in the Army. Her mother cried, but Specialist Guillen tried to reassure her in Spanish, “Without a doubt, mami, it is the law of life.”

Ms. Guillen was the only person who could fly to the ceremony when her sister completed training. She remembers being lost on the field, turning around and seeing Specialist Guillen run toward her in tears. They spent the day together, and Specialist Guillen told her sister how she aspired to get a spot stationed in Germany.

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