SSG William Castillo (Ret)
was born in Medellin, Colombia on December 18, 1979. He came to the United States at the young age of four and was raised in Jackson Heights, New York. After September 11, 2001, William decided to volunteer for his country and joined the U.S. Army. His first deployment was from 2004 to 2005 supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Then he deployed back to Iraq again in 2007 in support of the same mission.
On April 27, 2007, while on a mission to rescue Marines who were under attack, Army SSG Castillo’s vehicle was struck by an Improvised Explosive Device, otherwise known as an IED. While under heavy enemy fire, he fought his way back to the vehicle in an attempt to save fellow soldiers. Despite head trauma and numbing throughout his body, he courageously continued to fight.
During the battle, SSG Castillo was shot five times -- twice in the chest, once on the top of his head and once in the right leg. As he struggled to get back to the Humvee, he was struck again; however, this round struck him under the chin and exited out his mouth. As he reached the driver of the burning vehicle, a Rocket-Propelled Grenade, RPG, struck the Humvee and the shrapnel severed his left leg above the knee.
Immediately, SSG Castillo was transported to Landstall, Germany, where he went under various surgical procedures in the attempt to save the rest of his limb and removing shrapnel from other areas, including the repair of the gun shots he received in his chest, legs, head, and chin. In May 2007 William arrived to Walter Reed Medical Center where he spent almost two years in physical therapy, and learning how to walk again. William also went through therapy for the traumatic brain injury he sustained as well as some loss of his vision.
William was, unfortunately, the only survivor from his vehicle. For his courage and bravery, he was awarded the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal (ARCOM) with Valor, and was nominated for the Bronze Star.
During his time in Walter Reed, William interned for the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) government agency and United States Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) in Washington, D.C. In Sept 2009, SSG Castillo moved to Orlando, Florida with his family and began to work for the United States Department of Homeland Security, Southeast Region.
William and his wife Katherine have four children and currently reside in Orlando, FL, where they became humbled 2010 recipients of a home provided by Building Homes for Heroes. William Castillo has dedicated himself to help other wounded soldiers and continues to be a spokesman for Building Homes for Heroes. In his path of self healing, William continues to conduct motivational speeches for numerous organizations, such as Wounded Warrior Project, Operation Giveback, and The American Coalition.