-75 Picnic at Nipaquay
By Roy Cook
At the 2011 Special
Forces Association, SFA -75 annual picnic at Admiral Baker field we heard
about the Special Forces Association National Convention at Las Vegas.
This location is in the very proximity of the traditional Kumeyaay Nipaquay
village along the San Diego River. Our Quartermaster brought back attractive
and questionable selections for us to choose from. Perhaps the best unpredictable
these picnics is
who we will meet. Some folks we see frequently, some for the first time
and some after many decades of life since we served together.
were honored to have Melchor Rillera and his son, attend the SFA Picnic.
Staff Sergeant Melchor Rillera was born January 1st, 1908 at Naguilian,
La Union, Phillippines. He arrived in Seattle, WA in 1922 with fifty cents
in his pocket. He volunteered for Army service after Pearl Harbor and
accepted an offer to train with the First Special Service Forces. On D
Day SSgt. Rillera parachuted into Normandy with the 101st Airborne Division,
fought in the southern France campaign and, on 26 Aug 1944 captured the
village of Villenueve-Loubet, one of the hardest fought battles of the
He took part in Operation Market Garden and the liberation of Eindhoven.
He was assigned to the 3/506 and fought in Bastogne. Along the way he
earned the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, and received
his Combat Infantry Badge on 8 Sept 1944. He is 103 years of living history.
of us have stories and memories of training or postings at Ft. Bragg.
When I was on Smoke Bomb Hill, 1964-67, I was just happy to be a part
of Special Forces and did not think much beyond that week. During that
time of service I met one or two members of this San Diego reserve unit.
They had volunteered to go active Army and
training to deploy to the Republic of Vietnam. Later, while in school
under the GI bill, I sought out and joined the same Special Forces Army
Reserve unit. Today, we look a bit different but the emotions and experiences
are as clear as if it is yesterday and not 35 or more years ago.
man is filled to satisfaction. Our spirits are uplifted.We welcome
meeting new visitors and renewing our bonds as warriors, in this
band of brothers.