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Bexar County commissioners honor film about Marine who died in Afghanistan

Cpl. Jorge "JV" Villarreal serving during his tour in Afghanistan.
Screengrab from "American Sons" trailer
Cpl. Jorge "JV" Villarreal serving during his tour in Afghanistan.

Corporal Jorge “JV” Villarreal Jr. was a U.S. Marine from the West Side of San Antonio. Villareal enlisted in 2008, and his story is the focus of the “American Sons” film.

Bexar County Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores presented a proclamation during Tuesday’s commissioners court meeting declaring July 9, 2024, as "American Sons" Day. Family members and the team who made the film possible attended and were recognized for their work on the film.

“JV Villarreal Jr. was known as a peacemaker in his community and among all those who knew him,” Clay-Flores said.

Villarreal was killed during a routine patrol mission after stepping on an IED on October 17, 2010. During his tour in Afghanistan, he wore a camera on his helmet to document his tour for those back home. He was 22 at the time of his death.

The footage in the film's trailer showed him during his tour, talking with comrades, and showing what it was like living as a frontline combat Marine.

He couldn’t have known that the footage would reveal his final moments and comprise the last memories his family would have of him—and become part of a film.

“JV’s footage and his memory are forever immortalized,” Clay-Flores said.

“American Sons” examines mental health issues and generational effects of war. The team has received recognition and awards nationally, including through a Latino Public Broadcasting public media grant, a California Humanities public media grant, City of San Antonio individual artists grant, Black Public Media’s Jackie Jones Memorial Fund grant in New York City and Bexar County funding.

Villarreal and the film's director and producer are San Antonians. Villarreal graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in 2006.

“It was just an honor to be here,” One of the team members said. “To have this story available to not only our city, but to all veterans and families across the country.”

Villarreal's family, including his mother and sister attended the meeting. The team thanked them for allowing his story to be told and shared so others can learn about the realities of the front lines American soldiers experience.

The feature documentary is set to be released in 2025.

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Arts & Culture News Desk including The Guillermo Nicolas & Jim Foster Art Fund, Patricia Pratchett, and the V.H. McNutt Memorial Foundation.

Gabriella Alcorta-Solorio is a reporter for Texas Public Radio. She recently graduated from Texas State University with a major in journalism, minoring in women’s studies. She has previously worked as a photojournalist with The Ranger and has reported on Alzheimer’s and dementia using public health data. She plans to focus her career in journalism on women’s rights and human rights.