Cpl. Casillas’ family accepts posthumous honors


Cpl. Max Casillas was discharged from the Army in 1945. On Saturday, 67 years later, his family accepted official promotion papers and several awards on behalf of Cpl. Casillas, who died in 2010. 

During a ceremony at First Army headquarters on Arsenal Island, Cpl. Casillas’ family was presented with awards that included the bronze star with oak leaf cluster, American campaign medal, European-African-Middle Eastern campaign medal with silver star and arrowhead attachment, World War II victory medal, Army of occupation medal and Germany clasp, combat infantryman badge and honorable service lapel button for World War II.

Mr. Casillas, who was 94 when died in 2010, was born in Mexico, but lived on Silvis’ Hero Street before joining the Army. In 1943, when he was 28, he was assigned as a scout/observer to Headquarters Company, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division and sent to Europe where he fought until he was honorably discharged in 1945.

He was very “proud of his country” his son, Serjio Casillas, said.

His children said he rarely talked about the war as they were growing up, but opened up more as he aged, and talked about it more after his wife died and he was visited by two men who served with him in the French resistance.


Mr. Casillas told his daughter Sandi Julius about his journey to Europe and how the ship had to manuever carefully to avoid submarines and other dangers. “He used to keep it very light,” she said. “He would be so proud. We’re just so proud to be here.”

Late in life, he talked about his disappointment that paperwork recognizing his promotion from infantryman to corporal and other accomplishments never were processed before his release, his daughter, Julie Moore, said.

Col. Steven Merkel, Chief of Staff for the First Army, said that happened often, and awards got lost for a variety of reasons.


After her father died, Ms. Moore contacted U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling’s office and talked to Ken Moffett, a constituent services specialist. Together, they pieced together Cpl. Casillas’ story and arranged for the awards to be presented. Ms. Moore said she “mainly did it because my father asked me to.”

After returning to the Quad-Cities, Mr. Casillas worked at John Deere for more than 44 years and after retiring, returned as a tour guide.


His family said he was an avid golfer and enjoyed participating in VFW and American Legion events, carrying flags in parades into his early 90s.

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