Youth Center dedicates computer lab to fallen Soldier
April 18, 2013
FORT SILL, Okla. (April 18, 2013) -- Lawton (Okla.) native Cpl. Wilfred "Willy" Flores Jr. wanted to be a Soldier from the day he could first speak, said his mother. He spent time growing up on Army posts, and both his parents were retired Soldiers.
Flores was a member of the Junior ROTC at Eisenhower High School, and he graduated in 2004. It seemed only natural that he would continue the family tradition of military service in the Army.
And, Willy knew exactly what he wanted to do in the Army -- infantry. When a recruiter was hesitant to give him that job, Flores said he'd go into the Marines. But the recruiter got him into the Army as infantryman.
Flores wanted to be at what he believed was the best infantry unit in the Army, the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y.
On a deployment in Iraq, with the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, Flores and another Soldier died after their Humvee was struck by a roadside bomb March 31, 2007. Flores would have been 21 years old in 10 days.
In a tribute to Flores' sacrifice, the new Fort Sill Youth Center dedicated its Cpl. Wilfred Flores Jr. computer lab on April 10, which would have been the corporal's 27th birthday.
"This was his birthday present from us," said Flores' mother, retired Sgt. 1st Class Vicky Flores. "I know he would get a kick out of this lab. He'd say: 'Oh, man, that's cool,' because he was a computer geek."
About 150 family, friends, Soldiers, post leaders and staff and children from the youth center attended the dedication at the center's gym.
Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, Vicky and her husband, retired Sgt. 1st Class Wilfred Flores Sr., unveiled the plaque that will hang in the computer lab.
"He died doing what he loved, and what he loved was being a Soldier," McDonald said. "There is no more selfless, and there is nothing more brave than what he did."
It was only fitting that the computer lab would be named after Flores because he was so computer savvy, the general said.
Vicky described her son as a fun kid, who was best friends with his older sister Theresa.
"They grew up harassing each other, but that was his thing, he would tease you and pull pranks, and you just never knew what was coming," she said.
Today, Theresa Anderson is an Army wife with four children at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Family friend Vickie Johnson recalled a drive to Dallas with Willy so he could leave for a deployment. They had stopped at IHOP for dinner. He would mix up some of the food off his dinner plate and challenge her to take a bit, and she'd do the same with her plate.
"He was stunned that an old lady would keep up with him," Johnson said. "It was just a stress breaker for him leaving for his deployment.
Vicky said when children use the computer lab and see the plaque she wants them to know that Willy pursued his dreams, and he did exactly what he wanted to do with his life.
FLORES COMPUTER LAB
The lab has 15 workstations, eight iPads and Nintendo game systems, said Brooke Wilson, Youth Center director. It has WiFi capabilities, and it can Skype with other Army youth centers, as well as with deployed parents. Since its soft opening a couple weeks ago, the lab has been one of the most popular activities at the center, Wilson said.