FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Philadelphia Eagles Sign Ranger Officer and Combat Veteran To Contract
I’ve never been a huge Eagles fan, but that just might change.
The Eagles have signed 6’9″, 277-lb Alejandro Villanueva as a rookie free agent to play on the Eagles defensive line. So what? you ask.
Villanueva graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering and was commissioned into the U.S. Army on May 22, 2010 as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Infantry. He then moved to Fort Benning, Ga., to attend the Infantry Officer Basic Course, Basic Airborne Course and the U.S. Army Ranger Course.
Upon completion, he reported to Fort Drum, N.Y., where he served in the 10th Mountain Division. While serving with the 10th Mountain Division, Villanueva deployed to Afghanistan for 12 months as a Rifle Platoon Leader. During his deployment, he earned a Bronze Star Medal for Valor for moving forward under enemy fire to pull his wounded Soldiers from their isolated position. When Villanueva returned from his first deployment to Afghanistan, he was assigned as a Rifle Company Executive Officer.
In November 2013, Villanueva volunteered for the 75th Ranger Regiment’s Assessment and Selection Program and was hired to serve with 1st Ranger Battalion at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. As a U.S. Army Ranger, he served as a Plans Officer, a Ranger Rifle Platoon Leader and a Ranger Company Executive Officer, and deployed to Afghanistan two more times for a total of eight months.
It is very difficult for service academy graduate to make that leap into the pro ranks. To the best of my knowledge only Roger Staubach (Dallas Cowboys) and Dave Robinson (San Antonio Spurs) have made the move. The reason is that not only do the academies have a rigorous, and at least with the Military and Naval Academies an engineering based, academic program that would fry most college athletes, upon commissioning they owe five years active duty (that is changing, though). Making the team as a 27-year old rookie who has had to work out in his spare time is hard.
I wish Captain Villanueva well. Maybe he will start a trend again where professional athletes realize they are looked upon as role models and it is better to emulate a man decorated for bravery in combat than the low level felons that permeate the ranks of pro sports today.