Posts tagged with "navy seals"

Guillen illustration

The Murder of Fort Hood Soldier, Vanessa Guillen

By Emmet McGeown


“How can this happen on a military base? How can this happen while she was on duty? How can this just happen and then let it go under the rug like it was nothing?” These were the words of Mayra Guillen, sister of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, who has been missing for months and is now confirmed dead.  

On April 22nd, Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, a 20-year-old Hispanic Small Arms and Artillery Repairer, went missing. She was last seen alive at a parking lot at squadron headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. For months, Pfc. Guillen’s family held out hope that their beloved was still alive, yet the discovery of remains near the Leon River, north of Austin, has vanquished that hope. While the FBI is still awaiting a positive DNA analysis, the family believes that the remains belong to Vanessa.  

Yet, this story does not begin with her disappearance nor does it end with her death. Prior to her vanishing, Pfc. Guillen, according to her sisters, was having difficulties with sexual harassment while stationed at Fort Hood, outside Killeen, Texas. The attorney representing the family in the case revealed that Guillen had confided to her sisters and several other soldiers that a superior had walked in on her while taking a shower and that he proceeded to sit down and watch her. Other relatives and Pfc. Guillen’s boyfriend have noted on social media that something is “not right” and that Vanessa felt unsafe at the military base.  

However, during a press conference on Thursday, July 2nd, senior special agent for the Fort Hood Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID), Damon Phelps, reported that there was no evidence backing the claim that she had been sexually harassed. He affirmed that “there has been no information — and we have interviewed hundreds of people… There is no credible information about that.” Despite this rebut by CID, family attorney, Natalie Khawam said, in an interview with PEOPLE, that she believes Pfc. Guillens was sexually harassed by Spc. Aaron David Robinson.

Spc. Robinson was the leading suspect in Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance, and as authorities caught up with him on Tuesday evening, he shot himself. It has since been revealed that Robinson was, in fact, responsible for the murder of Pfc. Guillen’s. Guillen’s was bludgeoned to death with a hammer in the armory where she worked, according to the family’s attorney. They made this discovery through an extensive investigation, in which witnesses divulged that they saw Robinson transporting a large box labelled “very heavy in weight.”

Then, after consenting to an examination of his cellphone records, court documents reveal, it was discovered that Robinson made several phone-calls to his girlfriend Cecily Aguilar on the night of Apri 22nd and into the early hours of the April 23rd. After being interviewed multiple times, Aguilar finally told investigators that her boyfriend had murdered Guillen. She also revealed how she and her boyfriend had met up and dismembered Guillen’s body together with a “hatchet or machete type knife” and, after attempting to set her corpse on fire, buried Guillen’s body parts in three different holes. Texas Rangers have since arrested Aguilar and she now faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.  

The issue of sexual harassment within the Army remains a problem in this case, given that Guillen’s family, according to their attorney, claimed that Vanessa was planning on reporting Robinson the day after she was murdered, and had delayed over fear of reprisal and inaction. Yet the Army says there exists no credible evidence that she was sexually harassed before her disappearance, and in a statement from the Fort Hood Press Center, officials said that the criminal investigation “has not found any connection between sexual harassment and Vanessa’s disappearance.” They plan to continue their investigation in light of new revelations. 

Lupe Guillen, another sister of Vanessa’s, told NPR that her sister wanted to be in the military since she was a little girl, “she wanted to be a fighter. She wanted to be a hero. She wanted to be someone in life. … The military failed her.

The family is now pushing for legislation to create an independent agency for soldiers who are victims of sexual harassment and assault. 

After a year Vanessa’s fiancé speaks out claiming “They failed us,” see the full ABC interview here.

For more updated information and to read other statements from family and friends click here.

It has been a year since Vanessa’s body was found and her family members, friends, and fellow military members still have many unanswered questions. While it is assumed that Vanessa’s killer was one of another soldier stationed at Fort Hood in Texas, Aaron Robinson, the army is still investigating. Her fiancé spoke to ABC last week, discussing his anger and frustration at the lack of answers and closure he, her family and friends have. Many are upset with how the Army handled the situation and investigation. Interrogating her friends instead of going after Robinson, who many suspected from the beginning.

Her family now hopes that the “I Am Vanessa Guillen” bill, which will make sexual harassment a crime in military law will be approved and help prevent other soldiers from being harassed while defending their country, and other families from feeling the loss they do.

Stay tuned to 360 Magazine for more updates and links to current articles and videos.

ABC will also be airing coverage every week until someone is convicted.

Ricardo Zaldana Navy Illustration by Mina Tocalini

Navy SEAL Gear

Considered by many to be the most rigorous and highly trained military force in the world, Navy SEALs work in sometimes hopeless conditions to carry out special operations. This branch of the military was established by President John F. Kennedy to perform a variety of operations of unconventional warfare. Because of the nature of their work, Navy SEALs use only the best equipment to increase the chances of success and safe returns. Although some of this equipment is top-secret or restricted, many items that are regularly used by Navy SEALs are available to the general public.

Weapons

As a military branch, it’s natural that SEALs carry a variety of weapons. Missions can vary from quiet reconnaissance to explosive takeouts. Because of this, many styles of weapons might be in a SEAL arsenal. Common weapons include carbines or assault rifles, machine guns, concealable handguns, sniper rifles and even missile launchers. In most of the United States, this gear requires a permit to own and many deadly weapons are not available to the general public. One fun way to explore SEAL weaponry without the dangers is to purchase a plastic replica or even to build an accurate model.

Clothing

Clothing is an approachable way to explore Navy SEAL equipment since there aren’t restrictions and these items are less expensive than weapons, vehicles, or special gear. SEALs are equipped with some remarkably effective clothing, including pants and shirts made from durable materials with reinforced stitching. Even items such as socks and belts are specifically constructed for naval activities. If these basic items aren’t interesting enough, try out some tough all-weather military boots or specially-designed Luminox watches. Although some SEAL clothing is specialized for specific applications, much of it is qualified for sea, air and land. Some factors to consider for all these environments include waterproofing or water-resistance, durability through pressure and temperature differences, resistance to abrasion and dust and comfort despite any of these elements.

Vehicles

A collectors item only for the really dedicated, SEAL vehicles are among the most powerful and expensive. One famous item is the SEAL Delivery Vehicle, which is a small submarine that is designed to be as close to undetectable as possible. Some are large enough to hold up to six people, but some missions have been carried out by fewer personnel. Piloting a personal submarine isn’t a practical choice for most civilians, but replicas and models are fun ways to enjoy them anyway. However, a Humvee or desert vehicle might be a more practical collector’s item. These vehicles were designed to replace Jeeps and can be outfitted with a variety of essential equipment. For more fun, try out a Light Tactical All Terrain Vehicle, which can be as small as the average 4-wheeler or a bit larger to hold more people and equipment. Although expensive and not always practical, military vehicles are a great conversation piece.

Other Gear

Although SEAL stands for Sea, Air, Land, the successes of aquatic activities stand out as some of the more unbelievable tasks the SEALs have completed. To safely perform underwater missions, SEALs have to have the best in scuba, wetsuit and water-safe equipment to perform their jobs. SEALs rely on other items as well, though. According to one of the SEALs who participated on the raid that stopped Bin Laden, there are a number of items that SEALs carry with them almost everywhere, including water bottles, small point-and-shoot cameras, bolt cutters, tourniquets or first-aid supplies, helmets, night vision goggles, body armor, knives and multipurpose tools such as Swiss Army Knives. Although they come in handy for life-saving missions, most of these tools have everyday uses as well and are easy to obtain from stores. Even casual shops like My Gift Stop carry these kinds of useful items.

Whether you’re looking to outfit yourself in some of the most effective equipment in the world or you just want a few collector’s pieces, Navy SEAL gear is top of the line. Simple apparel items augment one’s closet with durable options, while equipment and home decor items are both interesting and educational.