AMBROSIO GUILLEN (1929 ~ 1953). Medal of Honor Recipient Ambrosio Guillen was born on December 7, 1929, in La Junta, Colorado and grew up in El Paso, Texas. He joined the Marine Corps in 1947 and trained at San Diego, California.
After assignment to the Sixth Marines, Guillen was chosen for Sea School and upon graduation served on the USS Curtis. At the end of his tour of sea duty, Guillen became a drill instructor at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. While a drill instructor, Guillen trained two honor platoons and was given a Letter of Appreciation by Major General John T. Walker for his leadership. Guillen was sent to Korea as a Staff Sergeant with Company F, Second Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division.
On the night of July 25, 1953, near Songuchon, Korea, Guillen's platoon was defending an outpost beyond the main Allied lines. Despite enemy fire, Guillen led his platoon over unfamiliar terrain and positioned it to repel an enemy advance. They were then pinned down by enemy forces estimated to be two battalions with heavy mortar and artillery fire. Despite enemy fire, Guillen directed the defenses, and oversaw the evacuation of the wounded. This action rallied his men, who attacked the enemy and engaged in hand-to-hand combat. Guillen was wounded in the course of fighting but refused medical treatment and continued to lead his platoon. He died of his wounds within a few hours. Guillen's courage and leadership during the battle resulted in the victory of his platoon over a numerically superior enemy force. For his actions, Guillen was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
After the July 27, 1953 cease fire agreement which ended the war, Guillen's body was escorted to El Paso by his brother, Ramon Guillen Sr., who served as a private in the U.S. Army. Ambrosio Guillen was buried at Fort Bliss National Cemetery on October 20, 1953. His Medal of Honor was presented to his parents on August 18, 1954, by Secretary of the Navy Charles S. Thomas in his office. His Medal of Honor went missing a few years later, but was recovered by Ramon Guillen, who built a case for it to be displayed at Guillen Junior High, named in honor of his brother. The school is in El Paso, Texas.
According to an article in the Sulphur Springs News-Telegram published on May 31, 2004, Guillen had a son shortly before he departed for Korea. Robert Bruce Moore was born to Georgie Lanora Moore at the Salvation Army Hospital and Home for Unwed Mothers in El Paso on March 6, 1951. However, Georgie Moore was not accepted by the Guillen family after Ambrosio Guillen's death and began a long period of moving from town to town and involvement in abusive relationships. "Bobby" Bruce Moore was given to Doris and Leo Erwin of Sulphur Springs, Texas, who raised the child as Bobby Wayne Erwin. Erwin was confused his whole life by his earliest memories, which involved a military funeral and a medal which his mother pawned.
He joined the Marine Corps, but was not deployed to Vietnam because he was determined to be the sole surviving son of a decorated soldier; Erwin was not provided with the documents which proved his connection to Guillen. After years of research and a reunion with his mother, Erwin determined that he was Guillen's son and contacted Ramon Guillen Jr. The Guillen family listened to Erwin's recollection of the funeral and determined through family photographs that his story was true. Erwin has since worked with the Guillen family to honor his father by setting up a memorial in a La Junta, Colorado museum and attending the opening ceremonies of the Ambrosio Guillen State Veterans Nursing Home in El Paso.
Bibliography: "Above and Beyond: The Medal of Honor in Texas," Capitol Visitors Center, State Preservation Board of Texas. "Ambrosio Guillen Texas State Veterans Home Opens in El Paso," Texas Veterans Online E-Newsletter, Texas Veterans Commission, 2005. Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association, University of Texas, http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/GG/fgudk.html, April 26, 2006. "The Quest," Sulphur Springs News-Telegram, May 31, 2004, http://www.ssnewstelegram.com/news/2004/may/nt0531TheQuest.htm. "Who's Who in Marine Corps History," United States Marines Corps History Division, http://hqinet001.hqmc.usmc.mil/hd/Historical/Whos_Who/Guillen_A.htm, April 26, 2006.