LOS ANGELES – As deaths due to COVID-19 surpass half a million in the United States, it’s difficult to find someone not personally affected by the pervasive contagion. Daughters lost fathers, brothers lost sisters, and entire families have been destroyed by this pandemic.
For one California National Guard Soldier working at the vaccination center at California State Los Angeles, the mission was personal.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Larry Guillen, a fire support specialist with the 40th Infantry Division, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, was born and raised in Los Angeles. Supporting the vaccination site while in uniform meant more than making a difference in his community; it was a tribute to his mother, Alejandra Guillen Osuna.
On Jan. 25, at the age of 86, Guillen lost his mother to COVID-19.
Not far from the Cal State LA site where Guillen has been working for two months is the home where Guillen Osuna and her husband, Antonio, raised their seven children – a constant reminder of what he has lost.
Guillen believes that working the Cal State LA vaccination mission is not only a way to serve his community but to honor his mother’s memory. Each person that passes through the site is one less person at risk.
Serving the community where he grew up is one of the highest honors he has achieved as a service member, Guillen said.
“It gives me a sense of peace in knowing that if we’re able to help one person, they will not have to go through what I went through,” Guillen said. “It’s a cycle of not just death; it’s a cycle of opportunity and life.”