Texas Army ROTC
Texas Army ROTC

Captain Orlando A. Bonilla

CPT Bonilla

Captain Orlando Bonilla was born in 1977 at Fort McClennan, Alabama. He was a graduate from Ellison High School in Killeen, Texas and received a commission in Aviation in December of 1999. Following the Aviation Officer's Basic Course and the Rotary Aviator Course, he was assigned to E Troop, 1st Squadron, 7th United States Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division where he served as an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior Platoon Leader and subsequently as the Executive Officer for F Troop, 1st Squadron, 7th United States Cavalry.

His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star (posthumous), the Air Medal (posthumous), three Army Achievement Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, and the Army Aviator Badge.

Captain Bonilla was killed in action on 28 January 2005 southeast of Baghdad while conducting aggressive low level reconnaissance in support of ground troops in contact. After receiving a call from a convoy that had been struck by an Improvised Explosive Device, CPT Bonilla and his team of OH58D Kiowa Warriors from E Troop 1-7 Cavalry responded without hesitation. As they maneuvered to the scene, CPT Bonilla's aircraft struck a set of high tension wires and fell to the earth. Despite every effort by his wingman, CPT Bonilla and his Co-Pilot CW2 CJ Jones died in the ensuing crash.

CPT Bonilla's mission on January 28th was part of a year long effort by the more than 15,000 soldiers of the first cavalry Division to set the conditions for the first free election in Iraq in more than two generations. The countless hours flown by CPT Bonilla and the troopers of Task Force 1-227th Aviation Regiment directly contributed to successful elections less than forty-eight hours after CPT Bonilla's death.

CPT Bonilla is survived by his parents Jose A. and Marta Bonilla and his wife Tabitha.

The Cadre and Cadets of the University of Texas at Austin Army ROTC program dedicate CLA room 5.410 in honor of his service and sacrifice, and in the memory of a "Texas EX."

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