Cal Farley’s will honor Boys Ranch alumnus Army Spc. Rafael “T.J.” Carrillo, Jr. at a 10:30 a.m. dedication ceremony Saturday, June 24, at Boys Ranch Cemetery. A bronze sculpture will be unveiled commemorating Carrillo and other Cal Farley’s alumni who give their lives in the service of their country.
“We’re proud to honor T.J. and so many others who’ve sacrificed so much for our nation,” said Cal Farley’s President & CEO Dan Adams. “It was important to T.J. to make life better for the children of Iraq, just as Cal Farley’s improves the lives of young people like him from across the United States.”
During the Austin, Texas, native’s five years at Boys Ranch, Carrillo played football, wrestled and was active in the chapel program. He graduated from Boys Ranch High School in 2002, before enlisting in the Army that August. He died June 28, 2005, killed by an apparent improvised explosive device while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Carrillo was assigned to HHC 1-64 Battalion, 2nd Brigade Team, 3rd Infantry Division, mortar platoon, in which he served as an M1114 armored Humvee gunner. On the day of his death, Carrillo was conducting an area-security mission at a road junction in Baghdad, Iraq. He was 21 years old.
The Army posthumously awarded Carrillo the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
The 6,000-pound sculpture to be unveiled Saturday is the work of Clint Howard, owner of Deep in the Heart Foundry in Bastrop, Texas. It is based upon a photo taken of Carrillo by one of his fellow soldiers. It depicts Carrillo kneeling beside an Iraqi boy. Both Carrillo and the boy are displaying a “thumbs up” gesture. In a conversation with his mother, Amy Tippie, the Friday before he was killed, Carrillo discussed the boy in the photo and why his service in Iraq mattered so much to him.
“Mama, he’s just a huge example of why we’re here,” Carrillo is quoted as saying to his mother in a 2005 Austin American-Statesman report. “We’re going to make life better for these children.”