LAPD Fellowship Meeting I met George Aguilar at George Thomas’ Route 66 Restaurant in Canyon Country a few weeks ago where a group of retired local law enforcement officers hold their monthly fellowship meetings. Fellow Vietnam Veteran and ole 9th Infantry Division grunt and nearby neighbor Tony Alba, invited me to speak about our Signal Newspaper’s Veterans Page and The Greatest Generations Foundation’s Vietnam Programs. What a pleasure it was meeting those great Americans. Pacoima Housing Project George C. Aguilar was born September 29, 1956, in a small house near another nearby small house where his father was born in San Fernando, California. George’s mother was a single mom and as George grew up they were evicted from house after house and at times George lived under foster care. His mother managed to finally get her and her children situated in a Pacoima housing project named “San Fernando Valley Gardens” which in truth did not live up to that fashionable moniker. During high school, at age 16, George married Susie Perez who became inadvertently pregnant. George attended San Fernando High School until late 1973 when he left to enlist in the U.S. Army January 16, 1974, but not before earning his GED. The Old Reliables George took Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, during which time he received an emergency leave of absence to travel home for the birth of his first son, George, Jr. Following AIT, George was assigned to 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd/60th Infantry Battalion with the 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington. The heralded 9th I.D., nicknamed the Old Reliables, WWII Campaigns include Algeria-French Morocco, Tunisia, Sicily, Normandy, North France, Rhineland Campaign, Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe. Its Vietnam War exploits were primarily with the Brown Water Navy’s Mobile Riverine Force in the Mekong Delta. The MRF with its partner The Old Reliables is known as one of the USA’s most unique fighting forces. Buck Sergeant E-5 In 1975, George completed high school, earned his HS Diploma and began attending Silicium Community College near Fort Lewis. While serving with the 9th I.D., George participated in jungle training in the Panama Canal Zone and desert training at Yakima Firing Center, Washington. George also participated with the 9th I.D. in 1976’s American Bicentennial Ceremony. In George’s 3rd year of Army duty, he was promoted to Buck Sergeant (E-5) after attending Primary Leadership School and his second son Michael was born. On January 15, 1977, George concluded his Army service due to family responsibilities and was Honorably Discharged. However, he promptly joined the California Army National Guard with Charlie Company, 3rd/144th Field Artillery in Sylmar. Destiny at Work In 1977, George landed a job with General Motors at their Van Nuys, California, plant as a factory trained mechanic where new Chevy Camaros and Pontiac Firebirds were produced. At age 22, George purchased his first home for $38,000 in Sylmar. Every two years GM retooled for their next vehicle design and employees were expected to seek temporary jobs until the factory reopened. When George ran out of places to apply, he noticed that the Fire Department was recruiting at his union hall so he applied. Soon, he received a surprise phone call from the Los Angeles Police Department asking if he was interested in applying, which he was and in 1980 George began attending LAPD’s Academy. George said, “I became a police officer for the next 35 years on a fluke and it was a blessing”. Police Medal for Heroism Following academy graduation, George was assigned to LAPD’s Van Nuys Division and then to South Los Angeles’ 77th Division. In 1984, George was selected as a security officer for the 1984 Olympics. In 1985, George was promoted to Police Officer III as a training officer for newly minted patrol officers; it’s often referenced as OJT (on the job training). Following a heroic act in 1986 pulling sixty senior citizens from a burning building, George was awarded LAPD’s Police Medal for Heroism which is equivalent to the Military’s Silver Star for Valor award. Later, George was assigned to LAPD’s undercover vice unit for 18 months and in 1987 he was selected for security for Pope John Paul II’s visit to Los Angeles. In 1988, George was assigned to West Valley Division, promoted to Senior Lead Officer 3+1 and assigned to take charge of a notorious gang area in the San Fernando Valley. Something Fishy In 1986, while George visited his partner Victor Correa’s home he spotted a photo of Victor’s wife Jeannette with a beautiful friend of hers named Ana Cuevas. Intrigued, George demanded, “Victor, I need to meet her”. With Ana’s permission Victor gave George her phone number and soon he took her to dinner at “Something Fishy” on Ventura Boulevard in Encino, which was their first date over the next three years. On September 9, 1989, George and Ana were married in a military wedding at Canoga Park Elks Lodge. They remain happily married after 29 years and they proudly have one son Robert who attends CSUN with a mechanical engineering major. Youth Mentoring Programs While at the West Valley Division, George developed an Hispanic outreach program named Project Amigo, but with few Spanish speaking officers George positioned himself at key locations where locals could speak to a police officer in a non threatening environment. Youth programs, “At Risk Youth” and “At Risk Teens” were established at community parks and centers for mentoring and promoting sports activities, both intended to lure teenagers away from gang activity. During that time frame, George conducted interviews of local residents in the Los Angeles Spanish media. In 1996, after a great deal of progress was made and gangs were under control, George transferred back to the Van Nuys Division. Proud American On September 11, 2011, George retired from LAPD after 31 years of active duty and became a reserve police officer for another four years. Meanwhile, George had continued his Army National Guard duty with a wide range of responsibilities from an artillery howitzer unit to instructor at the California Military Academy at Camp San Luis Obispo, California. George was promoted to First Sergeant (E-8) before retiring in 2013. George considers himself a “joiner” and has been active in numerous organizations including the Elks Lodge serving as a past Exalted Ruler, Shriners International, American Legion, Moose Lodge, Knights of Columbus, Fraternal Order of Police, etc. George happily reports that his first son, George, Jr., now 44 years old, is a blissfully married man with three wonderful children. George is proud that his son also became an Exalted Ruler as he’s a member of Santa Clarita’s Elks Lodge. George is an avid recreation vehicle camper, and he enjoys classic movies and he’s a micro brewery enthusiast. But most of all, George, an Old Reliable, is mighty proud of his military service and having been an LA Police Officer.