Dave’s Strange and Unusual World

June 20, 2008

Raul “No Bull” Vargas: Eulogizing a True Goodguy

Filed under: Seriously Serious Stuff — dangrdave @ 12:10 am

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It was during the same week that Amber and I found out we were pregnant that I also received the news that Raul “No Bull” Vargas, one of the members of “Team Goodguy,” passed away. Brandon, another member of “Team Goodguy” called me one day to tell me that Raul had been involved in an accident over the Memorial Day weekend and that he had passed away sometime during the next week. I found Raul’s obituary in the El Paso Times.

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I want to now take some time to eulogize my friend and fellow U.S. Army team member, who “slipped into the wind” much too early and before any of us could have ever imagined.

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I met Raul when I was stationed at Fort Bragg ; he arrived one day with his friend, Javier Hinojo. The two had gone through Basic Training and AIT together and were both sent to Fort Bragg directly from the Defense Language Institute (DLI) when the instructors found out that they both already spoke Spanish. Now, most of the soldiers in our unit were Spanish linguists who had spent six months or so on vacation at DLI ( Monterey , California ) learning Spanish, so we used to give Raul a hard time because he missed out on Monterey.

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Raul quickly became a friend and a trusted team member because of his good attitude and his good sense of humor, as well as just being an all-around Goodguy. Raul and his wife Julie used to have the whole team over to their house for cookouts and hangouts; I remember that Raul always had some iced schooners in the freezer, and would always offer his guests a cold beer or a homemade margarita. Raul loved Clint Eastwood’s movies and he always had Aerosmith on the radio – Raul even named his son after the lead singer – Steven Tyler Vargas.

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Raul was deployed to Honduras at one point after a hurricane had devastated some portions of the country. Raul translated for medics and received a commendation for his work. Later, Raul was deployed with Team Goodguy to Fort Huachuca to test the short-lived Ground-Based Common Sensor (GBCS), which looked like Hummer with a telescopic trashcan on top. We all spent days in the sweltering heat, testing the GBCS.

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It was at Fort Huachuca that we developed the Goodguy Standard when it came to meeting a challenge: we had gone to Vinnie’s Pizza and the standard was to eat 20 disgustingly hot buffalo wings, which would earn us a t-shirt and a picture on the “Wall of Flame.” The team later met the challenge back at Fort Bragg when we all did the “rooster,” which entailed eating two separate saltine crackers, topped with an oyster, Tabasco , black pepper, and several other hot things.

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I left the military back in 2000, and Raul hosted my going away party at his house and attended a farewell dinner at a local Thai restaurant. We went our separate ways, but I always knew what Raul was up to.

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Raul moved from Fort Bragg to San Antonio , where he earned his sergeant stripes and became something of a Physical Training (PT) guru. Apparently, the training at Fort Bragg was so intense that when Raul got to San Antonio he was much more fit than the standard soldiers there, and people took notice. After a few years, Raul earned two more promotions and ended up as an E-7 recruiter in Phoenix , Arizona where he “slipped into the wind.”

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I wish that I had maintained better contact with my friend, Raul. I wish that while I was in the military, while we were serving together, I would have been a better witness of my faith. I don’t know if Raul ever had a chance to meet Jesus, and that’s what seems to me to be the saddest part of his passing. I hope someone else had the chance to show Jesus to Raul since our time in the military. I hope Raul had the opportunity to know Jesus.

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We don’t normally think about people our own age, our friends, having untimely accidents and dying, or at least I don’t. It really causes me to think about the witness that I am to my friends. Am I more interested in having a good time with my friends than I am about being a good witness to them? I definitely had fun with a friend like Raul…I just wish that I could have involved my faith a little more back then so that I could know for sure that I did the best thing that a friend could ever do: point a friend to God.

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3 Comments »

  1. Danger Dave – This saddens me greatly! I loved Vargasita like a brother! He was such a good guy! So fun to be around, so mellow, just one heck of a great guy. I found out about his death on Suse’s FB site just now and saw your post. I know its several years later, but I am so terribly sad. I wish I had known sooner. Your write-up is beautiful. I wish I could have said good-bye to him.

    Thanks,
    Carrie

    Comment by Carrie Brandt — January 14, 2010 @ 11:04 pm

  2. True Team Good Guy. Many good memories. Never said my peace. I hope i have a face to face with him. I truly hope i get to see him in heaven.
    Thanks Dave,

    Javier

    Comment by Javier Hinojo — October 16, 2012 @ 12:01 am

  3. To hear of this brings sadness to my heart, he was more than a my leader, mentor, friend, but my brother by heart, we were stationed here in san antonio for a few years, became my best of friends and shared many many lifetime memories. I was looking him up because I wanted to thank him for all that he did for me and how he saved me. My prayers to his family, wife and kids. I know he loved them so much. Until we meet again…my brother. HC

    Comment by Hortencia Carmona — April 6, 2016 @ 7:56 am


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