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Texas National Guard Counterdrug Soldier to lead Civil Operations


Spc. Samuel Villa-Smith looked on to Lake Meredith in the small town of Fritch, Texas, just 36 miles north of Amarillo, with a pensive gaze. He clutched the only photo he had left of him and his father, who died from an overdose in 2016.

Villa-Smith smiled and shared some of the only good memories he had of his father before he left his family when he was nine years old.

“My father taught me everything I know about fishing and camping at this exact spot,” Villa-Smith said. “The last time I was here with him I was seven years old and found a Native American spearhead. My father had us turn it into the museum because it was the right thing to do. Memories like that remind me that he was a good man, he was just overcome by his addiction.”

Villa-Smith, a Soldier with the 1st Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment, was recently chosen to lead Civil Operations in the Texas Panhandle region with the Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force.

The Panhandle, slightly larger than the size of West Virginia, is a region rich in oil fields, agriculture and wind turbines, nestled among miles and miles of plains and geological formations like the Palo Duro Canyon.

For natives like Villa-Smith, the region is also known as a high intensity drug trafficking area.

In 2015, Amarillo was one of the four top 25 cities in the U.S. for opioid abuse, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

The Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Clandestine Laboratory Register identified that three of the top 11 counties in Texas with meth labs were in the Panhandle. Read more

Read also: AF leadership provides update on the Air Force Publication Reduction Initiative

Texas National Guard Counterdrug Soldier to lead Civil Operations