Veteran's death shines light on his life of service

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It's been said the true measure of a man, is not how he died, but how he lived.

In Hector Vila's death came a reflection of his life, driven by service to country.

“He served I think all of his life because he always loved his country,” said Martha Vila, Hector's wife.

Vila was one of seven brothers who went off to war, spanning from World War II to the Gulf War Conflict.

All returned home.

“We had three Marines, two Navy, and two Army,” said Tony Vila and Denio Vila, the last two surviving brothers.

Hector was a machine gun loader in the Korean War and took part in the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir.

“Inside of them, there must have been such a great love for their country," Martha said.

Hector’s other great love was his wife. He and Martha were just hours short of their 67th wedding anniversary when he passed away Christmas Eve.

“We started with nothing, and I think we ended up the richest people we could be,” Martha said.

Rich in love only a family can provide. The two had two children, and six grandchildren, and thirteen great-grandchildren.

But Hector's wish was to teach the next generation about service at Vila Brothers Park.

"He wanted to pass that on, it was his dream to the children and grandchildren, great-grandchildren," Martha said.

Tampa dedicated the park on North Armenia Avenue in 2005, but recently the city approved $300,000 for a red, white, and blue-themed park.

"Just to teach those children and grandchildren that there is a country they live in, which is the greatest country, and just remind everybody when they go by the park, that it's our country," said Martha.

It's a fitting legacy for a patriot and a band of brothers whose service will never be forgotten.