Mr. Cedillos served as a paratrooper in the United States Army's famed 82nd Airborne Division. As a member of the elite 2nd Brigade Combat Team, he specialized in heavy weapons infantry, including assignments instructing survival and escape/evasion tactics. Carrying up to 160 pounds of weapons and equipment, Mr. Cedillos regularly made both day and night jumps from a variety of military aircraft, including the C-141 Star-Lifter Jet, C-130 Hercules, CV-2 Caribou fixed wing and the HU-1A helicopter.
During his service years, the standing operational mission for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team/325th Airborne Infantry Regiment was to be ready to “deploy worldwide within 18 hours of notification, execute parachute assaults and conduct combat operations.” This included preparedness to conduct forcible entries to seize defended airfields, build up combat power as quickly as possible and conduct follow-on military operations.
Cedillos spent approximately one-third of his time with the 82nd Airborne in the “full mission” cycle. No other large military unit responds more rapidly and effectively to conflicts anywhere in the world than the 82nd Airborne Division. Known as "America's Guard of Honor," the 82nd is widely recognized as one of the most powerful units in America's military machine.
The designated role of an airborne division is to plan, coordinate, and execute rapid, combined-arms and forced-entry operations -- employed either alone or as part of a joint task force across the depth and width of the battlefield. The airborne division was unique at the time in its ability to be deployed by parachute to achieve these objectives. The 82nd is located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, one of the largest military complexes in the world. Fort Bragg hosts America's only airborne corps and the Psychological Warfare Center (now U.S. Army Special Operations Command). The 82nd Airborne Division soldiers, along with those of other units, make over 100,000 parachute jumps each year at Fort Bragg.
Mr. Cedillos participated with his unit in the historic deployment of federal troops to Washington D.C., the largest such deployment in an American city since the Civil War, to quell the riots after the Washington D.C. police and National Guard were overrun by rioters four blocks from the White House after Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. Civil rights activist Sterling Tucker recently recalled for CNN about that moment in history; "The sky was filled with flames and smoke. And it seemed like the whole world was on fire." It was that experience while a member of the 82nd Airborne Division that served as the catalyst for Mr. Cedillos’ interest in philanthropic efforts on behalf of inner city youth.