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Brownwood native, Marine killed in Iraq honored with special portrait

By Shenna Stout, sstout@ktxs.com
Published On: Dec 18 2012 09:00:51 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 19 2012 12:03:33 PM CST
BROWNWOOD, Texas -

A 2003 Brownwood High School graduate was honored Tuesday.

20-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Mario Castillo was killed in the line of duty June 10, 2005.

Castillo was serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and died in an explosion.

The American Fallen Soldiers Project presented an original portrait of Castillo to his family.

Tuesday, artist and founder Phil Taylor unveiled his portrait.

"Here he is, Lance Corporal Mario Castillo," said Taylor.

An emotional ceremony gave a family closure Tuesday afternoon.

"Mario was close casket, so she never got to see him, never got to touch him, say goodbye, verify he was in the box, so the portrait is the first time they can see him whole, alive, and real in a very bold and big way," said Taylor.

Phil Taylor, the artist and founder of The American Fallen Soldiers Project, started the organization after losing a close friend in 2006 who died while serving our country.

"Wherever I am, like today in Brownwood, pull that Marine from the box, see a mom press her face against his; there's something about that restoration, that moment that empowers me to go back and go through it all over again," said Taylor.

Raul Castillo is Mario's older brother and was taken back when he saw the portrait of his younger brother revealed.

"The best Christmas present you could ask for really. I got that wall set aside and he'll be with me all the time. You know, just a lot of love, a lot of love really," said Raul Castillo.

Phil Taylor paints about 36 portraits each year.

He has painted about 165 in the last six years.

The American Fallen Soldiers Project's website is http://www.americanfallensoldiers.com. Or you can call 214-387-7769 for additional information or to request a portrait.