11 November 2011

My Veterans

By my own admissions, this is intended to be a humor blog. Today, though, I want to take a break to talk about the men in my family who have served this country. This will not include my extended family because, being Hispanic and having married Irish(ish?), we could start our own brigade. I am, however, thankful for their service as well.

Of the veterans in my family, the most important of them, to me, is this one:

My father, Wilfredo Ortiz. He still has that smile.
My wife speaks of the sacrifices veterans and their families make every day. In the case of my parents this was definitely true. My father was drafted into the U.S. Army and chose the route of a medic's assistant. It's otherwise hard to function in the Army as a pacifist. He was young then, as was my mother who married him while she was still a teenager.

His service was long before my birth and even a bit before my older brother's birth. I am thankful for my father, for his service, and for God bringing him home.

Thank you, Dad.

In my mother's family, her two oldest brothers served, both in the U.S. Navy.

My uncle, Boanerges 'Speedy' Gonzalez (d. 10/1987).
Both came home, one still survives today. I am thankful for their service.

My uncle, Moses Gonzalez. He also still has that smile.
My uncle Speedy died when I was seven years old. He was a mixed man, having both very good and very bad qualities. My lasting memory of him, though, was once when I was very young and playing with a ball out back of my grandparents' building. Somehow the ball got stuck deep in a thornbush. My uncle Speedy pulled it out to return to me. I can still remember the scratches on his arms. He was a father of seven.

Thank you, Speedy.

My uncle Moe is a father of three. He is the awesomest stereotypical obnoxious Giants, Yankees, Knicks, Rangers fan, and I love him dearly. Whenever I go to New Jersey to visit family, I always look forward to beating him at dominoes.

Thank you, Moe.

My father was not the only one in his family to serve. It would be amazing in a family of 18 children to be the only one. He was one of five to serve.

Four came home alive.

My uncle Jose did not.
From The Wall:
CPL - E4 - Army - Regular 
173rd Airborne Brigade 

Length of service 0 years
His tour began on Apr 14, 1968
Casualty was on Jul 23, 1968
Body was recovered

Panel 51W - Line 44

He was killed by a landmine. He was 19 years old.

I've thought about the things that I could say about my uncle Jose, but the truth is I never knew him directly. I was only able to observe the influence his loss had on my father's life deep into my own lifetime. Everyone who knew him speaks highly of him.

Thanks to the internet, I have someone else who can speak for me. The following was posted to The Wall on the 41st anniversary of his death by one of Jose's Army brothers.

Michael  McBride
Brother in Vietnam
Hey Jose, just found this site and I wanted to say I miss you Brother. It took me a long time to find out your real name, we all had nicknames, yours was Chico and since I was Irish mine was Mac. I found your real name when I went to the WALL. All I knew was that you and Bobby were hit the same day, Bobby didn't make it either Jose, but the other four did. I loved you my Brother, you and Bobby and Fox will forever be in my memory and not a day goes by that I don't think of you. We had a love for each other that no one can understand...unless they were there...we had each other. I will forever keep you in my memory. 
Aug 14, 2009

I never met Jose, but I am thankful for his service and his sacrifice. I never met Bobby, but I am thankful for his service and his sacrifice. I have not met Fox or Michael McBride, but I am thankful for their service.

Thank you.

Thank you, God, for all my veterans.

1 comment:

  1. To have had that much impact in such a short time.... 3 months of service and he is still remembered.... that is something special.

    Many thanks to your veterans for their service. Public opinion of military service ebbs and flows like a wave, but (despite my own pacifism) I, for one, know their service is still needed and will continue to be for sometime.

    Thank you for honoring them today. Please post on mine, too,