Alive and Well

David Ortega Sr.
San Pedro, California

 David Ortega on Shakey's Hill in Cambodia in Mar, 1970

This is me with my youngest son, Juan Carlos and my
eldest son, David Jr. at my daughter Victoria's wedding. David, standing, is the owner of the tennis shoe that I carried with me while in the field, either on my ruck or my weapon. David was 2 1/2 years old when I left for Vietnam.
My 9 year military career began at Fort Ord, California on February 27, 1969 with me being yelled at loudly by a very determined Drill Instructor and ended there as well in February of 1978 with me, a very determined Drill Instructor, yelling at some recruit.

It is a fact that Drill Instructors make and break people. They place so much stress on individuals to perform above what they think they can do, that new characters are developed. Lazy, egotistical head cases, and mommas boys are developed into stronger individuals. Individuals that can lead by example. Individuals that can arise to the occasion in the heat of battle. I have some good memories of my 7 years as a DI and realize that never again will I ever experience anything that even comes close to what it was to be a DI in Basic Training during the "Vietnam" years.

However, my expierience in Vietnam in Recon, E Co., 5/60, was altogether different for several reasons. I don't dream of my DI days, but I do dream about Vietnam. I have never sought out any of my fellow DIs but I do seek my comrads in arms from Recon. I remember some of my DI peers as how they left an impression in my mind, but the memory of my brothers from Recon are burned into my soul and is very much a part of who and what I am. Not for any other reason than Vietnam changed me and my "combat" friends are part of that change.

David Ortega
(760) 672-2826 - Cell

James Wagner Sr.
Grand Island, New York

 Jim Wagner in Cambodia (Mar 1970)

Jim Wagner in Grand Island, New York with his Family
at his parents 50th Wedding Anniversary

I first met Jim after my return to the Recon Platoon from a Hawaiian R&R in February of 1970. We served together for about 6 months. I recently made contact with him and am glad to announce that Jim is doing just fine. I found Jim's e-mail address on Leon Baldwin's 9th Infantry Division Web Page.

There is a "Roll Call" page in which visitors can leave their e-mail addresses.  I didn't recognize Jim's name but I sent out e-mails to quite a few of the names listed under 5th Bn, 60th Inf., including him. It was a "boilerplate" e-mail indicating my service senario with the implication that perhaps we had served together. Jim Wagner was the first to answer. Clifford Deane was the second.

I was somewhat stunned that I would locate two people that I knew 30 years ago so quickly. I was so stunned, in fact, that I wasn't able to respond to their e-mails for over a month. I eventually did. I built this Web Site in the meantime because I felt that I had so much to say that a Web Site would be an appropriate way to do that.

Clifford F. Deane
Meriden, Conneticut

Sgt. Clifford F. Deane with Tiger Scout Sum
in background in Ben Luc in 1969.
Clifford F. Deane with his wife, Susan, and sons
Matthew and Zachary in 1998.
Along with being one of the first of the guys that I have made contact with, I was totally taken by surprise one Sunday when I received a call from Clifford Deane. I know that I paused for a moment after he told me who he was. It seemed to me that the amount of time that I paused was excessive. I didn't know what to say.

When I finally accepted that I was talking to "Sgt. Deane", I asked him how he was. He sort of chuckled and said, "I'm 50 years old and I'm alive". That seemed to be an appropriate term for this page (we'll just leave off the 50 part, OK?).

My relationship with Clifford was typical of that between a PFC or SP4 and a Sgt. But without a doubt, Clifford is a big part of my Vietnam experience. He's been very helpful in "kick starting" my memory bank with forgotten names and places. He also made available to me a photo of Sgt. John McLellan which has been posted on the Memorial Page. Thanks, Clifford, and I hope to have alot more communication with you.

Thomas Mills

Broken Bow, Nebraska

Thomas Mills in 1969 with the "Raider Platoon"
L to R: Tom Mills, his wife Joy, Melissa Mills, Neil Mills, Jennie Mills, and Brent Smith             

Tom and I arrived together in Vietnam and I took a liking to him right away. He was a typical mid-western clean-cut guy from Ansley, Nebraska. For some reason, I always remembered the name of his hometown. As a matter of fact, after not having any conract from him in over 39 years, in January of 2008, I received a call from him. To verify that it was the Tom that I remember, I asked him if he's the one from "Ansley, Nebraska". Tom is currently in Broken Bow, Nebraska, just a hop, skip and a jump from Ansley.

Glenn Blunk
Fort Dodge, Iowa

Glen Blunk somewhere in Long An Province with
 a captured AK-47Rach Kien in 1969.

Glen Blunk at home next to "Mickey's" Tree
What can I say about good ‘ol Blunk? He was a real nice guy and I’ll remember him forever. He and I (along with a lot of others) were awarded an Army Commendation with “V” Device for some overnight activity on the night of Dec. 23, 1969. I din't have a clean shirt for trhe award ceremony so Blunk let me use one of his. During the award ceremony, Blunk was standing to my right. Blunk's name was announced and the General pinned his medal on him. When the General got to me he was a bit confused because the name that was announced was “David Ortega” but the name tag on my uniform said “Blunk”.  The General stated that: It might have been the wrong name but at least it's clean. Thanks again, Blunk.

    I guess I’ve always been a little impatient. One day when everyone lined up at the edge of a canal to board sampans to cross the canal, I thought I’d take a little short cut to an empty sampan. I ended up stuck belly button deep in the mud. This really concerned (scared) me because I was carrying the radio and it seemed that all of my struggling and extra weight was sinking me deeper and deeper. I had visions of choppers with hooks having to be called in to extract me from the mud. But who's that I see in the distance? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It’s Blunk! Blunk went in after me by following my short trail in the mud. When he caught up with me, he helped me lift one leg and pushed me from behind forcing me to take a step toward the sampan. Once I took the step, I reached back and pulled him toward me again. We repeated this process until we reached the sampan and were both pulled out. Thanks again, Blunk!  Glen is currently in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Today, February 4, 2008, I received the images seen here of Glen. Prior to Glen sending them he explained that the image of him standing by the tree is of special significance as how Glen planted that tree about 15 to 18 years ago in memory of Micky Alexander. Mickey was in our platoon and was killed in action on October 21, 1969. Glen was holding Mickey when he died.

Stanley Seroka
Abingdon, Illonois

Stanley Seroka in Rach Kien in 1969.
Stanley Seroka in Washington DC on
May 22, 2007.
Seroka was one of my friends from day one. We arrived in country at the same time. The thing that I remember most about him was that he was "The King of the Polish Joke". He (being Polish) had a good one for just about any situation, occasion or circumstance that you could think of. I laughed alot with him. Stanley is currently in Abingdon, Illonois.

Stanley Patterson
DuQuoin, Illonois

SSG Stanley Patterson receives the
Silver Star for his actions on the evening
 of December 23, 1969.
SSG Stanley Patterson receives the
Silver Star for his actions on the evening
 of December 23, 1969.
It seems like just last month, SSG. Patterson, stood in front of a group of 13 FNGs (I was one of them) and explained the expectations of the Recon Platoon of its members and the immediate re-assignment to a line company for those who blew it. He then painted a very dreary picture of what we could expect if we were in a line company as opposed to the advantages of being in a small group of men whose sole mission in life was to survive the year by carrying out their duties in a deliberate and thoughtful manner.

SSG Patterson is a tall, red-headed figure of a man who was injured on the evening of December 23, 1969. We spent the entire night in the water and behind dikes. I also remember that some of our newer people were at Cu Chi being entertained by Bob Hope, so we were not at full strength. Traditionally, it was the short timers that were sent to see Bob Hope but in our case we decided to let the new guys go as how they had a whole year to go. Stanley was awarded the Silver Star for his actions that night.

I was one of those that was detailed to retrieve the ammo re-supply that a chopper brought in to us that night. Although our CO, CPT Isler, (of Mickey Alexander fame) could not be with us that night, he was brave enough to ride in that re-supply chopper to “over-see” the delivery. I saw him in the chopper, both hands holding on to his boonie hat, kicking out the cases of ammo. And as quickly as he arrived, he departed. I seem to recall that there was some dissatisfaction with the re-supply as how it was ball ammunition and Recon used 100% tracers. I also understand that CPT Isler recommended himself for a Silver Star (maybe bronze) for his actions that night. I also heard that it was rejected. I’m not sure if my memory is fading or I am repeating rumors, but either way, it makes for good conversation.

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