Sons of Gudalupe

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Submitted By ricky1863
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The Sons of Guadalupe:

The Vietnam era Generation

And Their Journey Home

Michael R. Ornelas,
Chicano Studies Department
January 24, 2007

A report to the Mesa College Sabbatical Committee in partial fulfillment of sabbatical requirements, Fall, 2006
“Two of the names that appear most often on the wall of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington are Johnson and Rodriguez. These two names tell us something about the composition of the U. S. military during the war, especially the combat units.”
Aztlan and Vietnam: Chicano and Chicana Experiences of the War, George Mariscal, ed. Like all of the other major events of the 20th century, the Vietnam War reached Guadalupe when John Varela arrived there on an early support mission for the advisors to the Vietnamese government in 1963. His visit was brief, perhaps two weeks. He characterized it as a Navy reconnaissance mission. But Varela’s first mission did not involve combat, unlike the first Guadalupan to see combat, Rudy Razo who arrived in July 1965, at a mere eighteen years old, just three months after the first major contingent of 3,500 combat Marines had arrived in Vietnam on March 8, 1965. He had arrived at the earliest stages of the war, when the United States had begun the shift from an advisory role to a combat one. This early trickle of soldiers would shortly turn into a virtual river of draftees and volunteers, peaking in 1968-1969. By the end of 1969, over 135 young servicemen from Guadalupe had been drafted or joined voluntarily. From Varela’s mission in 1963 to the fall of Saigon in 1975, to the rescue of the crew of the S.S. Mayagüez, they were there. Varela had joined the Navy at the age of 17, in between his junior and senior years in high school, along with two other young Guadalupans: Clifford Sanchez and Sal Zubiate. Trained as a radioman, Varela was aboard the USS Providence,…...

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