This episode is a continuation of a look at the Vietnam Veteran interviews done as part of the Wyoming Welcome Home Program being run in conjunction with the Wyoming Vietnam Veterans association and the DoD 50 Year Commemoration of the Vietnam War. John Valdez of Casper, Wyoming is the featured Vietnam Veteran in this episode. His story was featured in The Casper Star Tribune article titled: Sgt. E-5 John Valdez, Casper submitted by Christina Schmidt.
Valdez is another wonderful representative of the great Vietnam Veteran Generation. He was drafted into the Army in 1967 and attended basic training and advanced individual training at Fort Bliss, Texas. He performed well enough during basic training and AIT he was sent to Fort Benning to serve as a drill instructor. He quickly grew tired of training soldiers with a war going on so he requested a transfer to Vietnam and at the age of 21. In January of 1968 He arrived in Vietnam and was assigned to A Battery, 4th Battalion, 60th Artillery, Air Defense, at Chu Lai on the South China Sea. A few days later, the Tet Offensive began.
His unit was equipped with “Dusters.” They were potent air defense weapons that were armed with two 40 mm anti-aircraft guns. Since the threat of attacks by North Vietnamese, Chinese or Russian aircraft never materialized the Dusters were used for other fire support missions. These included covering mine clearing operations, road and bridge support, convoy support and support infantry ground operations.
On Sept. 13, 1968, on his 22nd birthday, Valdez was promoted to sergeant and became a the commander of his Duster and its Duster’s crew. He survived his tour in Vietnam and came home to Casper where He worked for Amoco for 17 years and for the Casper City Utilities for 18 years.