Ramón Ramos Vélez

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UNCLE –

I interviewed my uncle Wilfredo del Río Vélez. I decided to interview him because I wanted to get to know him a little bit better because I don’t spend much time with him and he is always trying to tell me stories about the past.  I have never made an effort to do it.  I know that he has great stories to tell because I know he went to the war in Vietnam.  So with  this theme, I started to ask him questions.  He  told me pretty much everything he remembers since he first got the letter from the army asking him to go to Buchanan and take a test to see if he could enlist in the army.  He almost got a perfect in every test.

Right away he was sent to training in the United States.  He spent 3 months in the training and then left for Vietnam.  In Vietnam his post was combat engineer, to be more specific he checked the fields to see if there were bombs and detonated them with C4 explosives.  When he first got there ,  the first thing he saw when he exited  the airplane was another soldier with a missing leg spilling blood all over the floor.  Since he saw that he says he started praying until the day he left the war.  Another job he did was patrolling the night and in the ambush campaign.  The nights that he worked in the ambush he says that those were the worst nights in his life, since he remembers killing a lot of Vietnamese.  He remembers that almost 25% of the soldiers were Puertoricans .  They were the bravest according to him because many times the Americans backed down and the Puertoricans never surrendered.  Another thing he said laughing was that everyone that went to the Vietnam War smoked a lot of marijuana.  He says that it was very cheap and almost everyone smoked it.  The good things that he got out of the experience of the war was learning to be alone, to fear nothing and learning how to survive.  The bad things were that he got a lot of health problems. One thing that he made clear was that if he were healthy and was younger he would definitely go to war again if the country needed him.

The experience of dedicating a few hours to just asking a question and getting a long story for an answer seemed different because nowadays when you ask any  question to someone they just answer briefly  and don’t give that much details.  I think that he transported himself  and me to the past when the war was happening.  He remembers all those stories and telling them can make anyone cry, even he started crying.  By dedicating time to him I realized that we should dedicate more time to those people that have lived a long time  and have so many things to tell because you can learn about history and about their lives.

INTERVIEW WITH WILFREDO DEL RIO VELEZ

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