Vicente Rodriguez's DNA
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June 22, 2009 – Vicente Rodriguez was born in the Philippines and after graduating from college in Manila, he was recruited by the United States Navy. He came to San Diego 1974 and went through boot camp at the Naval Training Center. Rodriguez's experience in the Navy took him to the Middle East during the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 and back ten years later during the Persian Gulf War. His enlistment expired on January 21, 1991, the first day of the ground war but he said he felt it was his duty to re-enlist during a wartime condition, "[My enlistment] expired at midnight, so I was discharged by my commanding officer, but after breakfast I re-enlisted," he said. Rodriguez retired in 1996 after attaining the rank of chief petty officer and 22 years of service.
VICENTE RODRIGUEZ (Veteran): I was born in 1950 in a small city south of Luzón in the Philippines, which is Naga City. And I moved to the city of Manila and went to college and worked and ended up being a recruit in the United States Navy. IRIS ENGSTRAND (Editor, The San Diego Journal of History and professor, University of San Diego): Well how were you recruited for the United States Navy? RODRIGUEZ: The process is fairly simple, you send a 6-by-4 inch photo, you put your information behind and you mail it. Then they take the pictures and they send you a letter to come and take the test. And the test consists of written, verbalization, language, and a little it of math. And if you pass that, you go for an interview that same day. ENGSTRAND: Well Vicente, tell me about your first enlistment and where did you go when you first got into the Navy? RODRIGUEZ: Well the trip started from Subic Bay to Clark air base, Yokota air force base, Anchorage, Alaska, and Travis air force base, Treasure Island, and San Diego recruit training command. ENGSTRAND: Were you here in San Diego at the Naval Training Center? RODRIGUEZ: Yes, I was a recruit trained here and I was with company 827. ENGSTRAND: I see that you had some other very interesting experiences. Now which of the wars have you been fighting in our involvement overseas? RODRIGUEZ: The end of Vietnam was the evacuation, but I wasn’t really in the tether, but I was more in the Desert Shield and Desert Storm. That was in the 90s. ENGSTRAND: Your family must have missed you while you were gone, did you keep some letters going home? RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. During those times the only way to communicate is by mail. By phone was quite expensive, so there’s always a lot of letter writing, telling stories, and also giving the news about, especially, when the ship is going back for homecoming. ENGSTRAND: Tell me a little bit about those letters. RODRIGUEZ: I mention a lot about what we do and how the planes are being recovered on the aircraft carriers. Also I mention in my letter at one time that during the first Iranian crisis we were there, and 10 years later we were back for Desert Storm. And that place – the Iranian Gulf, and South Asia – is really a spot that has a lot of turmoil and a lot of life has been lost over there, just to make sure that they would understand freedom and democracy. You know, when the ship is coming back, you know, you’re so excited you write letters. In fact one of the letters indicates if we travel 14 knots, we will be in San Diego in 45 days. That’s how far we go, you know. ENGSTRAND: Well I’m sure you’re very glad, and your family’s glad when you do finally land and the 45 days are over. RODRIGUEZ: And it’s always a great reunion.