Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Still fighting the battle

Ethan Ortiz
“Green Beret veteran Hank Delgado takes questions from students. Delgado spoke in the Science lecture hall about his experience in the Vietnam War” Photo credit: Ethan Ortiz

Hank Delgado, a Green Beret veteran, went back through the trenches to share his emotional experience in the Vietnam War.

History instructor John Haas held this open forum on Tuesday, Nov. 3 in the science building that filled up the lecture hall.

Haas brought in the last soldier living from his original team to share his story and to hear a personal perspective about the war.

“I pride myself in learning all kind of perspectives and views,” said Haas.

Delgado spoke about his journey to get to being a Green Beret.

He joined the military when he was 18 in Nov. 1962.

A big reason he wanted to join was because he wanted to be better than his biological father who he met when he was 17 years old.

Other reasons he joined the army was because he wanted to stop the war.

He began in Fort Benning for basic training and went on to Fort Bragg.

He got swamp training in Key West and was traumatized in Panama when he got bit by a tarantula that put him to sleep, before waking up in a hospital two days later.

In 1965, Delgado got called to go to Vietnam and join the battle.

He remembered once arriving that he heard The Beatles playing “A Hard Day’s Night,” and it turned out being a Vietnamese band that spoke no English and only learned the songs they needed to play.

After some laughs, things turned serious and more emotional for the veteran as he described a mission that happened on Dec. 22, 50 years ago this year.

He, along with 17 others, were trying to communicate with the C.I.A.

Another boat kept interfering with the transmission and Delgado and a few others part of the team went to blow up the boat.

Once they began to return to land, the soldiers were attacked by spider traps, traps that opened with machine guns firing.

Delgado got emotional and continued after a pause.

He revealed that nine out of the 18 lost their lives, and that a soldier lost both his legs and left arm.

“He asked me to scratch his leg because he couldn’t reach it, and I did, finding out he no longer had them,” he said.

More enemies approached and he ultimately shot and killed two men.

“Something I’m not proud of today, but was back then was, killing,” he said after describing choking a man that had ambushed the soldiers.

After going through a few more stories, Delgado spoke about his postwar life.

He explained he got spat on when he returned to the states by college students protesting the war, and how he got his official welcoming back in 1988 after speaking in front of his daughter’s college class, getting a standing ovation.

The veteran still experiences nightmares about killing and continues to see a mental health specialist, once a month.

Questions were then taken and answered, including Delgado believing they had won the battles, but lost the war due to politics getting involved.

“I know that if I weren’t psychologically ready or physically ready, i would not be here talking to you,” he said.

The forum ended with the Green Beret veteran getting a round of applause.

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About the Contributor
Ethan Ortiz, Editor in Chief
Hi! My name is Ethan and I am serving as the Editor-In-Chief for the Fall 2016 semester. I am a journalism major and love to write stories for the newspaper. In addition to writing hard hitting news, I like to create fictional stories on the side. I am co-hosting a radio show on WPMD at Cerritos College called "Beyond the Ropes" happening Wednesday at 11am. I like to listen different music, mostly Rock/Alternative and some of my favorite bands are Silversun Pickups, Cage the Elephant, and Metallica. If you want to know more about me feel free to tweet me at @EthanEnvy95.
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Still fighting the battle