“The Army took me everywhere I wanted to go.” – Roberto Molinary
Photo courtesy of Roberto Molinary
Roberto at his house in 2017 with all of his military medals that he earned over his career in the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army.
Where in the World is Roberto Molinary
After leaving his job at the hotel in Puerto Rico, Roberto joined the U.S. Army. He left Puerto Rico to find a job because his choices and opportunities were limited. Joining the military was the easiest way of getting off the island since his two other jobs were not what he wanted to be doing. While in the Army, Roberto traveled all over the world. He started base training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. He was then assigned to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for tank training. He then went to Fort Hood, Texas. He was in Fort Hood from the beginning of 1962 through the Cuban Missile Crisis. In mid-1963 he was assigned to Hawaii. From Hawaii he went to Vietnam for the first time in 1964. After his first time in Vietnam, he went back to Puerto Rico to marry Zita (see the Childhood, Family, & Friends page to learn how he met his wife). Together, they then went to Hawaii. In 1966, he went back to Vietnam and stayed until 1967. He then was assigned to upstate New York. After that, Roberto was assigned to a military base in Germany. He stayed there for three years. Roberto was then assigned back to Fort Knox, Kentucky, again. He stayed there for three years as an Army instructor. Roberto then went back to Germany for another three years to the same military base. Finally, he was assigned to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, in 1975 as an instructor of race relations and equal opportunity in human resources.
Roberto spent a significant amount of time in Vietnam. On the way to Vietnam the first time, he stopped at Pearl Harbor in 1966 to pick up the equipment he needed and then sailed to Vietnam on a navy boat. He camped in Saigon for a little while. They got the unit completely ready and then convoyed to base camp in Cuchi, Vietnam. He stayed in and operated tanks in Vietnam from January to August of 1966. He transferred to working in helicopters because there was a great need. For the first time since his days in the U.S. Air Force, Roberto flew helicopters. He flew a helicopter and was a door gunner, a person who fired a gun from a helicopter, until February of 1967 in Vietnam. A picture of his helicopter, Patches, is in the video below. Over time, his helicopter picked up a few bullet holes in every place that he went but no scratches. During his last mission, he was flying in Cambodia and his helicopter got shot up to pieces, but his unit managed to make it back to Vietnam. They called in another unit to sling load the helicopter back to the base camp. His commander told him not to fly again because of the state of his helicopter, so Roberto took the wings off his uniform and handed them to his commander and said that was his last flight. He already had his orders to leave for the States, and he was not going to get back into the helicopter again period.
Roberto was deeply moved by being chosen for an Honor Flight to Washington D.C. in the Fall of 2017: Click on the link to hear more.
Video courtesy of Fox 46 News; Original Source of this video: https://www.facebook.com/DianaAlvearFOX46/videos/1435375719850766/
Click on the link below to hear more about how Roberto ended up as a door gunner in Vietnam.
After Vietnam, Roberto was primarily stationed in New York, but escorted nuclear warheads to various places around the United States. He did that until 1968 when he went back to the same military base in Germany and operated tanks for another three years. Following that, in Fort Knox, Kentucky, he was a tank instructor and repairman. Every place he went to after that he was in an instructor position. Roberto loved that because he enjoyed helping people and talking: “I can talk all day long. I miss not being in front of a group.” – Roberto Molinary
Roberto loved sharing his knowledge with people. In fact, during most of his military career he was in an instructor position. He retired from the military after 30 years on and off.
Click on the link below to hear Roberto reminiscing about his military career in general.
All four photos courtesy of Roberto Molinary
First photo: Roberto in his U.S. Army uniform in March 1954. Second photo: Roberto in his Army uniform in the 1970s. Third photo: Roberto in his Army uniform in the 1970s. Fourth photo: Roberto in his Army uniform in January 1980.