Left: Manuel Diaz in Class A uniform; right: Manuel Diaz will be honored during
the Veteran's Breakfast Monday, November 9.
By ROSELYNN YAZZIE
FORT HALL — Manuel Diaz will be honored during the Annual Veteran’s Breakfast on Saturday, November 9 for his years of service to the U.S. Army.
Diaz decided to join because he was expelled from school. He didn’t want to tell his mom, so he went with his friend to enlist. His friend didn’t make the test and he did, so he enlisted on October 22, 1959 and served three years.
He had several members of his family who were also in the military and were stationed and fought all over the world.
He did his basic training at Fort Ord, did basic armor at Fort Knox, and was at Fort Dix until a ship was loaded and he was sent to west Germany, near Frankfurt.
He was in the A Troop 3rd Squadron of the 12th Calvary, 3rd Armored Division of the 7th Army. His tour was supposed to be for 18 months, but the Berlin Crisis started up and President Kennedy declared all unmarried men to stay there 20 days prior to separation from the Army. He ended up staying for 30 months.
Diaz was ranked an E-3 Private First Class. He was a tank crewman and did maintenance on the tanks.
He had the experience of visiting countries he thought he’d never see besides in books and shows.
“To learn those people’s culture was kind of fascinating,” he said.
He went to England, a place that was a little harder to get used to than he thought. He also went to Holland, Amsterdam, place he enjoyed for their scenery with the canals running through the cities, it reminded him of San Antonio, Texas. He then went to Belgium where he visited old castles. He recalled while in Germany he saw the death camps the Jewish people were forced to, as well as mass graves.
Once he was finished he came home and hung around for a bit. He made plans to join the Marine Corps in 1964 but was celebrating his last days home and got into a fight and broke his hand. He never went back.
When he got back he went to work for the railroad and the union. He said his experience in the military helped him with his work after, especially since he got his GED, while he was on leave.
Diaz said the Army was a good experience for him when he was young, even though he got a little homesick when his mom and brother would write.
He’s surprised to be selected as an honoree but said he felt good about it. He’s glad he still has his health and enjoys to spend time with family.