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"It’s been said that there's nothing more exhilarating than being shot at and missed." (Video Interview, 30:02)

   Hector Rafael Ponton
Collection image
Hector Ponton [2003]
War: Cold War; Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Army
Unit: National Guard; 3rd Armored Rifle Battalion, 51st Infantry; V Corps; 2nd Battle Group, 39th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division; 3rd Battalion, 13th Regiment, 9th Vietnamese Infantry Division, Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG), Vietnam; 2nd Bn, 503rd Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade; G3, 7th Infantry Division; 7th Army
Service Location: Germany; Washington; Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia; Fort Polk, Louisiana; Nicaragua; Denver, Colorado; Far East; Korea; South America; Middle East; also: Vietnam
Rank: Colonel; Corporal
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Hector R. Ponton joined the Puerto Rico Army National Guard at age fifteen in order to attend their summer camp with his friends. Little did he know that he would spend the next thirty-six years of his life serving with the US Army, deploying to Berlin, when the Wall was being built; to Vietnam for two tours of duty; to the volatile Military Demarcation Line between North and South Korea; and to Nicaragua, when the Sandinista National Liberation Front overthrew the Somoza regime. In Vietnam while still in his late twenties, he served as an advisor to a South Vietnamese infantry battalion; seven years later, his duties were in operations, administration, and logistics. Ponton ended his long military career as the US Army representative in the faculty at Inter-American Defense College in Washington, DC, having learned to advise and command at increasingly higher levels while still holding sentimental feelings for his troops.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (6 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (40 min.)
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (6 items)
Training to be a U.S. Army advisor to a South Vietnamese infantry battalion and the responsibilities the job entailed. (02:16) Personal assessment of the weaknesses of the South Vietnamese troops. (02:39) First tour of duty; experience of existing on Vietnamese food while living with the 3rd Battalion, 13th Regiment, 9th Vietnamese Infantry Division. (04:06)
Manning the Military Demarcation Line between North and South Korea in 1966, fully prepared for war. (02:02) Facing unknown dangers on his second tour of duty in Vietnam; dealing with casualties. (03:04) Frightening experience of being assigned to pick up the commanders of both the Nicaraguan armed forces and the rebel forces for a transfer of power meeting in Costa Rica. (05:45)

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  October 26, 2011
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