Interview with Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Robert E. Chisolm Conducted by Darrell G. Mond
The one thing I wanted Darrell G. Mond
to ask you, I mean you served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. What does Memorial Day mean to you?
Well in Memorial Day, we are honoring those in our military that have served and especially those that served our country and were casualties and never returned home. With you being in combat in all these different units a lot of your friends that fought beside you are no longer with us. How do you feel about those guys? Do you miss them and do you think about them? I miss them and I think of them every day; especially my good friend Angel Romero, a native El Pasoan that served with me in the 508. He was with G-Company in the 508 and I was with the I-Company in the 508. We served in the same battalion and we knew each other while we were in combat. You were in I-company? Yes, I was I-Company and he (Angel) was in G-Company. We knew each other in training at Camp McCall. He was initially one of the original one of the 508 and I had joined the 508 as a replacement; at that time I was a communicator. After I had gone to parachute school, they held us there. I was an instructor in parachute school communication division. When the 508 came up the June 2019
personnel that they held at the parachute school communications school went into the 508 as their communication personnel, so that is the way I joined the 508. But Angel was one of the original that went to the camp landing training with the 508, when I came to El Paso, we were going to form this chapter. That was in 1955 and we put out an article in the newsletter, that if you were in the airborne interested in forming a chapter/association to be at this meeting and Angel turned up. Neither one knew that the other was here and that Angel was a na- Bob pictured as a Captain. tive El Pasoan. Angel and I were like brothers, as a matter of fact we would introduce to someone new, “I would like you to meet my brother” and of course Angel is a good-looking Hispanic and I’m Caucasian. They would look at us and we would say “Well, we are not blood brothers but our brotherhood was formed in the heat of battle and that is the reason that we might even be closer than actual blood brothers.” So we had to explain to somebody when we introduced him as “this is my brother”. Angel is passed away now and I still miss him every day. Something will happen that will remind me of Angel. Of course we have his pictures here and he is a charter member of the chapter and his family is still here. Angel’s children will occasionally come by the chapter here. Would you say the bond between heat of battle brothers or brothers that served in the military is closer than blood brothers are? In my case with Angel, Continues on next page Sun City Veterans 3
Interview... Continued form page 3
John Ceballos provided me with your biography and I’m looking at all your decorations. But he said, that you were hit in WWII. What happened on that? I was wounded three times in WWII, the first time June 23rd my birthday. I was wounded by German machine gun fire in Normandy. The
second time, my plane that I was in was hit and I was wounded the second time. I was treated by the Holland medics at the Holland First Aid station. Then the third time, I was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge, German tree burst artillery. They got me; that resulted on me being returned. That was a million dollar wound. I was returned to the states to William Beaumont General Hospital. That was my first experience in El Paso. How do feel today about you know when you see these younger men going off into combat and going to all these tours? How does that affect you?
Bob right after having completed Airborne Training. His mom was so proud of him she sent him to the local SEARS Store to have his photo taken. 4 Sun City Veterans
Well, I’m very concerned about it. I have a great feeling of respect for these young men. One of our members of our chapter had six deployments. That is just is a terrible thing for a family. Because when they leave on deployment, the wife then takes care of everything. They got children, as a matter of fact; the military wives do not receive the credit they deserve; all of them especially those in a combat unit. Because it is a deployment they leave the family wherever they are at…El Paso, Ft. Bragg, whatever station they are at. It has a disastrous effect on the family. I have mix feelings of us getting involved in these little conflicts all over the world. Now I’m going to say something that many people take exception to it, I don’t think we should be getting involved in these little fire fights, here and there and everywhere. If we are going to fight them, declare war on them, get in there and wipe the hell out of
them and get it over with. Look how long we’ve been…look at Korea. We are in a cease fire in Korea. Our President is trying to get North and South Korea to declare that action over with; get rid of this cease fire business. We are in war with Afghanistan and it has been the longest war. This is not a war, we have not declared war with Afghanistan, that I know of….we are getting our people killed there. Still today…I feel very strongly about that. So you are saying that you fell that US policy should be more to get in there and end the war or declare war and get over with and bring them back? Absolutely… Our Government recently wanted to pull troops out of Syria, there is a very small detachment. How do you feel about that? Well, that just the prior question. I feel either get in there and go after them and wipe them out or get the hell out. Again, I don’t think we should be getting in those little in country conflicts and exposing our military to casualties, in a little conflict like that. Do you think our current Generals or military leaders are given the power to go in and end them or do you think it’s become more of a political war? I don’t think the military…I think its’s strictly political. Continues on page 6 June 2019
Texas Guard joins 6th Annual Veterans Food Drive Story by Spc. Christina Clardy, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs The El Paso Veterans & Riders Association is expanding its reach for its 6th Annual Veterans Food Drive by adding a new partner to the event -- the El Pasobased 3rd Battalion of the 133rd Field Artillery Regiment, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Texas Army National Guard. The food drive, which runs from May 1, to June 15, 2019, aims to collect non-perishable food items, clothing and supplies to give to veterans and their families in need in the area. To date, this annual event has amassed more than 500,000 pounds of donations. The El Paso County Commissioner's Court officially approved the event proclamation on April 22, 2019. "Our battalion, nicknamed Gunslingers, is proud to participate in this event to support in-need veterans in the community," said 1st Sgt. Marcus Dominguez, the acting full-time command sergeant major of the 3rd Bn., of the 133rd FA. "Our unit has been based in El Paso since the end of World War II. This is our home and we are excited to pitch in." The EPVRA is also partnering with El Paso City and County officials, and the Bel Air High School Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps for the drive this year. Continues on page 10 June 2019
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Do you feel that…let me ask you a very personal question, you have been around since WWII, fought in Korea, you fought in Vietnam and with everything…would you say that the soldiers when they returned from WWII were treated a lot better or worse than the soldiers that returned from Vietnam or Korea? A lot better. Soldiers returning from WWII were treated as heroes. Soldiers returning from Vietnam were treated as enemypractically. Look at the demonstrations that the soldiers dealt with coming back and the civilian population, demonstrating against them, spitting and throwing crap on them. We had one of our chapter members, Bravo, when he came back from Vietnam, when he arrived in California, some guy spit on him. You’ll have to ask him what he did...our returning Veterans from Vietnam were treated badly. Do you feel that America as a country has tried to make it up to them or give them the honor they deserve or do we still got a while to go on that? I think they deserve to be honored too. Vietnam was a …of the three conflicts that I was engaged in, I think Vietnam was the worst because most of the time, we did not know who our enemy was. You could go past a bunch of children playing and one of them would stand up and throw a grenade at you. If you did anything to the one that threw the grenade at you then the publicity, the newspapers would say “Oh Americans are killing our children in Vietnam.” You can look in the papers and pick this stuff up. I grew up during Vietnam. I remember seeing it little black and white t.v. set in our kitchen with my 6 Sun City Veterans
family. Vietnam was a terrible conflict for us. Do you think as a country, we do all we can to support our Veterans? Do you think we could do more? Let’s look at the city..has local government done enough to support the Veterans of EL Paso? We do pretty well for the Veterans in El Paso. You consider the fact that we have a military installation here that has our active military in it; we have our Veteran population here that is very large and that if the active military and Veterans in this area wanted to support an individual or policy, they would have enough people to vote. They could control the election. They could control anything; the Veterans and active military. If they wanted to do it, but I don’t think you can get enough. I don’t think that the Veterans or military do enough to help themselves. How do you feel when you here, this constant comparison of El Paso? Like Houston, has so many Veterans and that the do all this or they do that…or San Antonio does this something like that…you say that El Paso supports the Veterans community and basically that the Veteran’s need to speak up more for themselves and become more involved with the community..
times they don’t seem to get together to solve their problems. The Veterans themselves can do a lot more. How do you feel about the local Veterans groups like the El Paso Veterans & Riders Association (EPVRA) and Veteran’s at Breakfast? Do you think that they are doing good for the community or do you think… I feel that they are doing excellent for the community. I can’t think of a Veterans group in El Paso that are not doing a good job to support the Veterans and support the community too. If you just wanted to look into what the Veterans do, I mean they are involved in everything. As an example, every year we have a food for Veterans-the Annual EPVRA’s food drive-and that’s every year. It is a tremendous service for the Veterans. I don’t think we get enough publicity on it. I think we could do more on it. I’ll work on it… Yup.. You better! In general, three wars, you said you came back as a hero in WWII and then .. I don’t feel I came back as a hero Continues on next page
I think, yes, El Paso is doing a lot to support their Veterans’ community. I think there is something more that can still be done… yes, always, something for homeless Veterans here. We have Veterans’ organizations like the American Legion, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Airborne; our Veteran organizations are very active. But at June 2019
Interview... Well, you were treated as a hero when you got back. You were treated as a hero from WWII and it completely changed by Vietnam. Yes. Do you ever regret ever defending your country? No. If we needed you tomorrow would you pick up a weapon and stand a line? I would!
nice to have all the support of all this technology; but it boils down to the individual soldier still. Well, look at the conflicts that we are currently involved today. No matter what weaponry we’re developing, it still takes that soldier in the field to develop that weapon. Unless you want to go out all war and use missiles or drones. We got the drones and occasionally we will use them. You will hear that a drone was used to knock out an ISIS installation today and we killed three people. But still that soldier in the field with that weapon.
No hesitation? No hesitation. I would do it if necessary. Do you think that most Veterans feel that way? I think that the majority of Veterans feel that way. I think if you went out and talked to and WWII Veteran that you needed to serve your country, would you do so? Yes…..Korea, Yes! Fewer, no for Vietnam. How do you feel about all this high tech weaponry i.e. drones and robot tanks?
So would you say that the drones up catch the victory but can’t hold the ground? You still need the soldier there; boots on the ground to hold the ground or to make the final determination. That’s it. You don’t win a battle unless you have troops on the ground and holds that ground. That’s very true. I never thought of that…How do you feel about the VA clinic here in El Paso? Do you think our Veterans receive adequate health care?
You know I really don’t know enough about them. I know we have them and I know that we are continuing to develop them. From what I do know, I know that they are beneficial to our military.
I think that the VA here in El Paso is serving a very useful purpose. From the reports I get, most of the time there are doing a great job in serving our Veterans.
There is nothing better than a person standing out there with a weapon in his hand and ready to stand up for his country. It’s
You’ll hear complaints sometimes: well, I went to the VA and I had an appointment and when I got there. Continues on next page
Bob after having been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
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Interview... Continued form page 7
I really didn’t have an appointment. Those are administrative problems; administrative problems can be taken care of. I think our present head of the VA is doing a good job. So do you feel Mr. Amaral is doing a good job? Yes..I think he is doing a good job. You are always going to hear somebody complaining. At times there is a reason there is a reason for them to complain. But overall, I think that our Veterans Administration is doing a good job taking care of the Veterans that need care. I was retired on full disability, but after I was retired I had to go to the VA. I have outstanding care. I have had no problems with them. Anytime, you are dealing with an organization that has responsibilities for caring for someone; whether it’s the VA or somewhere else, you are going to have problems. Could they do better? There are certain aspects where they could do a better job. Well, do you think also because they are not seeing the Veteran at their finest? They are sick, injured, hurt. Do you think the Veteran should have more patience when dealing with the VA and realize that nothing is going to happen overnight? It takes a while to get disability claims. I think there is a certain time…. I can be here at the chapter and somebody says, “Well, I got an appointment with the VA today”. Most of the time they are taken care of but occasionally, one will come back and say “they had my paperwork missed up” and they aren’t really taking care of me. We have members in this chapter; I’m not going to mention any names. They would complain about, “I went to Veterans today and they didn’t take care of me”. I would ask them, “You are 100 percent disabled and you have the opportunity to go see a civilian doctor. Continues on next page 8 Sun City Veterans
Damaged Goods by Rob Horstman, Army Veteran and retired Sheriff Deputy. Solider, Police Officer, Fire Fighter, and Medic, they all have one thing in common, they all know crisis. These are the men and women that have been through combat, have experienced loss, and have had the unfortunate burden of processing extraordinary events and scenes some of which never go away or can’t be unseen or experienced. This doesn’t make you damaged, broken, cracked or crazy; it does however cause us to use coping mechanisms to handle those demons, or uncomfortable situations. Some of these mechanisms are very unhealth and un-useful to our mind and body, such as drugs, alcohol, or high-risk behaviors. Some are healthier such exercise, meditation or hobbies that help us heal. Journaling is another positive coping mechanism that lets you see you progress. According to the dictionary, a coping mechanism is an adaptation to environmental stress that is based on conscious or unconscious choice and that enhances control over behavior or gives psychological comfort. So, in Gumby-style, it is a way to control you and the garbage that you carry with you. The interesting thing about coping mechanism is that they can be learned and unlearned, normally with practice and guidance. This can be self-taught or could be learned in the form of therapy or group settings. I think an important part to remember or to understand is to recognize the stress/stressor and coping mechanism that we use to control the behaviors. “Feel the feeling”, I know that sounds like your sitting on some therapist’s couch while they ask you, “how does that make you feel.” The truth of the matter is once you can identify the coping mechanism and determine if it good or bad for you, that is when you produce real change and success. Change is good, but damn is it uncomfortable and sometimes ugly. Change takes time. The first step isn’t always the hardest, it’s staying on course. Human beings, even us superman, wired tight, type “A” personalities, are creature of habit. We do not like change, and it is easy for us to slip back into old habits, behaviors or coping mechanism. One of the biggest mistakes that we make is abandoning all hope when we fail or don’t conform to our new behaviors or coping mechanism. We will fall and we do fail, but that is not the important part. The important part is to get back up, try and try again, forgive yourself and keep striving forward. Seek out help and be honest with yourself and others about where you are in your healing process, because it is a process. Don’t believe your own bullshit but hold yourself accountable for your behaviors and actions. And finally, we normally suck at asking for help because we are used to being the helper, guardian, or warrior, so use your resources. Reach out to your partners, battle buddies, friends, family, and yes even professional help such as the crisis hotline (1-800-273-8255), or clinic/hospital. Remember to stop, breath, assess the situation, and adjust accordingly. You are not damaged or broken just adapting to your environment. Robert “Hoss” Horstman is an Adjunct Professor in Psychology at El Paso Community College who has a Master’s Degree in Counseling, and a Bachelor’s and Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice. He served in the U.S. Army as a Medic and is a 25-year veteran with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. He is also a licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor in the State of Texas.
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You are Veterans, you have Medicare, and you have Tri-Care. So you are authorized to see a civilian doctor. Why don’t you do it?” They tell me I’m a Veteran and entitled to Veterans care. I’m going to VA..” I go to civilian doctors and have been doing it for years and they could do the same thing. At the end of the day, when you’re sitting at home; what do you think about? Your military service, your family, the Veteran’s community, do Current photo of Col. Bob you reflect on all that? they are going to see are the Armor I lost my wife and daughter, Division. I go back to my early so that gets me involved sometimes. days in the military at Fort Benning Mostly, I’m a member of most VetGeorgia, when General Patton and eran’s organizations. My involvehis Armored Division was there. If ment with these units is on a daily you wanted to get into a little fact basis. I have enough to keep me fight, make some smart comment busy. I think that any Veteran that is about the Armored Division and the physically able should get involved Armored Divisions make a smart rewith a Veterans organization. I think mark about the Airborne, you could it does him good. It does the Vetget into a good fight. So when it eran’s community good. As an excame to the fact, when we jumped ample, our chapter here, the into Normandy. The first people we Benavidez chapter is involved in would look for and saw was the Arjust about all aspects of Veteran care mored Division. After that, they . We also support the civilian comwere our best friends always. munity such as school activities. We are being honored for being one of So stateside or at the base, you guys the most active groups in the counwould probably slug it all out. But try. when it came time to get in the battlefield, you guys were brothers in How do you feel in dealing with a arms. smart young tanker little bad sense of humor (this being me), that type How many times do you reof rivalry? Do you look forward to member General Patton saying, it? “Give me the gas and I’ll go?” What a fantastic General he was. Yeah, I do. I am fortunate Anytime that the Airborne was in an enough with the conflicts that I was action; the first people that they saw involved in to have been dependent were the Armored Divisions. on other branches of service: AirThank goodness… force, Artillery, you name it. But this will please you; especially Would you say that you see this Armor. Anytime our units jumped young Veteran’s coming in and tryinto combat, the first people that ing to work and learn. Have the June 2019
older Veterans taken the younger Veterans under their wing and helped them as much as they could? Yes, I think that if there is any opportunity to have contact with the active duty Veterans and Veteran’s unit. I’ll give you an example, the 508 Airborne was here on exercise. We had an open house and picnic for them, here at the chapter. We invited the battalion in and extended to the battalion commander. We had them come in increments because it was the whole battalion. So when they started coming in, we thought well we fed them. Here comes another group. We fed three groups that day. More than a battalion and they really enjoyed the contact. We enjoyed having them. Their commanding general and commanding officer of the battalion was there. It was just a great contact we had with them. So any time we have the opportunity to do that, we do it. I noticed that you are wearing a watch. That was the watch that you were issued as an NCO in Germany. Yes, that was the watched that was issued to before we went into combat. NCOs , officers and communication personnel were issued this watch. You’ve had that since WWII? Yes and its running right now. Your day is going to come when you are going to be laid to rest. What do you want your legacy to be? What would you want us to think mostly about you? Continues on next page Sun City Veterans 9
6th Annual Veterans Food Drive... Continued form page 5
"This is our community," said Dominguez, who has been serving in the Texas Army National Guard exclusively in El Paso for more than 20 years. "Our Soldiers serve here, most live here, work their civilian jobs here and their families are part of the community here. This food drive is about supporting the community and we have long-been a part of that community." Veteran homelessness and poverty is a long standing issue in community, the state and the country. The U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department estimates that there were over 550,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in 2018; this number represents 17 out of every 10,000 people in the United States. It is estimated that "about 11% of the adult homeless population are veterans," according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. "While another 1.4 million other veterans are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard
Interview... Continued form page 9
Well, I love my country. I have a great respect doe the units I served with; especially those I was in the same unit. We were exposed to the same dangers. We survived and there are so few of us left from WWII. I will be going to Ft. Bragg this month. You were recently nominated to the Airborne Hall of Fame? Yes, I will see some of my few old friends of the 508 still left. I have a great love and respect for them. What would be your words to them? Be honored that you can serve your country. Be honored that you do serve your country. We are living in the greatest country bar none. Thank God you are here for us.
Special thanks to fellow Veteran and PAO for the El Paso 82nd Airborne Association John Ceballos for his help on conducing this interview and his support. 10 Sun City Veterans
housing." The Gunslingers' donation drop off is at the Armed Forces Reserve Center at 11701 Montana Ave, El Paso, TX 79936. To find a donation location or arrange a bulk donation, contact the EPVRA at (915)276-0156, Darrell G. Mond (915)790-3930, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sources: National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, www.nchv.org; National Alliance to End Homelessness, http://endhomelessness.org