Life As An Athlete

My youth was a blessed one, I was a very happy and cheerful boy with great parents Mr. Joe B Olona and Mrs. Dolores Segura Olona and siblings Jeannie, Donald and Gerald. My first language or mother tongue was Spanish; I attended Parochial School, St Charles until the 6th grade thereby I attended public school while pursuing the 7th and 8th standard, which I did not like, as I prefer a well-maintained structure and discipline. For pursuing 9th-12th standard I returned to Parochial School, Lourdes High School, and the Knights. There I was blessed to meet a great man and coach, Ron Tybor, who took me under his wing, Coach Tybor was a very structured and discipline, with his hard work and my natural athletic ability, Coach Tybor turned me into a contending athlete in cross country, track, and basketball.

In cross country I was one of the top 3 runners from all over the state; I ran the mile, 880 and 440 also the mile medley and mile relay, depending on where I was asked to. In my junior year, I along with my friends went to state in the mile relay while In basketball during my senior year we went to the State Tournaments, which was the first time in school history, I also awarded in All City basis. I had many scholarship offers in basketball but chose to join the military at the height of the Vietnam War.

I know that I can conquer the world and anything the world throws at me, I’ve learned to be a winner, I play to win.

"Nobody moves the needle-like Eloy. Nobody," Coach Ron Tybor used to say always.

Life As A Military Personnel

My personal desire to choose the profession was Marines which actually did not impress my father who was employed in marines in WWII. To drag me away from my desirable profession he put me in his truck and took me to New Mexico Air National Guard recruiters and was sworn in that day.

It ultimately turned out to be a blessing but in January 1968, amidst the Pueblo Crisis our unit was activated and in May 1968 deployed to Tuy Hoa Air Base Republic of South Vietnam, for one year of living hell as an aircraft maintenance specialist. While I was stationed at Tuy Hoa Air Base RSV, from June 8, 1968, to May 15, 1969, I was assigned the 188th TFS and 31st TFW. 

On the night of July 29, 1968, at 01:37 hours our base was attacked by a small-sized sapper squad. We were a small group of night shift personnel in charge of turning aircraft and loading them for next day missions. We had just finished our tasks and returned to our line shack next to the flight line when we heard a loud explosion; Sgt. Floyd Ruby opened the door to look outside and then yelled, “We are under attack”. We ran outside the building and hit the ground opposite the flight line. I could hear incoming mortars and rockets and small arms fire, also heard two voices crying for help. I never felt so scared and helpless, since we had no weapons to defend ourselves. At that point in time, I was terrified and wished that I could crawl into the sand and disappear.

We could hear the crying for help getting louder when two individuals came from the corner of the building, one person was covered from head to toe in blood, he was not even recognizable, the other person was not as bloody, he took shrapnel to his lower extremities. I yelled out to our guys to bring them down as not to give away our position. These two men were working under the hood of an F100C when a VC threw a satchel charge under the aircraft they were on and blew them off a maintenance stand. I could imagine VC, turning the corner and finding us with no weapons and throwing a satchel charge at us. At that moment we did not know how many VC was attacking. We were also getting mortar and rockets from outside the perimeter, supporting the sapper squad that was on the flight line. I could see the silhouette of flames, smell of smoke and fire since 3 C-130 aircraft were on fire about 50 yards from our position.

Before leaving home I had a premonition of not returning from Vietnam alive, and now I believed it was coming true. We tended the wounded individuals and treated them for shock, we yelled to our flight line expeditor who was parked about 20 yards from us, to call an ambulance, as we waited for the ambulance I heard an incoming mortar, I looked up in time to see it go over our heads. When the ambulance arrived about five minutes later I looked at our senior NCO, Tsgt Robert Barela, who was about 10 years older than us, we were 20 at the time, was lying on the ground shaking and in shock, I had to shake him, so that he could assist us in loading the wounded into the ambulance. After we loaded the wounded into the ambulance, I told the rest of the guys that I am heading for a bunker which was about 100 yards away, they advised me not to, but when I looked behind me they were all hot on my heels. We found an underground bunker about 100 yards from where we were pinned down.  We took shelter until the all-clear was given.

Upon my return from Vietnam, I returned with serious mental issues and it took decades to realize I was suffering from PTSD, I didn’t return with physical wounds but mental wounds, wounds that others could not see or understand. This lead to 3 failed marriage but produced 5 outstanding children, 3 girls, Lisa, Samantha, Jamie and 2 sons, Gilbert, Jeremy, all outstanding in their own way, I love them all equally and fairly, all equal in my eyes, not one better than the other.

Now, I am retired military personnel and have traveled almost every popular country several times, in the search for peace and happiness I have wandered to Countries like Vietnam, Japan, Panama, Mexico, Australia, Kuwait, Guam, England, Italy, Austria, Spain, and Ireland and along with that I have visited Hawaii and Alaska numerous times.