Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Marine Corps Veteran Jose M. Soto, who served in Vietnam for 13 months during the war.
Jose Soto was born in December 1947, and during his childhood in Laredo, Texas, he had a passion for sports. He specifically enjoyed football in high school and wished he could play professionally. His athleticism influenced him to join the Marine Corps, which he expressed during an interview with Liliana Rodriguez: “I always wanted to join the Marine Corps because of the unique form and because of all the propaganda that they only take the best. I felt that I was a good candidate. I was in very good shape, and I was very good in sports, so I felt strong.”
In October 1967, Soto enlisted into the Marine Corps. During bootcamp in December of that year, he was allowed to go home to see his family before his deployment. After, he completed advanced training and survival preparation.
Soto went to the Quang Tri Province of Vietnam in 1968. Upon arrival to Vietnam, Soto’s main goal was survival, after he saw the faces of returning soldiers and 20 body bags of American soldiers.
His daily belief that he would make it out alive gave him the strength to overcome adversity. He survived many battles and skirmishes and spent months alongside his comrades hiding in bunkers—even over Easter Sunday. These troops had no food or water, and soldiers would purposely try to get infections just so they could return to basecamp to be treated and bathe. During monsoon season, he faced cold temperatures in the mountains at Khe Sanh. Soldiers needed to constantly move, or they would risk freezing to death. At the age of 20, he received news that he would return home in two weeks, but he feared he would not make it out alive in time.
After serving in South Vietnam for 13 months, Soto honorably discharged and returned home to Laredo, Texas. He is married to Beatriz Adame Soto, and they have one daughter and two sons.
Thank you for your service!
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Writer: Hannah Nelson
Editors: Katherine Adams, Julia Pack
Researcher: Latesha Thornhill
Graphic Designer: Katie Rahill