SGT Vietnam Paratrooper – Episode 10

cerco ragazza polacca SGT Fred Castaneda is a proud veteran Paratrooper who served in Vietnam with the 23rd Infantry Division commonly referred to as the Americal Division.   The Americal Division is a  contraction of “American, New Caledonian Division”. This was unusual, as most U.S. divisions are known by a number. After World War II the Americal Division was officially re-designated as the 23rd Infantry Division. However, it was rarely referred to as such, even on official orders.

The link below is a short biography of SGT Castaneda recorded by the University of Texas at Austin by the Voces Oral History Project back on January 18, 2010.

Fred was drafted and like a lot of draftees he tried to control a little of his own destiny by volunteering to be a Paratrooper.  He paints the picture very well in explaining how even though he scored very high on his entrance exam he was given very few options because he was not a United States Citizen.  He made the best out of a not so good situation.  

I am learning after just my 10th interview, Fred was not different from many veterans, he moved on quickly after he was discharged and put his time in the military behind him, he jumped with both feet into being a very successful civilian, son, husband and father. After two decades Fred landed in the heart of the Army which is North Carolina, the home of the 82nd Airborne, XVIII Airborne Corps, FORSCOM, and the US Army Special Operations Command. He had some time on his hands and decided to visit a recruiting office and there his passion returned as a Soldier & Paratrooper.  

Fred is dealing with complications from Agent Orange & PTSD. Hi days are now spent like a lot of veterans who served in Vietnam at the Veterans Administration Hospital. His stories about the media resonated with me all too well and his stories about being a PIG Gunner (this is the affectionate name given to the M60 Machine Gun) was very well told. 

You will hear that SGT Fred Castaneda has an excellent radio / podcast voice and if you would like to hear more from Fred he hosts his own podcast at the  He has helped me as a  fledgling podcaster get off the ground. 


Start – Fred is drafted while in College

3m:15s – Volunteered for Airborne along with his buddy

4m.20s – Talk about Fred’s Bio from University of Texas

8m.1s – Why Fred joined the Airborne

12m.15s – Coming Home from Vietnam

18m.43s – Recondo School Instructor

22m.17s – Yom Kippur War,

24m.38s – Failed Recruiting Program 

26m.44s – Arrived in Vietnam

29m.50s – Injured on an airborne operation at Nijmegen drop zone

33m.15s – Parachute Redeployment Duty 

36m.19s – Resurgence in pride & honor of being a Paratrooper 

39m. 6s – Adjusting to Civilian Life

42m.45s – Myths around the Army

45m.323s – Engaging the Enemy in Vietnam & Friendly Fire

50m.58s – Dealing with the Media (or as Fred calls it the LAME STREAM MEDIA)

52M.17S – Respect for the Helicopter Pilots & Medics   

53m.28s – Best & worst experience in Army

58m.19s – Humorist stories it pass along

1h.03m.27s – Follow up on serious moments

1h.0m.25s – Donut Dolly – Red Cross 

1h.15.42 – What does your career look like today

1h.18m3s – Parting thought – A line from the movie Batan 

1h.19m – Closing Comments 

4 Replies to “SGT Vietnam Paratrooper – Episode 10”

  1. berkey

    Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It if truth be told used to be a entertainment account it. Look advanced to far added agreeable from you! By the way, how can we keep in touch?|

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