Command Sergeant Major, Miguel Urias Gastelo, US Army - Ret. Miguel Gastelo
, Hometown Hero "In my combat experience, I never saw a Chicano or Puerto Rican back off- never- not once" Miguel Gastelo
- in Soldados by author Charley Trujillo Miguel Urias Gastelo was born on January 12, 1948 in a sleepy little San Joaquin Valley town known as Delano, California of United Farm Workers of America Headquarters fame.He
was raised in another small town in the San Joaquin Valley famous as the Cotton Center of the United States, named Corcoran and located just 16 miles from his
place of birth.Growing up in Corcoran in a large family and on Farm Worker subsistence, Miguel
grew up quickly with older brothers and sisters to look up to and emulate upon the passing of his father Mr. Rosario A. Gastelo.
Once out of High school, Miguel
struck out on his
own moving to San Jose, California where relatives would help him get a start in life.After a few years and as many jobs in San Jose, Miguel
was drafted into the US Army
in January of 1968.The Vietnam War raging on, his
future as a soldier at the time was not predictable however, his
determination to be someone special proved to be the driving factor over a span of time including more that 25 years of Military service.Miguel would go on to spend time in Ft. Lewis Washington and Ft. Ord California in basic and advanced Infantry training before shipping out to Germany where he served with the 51st Company B 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion.He then went on to a 15 month tour in the Republic of Vietnam where he served with the Americal Division Company B, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry regiment, 23rd infantry Division- Landing Zone Center from Da-Nang to the DMZ in the Laos I-Corp area.
Machine Gunner, Point Man and Squad Leader were just a few of the assignments for this tough sergeant. Proud of his
family anxiously awaited his
return from Vietnam where he
was wounded on at least two occasions and for which he
was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and various other citations.Following his
tour in the Republic of Vietnam, Miguel
returned to the United States to witness flag burnings and other demonstrations against a war where he
had lost many friends and comrades.His
struggle with and eventual reconciliation from those experiences still haunt him like so many other returning veterans.Once out of Vietnam, Sergeant Gastelo moved through promotions and an array of assignments in the states including: graduation from the Drill Sergeant Academy and assignments in Ft. Dix New Jersey, Ft. Gordon Georgia and Ft. Ord California where he served as a Drill Instructor.He later served as Brigade Command Sergeant Major at Ft. Jackson South Carolina and then as Battalion Command Sergeant Major at Ft. Dix, New Jersey.Miguel was then assigned as Command Sergeant Major at the Pentagon in Washington DC where he attended National Defense University for one year.
By now married to the former Dolores Garcia, Miguel
began raising a family in San Jose, California.He landed a job with Pacific Bell where he progressed from lineman to Instructor and general forman.His
experience in the military where he
rose to Command Sergeant Major of the Army, the highest enlisted rank, is partially credited by Miguel
as the impetus and drive to succeed in his
concurrent civilian occupation.
...While working for Pacific Bell and raising their children, Miguel continued a parallel Military career as a reservist with duty assignments ranging from Drill Instructor at various training facilities in the US to key assignments and schooling at Command Headquarters in Washington, DC.
Miguel looks back at the hardships of an illustrious dual career path and says without hesitation - no regrets here.His
friends are more forceful as they describe a kid coming from nowhere and who ended up being the biggest inspiration that a little sleepy cotton growing town like Corcoran could ever hope for.These days Miguel
likes to spend time jogging, exercising, dining out, attending VFW meetings and tending to his
small enterprise in East San Jose where the whole family is involved and which leaves little time for idle chatter.