Veteran Spotlight: Sisto Sandoval

For most veterans, some memories of war can evoke many emotions but for one local vet, using his memories of serving helps him connect and reach out to other veterans in Lake Havasu City with similar war experiences.

Sisto Sandoval is no stranger to Lake Havasu City. He is involved in several organizations which help and support local vets. He is a Life Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Associate Member of the Marine Corps League in Lake Havasu City, the 1st Signal Brigade Association, Disabled American Veterans and was one of the cofounders of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter No. 975 in Mohave County.

[quote_center]Sisto Sandoval’s memories of serving helps him connect and reach out to other veterans in Lake Havasu City[/quote_center]

“Lake Havasu City is a great community,” said Sandoval. “It is one of the most patriotic cities I know that does a lot for our vets. That is why I love it here.”

At the age of 3, Sandoval moved from New Mexico to Arizona. In 1961 at the age of 16, Sandoval later joined the Arizona National Guard 222nd Transportation Company in Winslow, Ariz., and the unit was activated for active duty during the Cuban Crisis in 1961 through 1962. He later entered the Army in 1967, and served in the Vietnam War until 1969.

photo provided by Sisto Sandoval

photo provided by Sisto Sandoval

[quote_box_left]“Coming back from the Vietnam war was tough for all who served,” said Sandoval. “We were treated badly when we came back home; it was tough to be called names and especially baby killers.”[/quote_box_left]

Many vets returning home in the 60s, were met with crowds of people who disapproved of the war but that didn’t stop or bring down Sandoval.

After the military, Sandoval relocated to California and studied at the California Business College, East Los Angeles College, Los Angeles City College, LA Trade Technical College, University of California Los Angeles and The University of Southern California.

“When I first came to California, I had very little money in my pocket,” said Sandoval. “I remember there were so many job opportunities here I knew I needed to come.”

Sandoval later began work for the city of Los Angeles in the Building and Safety Department and was employed as a Building Mechanical Inspector and spent 10 years in the investigations department. He went on to receive an Employee of the Quarter award from the city of Los Angeles and a Quality Productivity Commission improvement award.

Sandoval put aside his memories until one day his daughter approached him to speak at one of her classes at school and he was forced to recall his memories of war.

“I remember being hesitant to speak about it, but I wanted to do this for my daughter,” Sandoval said.

Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

Sandoval later spoke about his experiences to a class full of students and once he finished, Sandoval was met with an apology from his daughter’s teacher.

“I remember the teacher approached me and said ‘sorry’,” said Sandoval. “She then explained she was in college during the Vietnam War and was one of the protestors shouting to the vets coming home and protesting her disapproval of the war. It felt like a part of me healed with her apology.”

In 2001 Sandoval later retired and moved to Lake Havasu City with his wife of 30 years, Pat Sandoval.

Sandoval is also involved with Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, The Catholic Church Eucharist Minister; Home-bound Eucharist Minister Pastoral Council, Committee chairperson of the building and grounds committee, DayBreakers Lions Club in Lake Havasu City, Freedom Bridge Foundation and Chaplain of the Patriot Guard Riders.

When Sandoval and his wife aren’t busy volunteering or assisting local vets, they spend their time at local casinos.

As for Sandoval’s experiences in the military, he says they sometimes bring up lots of emotion but he is proud to be a vet.

“If need be, I would do it all over again. I would serve my country again,” he said.

Sisto says a prayer during a Welcome Home celebration for local military.

Sisto says a prayer during a Welcome Home celebration for local military. Jillian Danielson/Riverscene

 


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