Anthony (Tony) M. Rodriguez

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U.S. Navy

Anthony Rodriguez
Anthony Rodriguez
Anthony Rodriguez
Anthony (Tony) M. Rodriguez

Place of Birth: Longmont, CO

Personal History: I was born and raised in Longmont, CO. I was 1 of 9 children in my family, 6 brothers and 2 sisters. I graduated from High School in June of 1969. I was given the opportunity to attend college thru a grant offered to me. I was not really prepared for college and I accepted it and enrolled at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, CO for the fall quarter/semester.

On December 1st, while eating lunch in the dorm cafeteria, the draft lottery was being televised live. If I remember correctly, the lottery capsules were numbers 1 thru 266, one for each day of the year: ball #1 would be Jan. 1st, #2 would be Jan. 2nd, etc. They were saying the first 150 drawn would more than likely be drafted into the Army. They had drawn the 69th capsule and low and behold that was my birthdate. Men between the ages of 18 and 26 were being drafted. This was the first draft lottery since WWII. I was 19 then.

I knew I would be drafted. While talking to a friend of mine one day, he was going to enlist in the Navy and asked if I would like to join him on the buddy system, which meant we would be in boot camp together in the same company. I was thinking about joining the Air Force because my brother-in-law was in that branch and stationed in Germany at that time. I had decided to join the Navy and be with my friend during boot camp. So on 26 Jan. 1970 I was sworn into the U.S. Navy in Denver, CO. I took my very first airplane ride flying to San Diego, CA for boot camp and about 10 weeks of training.
My Dad had served in the Army in WWII. I also have two other brothers, Daniel and Paul, who also served in the Army before me.

While in boot camp, I got a letter from home which said I had received my draft orders from Uncle Sam for induction into the Army. The rest is history . . .

I had met my future wife, Linda, while in the Navy stationed overseas via a pen pal letter I had received thru my Supply Officer on board the WICHITA. We have been married now for 35 years, we have 4 children . . . 1 daughter and 3 sons, and now have 3 grandchildren.

Place of Recruitment: Denver, CO

Branch of Service: U.S. Navy Jan. 1970-Jan. 1976 . . .4 active and 2 reserve

Military Occupation: E-4, PO 3rd Class, Storekeeper

Service History, Stateside or Abroad: Served aboard the U.S.S. WHICITA AOR-1, Replenishment Oiler, from April 1970 to Dec. 1973. Commissioned on 7 June 1969. Home ported at Long Beach Naval Station, Long Beach, CA.

During the Vietnam War, WICHITA (AOR-1) participated in the following campaigns in operations with the 7th fleet. 
    -Vietnamese Counteroffensive – Phase VII 21 July 1970 to 8 Jan. 1971 
    -Consolidation I – 30 Aug. 1971 to 20 Nov. 1971 
    -Consolidation II – 10 Jan. 1972 to 10 March 1972 
    -Vietnam Ceasefire – 11 Aug. 1972 to 3 Feb. 1973 
    -Peacetime Operations – Sept. 1973 to March 1974

U.S.S. WICHITA sailed on her first WESTPAC (Western Pacific) deployment on 22 June 1970 in support of combat ships operating off the coast of North Vietnam (Yankee station). If I may quote Captain Jack M. Stevens, Commanding Officer of the WICHITA, “Those of you who were privileged to serve on WICHITA during the 1970-71 WESTPAC deployment were part of a new crew on the first operational assignment of not only a new ship, but the first of an entirely new class of ships. WICHITA had certainly proved the wisdom of the “replenishment oiler concept.” During the seven months of operations WICHITA had 246 ships alongside for replenishment.

Anthony Rodriguez
Operating as a “one-stop” multi-product ship WICHITA delivered: 
    -Over 30,000,000 gallons of oil and gasoline 
    -10,000 tons of ammunitions 
    -Over 450 tons of provisions plus fleet freight, mail and personnel.
Half of the underway replenishments were conducted during the hours of darkness and some in the face of extremely hazardous weather. I hope each of you is as proud as I am to be one of the WICHITA Linemen.”

I went on 3 other WESTPAC tours on board the WICHITA after her first maiden voyage. We would return to Long Beach, CA . . . spend anywhere from 3 to 6 months and turn around and head on another WESTPAC tour.

The U.S.S. WICHITA AOR-1 was decommissioned on 12 March 1993 
    -Laid up in the National Defense reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay, Benecia, CA 
    -Struck from the Naval Register, 15, Feb. 1995

WICHITA is only the second U.S. Navy ship to bear the name; the first was the U.S.S. WICHITA (CA-45) a 10,000 ton heavy cruiser, commissioned in Feb. 1939. Having served in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets during WWII, she was decommissioned in Feb. 1947. She sat in mothballs for 12 years and then sold for scrap.

Commendations and Honors: National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with 4 campaign battle stars, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Navy Meritorius Unit Commendation with 1 bronze star device.

Present Location: Carrollton, TX

Carrollton Connection: Job relocation to Dallas, TX from Denver, CO in 1993.