Vic Ortiz

Title

Vic Ortiz

Date

2022-11-05

Format

video

Interviewer

Trevor Balsely

Interviewee

Vic Ortiz

OHMS Object Text

5.4 Vic Ortiz Latino Lorain Fall 2022 Oberlin College Library Vic Ortiz Trevor Balsely 0 https://media.lib.oberlin.edu/media_objects/2j62s492k Avalon https://media.lib.oberlin.edu/ video &lt ; iframe title=&quot ; Vic Ortiz&quot ; src=&quot ; //media.lib.oberlin.edu:443/master_files/2v23vt362/embed&quot ; width=&quot ; 600&quot ; height=&quot ; 337&quot ; frameborder=&quot ; 0&quot ; webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen&gt ; &lt ; /iframe&gt ; 0 Early Life I’m Trevor Balsley I’m here today with Vic Ortiz to talk about his life as a part of the Latino Veterans Oral History project. Thank you Vic for being here and for agreeing to be interviewed. Born in Puerto Rico, Vic and his family moved to the Bronx in New York when he was two years old. Shortly thereafter, they relocated five years later to Lorain, Ohio, due to the rise in industry jobs. Growing up in South Lorain, Vic came to meet his wife at a young age. He attended South View High School, which is when he made up his mind to join the military. Bronx ; industry jobs ; Puerto Rico 161 Vic’s Home Life Growing Up Could you tell me a little bit about your home and sisters, and brothers and what the environment was like for you at home? With his family facing financial difficulties, his family moved out to metropolitan housing, a change from his previous way of living. Growing up, Vic talks about the various activities he was involved in such as sports and different part-time jobs. Growing up, he found himself very involved with the Catholic church. Alongside three of his siblings, they would often help their dad with mowing lawns, cleaning the church, and working the grounds. Catholic church ; children ; El Centro ; family ; Financial struggles ; siblings ; Sports 501 Military and How He Started Thinking About It How did you first start to consider the military when you were in high school? Were you thinking that was a place you wanted to be or a future you wanted for yourself? Vic began his military journey after his brother, who was enlisted, talked to him about joining. Prior to this, Vic attended LCCC and unfortunately failed out of school. Left feeling lost, he found himself talking with a recruiter after speaking with his brother. Shortly thereafter, he was sent off and began his work as a fire technician. ASVAB ; enlistment ; Fire technician ; Lorain County Community College (LCCC) ; military ; Nuclear program 700 Family and Friends How did your family react to that? Your parents? The rest of your siblings? After Vic broke the news to his family and friends, they were all surprised since they knew Vic as someone who had problems with authority. However, Vic realized he needed direction in his life and needed to be disciplined. authority ; discipline ; enlistment ; Family 813 Bootcamp Could you tell me about those few days, weeks, months, in boot camp? What were your initial moments in the military and that was for you, especially with what you were saying about discipline? Carded off from the Cleveland MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) station, he talks about his initial experience at bootcamp and arriving at the barracks. Growing up, Vic was pretty aggressive when it came to sports and would often find himself in fights. This led to conflict during his beginning weeks as he wasn’t fond of power structures. Vic is thankful for the two guys he met there as they were able to keep him level headed and guided him. authority ; barracks ; bootcamp ; friends ; MEPS 1094 Outside Communication Did you have any contact with your family or? I’m interested in your relationship with your wife, then girlfriend, during this whole process. What was that like? During his time at bootcamp, he received top secret security clearance as he was a part of SIOP (Single Integrated Operational Plan). This granted him access to communicate with people back home. Since he had to make frequent calls, he was able to keep in touch with his family and wife. Only a select few had that type of clearance. bootcamp ; clearance ; communication ; family ; SIOP 1186 After Basic Training Could you tell me about after basic training, the process of coming into the military and where you were first stationed? After basic training, Vic went to submarine school in Groton, Connecticut for a few months. Frank, one of his good friends he met at bootcamp, went on to attend the same school. Rey, who was another good friend of his, would often visit them in Connecticut. Their relationship stayed strong and would eventually become even more fortified during their time in Virginia. Vic went down to Virginia to complete A and 2 C schools. While Frank stayed in Connecticut to finish his schooling, he would end up being stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. Rey, who went into the reserves and became an x-ray technician, would end up also being stationed in Virginia. This rare circumstance would lead them to form a lifetime bond still present in Vic’s life today. Vic would go on to marry his wife in Virginia and moved in together by Oceana Naval Base. Charleston, North Carolina ; friends ; Groton, Connecticut ; Norfolk, Virgina ; Oceana Naval Base ; Spouse ; submarine ; U.S. Navy 1725 Time On The Submarine At Sea My first submarine I was one was the USS Francis Scott Key. Vic talks about being stationed on the Francis Scott Key, which was stationed out of Charleston South Carolina, and made patrols out of Kings-bay Georgia. Vic was stationed on boomer submarines that carried Inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) ; the only submarines he was allowed to work on because of his job. Typically he would be out to sea for about 3 months at a time, though this time would often get extended. During his time on the submarine Vic recalls not seeing the sun, not getting phone calls, and not knowing what was going on. He was on an 18 hour clock, standing watch for 6 hours and then being off for 12 hours, which often changed based on the job and tasks required. “Going out to sea is not a lot of fun” Vic says. He notes that at this time there were only men on submarines which was very different from the navy where men and women interacted together. Men on submarines were able to just “be guys” and not worry about things like sexual harassment without the presence of women. Vic says that after being done with a job at sea, he would come back to the port and get about 3 months off. At this point, Vic would only have to check in with his division officer every 72 hours via phone, which allowed him to travel back to Lorain to visit family, or drive to Connecticut to visit friends. Overall, Vic acknowledges that though there were downsides to being in the military, it was an overall good experience. Family ; Submarine ; U.S. Navy 2035 Getting the job of Fire Technician on the West Coast So when I was on the East Coast on the Francis Scott Key I was only there for one patrol. Vic served on the Francis Scott Key on the East coast for one patrol before finding out that the submarine would be decommissioned. He told a career counselor that he would prefer to stay on the East Coast, but instead he was sent out to the West Coast to be a fire technician. In order to work on the submarine on the West Coast, the counselor advised Vic to become qualified, which entailed knowing all parts of a submarine. The qualification process usually took a year, but Vic did the entire qualification process in 3.5 months. This process wore him out greatly. During this time he didn’t sleep or eat, and he only focused on getting qualified. Getting qualified was probably the hardest thing he’s done, but he states that it was completely worth it. Vic says that when you get qualified, “you get treated different, like you belong kind of.” Fire Technician ; Submarine 2260 Navigating Marriage During Time at Sea on the West Coast When I moved out to the West Coast the reason I did not want to go out there was because I didn't know anybody out there and I didn't have any friends. Vic had multiple concerns when moving to the West Coast about how he did not know anyone there and that he did not have any friends there. His biggest concern however was that he would have to leave his wife alone while he was out at sea. He thought he would have three months to get settled with her when they first moved to the West Coast, but instead he found out that he would be sent out on a different submarine within a week of first moving there. In the midst of starting his job on the USS Michigan submarine, Vic would leave the submarine at night and return home to help his wife find somewhere to live. They ended up finding an apartment and getting a dog for his wife as a companion. Vic talks about how he always knew he would never have kids while being in the military. He witnessed children not recognizing their fathers who were in the military, wives leaving their military husbands, and the high divorce rates for military spouses. Comparatively, he says that he took his marriage vows seriously. Despite the stress of being away, Vic liked his actual job at sea. On the submarine they were often busy, and did not have a lot of down time. Vic says “You didn't have time to get lonely or miss anybody back home.” Though he could not call home on the submarine, he was able to get family grams from loved ones. His wife would write about every week or every other week. You could only write so many words, so Vic says that men on submarines had to set up a code before they went out to sea, which allowed loved ones to communicate important matters with them. The submarines that Vic was on allowed them to make port visits, where he could get letters and packages from his wife. On a port visit in San Francisco, Vic and the other men were able to see their wives. Vic notes that this was different from the experience of an older generation of military members who went many years without seeing their spouses. Family ; Marriage ; Pets ; Port Visits ; Spouse 2724 Vic’s Decision to Leave the Navy I’d like to move to your final months in the military, your final station, and also your transition out of service, what that was like and how you decided to leave. Before Vic went to the service he did not really have a direction, but he knew he never wanted to work in a factory, or anything like that. He thought that he would do 20 years of military service and then retire. He had plans to go through the enlisted ranks and finish his degree, and then go into the officer ranks. However, he had a horrible experience on the submarine he was attached to on the West Coast. The senior enlisted person on the submarine, or chief of the boat, was a racist person who made life difficult for Vic. Vic says the chief of the boat “had it in for him”, and that he was one of the reasons Vic ultimately left the military. When Vic enlisted, he enlisted for 6 years because of all of his schooling, and then enlisted for 2 more years on the Francis Scott Key, giving him a total of 8 years of enlistment. He was almost halfway to retirement, which was his original plan. However, at the time President Clinton was doing military drawbacks and they were decommissioning some submarines. They said that some people on Vic’s submarine could leave early, in what was called early-out. Vic applied and got out after 4.5 years, so he did just half of the enlistment he signed up for. His reason for doing early-out was the chief of the boat’s treatment towards Vic. When Vic got on the USS Michigan he made E-5 rank after 21 months which was a fast time to make that rank. E-5 rank is not senior enlistment, but is kind of “middle of the road”, which gave Vic a little bit of respect. The new service members would be at E-1 or E-2 when they arrived, and often had to do service tasks because of their rank. The chief of the boat had Vic do those kinds of chores despite his rank, which caused Vic to have to involve the higher ups. Overall, Vic did not want to be in that situation anymore, which is why he left. Career ; Leaving the military ; Racism ; Rank ; Retirement Plan 2990 Finding a New Job After the Military So I got out of the navy and I came back home, kind of undecided about what I wanted to do. After being in the navy, Vic returned back home. He gave himself a year to figure out what he would do, and if he found nothing in that time, his plan was to re-enlist. He first got a job in engineering at a Lorain factory called Lorain products that made telecommunications equipment. In school he had been in pre-engineering and wanted to be an electrical engineer, but he had not finished his degree. When he interviewed at Lorain products, they said they would pay for the rest of his schooling, and he got a job with them as a field service engineer. However, he hated working at the factory and stayed only for 3 months or less. His backup plan was law enforcement, so at this point he decided to pursue being a police officer and he took the police exam in multiple cities. He ended up getting hired as a police officer in Oberlin. He took the test in November or December, after having gotten out of the navy on January 17th of that year. If Vic did not have a concrete plan by January 17th of the following year, he would have gone back to the military recruiter. A few days before that date, the police chief called Vic to inform him that he did very well on the exam, and offered Vic an interview, and ultimately a job. Vic recalled feeling complicated emotions when he left the military, what he described as feeling bittersweet. He was thankful for the skills he learned in the military like discipline, detail orientation, and organization. He also witnessed a lot of racism and classism which ultimately influenced his decision to leave. Career ; Classism ; Law Enforcement ; Racism 3196 How Vic’s Military Experience Influenced Him as a Police Officer How do you think your experience in the military changed you, how has it influenced the rest of your life after service. Vic recalls growing up in Lorain, a very diverse city. He lived in metropolitan housing when he was young, where he recalls diverse populations that included Hispanic, African American, and Hungarian people. Vic thought that it was the norm to see people from all over. In the military, the diversity of people was magnified, and Vic recalls the different types of people in the military including a British person, impoverished people, well-off people, those from the East Coast, and those from the West Coast. If racism had been prevalent when he was growing up in Lorain, he does not remember seeing it. But he saw and felt it in the military. The racism and classism he witnessed in the military ultimately influenced him in his position as a police officer. His military service made him feel as though as a police officer, it was important to him to treat others the way he wants to be treated, regardless of race, class, etc. He says “It did not escape me the fact that certain people get treated a certain way by police officers”, and he sought to not be like those police officers. He formed bonds and connections with members of the Oberlin community because of this commitment to mutual respect. Vic recalls days as a police officer when he would stop at the park to take his gear off and play with the kids. He would patrol neighborhoods and walk and sit on front porches with people. Vic was aware that these sorts of actions might label other police officers as weak or lesser than, but he did what he thought was the right thing to do as a police officer. A lot of these values came from his time in the navy. He saw how he was treated and how others were treated and he did not want to treat others that way. He talks about teaching kids lessons about law enforcement because he wanted to put them on a better path, almost like being their mentor. He says he wanted to be the opposite of the way he was treated in the navy. Classism ; Diversity ; Racism 3480 Concluding Thoughts About Vic’s Time in the Service Is there anything you'd like to add to this interview, is there anything that feels missing. Vic says that sometimes when he talks about the military he paints it as being bad, but he believes that the military was good to him. He still gets involved in veteran things, and is part of the Ohio Hispanic Veterans Memorial, which is in part due to his involvement with El Centro. He looks back on his time in the military fondly, because if he had not joined it, he does not know where he would be now. Vic grew up in what he says were bad areas, in the Bronx, New York, and the projects in Lorain. He used to think living to 35 was a good number. Growing up he remembers his friends being killed and using drugs. The navy opened Vic’s eyes to a different possibility. Overall, he looks back on his time in the military fondly, saying “there’s the good the bad, what you do with it is what you make of it”. He was glad to have had his time in the service, and to not have put much thought into joining it, or he may have backed out. Overall, he would not change his military service. El Centro ; New York ; Ohio Hispanic Veterans Memorial ; The Bronx In copyright. video All rights reserved. 0 https://oberlincollegelibrary.org/ohms-viewer/render.php?cachefile=LL_Ortiz_Vic.xml LL_Ortiz_Vic.xml

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“Vic Ortiz,” Latino Lorain , accessed March 2, 2024, https://latinolorain.oberlincollegelibrary.org/items/show/134.