Today we are spotlighting Central Coast Veteran, John Somics.
John is a U.S. Army Vietnam War veteran who served as a combat engineer. Somics graduated high school in 1966. He decided to defer a semester of college and save up money, but on May 20th, 1968, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served for a year and a half.
His service began with training at Fort Ord in Monterey Bay. Later he went to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, and then Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland where he tested new mine detector technology. Because the detectors worked so well, he was sent to Vietnam to train soldiers there how to use them. However, due to a strange anomaly in the magnetic field the detectors failed.
As a result, John was stationed in Vietnam with the 11th Cavalry. Becoming a combat engineer, he was assigned the responsibility of looking for mines. Many of his peers and friends were drafted around the same time as him. When reflecting he feels the entirety of the war was all for nothing and they really suffered over there. At the same time, John says he is grateful to be alive today and is immensely proud to have been a part of the events of the 60’s that “changed the bloody world.”
John is a longtime member of Anglers Anonymous, a nonprofit fishing organization serving veterans with disabilities, where he takes veterans and first responders on fishing trips in Avila beach followed by tri-tip lunches. Over 600 veterans have benefitted from the organization. John also owns Damp Hero Bait Company and enjoys fishing in his free time.
After The Wall That Heals visiting San Luis Obispo in 2018, John worked with Trophy Hunters to create a beautiful exhibit of items left at the wall, currently on display in our museum.
Thank you for your service, John!