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#VeteranOfTheDay Army Veteran Jaime Pacheco

Jaime Pacheco enlisted in the Army in 1970 and trained as a combat engineer, medic and Ranger. He also became a qualified Airborne Pathfinder after completing training in Panama. When deployed to the Republic of Vietnam in October 1971, Pacheco was assigned as a Ranger in Company H (Ranger), 75th Infantry, where he served in various Ranger Teams as team medic and radioman.

Pacheco and his team engaged in combat reconnaissance missions in Vietnam. According to Pacheco’s friend, writer and Veteran Doug Sterner, Pacheco and 5–6 others would often be dropped into one kilometer squares of “no friendlies” zones called the “sterile box.” Every other encounter within this one kilometer of land would be a contact, an enemy encounter, resulting in combat. Attack helicopters would then support teams such as Pacheco’s for rescue and extraction upon contact. Rangers were notorious for their stealth and skill in combat, encountering enemies on most of their missions in “the sterile box.”

Pacheco wrote many letters to Sterner, often describing how his faith kept him resilient during the war in Vietnam. In one letter, Pacheco wrote, “but I tell you when He leads or shows me to where He wants me I’ll know I can’t ever be happy unless I do as He wants me to. As for going home, I don’t know yet. I’ll just let Him take care of that as He has taken care of me in all things.”

Sterner believed Pacheco’s faith influenced many of his actions in Vietnam and recalled one story in Pacheco’s letters of an encounter Pacheco had with a prisoner of war. On one mission with Team 76, Pacheco, early in the morning, made contact with enemy soldiers. One enemy was killed in action; however, Pacheco showed mercy upon the other. In a letter to Sterner, he wrote, “I understood that if I had of killed, which could have easily been done, I would never be able to rest in peace again.” He returned with his team and the prisoner of war safely to their base.  

On May 25, 1972, while serving as a team medic and radioman, Pacheco was killed in action during a mission. For his service, Pacheco was awarded a Silver Star. He was also awarded a Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters, an Air Medal and an Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, among others.

Pacheco was remembered by many, specifically his Ranger executive officer, who wrote, “I can honestly say that he is one of the few in this world who had no enemies.”

Pacheco is buried at the Memory Gardens Cemetery in his hometown of Hobbs, New Mexico. When he died, he left behind his wife, Olga, and 18-month-old son, Michael. His grandson is still holding onto his original black beret from Vietnam.

We honor his service.

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

Writer: Sarah McDonald
Editors: Cate Manning, Cynthia Xu
Researcher: John Bergstrom
Graphic Designer: Grace Yang

This post, #VeteranOfTheDay Army Veteran Jaime Pacheco, was originally published by the Veteran's Administration.

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2 days ago

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