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Several Veterans honored at the TEC campus

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Things have changed significantly in the years since Paul Skizinski served in the US Navy, “The main difference is technology. I was responsible for looking at different images, from radar, and of battle. The technology today is much different than when I served.” He served four years from 1964 to 1968 in the Vietnam War. He scanned war zones with radar, like a scout viewing the ocean for movement.

Mr. Skizinski joined the reconnaissance squadron out of Florida. He flew to Norfolk, Virginia and served on the USS Forrestal, an aircraft carrier. They trained in the Caribbean. Then in June of 1967, they set sail for Vietnam and the Tonkin Gulf off the Gulf of North Vietnam. It was an operation area where they would send planes, bombers, and fighters to wage war on North Vietnam. Ms. Skizinski told students about an incident when planes were all fueled up, “full of armament and ready to take off when there was an electrical malfunction which caused one planes to fire a rocket into a fuel tank of another starting a fire.  A damage control team was on board, the chief grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran across the flight deck to put the fire out. It was just then that the first of 9,000-pound thermal fused bombs exploded on the flight deck. The chief was killed and it blew a hole in the flight deck killing men below deck as well.  134 of his shipmates were lost that day”.

USS Forrestal- navy.mil image

He says the fire continued to spread, burning across the flight deck, “Planes were pushed overboard to avoid more explosions”. Mr. Skizinski teared up explaining the events of that day but is proud to say many did survive that day because of the bravery and efforts of his shipmates.

He spends time sharing these stories with Englewood students, “I think it’s important for students to understand how we built this great country and the freedom we have.”

He and several other Veterans took part in a Veterans breakfast Friday morning at the TEC campus.

Dean Mandy Miller and her Veteran father, David Steinbach view the Veterans Memorial at the entrance to the TEC campus.

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Several Veterans honored at the TEC campus