“The Americal Division”
Stephen Larry Waryk (Steve), was born in Detroit, Michigan on November 20,1946. His parents were Ann and Steve Waryk and he is the younger brother of his sister Laurie.
Steve’s father was a special source inspector at Holley Carburetors in Detroit, Michigan and later at Signal Aircraft in Carlsbad, California.
Steve graduated from Oceanside High School in 1964. He attended MiraCosta College and then San Diego State University majoring in Industrial Arts.
Steve received his draft notice and joined the Army on March 23, 1969. He was sent to Ford Ord for boot camp and advanced individual training as an infantryman. He was then sent to Ft Lewis, Washington for staging with other infantrymen who were waiting for orders to be sent to Vietnam.
He arrived in Cam Ranh Bay in July 1969 for orientation and to wait for a combat unit assignment. Cam Ranh Bay was the major port of entry for U.S. military supplies and personnel in South Vietnam. It was located approximately 200 miles northeast of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) on the southern bulge of Vietnam, and had been an important way station for navigators since the time of Marco Polo. In June of 1965, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began improving the port with 70 miles of roads, warehouses, fuel tanks, and larger cargo-handling facilities. A new pier was shipped from South Carolina and assembled at Cam Ranh Bay, giving the facility the ability to handle six large vessels at the same time.
Steve was sent to Da Nang and then on to Chu Lai to join Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division more commonly known as the Americal Division.
His unit operated out of Landing Zone (LZ) Liz. Landing Zone Liz was a forward support base for the U.S. Marines and later for the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. LZ Liz was located in Quang Ngai Province, I Corps, south of Da Nang and Chu Lai, west of Highway 1, north of LZ Bronco and Duc Pho. LZ Liz consisted of two small hills with a saddle running in-between.
Beginning with the enemy Tet Offensive in January 1969, the LZ was attacked with mortar and rocket attacks. In June 1969 more enemy infiltration attacks were successful and the American artillery units sustained casualties. The access road became a time bomb as undetectable mines were planted.
Soon after he joined Alpha Company, they received orders to relieve Charlie company of the 3rd Battalion. It had been attacking up a mountain against units of a North Vietnamese Division. Charlie Company had suffered many casualties and Alpha Company was sent to relieve them and to continue the fight. Alpha Company took almost a day to climb the mountain as they fought the enemy while receiving heavy fire. At the end of the day they took control of the mountain as the enemy retreated.
Weeks later Alpha Company engaged the enemy outside of the Duc Pho Base Camp, also known as Landing Zone (LZ) Bronco. The LZ was located along Highway 1 approximately midway between Da Nang and Qui Nhon.
Alpha Company was then sent to provide security for Army Engineers that were clearing 10,000 acres near Duc Pho. The engineering units and support troops had been receiving many casualties Steve’s unit was sent to protect them while they worked.
Later, Alpha Company engaged the enemy at Mo Duc near the 515 Valley. They fought the 2nd NVA Division and 5 Viet Cong companies.
Soon, word came down to Division Headquarters that Secretary of Defense, Melvin Laird, had ordered that no further search and destroy missions were to be undertaken by the Americal Division.
Notable members of the Americal Division:
- General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
- Former Secretary of State Colin Powell
- Former Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge
Steve was discharged from the Army as a Sergeant in March of 1971. He went to work for Lusardi Construction Company. Lusardi Construction was founded in 1958 by Warner Lusardi and his father, Peter, in the garage of their Southern California home. In the years since, the firm has completed thousands of buildings and covering millions of square feet. It is one of the Nation’s most successful full-service general contractors. Steve became one of their Construction Superintendents and he worked for them for over 40 years, until his retirement.
Steve and his wife Jill live in Southern California and they have two daughters, Emily and Alyson, and two grandchildren