“From the Tet Offensive in Vietnam to the Pulpit”
Virgil D. Aldag was born December 12, 1946 in Los Gatos, California. He is the second child of Virgil Henry and Rose Eleanor Aldag. He has two sisters, Janet and Bonnie.
Rose Aldag was the Town Clerk for the Town of Los Gatos, California. Los Gatos officials planted a ‘rose garden’ and a redwood tree leading to the town plaza dedicated to Rose E. Aldag commemorating her 31 years of public service as Town Clerk.
Virgil graduated from Los Gatos High School. He participated in many sports and the coaches at the high school stated that he was one of the most gifted athletes to have ever attended Los Gatos High School.
He went on to the University of California Polytechnic (Cal Poly), San Luis Obispo and majored in mechanical engineering. He later graduated from the University of San Francisco extension program, in Human Relations and Organizational Behavior.
Virgil entered the service on July 19, 1967. He was handed a Gideon Bible by a concerned stranger as he bordered a bus for the airfield to fly to Fort Bliss, Texas for boot camp. He was an “Outstanding Trainee” in boot camp. After boot camp he was sent to Fort Polk, Louisiana for advanced infantry training. In December 1967, after advanced training and before traveling to Vietnam, Virgil and his newborn daughter, Katherine, were baptized.
He received orders for Vietnam and arrived in Bien Hoa, Vietnam on January 3, 1968 as the Tet Offensive was about to begin. The Tet Offensive was a major escalation and one of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War. It was launched on January 30, 1968.
Virgil was assigned to Charlie company, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry the ‘Tomahawks’, Mechanized, 25th Division.
The 25th Infantry Division, nicknamed “Tropic Lightning” is a United States Army division based at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. The division, which was activated on October 1, 1941 in Hawaii conducts military operations primarily in the Asia-Pacific region. Its present deployment is composed of “Stryker”, light infantry, airborne, and aviation units. Tropic Lightning Soldiers serve as the premier Army response force for the U.S. Pacific Command. They regularly train with other U.S. military branches to practice and maintain joint operations capabilities.
During World War II the division participated in the Guadalcanal Campaign, the New Georgia Campaign, the Invasion of Luzon and the Occupation of Japan.
During the Korean War, the division fought in the breakout of the Pusan Perimeter with elements advancing as far as the Yalu River. The division defended Seoul against Chinese Communist attacks from May 1954 until the July armistice in late 1954.
After undergoing major reorganizations, the division deployed to South Vietnam in late 1965 and served in Vietnam until its withdrawal back to Hawaii in 1971. The division participated in Operation Atteboro, Operation Cedar Falls, Operation Junction City, the Battle of Saigon during the Tet Offensive, and the incursion into Cambodia.
Virgil’s company pursued the enemy from Saigon to Chu Chi, to Tay Ninh and throughout “The Iron Triangle” to the Hobo Woods. In May of 1968 military intelligence said that there was a battalion of North Vietnamese Army Regulars (NVA) heading to assault Tan Son Nhut Airbase north of Saigon. Company C and several other units were sent to cordon and defend the Airbase. On the second night Company C engaged the NVA. Company C’s ambush detail was wiped out as well as the flanking units between C company and the main units of the American forces.
The following is an award from the Department of the Army, and by direction of the President, of the Bronze Star Medal for Heroism for Virgil Aldag due to his heroic actions on May 27, 1968.
“For heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force: Specialist Four Aldag distinguished himself by heroic actions on 27 May 1968, while serving with Company C, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry in the Republic of Vietnam. With complete disregard for his own safety, Specialist Aldag exposed himself to intense enemy fire to direct mortar fire on an enemy location which was pouring fire on his position from within one hundred meters. Specialist Aldag continued to place effective fire on the enemy position for more than two hours when he was finally wounded by enemy fire. His valorous actions contributed immeasurably to the success of the mission and the defeat of the enemy force. Specialist Aldag’s personal bravery and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, the 25th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.”
Virgil was discharged from the Army on July 19, 1969 as a Specialist Five. When he was sent to Vietnam, he was 6’3” and 205lbs. After undergoing five surgeries for his stomach wound received in Vietnam his weight was reduced to 138lbs.
After recovering from his surgeries, he went to work for Western California Telephone in 1970. Western California was purchased by General Telephone and Electronics Corporation (GTE) in 1976. He was a Telecommunications draftsman for 7 years and then was promoted to management in Network Design. He helped design the network interface between GTE’s Venues and Pacific Bell and Continental Telephone, completing design of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. His network engineering background helped him become the Manager over GTE’s National Sales Documentation Group. His group provided documentation that instructed the sales group on how the networks worked to sell network services to businesses.
After retiring from GTE in 1998 he pursued becoming a Certified Lay Minister of the Methodist Church.
Virgil is currently a Certified Lay Minister for Lake Cities United Methodist Church in Lake Dallas, Texas. The ‘Lake Cities’ are the combined communities of Shady Shores, Hickory Creek, Lake Dallas, and Corinth, Texas.
He assists in all worship services for planning and execution. He visits shut-ins and the infirmed. He coordinates the North Texas Food Bank Produce Truck distribution of free produce to the Lake Cities communities. He is President of the United Methodist Men’s Group at his Church. He was a Chaplain at Baylor Medical Center Chaplaincy Training and was Chaplain for the Texas Military Order of the Purple Heart (Combat Wounded Veterans), and he is a Chaplain for the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 920, Denton, Texas.
Virgil has two daughters, Katherine Chevaun and Stephanie Lee.
He and his wife Sue live in Corinth, Texas.