Navy Veteran Andres Ortega is today's #VeteranOfTheDay.

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy Veteran Andres Ortega, who served as a corpsman during Operation Desert Storm and in Somalia.

Andy Ortega was born in 1969 in Los Angeles, California. As a child of migrant workers, Ortega enlisted into the Navy out of high school in 1988 to afford higher education. Ortega elected to become a corpsman in the hopes of gaining medical experience. The Navy assigned him to a Marine unit after basic training.

“They promised me a nice, clean Navy hospital,” Ortega said. “Instead I ended up in the field with the Marines!”

While being a lone corpsman in the Marines can be difficult, Ortega spoke glowingly about the “symbiotic” relationship between Marines and their corpsman counterparts.

Ortega completed temporary assignments at naval hospitals in Southern California, as well as at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. While Ortega was in Virginia, the U.S. military was preparing to liberate Kuwait in Operation Desert Storm. Due to receiving his deployment orders late, Ortega quickly got married the day before he left for Saudi Arabia with the 1st Marine Division in September 1990.

Ortega’s first deployment was behind the lines in Saudi Arabia, where he was part of the 1st Medical Battalion’s surgical support group. Ortega and the rest of the division’s medical component worked treated American and allied soldiers. Following the end of hostilities, Ortega returned to the U.S. in early 1991.

Ortega would return to the Middle East for a second tour of duty starting in May 1992. Attached to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), Ortega was one of a four-man crew tasked with disposing of unexploded ordnance left over in the Iraq-Kuwait border region. Speeding across the desert in a Humvee, Ortega and his unit faced harsh weather and boobytraps laid by the retreating Iraqis. Despite the risks, Ortega’s team disposed of over 109,000 pieces of unexploded ordinance. They received a Letter of Commendation for their work. While returning from Kuwait, Ortega and the 11th MEU received orders to the Horn of Africa, in order to support United Nations operations in Somalia. Ortega stayed offshore to provide medical aid, while the 11th MEU secured the Mogadishu airport.

Ortega honorably discharged from the Navy in February 1993, at the rank of petty officer third class. After his time in the Navy, Ortega completed multiple degree programs and became a strong advocate for Veterans across the country. In his most recent work as a congressional advisor, Ortega was instrumental in drafting legislation that made it easier for Veterans to find subsidized housing. He also became the commander of his local Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars chapters.

Thank you for your service!


Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

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.

Veterans History Project

This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.


Contributors

Writer: Michael Rattner

Editor: Julia Pack

Fact checker: Kinsley Ballas

Graphic artist: Helena Strohmier

By VAntage Point Contributor

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Published on Aug. 27, 2021

Estimated reading time is 3 min.

Views to date: 139

One Comment

  1. louis a nieves August 27, 2021 at 11:20 pm

    saludos hermano i salute you! iam vietnam air force vet.thanks for your service.

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