Reader-submitted content: Vietnam vet remembered

Editor's note: Canuto Montano, a highly decorated Vietnam vet, died Feb. 27 in Clovis. The following tribute recounts some of his many accomplishments:

Kenneth Joseph (Canuto) Montano moved to Tucumcari in 1945 with his parents, who came from Anton Chico.

Canuto's father was working in the mines at Hiawatha, Utah, where Canuto was born in 1941. After moving to Tucumcari, his father worked for many years for the railroad.

Canuto started at Central School, then moved to Four Points and junior high. In high school, he became disenchanted with school and quit during the 10th grade (he would have graduated with the class of 1961).

He worked at various jobs around town; Congress Inn, Tucumcari Truck Terminal and others, before deciding that he wanted to join the Army and go to Vietnam.

At age 26, Canuto enlisted, thinking the war would soon end. After being at Fort Bliss, Texas, where he received his GED and a medic badge, he was sent to Fort Bragg N.C., with the elite 82nd Airborne. After one year, he was off to Vietnam with the 101st Division Airborne as a ground-pounder on search and destroy missions. He also became an M60 machine gunner.

During the Tet Offensive in 1968, he was wounded in Hue and received the Purple Heart. After spending three weeks in the hospital, he went back to his unit and then came home when his tour was over.

Thinking that the war was going to be over soon, he volunteered for his second tour with a helicopter unit and volunteered to be a door gunner, then got promoted to a crew chief and a flight engineer on a Chinook CH47 helicopter. His helicopter got involved in combat support and supply, taking infantry units in and out of hot and cold landing zones ( LZ's), most of the time hot LZ's. He logged over 1,000 flying hours in combat, supporting infantry units, for which he received numerous air combat medals. He eventually asked that he not get any more such medals as he already had 25 of them.

Throughout his four years in Vietnam, he received 25 Air Combat Assault by Helicopter Medals, one Purple Heart, one Bronze Star for a rescue, Jump Wings for Airborne, Combat for Infantry (CIB) for being with an infantry unit, Flight Wings for being a door gunner, the Army Accommodation Medal and the Army Good Conduct Medal.

In 1971, after completing his fourth tour in Vietnam, Sergeant Montano came back to Tucumcari at the age of 31 to help his elderly father and mother.

— Submitted by Norma Crellin

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