Matias B.

As Interviewed by Katie T, March 23, 2019

Matias B.:In His Own Words

Hello my name is Katie Tarin and I’m here with my grandpa. Could you please state your name and military occupation?

Yes, Matias Benavidez. Medic, and, also, communications specialist.

Let’s get started with the questions. Can you explain your role in the military, so for each job what did they do?

Basically I was a medic, in case we had injuries every time we’d drop, jump on the drop zone. There are injuries so my job was to be there to render first aid to whoever needed it and that was it. And communications I was with the commanding officer, I was their communicator because I was a bilingual person and they needed my services as a bilingual person.

Can you tell me about your boot camp/training experience?

When I signed up for the military, Fort Hood was the basic training section of the military, so I trained there for basic training and became a tank driver for second armored held on wheels. Then once I got done with my basic training I transfered to Fort Sill, Oklahoma where I trained for artillery, long range, short range. When I got done with my basic there, I volunteered for the eighty second airborne in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. When I got there I applied for the application to be able to be a paratrooper, so you have to meet the qualifications to be able to do that, so physical fitness was very important, and, not many people made it so after all the training and the physical fitness exams once you qualify, then they take you to jump school and this is where they throw you out of an 18 foot tower, tied to a harness, to simulate parachute jumping. And then from then on, I went to medical school and I was a medic, when the Cuban crisis arose we, had to go to Panama and Cuba to train in the jungle and communicate and so at this time I would be with the company commander because I was a bilingual person and they needed that.

What was your scariest moment?

We had a battle jump and I got tangled up with another person on a parachute, we had to get separated because when you get tangled up, you are traveling 150 miles an hour going towards the Earth and if you tangle then you’re gonna land very hard, so luckily I managed to get away from that.

What made airborne stand out to you more differently than any other options?

Well, I had already done almost everything that you can do in the military except airborne, to me that was fun, it was something challenging, something new, and something that not too many people are doing. Only the crazy ones like me, out there jumping out of airplanes.

What did your family and friends think about you joining, or did they know?

No I just joined the army, nobody knew what I was doing, especially after I got my clearance, a top secret clearance everything, became a blur, my mother wasn’t aware that I was jumping out of airplanes, so she would've spanked my bottom if she knew what I was doing.

She eventually found out, right?

Yes, she found out when the FBI was out there checking me out, I had already volunteered, so they were looking for me and the FBI went to the house, and then my mom thought I’d done something wrong, and she panicked and got scared.

Did you see any combat, or did you hear any stories about it?

Not really, this was the beginning of Vietnam so I just saw some results as a medic. I saw the horrific wounds that the soldiers were receiving, or exposed to and, it’s not fun. That was it.

So, you’ve told me the snake story of you waking up to a snake being on top of you. Is that a normal thing that happened? What were some safety precautions you took to make sure an animal wouldn’t attack you?

Well we had the sleeping bags, our sleeping bags would cover you all the way up to your head. And then you zip a special screen that goes over your head so you won’t suffocate, so what happened, the weather temperature changed in the jungle, and the snake was looking for a warm place to lie on, and I happened to be the one that she picked. When I woke up I couldn’t figure out why my stomach was hurting cause a snake was on top of me and my friend, I told him to make sure that the snake wouldn’t bit[e] me, not to make any noise, so he started yelling and started running off, he did exactly the opposite thing, I told him not to do.

Last question, overall how was your military experience, like out of 10 what would you rate it?

I think my experience in the military was something that I would’ve never been able to experience in civilian life, so I give it a 10. It’s interesting, it’s fun, and it’s very, very informative and you can train for whatever you want.

That was my grandfather, Matias Benavidez on his military experience, and I’m Katie Tarin, the interviewer.