Humboldt Park, Chicago
I enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1969. The Vietnam War was still going on. I did boot camp in San Diego. In December 1969 I was sent to Hue and did 2 tours. Our base was overrun twice. Second tour I got hit. They were firing harassment rounds. I ran towards a bunker when I got hit in both legs. They carried me out to the LZ and I was medevac-ed out by helicopter. I could see mortar rounds hitting and guys dying. I was sent to Balboa Medical Center in San Diego. I learned to walk again in 6 months. I got a hairline fracture in a truck accident and finished my tour of duty. My final assignment was Drill Sergeant. I left the Marine Corps in 1978 after 9 years. I was awarded 2 Purple Hearts. I started having PTSD.
I came back to Chicago to help my father who had injured himself. I got a job as a forklift operator. I left my girlfriend on bad terms and moved back to my old apartment. The company I worked for went bankrupt in 1993. I couldn’t pay the rent. I stayed with my father until I could get another job. My brother accused me of stealing his money; called the cops on me. They got a restraining order. I had to go to court for violating it. I found a shelter in Pilsen. Had a variety of jobs. I got a room at Lugo Hotel, an SRO in Pilsen for $42 a week. I stayed for 15 years.
One day I fell down in winter, hurt my back, went to the VA Hospital. They gave me a walker. I had a few fainting spells. I went to the Lorali Hotel another SRO, for a year. When it closed my case worker helped me find this place, the Leland Hotel. I have a fridge, air conditioning and a clean bathroom. Now I’m here and I’m gonna stay. It’s beautiful here. It’s clean; no bed bugs at all>