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Helped detect Ho Chi Minh Trail
Mantecan: Proud to say Im a Vietnam veteran
Manteca resident Dave Steffy during the Vietnam War. - photo by Photo Contributed



• 11 a.m.  Veterans Day ceremonies at Library Park in downtown Manteca
• 10:30 a.m.  Veterans Day ceremonies at the Veterans War Memorial, Second & Locust, Ripon
• 11 a.m. Veterans Day at Valverde Park’s Veterans Memorial Wall, Lathrop


• 9:30 a.m. Brock Elliott School, Brock Elliott Day

It might be more than 40 years after he wrapped up his service to the United States Navy, but Dave Steffy is still receiving recognition for his efforts during the Vietnam War.

Last week, Steffy and the members of his VO-67 unit – a highly classified flight squadron that dropped sensors in Laos and Vietnam to determine the route of the Ho Chi Minh trail – were honored in Charleston, South Carolina, on the USS Yorktown for their contributions.

While details of his missions weren’t available until 1998, the role that Steffy and his fellow air crewmen played will forever be memorialized in the Enlisted Air Crewman’s Roll of Honor. It is something that gives him an added sense of pride for his military service.

“The criteria that was required for admission including having to fly so many combat missions, and being able to accept that with the rest of our squadron and getting the chance to see the guys who were killed in action listed on that was a great honor,” Steffy said. “I’m proud of my service to my country, and I’m proud of doing what my country asked me to do.

“I did a lot of growing up over there, and I’m proud to say that I’m a Vietnam veteran.”

And the decorations of the squadron don’t end at last week’s event.

For their continued aerial support of the Marine Corps base at Khe Sanh, South Vietnam, the squadron was awarded the silver “Combat Aircrew Wings” by the corps. It is an honor that further establishes the work that was done to detail information about the heavily fortified and deadly Ho Chi Minh trail.

And in Steffy’s case, the work he was originally slated to do went out the window when planes and personnel started getting taken down by enemy fire. Originally a radioman, Steffy was forced to step into the role of an aerial gunner on the missions – something he did for the remainder of his tour in the country.

Once he was finally discharged from the Navy, Steffy started attending college in Southern California, met the woman who would become his wife, and embarked a career in data processing. He also started a family.

Today he lives at Del Webb at Woodbridge with his wife. He maintains his connection to airplanes by flying remote-controlled models. He also likes to stay involved with the activities offered to the residents of Del Webb, and takes comfort in knowing that there’s a strong presence of other veterans living in the community.

“It’s great living in a town that recognizes what veterans have done for this country,” Steffy said. “In the last several years, Vietnam vets have gotten a lot more respect, and it’s a real honor. Today the entire military is looked at in a different light – when guys get back from their tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, people that see them walking through the airports thank them for their service and ask if they can buy them dinner. That’s different than what we saw when we came home, and it’s good to know that change finally happened. It says a lot about people and their level of respect.”