Medals and Awards: Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense, New York State Conspicuous Service Medal, Army Sharpshooter M-16
TAOR- Da Nang, South Vietnam I Corp
In Saigon worked the docks, oversaw Vietnamese workers loading and unloading military cargo ships. U.S. naval transports all military cargo use for war. Most ships carried ammo, c rations M-16 rifles, mortars, military uniforms.
E-4 Spec 4
Communicator- radio operator
Helicopter door gunner
Duties: To install a radio communication system between various military units while a radio operator attached to the United States Marine Corps TAD (temporary assigned duty) as a machine gunner
Oversaw Vietnamese hired labor to unload by hand U.S. military equipment
Duties in Saigon when attached to radio 25th infantry duties were to monitor, transmit and repair troubled radio transmissions. Also duties involved repair of the military radios which involved repair to the main frame, handset, antenna and battery connections.
Greg DiPaolo was born Aug. 8, 1947 to August and Betty (Miller) DiPaolo. The family resided on Sheridan Drive in Clarence. He attended the Clarence Central School system from kindergarten to graduation. While in high school DiPaolo played baseball on the high school team during the warm weather. During the fall he could be found doing pushups or running plays for the football team. As a teenager he enjoyed fast cars. Those were the years of the muscle cars including the Plymouth Roadrunner, the Chevy SS 396, the Pontiac Goat (GTO) and the Ford Shelby Mustang. It was common to see four cars stopped at a red light each one having 300 horsepower under the hood. On the weekends you would catch him at the Lancaster Speedway. He would try anything to gain one horsepower or take one tenth of a second off that quarter mile race. It was common to buy a car on Friday from a dealer and race it on the F-Pure Stock category and come home Sunday with a trophy. DiPaolo's dream car that he owned was a 1965 GTO 389 with a A-4 speed. His car could fly as if it had wings and he had to work extra hours to keep the tire tread legal on his car.
Working to keep his car on the road meant hard work. His dad worked in the construction field. Working in concrete to produce driveways, sidewalks and patios meant someone with a strong back moved those wheel barrows full of concrete to the backyard. That someone on weekends and after school was DiPaolo.
When the war in Vietnam kicked into full gear, it was time for him to do his part. In February of 1968 he was finishing his order of hot chicken wings at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo. He was there for lunch after being signed into the U.S. Army. After he finished his wings he had 30 minutes before the bus was ready to pick him and the other soldiers up. He headed to Fort Dix to start his basic training.
After basic, he was off to Fort Gordon in Georgia. After his infantry training he received orders for Westpac (Vietnam). He received his 30 day leave to return home before he was to start his tour of duty in Southeast Asia. It was September 1969 the fastest month in the life of Greg DiPaolo . Like many other military who came home for a 30-day-leave prior to reporting for a new assignment, the days flew so fast you had wondered where all 30 went. With airline tickets to Oakland, Calif. DiPaolo headed for Saigon, South Vietnam.
While in Vietnam he served in three different titles. He first landed a job in the field he was trained in, communications and radio repair. As his tour progressed, the marines were losing men faster than they could replace them. He was reassigned to the gunner's seat of CH34 marine combat chopper. His duties there were to man a 60mm machine gun to give the chopper and crew support when flying and landing. As his tour was winding down he was then assigned to warehousing where he supervised South Vietnamese civilians working in the shipyards to help load and unload military equipment.
When his tour was over, he was standing in San Francisco International Airport with tickets to take him home. He picked up his part-time job and converted it to his full-time job. The work was hard but the money was good. It paid $12 per hour and in the summer months he could put in a lot of extra hours when the sun shined. He was no longer working for Uncle Sam; he now was employed by Saviola Construction Co. The work was curbing, gutter sand flat concrete work.
While in Vietnam he was hit with malaria which at times affected his health. He has been treated on many occasions by the Veteran's Administration and even to this day deals with the problems associated with malaria. In 1977 DiPaolo met Patti Ann Brind and they have been together ever since. In 2002 they purchased the Sugar Hill Golf Course on Route 5 in Portland. It was formerly called the Caddyshack and since the purchase they have totally renovated the club and restaurant. The nine hole course was also improved and is now one of the featured local courses. The couple dedicated to Sugar Hill does their best to keep the course open to the public from March to December, weather permitting. He remembers a year since running the course when golf was played during every month of the year.
DiPaolo is another local veteran who during the summer months is the coursekeeper at Sugar Hill. No one now pictures him as a radio operator or a machine gunner on a combat flying helicopter. Now he makes sure his course is ready to play, making sure it's challenging but not impossible for one to get a hole in one. There are so many heroes with no signs, no medals, no ribbons. Just picking up and going on with their lives makes the hero. That's why Greg DiPaolo is our Hero of the Week. Greg DiPaolo, welcome home.