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John V. Skiles

Wars: Korea–Vietnam
Service Dates: Sept. 1954-Sept. 1976
Branch: United States Army
Unit: U.S. Army Intelligence
Service Locations: 
European and Far Eastern Theater of Operations
Highest Rank: SFC E7
Medals/Special Service Awards: 
Army Commendation Medal
Bronze Star Medal
Meritorious Service Medal
National Defense Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Birth Year: 1936
Place of Birth: Manila, Philippines


Mr. Skiles also provided the following information about his military service:

Mr. John Siles began his military career with his elistment in the United States Army in September 1954 at Clarks Field, Philippines. After Basic Training at Fort Ord, California, he was assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina as a translator/interpreter in Tagalog, a language of the Philippines. While at Fort Bragg, he also underwent leadership training. Between 1956–63, he had assignments at Fort Meade, Maryland, HQ. U.S. Army Pacific Command in Hawaii, and Fort Irwin, California doing translation and performing various intelligence duties.

His military education continued with studies in the Indonesian language at the U.S. Army Language School in Monterey, California as well as interrogation training at Fort Holobird, Maryland. This led him to assignments in the 6th Army area to train units and Prisoner of War handling and Code of Conduct training prior to their deployment to Vietnam.

In May 1966, he volunteered for Vietnam and was assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 25th Division in Pleiku in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam. His duties included interrogation of all NVAs and civilians captured in the area of responsibility for immediate tactical information. He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for services during this period.

Following his tour in Vietnam, he came back to California to the Defense Language Institute (DLI) West Coast, Monterey, California and studied German for a year to prepare for his next assignment with the 18th Military Intelligence Battalion as the NCOIC/Interrogator at the Joint Interrogation Center in Germany. His duties from 1968–71 were to gather tactical and strategic information from all border crossers and other human sources.

After his tour in Germany, Mr. Skiles attended the Defense Language Institute (DLI) Southwest, Biggs Field, Texas to study Vietnamese (South) language for one year. After language school in 1972, he was then assigned to Saigon, Republic of Vietnam to supervise the translation and interrogation sections. He was assigned to the Four-Party Committee (Canada, Indonesia, Poland and the United States) until the end of the Vietnam War as liaison, interpreter and translator for the U.S./Indonesian parties and participated in four trips to North Vietnam to supervise the orderly exchanges of our American Prisoners of War (POWs) and their safe landing in American territory in the Philippines. He remained in Vietnam until all U.S. tactical forces were closed down in 1973. Mr. Skiles was awarded the Bronze Star for his duties there.

His final training at DLI in Monterey, California was to study the Korean language in 1974 followed by one year in Seoul, Korea as the Operations NCO supervising interrogations in the training and conduct of interrogations. In September 1976, he ended 22 years of continuous service at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona at the U.S. Army Intelligence School as an instructor at the Interrogation School for the Armed Forces, where he earned the Meritorious Service Cross.

Mr. Skiles' devotion to military service followed that of his father, Arthur F. Skiles, who joined the U.S. Army in Kentucky, fought in the Spanish-American War and saw actions in the Battle of San Juan Hill, Cuba and the Battle of Manila Bay, Philippines. Mr. Skiles Sr. settled in Manila after the war where he married John's mother and raised his family. John was born in Manila, Philippines in June 1936 where we was raised. He attended the University of St. Thomas for two years prior to his enlistment.

After his retirement from the U.S. Army, John and his family settled down in Cerritos in 1973. John became successful in the real estate and mortgage industries, until a life-threatening illness and a needed liver transplant in 1992. He is a survivor for 15 years now and is considered by the UCLA Liver Transplant team as one of their longest living transplantees.

John has been married for 48 years to his wife, Toni, who also retired from a successful career with the VA Medical Center in Long Beach. They have five children: Peter, Maria, Stephanie (Ogata), John Jr. and Joanne (Couch) who are very successful in their own careers. John and Toni also have six grandchildren now and one on the way as the seventh grandchild.

John and Toni have been active members of the SC Philippine-U.S. Veterans Association for 20 years. John served as its President for the last three years and is now Chairman of the Board as well as a member of the Filipino Seniors of Cerritos Association for the past 8 years. Toni serves as its Secretary for the last 5 years. John and Toni are very involved in community service in Cerritos.

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