Son reads of father's heroism


POSTED: Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Patrick Viela was only 2 when his father was killed in Vietnam, saving the lives of fellow soldiers during an attack near Cu Chi in 1968.

“;I never knew this man,”; said Viela, 43. “;I was raised by a stepfather who only had nice things to say about him.”;

For his bravery, Army Sgt. Douglas Factora was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross—one step below the Medal of Honor. Factora will be inducted into the U.S. Army Museum's Gallery of Heroes along with six other soldiers at Fort DeRussy in Waikiki at 1 p.m. tomorrow.

Factora's heroism was featured in a story in yesterday's Star-Bulletin. Viela read the piece on his way to work as a sewer maintenance worker at the city Department of Environmental Services.

“;I got goose bumps,”; Viela said. “;My eyes got all watery. All I know of him is what I see in pictures. There are pictures of him holding me ... but people told me he was a great man ... a tough guy. People say they see him in me and my son, his grandson.”;

Viela said he has been told that his father was a good football player at McKinley High School and probably could have played football in college but chose to enlist in the Army. His uncle, who helped raise him, told him about his father's exploits when he was in the sixth grade.

“;I always go to Punchbowl to be with him.”;

Vicki Olson, executive director of the museum, was excited when Viela walked into her office yesterday asking about the ceremony since Factora was one of the honored soldiers of whom she had no photographs.

On May 13, 1968, Factora was an assault vehicle commander with Troop C, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, who led an attack on a well-fortified enemy position. Directing the fire of his vehicle's machine gun and throwing hand grenades, he eliminated several of the hostile emplacements. Factora was wounded and thrown from his vehicle when it was struck by an enemy anti-tank rocket. He remounted the carrier, rallied his crew members and continued his assault, destroying several additional enemy positions.

Factora's vehicle was hit by an enemy anti-tank round, causing the vehicle to burst into flames and seriously wounding several crew members. Factora removed his wounded comrades, then died en route to the hospital.

The other inductees are, from World War II, Staff Sgt. George Iida; from the Vietnam War, Staff Sgt. Edward Kaneshiro, 1st Lt. John Kauhaihao, Capt. Linus Chock and Capt. Robert Caliboso; and from the Korean War, Pvt. Paulino Hernaez.

The Gallery of Heroes exhibit honors people who were born in Hawaii or entered service from Hawaii or lived here for at least 10 years.

The inductees have to be recipients of one of the country's two highest medals of valor—the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross or its equivalents, the Navy Cross and Air Force Cross.