Celestino Perez Salinas was born July 11, 1947 in Coy City, Texas, the eldest son of Guadalupe O. Salinas and Aurora Davila Perez. He attended high school in Burlington, Wyoming. He was drafted in 1967 and served in the U.S. Army. After basic training in Ft. Bliss, Texas, Celestino received advanced infantry training in Ft. Polk, Louisiana. He then served a tour of duty as a combat infantry soldier with Company D, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 1st. Infantry Division in War Zone D, in Quan Loi and Phouc Vinh, South Viet Nam. His unit was nick-named the Black Scarves. While in Viet Nam he was promoted to Sergeant. His unit performed numerous Search and Destroy operations and were involved in numerous contacts with the Viet Cong. The most significant Battle was in Bu Dop on Hill 173 on December 7 1967. Celestino’s unit was there providing protection to Special Forces Compound. The battle lasted into the early morning hours of December 8. A morning sweep around the compound revealed 54 dead VC and 4 POWs. Celestino led his squad on several nighttime ambushes during his tour in Viet Nam. Celestino received several military medals to include the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
Celestino returned to Powell, Wyoming from Viet Nam and on 20 August 1968 he married his sweetheart, Olga Sanchez from Crystal City, Texas. Celestino and his wife Olga moved to Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri where he served as a Drill Instructor training recruits. It was while they were assigned to Ft. Leonard Wood that his wife Olga presented Celestino with their first child, Roy Salinas.
Celestino separated from the United States Army with an Honorable Discharge in December 1969 and went to work for United States Steel Corp in Joliet, Illinois. He entered into an apprenticeship as a machinist. In 1973. His wife Olga presented Celestino with their second child, a daughter Lucinda.
He was laid off from US Steel and went to work for the Civil Service at Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, Illinois as a machinist working in the manufacture of various defense weapons.
In 1974 he was transferred to Ft. Wingate, New Mexico. While there he used his GI Bill and attended the University of New Mexico, Gallup Branch. It was while they were in Gallup that Olga presented Celestino with their third child, Celestino Salinas Jr.
In 1980 before he could complete his studies he accepted and entered the Quality Assurance, Specialist (Ammunition Surveillance), QASAS program in Savanna, Illinois. He graduated from the Defense Ammunition Center in Savanna, Illinois as a QASAS inspector in 1981.
Celestino first assignment was to Pueblo in 1981 thru 1982. He was assigned to work and inspect for serviceability conventional and chemical munitions and guided missiles.
In 1982 Celestino was again assigned back to Ft. Wingate in Gallup, New Mexico. While assigned there he was involved in the demilitarization of various obsolete munitions. Olga surprised Celestino and presented him with their fourth child, Mark Salinas.
He then was assigned to Miesau Army Depot, Miesau, Germany, in 1984 thru 1999. He was a Branch Chief and supervised German nationals doing maintenance and inspections on conventional ammunition. While there he attended Central Texas College Branch in Miesau. He and his family explored Germany and toured Paris, Barcelona and Luxemburg while stationed in Germany.
In July 1989, after returning from Germany he was assigned to Lake City, Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri serving as a member of the Contracting Officers Representative in Ammunition Surveillance.
He served as the Small Arms Program Manager, Ammunition Surveillance Division at the Joint Munitions Command in Rock Island, Illinois from 1991 thru 1996. While assigned there he attended evening classes at Western Illinois University Branch in Rock Island. During this assignment he was deployed to Saudi Arabia in 1992 and Haiti twice in 1994 and 1995. Again, he could not complete his studies due to the constant deployment requirements.
Celestino was deployed to Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia he was the Chief, Ammunition Surveillance at the Temporary Storage Site (TSA) #4 near King Khalid Military City. His group of inspectors monitored the process of clean, packing, loading and moving munitions left behind by the Armed Forces at the end of Operation Desert Storm and shipping to port and then to Germany and other various destinations.
Celestino was deployed to Haiti. In Haiti he was the ammunition and explosives advisor to the UN Contingency Forces who were overseeing the transition of the government of Haiti after the ouster of dictator Raoul Cedras.
Celestino was then reassigned to Vilseck, Germany in 1996 where he served as the Chief of Ammunition Surveillance at Vilseck Ammunition Supply Point. During this assignment he was deployed in support of our troops in Bosnia, Croatia and Hungry in support of ammunition logistics. He returned briefly from Bosnia to Vilseck to witness his son, Celestino Jr. take his oath and joined the Army. He then returned to finish his deployment.
He returned from Germany and was assigned as an instructor at the Defense Ammunition Center, McAlester, Oklahoma in August 1998. Celestino was then in assigned in September 2000 to Ft. Hood, Texas where he instructed classes in the Transportation of Hazardous Munitions and Container Certification for the transportation of hazardous cargo.
In February 2003 Celestino was then assigned to Camp Humphreys, Republic of Korea as the Chief of Surveillance. He was responsible for the quality assurance of the conventional ammunition and explosives stored at various sites in his area of responsibility. Celestino returned to Ft. Hood after his assignment in Korea again as an instructor. While in Ft. Hood he was deployed on September 2003 with the 4th Infantry Division to Camp Speicher, Iraq. His mission was to support the Division Ammunition Officer in the logistics of conventional ammunition matters.
Celestino retired with 32 years from the Federal Civil Service in May 2005. He then went to work for Northrop Grumman Corp in Ft. Irwin, California as a Senior Supervisor. He was responsible for the siting of the Forward Field Ammunition Supply Point and submitting the documentation for approval by the Defense Explosives Safety Board. Celestino retired after two years for the second time and he and his wife Olga settled in Bynum, Texas.
Celestino was then called back to duty as an annuitant Quality Assurance Specialist, Ammunition Surveillance. His first assignment was at Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama. He was employed from February 2006 through January 4, 2008
His first area of responsibility was to inspect all storage and laboratory test sites to assure they were safe for storage and test of explosives. He also mentored personnel performing operations involved with Arms, Ammunition and Explosives (AA&E).
Celestino was then assigned to McGregor Ammunition Supply Point, Ft. Bliss, Texas. He worked there from September 2017 through April 2021. Celestino was involved in various areas of responsibility to include oversight in unit’s training at the ranges. Some major areas of responsibilities were to inspect and process ammunition malfunctions, ammunition storage sites and shipping and receiving operations.
Celestino enjoyed several hobbies, including RVing with his wife Olga, hunting, fishing, reading and researching family history. Later in his career hunting and fishing became scarce. They settled in Matherville, Illinois not too far from their daughter Lucinda.
Celestino has always told his wife of 54 years that they have been blessed with their children and grandchildren, and he for having such a wonderful wife.
He goes home to the Lord to reunite with his parents Guadalupe Ochoa Salinas and Aurora Perez Salinas; his brothers, Domingo Salinas and Johnny Salinas; son-in-law Kenneth Sanders.
He is survived by his wife Olga Sanchez Salinas, children Roy (Missy) Salinas, Lucinda Sanders, Celestino Salinas Jr. and Mark Salinas, brothers, Michael Salinas, Guadalupe (Susan) Salinas, Gerardo (Tamara) Salinas, Albert (Carrie) Salinas; sisters, Teresa (Victor) Rodriguez, Gloria Salinas and Felicita (Antonio) Perea, 9 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren as well as one uncle, Jesus Perez and numerous nieces, nephews, and relatives.
Visitation will be at Dennison Funeral Home, Viola on Monday, January 2nd from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., with recitation of the rosary prior to visitation at 4:30 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, January 3rd at St. Anthony Catholic Church, Matherville. Burial, with military honors, will be in Rock Island National Cemetery. Memorials may be left for St. Anthony Catholic Church.
Online condolences may be left at www.dennisonfuneralhome.com.