Cipriano "Nano" Carlos Wildenstein, 75, a Bronze Star Medal recipient, well-decorated, distinguished, and respected veteran of the United States Military, passed away on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, at the Kindred Hospital in Albuquerque.
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He was born in Las Vegas on April 30, 1938, to Charles "Charlie" Wildenstein and Juanita "Jane" Ortega.
He was preceded in death by his parents; nephew, Kelly; aunt, Antonia "Toni" Ortega Sedillo; and maternal grandparents, Victoriano Ortega and Valeria Gonzales, and paternal grandparents, Ymeteria Yara Guerin and Rudolpho Wildenstein.
He is survived by his wife, Pam Greenfield Wildenstein, and a son, John Wildenstein; brother, Rudy and wife, Irene Aragon of Santa Fe, and daughter, Debbie of Santa Fe, and son, Kevin, an attorney of Albuquerque; sister, Mary Louise Abreu and husband, Ernie of Las Vegas, and their children, Jim, Ernest Charles, Bob, Don, John, Rick, Loretta, a U.S. Army veteran, all of Las Vegas, and Michael, a Navy Captain, of Washington, DC; and Nano's youngest sister, Frances Neatherlin and husband John of Carlsbad, and their children, Frances Lyn of Raleigh, Calif. and Sheila of Lawrenceburg, Ky., many grandnieces and grandnephews.
Nano was raised on Valley Street and went to school in West Las Vegas. He joined the U.S. military out of high school in the mid-1950s. He spent 38 years in the military or working with military veterans in one capacity or another, performed counseling at the VA Hospital in Albuquerque after retirement, and received 32 medals for service, courage and valor during his military service during peace and wartime - one was the Bronze Star Medal with the "V" device for valor, (the fourth highest U.S. military individual award for heroism, merit or meritorious service), and several Purple Heart Medals for wounds he suffered during his four tours in Vietnam. He served 11 months as a POW during that time, eventually escaping on his own. He served in Germany and did a military tour in Iran during the late 1970s where he worked for the Inspector General.
Nano was proud of an experience in Vietnam when he was able to take his M4 tank and his team back into their camp after it was overrun by the enemy to rescue three fallen soldiers and retrieve their battalion flag while under enemy fire. He later donated the flag on behalf of himself and his comrades in arms to Dr. Victor Westphall, the founder of the N.M. Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Angel Fire.
Nano hung a picture at his home with Dr. Westphall and him holding the flag at the presentation. The battalion flag remains at the Memorial to this day.
Nano loved animals and donated to many charities and shelters for animals and their care. He got a kick out of the Tasmanian Devil character and he had the "TAZ" logo on all his cars and around his home.
He was a master at restoring old vehicles and had several classic Corvettes and 1950s Chevys that he meticulously restored through the years. He lived a very exciting and eventful life and he lived it to the fullest. He was religious later in life and spent time daily at prayers and quiet contemplation. He enjoyed visiting with his military and lifelong friends. He leaves a grieving family grateful for having had him in their lives. Nano was always a little larger than life and he had a great personality and way about him that made him a delight to be around.
There will be a Memorial Rosary at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, followed by a Memorial Mass at 9:15 a.m., both in Albuquerque at Sangre de Cristo Church at 8901 Candelaria Road NE. A Committal Service will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Monday in Santa Fe at the National Cemetery, where he will be interred in honor of his military service.
French Mortuary is handling funeral services.
Published in Las Vegas Optic on Jan. 29, 2014