Tony Novotny

Profile Updated: January 14, 2019
Tony Novotny
Residing In: Belgrade, MT USA
Spouse/Partner: Peggy
Occupation: Professional Land Surveyor-Broker
Children: Karen, born 1968; Russ III, born 1969; Lee, born 1973
Military Service: U S Army Engineers Vietnam  
Yes! Attending Reunion
Comments:

Have been remarried to Peggy since 1986, the year we took her son, Adam, & my younger son, Lee, both teenagers, to our Upper Ruby Property (URP as we call it) on the river right after we bought it. It's 45 miles from Yellowstone Nat'l Park & so has virtually all the critters the Park has. We tent camped there for 10 days that year (no grizzlies bothered us, & wolves had not yet been reintroduced). Then, in 1999, we moved closer to it so we could enjoy it more. An elk hunting buddy & I built a cabin on it & we have been adding to & improving the cabin as a "work in progress" ever since - but it still maintains its quite primitive aura by being a 45-minute drive from any Montana town having a grocery store, hardware store, etc. From the sunny, south-facing deck of the cabin we can see moose, elk, whitetail deer, mule deer, antelope, & big horn sheep. In more hidden away nearby places we have seen wolves, cougar, black bear, beaver, badger, bobcats, ermine, etc. It is most definitely God’s great cathedral in “Big Sky Country!” And since it is "God's Country", He won't let me leave it - which is why I did not make the 50th Reunion!
After I spent a year in Washington, D.C. in a Dept of Interior management training program, Peggy & I met when I was a 3rd level manager/Assistant Branch Chief at the Denver Federal Center of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Nat’l Mapping Division & we both had a couple of teenagers to finish raising. Before that I had been a “field party chief” doing topographic surveying work for the same outfit, over 13.5 years moving 32 times state-to-state amongst AZ, CA, ID, GA, NC, NV, OR, UT, VA, & WA. This included a “military furlough” for 3 years in the U.S. Army after I enlisted because the Downey Draft Board was about to grab my frame anyway; one of those years was spent in Vietnam – I left for there with my first child, daughter Karen, being only 6-weeks old.
Vietnam was a life-changing, extremely spiritual, yet a very positive personal growth experience that made a naive American truly aware! While in a hub for transporting troops to numerous & varied Army outposts across the Mekong Delta, I stumbled across Bill Calitri (the Pius X website shows him as deceased in 2005) – what are the odds of two high school buddies encountering each other “across the big pond” at the same place & the same time? We were assigned to Long Binh, he as a clerk-typist in a major command center, me to the 66th Engineering Company (Topographic) – the southernmost of the only two such Army units in Vietnam. When I was not in the jungle & got back to base camp I often got a chance to see Bill. As an Army sergeant, & a topographic surveyor like I was in my civilian job, I led considerably younger soldier-surveyors; I turned 25 there & had several in my squad that I was responsible for who were 18 & even 17-years-old. As of this writing in 2010, most people know what global positioning system (GPS) is. GPS did not exist then, so we determined latitude-longitude positions on “control stations,” that GPS is now tied to, the traditional, difficult way. That is, we built 113-foot Bilby steel towers (having an inner tower for a delicate, high precision theodolite to rest on a separate foundation than the outer tower we topographic surveyors walked around) above the jungle 16 vertical feet at a time. The towers enabled line of sight to distant geodetic control stations 40 or 50 miles away because they rose above the jungle & negated earth curvature. Then, to obtain the high order of accuracy required, we took observations at night with lights on the distant control stations. We often went into “bad” areas without infantry soldiers for support. Our anxieties arose not only from being shot by the Viet Cong (VC) while building or “making observations” from a tower, but wondering if we could survive when we might hit the ground from that high up. The purpose of all this work was to provide more accurate coordinates for artillery strikes against the VC, for better navigation of aircraft & supply convoys, & for improving accuracy of old French mapping & control stations. Surprisingly, I was not hit while building, tearing down, moving or “occupying” one of these towers but rather was ambushed on the ground. A counterpart surveyor-Sgt. Mays, from VA , & I were among the most efficient operators of surveying instruments. We were going into a bad area called Bear Cat where one of our own had been shot a couple weeks before when we had no infantry soldiers with us. Our goal was to spend the least amount of time there needed to get scientific observations completed for determining precise elevations. The VC let us pass them hiding in a village on our way to a “bench mark” from which Mays & I began double running “differential leveling.” We were side-by-side looking through our respective surveying instruments when the VC shot a M-79 rifle grenade between us (the M-79 grenade launcher is a potent U.S. weapon the VC likely stole off of a dead American or else traded our not-so-honorable Army of Vietnam allies out of). The grenade exploded at about chest level & knocked me off my feet & onto my back. Mays was hit in the stomach but was still standing. I yelled at him to get down in the tall grass because he made too good a target standing upright. The VC were shooting at our whole platoon hunkered down in the tall grass. I was hit in the femoral vein of left groin about an inch from the “family jewels.” I remember looking down at my groin & seeing blood spurting every time my heart beat. I quit looking & resigned myself to the fact that I was going to bleed to death. A couple of soldiers in my squad put a compress on the wound to slow down the bleeding. Then a Huey “dustoff” medevac chopper showed up & they ran with me on a stretcher & put me on the chopper’s deck. Mays got behind the chopper’s .50 cal. machine gun & was trying to fire back at the VC. About that time I felt extreme warmth, saw the intense bright light of near death, settled up with God, & passed out, believing I would never wake up again. I never met the gutsy Huey pilot who came in under fire & got me to a medevac unit, & I never met the expert Army doctor who put my lacerated femoral vein back together & put 5 pints of blood back in me. Such are the urgencies of combat that most civilian Americans cannot fathom – these two unsung heros were just doing their jobs like I had been doing! Anyway, I was told the Thai infantry allies with us went into the village & killed every living man, woman, child, dog, & cat that there was – these dudes were ruthless soldiers! I’m of the belief the VC could have shot at us from a tunnel entrance & then escaped in a tunnel (read the paperback “Tunnels of Cu Chi,” a nearby place & one of the many places I worked in & around). Sgt. Mays was sent home after exploratory stomach surgery in Japan. I was sent to Cam Ranh Bay in-country to a convalescent hospital for 6 weeks, then sent back to my unit. Upon my return I was awarded Purple Heart & Army Commendation Medals. You can find me on the National Hall of Honor website: www.thepurpleheart.com (eventually I hope to elaborate with pictures on that website).
Incidentally, I was in Vietnam February 1968 to Feb 1969; I only state this in case any class mates could relate to this timeframe, or else the place names I’ve mentioned herein, from having been there themselves.
After honorable discharge from the Army & return to “The World” (as we referred to the States while in Nam) I returned to doing the same work for the USGS as I had done before & during my Army service. My oldest son, Russ III was born 9 months 10 days after I got home, showing the family jewels were still functioning.

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School Story:

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Second son, Lee, was born a few years later. Lee has set several world records with the International Game Fish Association with a fly rod, & is also quite a hunter who joins me nearly every year on the URP.
I still use my surveying-mapping skills to sell real estate in rural or remote Montana places where most Realtors “dare not tread” for fear of not knowing where the properties lie. Wife Peggy has fully retired but still hangs out with her quilting buddies from back when she ran a quilting shop.
I attained an A.A. degree in Technical Forestry from Lassen Junior College, Susanville, CA in 1963, enabling my being hired by the USGS. In 1976 I earned a specialty engineering degree in Surveying & Photogrammetry (precise measurement using aerial photography) from CSU Fresno; the same year I passed CA testing for lifetime certification as a Land Surveyor-In-Training, was awarded lifetime membership in Tau Beta Pi (a national engineering honor society). In the early 1980's I was elected national director then president of a member organization of the American Congress on Surveying & Mapping & served 5 years. Using the foregoing, I was accepted to complete the 16-hours of Montana testing for a license as a Professional Land Surveyor (PLS) & am now fully licensed as a PLS as of 2010. In 2011 I taught two separate classes in 2011 to Realtors & Appraisers so that they can use state-of-the-art technologies like Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to navigate to rural & remote properties in Montana's vast, wide-open spaces. More particularly, I am trying to get them to put their "for sale" signs on the correct property to avoid liability and trespass.
For any of my high school classmates who are “brave souls” that can handle “primitive,” I encourage you to check in with me if you get near Yellowstone & want to spend some time on the URP (cabin is at GoogleEarth 45.03950,-111.99470 degrees), or want me to buy you a Ted Turner buffalo burger. Ted raises bison on his Snowcrest Ranch just down river from the URP and he “ain’t Fonda Jane no more” – a little local Montana joke.
Bird Whisperer Tony

SCHOOL STORY:
I think I might have related better to the foxy chicks in our class had I not been made to feel so guilty - by Father Cotter's looking down his blushed nose at me - for crossing the line down the middle of school from the "His" side to the "Hers" side of the line!

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Jan 14, 2019 at 12:19 PM

Beautiful Photos Tony ! Do you ever connect with Steve Jorgenson, he is living in Montana.

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Jan 14, 2019 at 8:50 AM
2002 photographically certified Bird Whisperer Tony has, with wife Peggy & his elk hunting & fishing buddies, fed about 10,000 mountain chickadees this way. Picture is taken from deck of the URP cabin.
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Aug 03, 2018 at 8:33 AM

Posted on: Aug 03, 2018 at 1:33 AM

Tony Novotny has a birthday today.
Aug 03, 2017 at 1:33 AM
Jul 28, 2017 at 3:09 PM

Happy Birthday Tony !Enjoy your day with a bottle of Deerfield Merlot !

Aug 03, 2016 at 12:33 PM

Happy Birthday Tony,our 55th reunion is Nov 5th. at Doheney St. Beach, Picnic time,I hope you can make it .

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Aug 03, 2016 at 5:59 AM

Posted on: Aug 03, 2016 at 1:33 AM

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2002 photographically certified Bird Whisperer Tony has, with wife Peggy & his elk hunting & fishing buddies, fed about 10,000 mountain chickadees this way. Picture is taken from deck of the URP cabin.
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