This article is from the SIERRA COUNTY SENTINEL
in Truth or Consequences, N.M.
Dated June 22, 1971
Ed’s NOTE: Several days ago, Tom Gius of the SENTINEL staff was given a difficult assignment. He was told to clear the record of a man that this paper knowingly helped smear since, the editor and publisher knew that the man was a narcotics agent when it was reported he was arrested on narcotics charges with others.
By Tom Gius
John Weisheimer set out two ambitions among others he wanted to attain in life and has now achieved both, but almost died in the process. Today, however, his future looks bright and a new wave of optimism has replaced emotions of insecurity, and perhaps even delusion.
At 23, Weisheimer, today is working as a deputy sheriff in Sierra County after having nearly lost his life in the Marine Corps. These were his two ambitions; being a Marine…and being an officer. The record shows he’s been good at both.
Born in Douglas, Arizona, Weisheimer moved with his family to T or C, New Mexico in time to compete his Senior year in high school and graduate from Hot Springs High School in 1967. That summer, he worked for his father as a painter, and in October began working on the first of his two ambitions. He joined the Marine Corps and took basic at San Diego, and then was assigned to Dong Ho Base near the DMZ in South Viet Nam. The trouble began when a sniper’s bullet burned into his left leg while on patrol. He was hospitalized for a short time, then returned to duty. He was awarded the Purple Heart and military duty continued for this youth who can be considered a “Hawk” on the Viet Name war. It was during his third month of duty at Dong Ho “on a Sunday, just before noon that we were ambushed.” The cong attack left four of his buddies dead, and 11 others injured. The killing 122mm rocket exploded sending razor-sharp shrapnel into Weisheimer’s back, stomach and flanks. When he woke up two days later, he eyed his doctor and asked if he was going to live. The doctor’s answer was really not an answer, but a shake of the head…one meaning no, your’e not going to live. “Mentally, I was very conscious. The pain hurt so bad I couldn’t even scream, “ recounted Weisheimer to this reporter in the security of the Sierra County Sheriff’s office. “A priest then came, and in the coming four or five days, I received the church’s last rites three times,” recalled the blonde headed youth.
He stayed at Dong Ho long enough to allow transfer to a Naval Hospital at Da Nang where he stayed two and a half weeks. His condition worsened, and doctors moved Weisheimer to a Naval Hospital outside of Tokyo, Japan, where he lay in the intensive care unit, nearly dead from infections throughout his body. In the coming month, he was treated mainly for his infection in an effort to bring it under control and pave the way for surgery.
After a month and two days in Japan, he was flown to Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, which was to be his home for a year and a half. At this time, his weight and dropped to 87 pounds from the customary solid 158 and most of the infection had subsided. While in Balboa, the youth underwent three major operations and stood on his two feet for the first time in five months. His recovery continued, and he was honorably discharged from the Corps on December 1, l969.
Once home in T or C, he became restless and began spending his hours with a long-time friend, Deputy Sheriff John Ashbaugh. Both are about the same age, and both are interested in curbing the drug traffic among the youth of T or C. Together…in the coming months…they worked a number of cases, involving narcotics and Weisheimer today is credited with undercover work on three cases that later lead to the arrest and conviction of a number of persons. One recent incident lead to the arrest of several persons in Silver City who police believe responsible for shipping large quantities of marijuana to the New York State area.
Weisheimer, while working one of the narcotics cases, came under public criticism when word went around he had been one of the three arrested in connection with a drug case. The “arrest” was simply a cover up by Weisheimer and the sheriff’s office in an effort to perpetuate his undercover status.
In late May, Weisheimer and under-sheriff Charles Cox talked about his future, and Cox agreed to hire him as a full-time deputy and Weisheimer started work
June first. His pay was, and still is, one dollar a month. Weisheimer is on 100% disability from the Veteran’s Administration and received $450.00 per month. He is also receiving Social Security in the amount of $104.00 per month.
Cox said from his office this week, about Weisheimer, “he has already proven his capabilities and I feel the Sheriff’s office is fortunate in having someone as dedicated as he is.” In referring to the incident in which Weisheimer was arrested, Cox said, “he was willing to be charged and jailed and accept public criticism in an effort to slow down narcotics traffic here.”
Weisheimer is apparently well liked around the jailhouse now that he has been an officer for one month. His co-workers speak highly of him, and Ashbaugh seemed to reflect the attitude of all when he said, “he’s been through hell. He almost died for his country…and he’s gonna make a damn good officer!”