DLM: “We were never going to win that war.”

What is your birth year?

1945. 

How old are you today?

71. 

What branch of the United States armed forces did you serve in?

U.S. Army. 

What was your rank?

I retired as a captain, but in Vietnam I was a first lieutenant. I was a Signal Corps officer.

Where did you serve?

I went from Oregon to Fort Gordon, Georgia for training; then I went to Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Riley, Kansas; Grafenwoehr, Germany, and then I end[ed] up as the communications officer in company B of the 523rd Signal Battalion in the Americal Division in Chu Lai. I was assigned to the 198th Infantry Brigade, which was kind of across the street, if you will. 

Where were you born?

Portland, Oregon.

What are your parent’s names?

Larry and Peggy.

Do you have any siblings?

I have a deceased brother who is three years older. 

What city did you grow up in?

Portland.

What schools did you attend?

Duniway Grade School, Cleveland High School, University of Oregon- got my BS degree in Marketing, and went onto Portland State and received my MBA in Marketing and Business Planning.

Can you tell me any specific memories you have from your childhood?

I grew up initially in a poor neighborhood; my grandfather saw fit to help us get into a very small house in East Moreland, and that’s where I made all my lifetime friends, surrounded by good families that were education-oriented, sports-oriented. East Moreland was a fabulous place to grow up; it was kind of a confined neighborhood, and I just remember riding my bicycle, playing all the sports; on my street alone there were four families that had sons or daughters my age, and sons or daughters that were my brother’s age. It was a great little place to grow up. We really enjoyed it.

Did you play any sports growing up?

I was on little league and Babe Ruth teams- I played football, baseball, and basketball at Cleveland through my sophomore year, but I had an appendicitis. Back then, if you had appendicitis, you didn’t play any sports for about nine months, so by that time I either wasn’t getting better, or kids behind me were taking my positions, and that was fine with me. I was very fast and I had good hand-eye coordination. I wasn’t big or tall; there wasn’t really a sport that worked so well for me, but I enjoyed playing all of them- I loved them all.

Tell me about high school.

I loved high school. I was an extremely poor student- I didn’t have very good study habits; I didn’t really know what studying meant. It’s kind of embarrassing to say I graduated from Cleveland High School with a 2.25. That’s all you need to get accepted to either Oregon or Oregon State. {Laughs} It was a different era, but I met some lifetime friends; in fact, I am on the Board of Directors for the Cleveland High School Alumni Association. We have a [fundraising event] that I’m really, extremely involved with. It’s a great school- very highly ranked inner-city school. It’s amazing what comes out of Cleveland High School today. So I loved Cleveland High School, met a lot of friends- four of those guys went down to Oregon with me and and we all joined Beta Theta Pi, and they are still my closest friends- we’re playing golf next week and having big reunions. Seems like every year there’s high school, grade school, or college reunions. Great memories from all that, great friends, great support group. I think my wife felt the exact same way- she grew up with great friends that are now very, very close. We’re blessed. I think it has to do with the quality of friends that you grew up with, if they’re not getting in trouble, [if] they’re working hard from good families that all want to go college. 

Were you drafted, ROTC, or did you enlist?

I went through ROTC, and I joined it my freshman year- they paid $50 a month. Now, you gotta laugh [and] remember, back then tuition was $110 a term. Little did I know that would, as we call in literature ‘foreshadowing’, what I was going to end up- Vietnam was where I was going to end up. So I went through ROTC, and did that for four years. We had to join a combat arm when we came out of University of Oregon, because the war was going on, so Infantry, Artillery, Armor, or Signal Corp, were my choices, and I thankfully ended up in the Signal Corp. 

How did you feel about your ROTC requirements?

We were never really sure about what we were getting into; maybe that’s the same way it was in WWII and Korea. We were just beer-drinking fraternity guys, and all the sudden, life is getting really serious: I’m getting married, and then I’m going straight to Vietnam. The war was heating up dramatically; the press was starting to cover it- today it’d be all over the news. The war was getting more involved, more politically charged. I didn’t really want to go to Vietnam. I didn’t really have a choice; I wasn’t going to embarrass my parents. I never thought about going to Canada or skipping out on it. I stepped up and did what I had to do- I was a little nervous about going over there; I was only 23 and I’d never been on an airplane before. And so off I go to Southeast Asia, don’t know if I’ll ever come back. It was a challenging time; the unknown was obviously scary, but at 22 or 23, you’re relatively still naive in terms of all the risks and rewards of life. You really are. You don’t really know what’s beyond the other side of the Earth, if you will. So you go over there, thinking that, “My objective is to…survive.” I was flying with General Schwarzkopf (Lt. Colonel at the time) one day, and he said, “Lieutenant M, you’re doing a great job with the communications.” You know, this is the guy that ran the Gulf War. He said, “I want you to make sure you’re doing the communications right, because if you screw up, I’m going to send you so far into the field you’ll never see [your wife] again.” That’s what he told me. Talking hard-core here. This is war, and I’m just a beer-drinking fraternity guy trying to do my share. But I wasn’t a West Point guy, and I had a huge amount of respect for him; he was just a warrior. [He was] an amazing person to follow around. Probably said ten words to me the whole time we were there, because he didn’t need to. Those things stick in your mind. 

Did you have expectations of the war?

My whole class was going into the Navy, Air Force, Army, Marines, or Coast Guard- a lot of my buddies kind of snuck into the Coast Guard reserves so they wouldn’t have to go to Vietnam, but I was already committed! [I knew since] after my sophomore year, I’m going into the Army, and if I flunk out- here’s another thing! If you flunked out two terms below a 2 point, you’re getting drafted, even though you’ve signed this [ROTC] thing, you’re going to Vietnam. So, there’s a high degree of desire to stay in school and study. I had not heard about any friend or anybody that had been killed; I knew a couple high school kids who didn’t go to college coming back being wounded. I ran into a couple friends that said, “this is really ugly”- actually, I wished at that time I hadn’t talked to them, because all they could do was depress me even more. It was more being scared of being by myself, the unknown, going to the other part of the world, never being on an airplane before. There were a lot of unknowns at the time that gave you great anxiety; once you got over there you realized, “I’ve never been in a place this hot”. I’d been running every day, and when I got over there I could hardly walk, it was so hot. Once I got over there, I realized, “This is war.”

How old were you when you went to war?

When I went to Vietnam, I was 23. I went over there in May 1969, and came back in March 1970-. I got out two months early so I could attend graduate school.

What was your family and friends reactions to you leaving?

It was kind of like WWII. Everybody was going, somewhere. We were all in transition. You’re in the reserves and working, or most of my friends- my closest fraternity [brothers]- went right on active duty. They all went to OCS- Officer Candidate School in the Coast Guard; some went into the Army or Navy. [We] basically kind of left everybody; you’re kind of narrowed into your spouse or close friends or family for a couple of years, and you come back after a couple of years and say, “Wow, we’re all back together again.” You just didn’t know what’s going to happen- your friends are in the same boat that you’re in, they really are. 

Where were you living at the time?

We were living with my mother and dad in West Slope near Canyon Road. We just did it for a couple of weeks- when I went to Vietnam, [my wife] moved in with her parents and continued to teach at Oak Hills Grade School. She was teaching the sixth grade.

Why did you pick the service branch you served in?

At Oregon, they had Air Force and Army ROTC. [If they had] Navy, I would’ve taken it- my grandfather was a commander in the Coast Guard. I didn’t want to fly, and so I really didn’t have a choice. If it’d been Navy, I would’ve taken it in a heartbeat, but we didn’t have it, so I picked the Army by default. Once you graduate, you’re an officer- you’re going to be [in] one of those four combat branches of the service, because there’s a war. Now, if you are the ‘honored graduate’, you could pick something- maybe the top two, three guys could do that- they could pick something that’s not a combat arm.

Do you remember your first days in service? What was it like?

I went to Fort Lewis between my junior and senior year for kind of a boot camp, but it’s not like the real hard-core boot camp. We’re college people, and it’s a different kind of thing. We got up in the morning and did our push-ups, calisthenics, and ran; they screamed at us, but not quite the same way they would in basic training. I did that for a summer, and then when I went to Fort Gordon, Georgia, I was already an officer. I basically went to a Signal Corps Officer Training School, but we’re all officers. They would teach everything about the military and communications, escape and evasion- we had to go out into the middle of [the] Georgia forest and read a compass and try to get back. Georgia, during the summer, is about as hot as Vietnam. It’s just miserable. We were there in Georgia during July, and then we moved on to Fort Sill to be a communications officer for a combat armed battalion. General Schwarzkopf was the 1st of the 6th infantry battalion commanders in Vietnam. I could’ve supported an infantry, arms, or artillery battalions- but I ended up one level above that, at a brigade headquarters, and I was responsible for communicating down to the battalion- it goes brigade, battalion, company, then platoon. At Fort Sill, I learned about the radios, how to communicate- now, what we were using back then look[s] like something Flintstones would’ve used. I got my training, and went over there. It’s kind of like college; you’re not there to necessarily learn how to do it, you’re taught how to think. That’s what college, and school, is about. I learned how to think as a military officer, and then [when] I got over there; it was pretty much sergeants that really run the place. I had to manage them- but they really managed me. 

What was your boot camp or training experience like? Do you recall your trainers or instructors? Their expectations of you?

Well, yeah- I think everywhere we went, we had career military officers back from Vietnam. They had high expectations that we would learn the systems, and learn how to do things. As an officer, you are expected to perform at a certain level, and you have expectations of yourself; that you will be able to achieve and satisfy their goals; your own personal goals; that when you walk out of the military, you’ll feel like you did a good job. I think 95% of the people who did that walked out felt pretty good- you can always find slackers, and people who are underachievers, or not conscientious, if you will, but I think most the people that I ran into were doing the best they could with how they were trained. We were always taking tests; essentially, you’d go out to an artillery unit, and you’d learn about calling up artillery fire. They’d lay it all out, and you’d take a little quiz, so you’d remember that type of shell or whatever; you’re always being kind of tested. In fact, at Fort Gordon, I was one of five honor graduates- which wasn’t necessarily a good thing, looking back on it; it would be a lot better to be [in] the middle of the pack- but it helped me get a safer job in Vietnam. I really believe [that]- the guy saw that I was more of a manager than I was going to be a combat foot soldier. He was right, and I did a good job for him. He was very smart, figuring out where to put me, and he put me in the right spot.

Where exactly did you go during the war?

I went to Vietnam- I eventually ended up at the Americal Division, and I was assigned to the 523d Signal Battalion, B company, and they sent me out to an LZ Bayonet, which stands for landing zone bayonet- home of the 198th Infantry Brigade. I had my platoon out there, and our responsibility was all the communications between brigade and battalion back to headquarters of the Americal Division. So I had big communication vans, I had a secure communication center- all the information would come in; I knew a week in advance that Bob Hope was coming. I’d also get all the casualties; I’d get all the births. It was a very secure place. Did you feel safe there? Yeah. You’re in a bunker- most these places were covered with sandbags and stuff- [but] a direct hit would blow you to smithereens. I had six signal center sites on the top of these hilltop landing zones, so I had a couple, three people out there; they would take the battalion information [and] send it back to my brigade, and then the brigade would reroute the communications back to the Americal Division headquarters. I was an integral part of the communication process- from the foot soldier going to the platoon to company to battalion, back to my centers- it was all part of a communications network. It was fascinating, once it got all set up and worked, even though the equipment was almost WWII equipment. It worked- [though] not like today’s standards. With GPS, it would’ve been a different war- it’s not even the same world that we live in today. 

What was the weather like?

Hot. Hotter than you could possibly imagine. I was running every day at the MAC club [and] I ran a lot of the Cascade run offs. I was a pretty good runner, back in the days. I got off the plane in Vietnam, and I had a duffel bag- not very big. I walked with my duffel bag about 100 yards and I went down on both knees. I said, “I can’t exist- fight- I don’t even know how to breathe.” It took about six weeks to two months- you could always tell someone was new in country [because] they would have sweated all through [their uniform]. People who had already been there- their fatigues were already worn. Your whole system- metabolism- would change dramatically from being in hot weather. For three or four months it rained sideways, and [was] very humid, and the rest of the time it was just humid. But, like anything else, your body gets climatized to it. I remember never getting enough ice. To this day, I drink ice all day long. I appreciate every ice cube I can get, because it was a real thrill to have a glass of something with ice in it. Just in ten months, when you get deprived of something- I missed my ice. When the humidity was so high and it was hot, there would be this fog that would set on the ground. You [could] almost write your initials in it- it was like being in a steam room. You’ve ever been in [one]? Yes. Welcome. Welcome to the monsoons. Now, it didn’t stay there all day long. We were very close to [the] South China Sea, so we did get a breeze once in a while, which was really helpful, and would kind of blow it away. It was very hot, and it’s like anything else- you’re there to do a job. 

Do you recall arriving to your assigned locations? What did you expect?

I flew into Cam Ranh bay, and this commander said, “You’re going to Long Lines battalion South, which is an air-conditioned communication center in Saigon.” I listened to that- people gave me crap for that, for six months, [and] when I got over there, I was just like anybody else. “Oh, we don’t need M, we need him at the Americal Division!” In the middle of the night, this soldier wakes me up and says, “Get on this 147, you’re flying to Chu Lai. You’ve been reassigned.” So I jump on the back of his plane, and there’s nothing but just a metal floor, and I flew through the middle of the night to get to Chu Lai. I got off [with] my duffel bag and got down to this welcome center which is in the sand by the ocean, and I was there for about a week going through orientation, and eventually getting assigned. When I met Colonel McGruder, he sent me to the 198th Infantry Brigade headquarters, representing the 523rd Signal Battalion. At 23, now I’m flying into a combat zone. Were you worried for your safety? Oh, absolutely. The whole time I was there, every day I’d get up and [wonder], “Guys, is this it? Is this my last day? Is this going to be it?” Did you ever do anything in these circumstances for good luck? I think you protect yourself the best as you can- be as smart as your choices. No different than the choices you are making today; you’re trying to be smart with the knowledge you have, although sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, believe me. I felt I tried to put the odds on my side all the time, when I was making choices; I didn’t want to fly any more than I had to, but I ended up also being the pay officer for the battalion. So once a month, I flew all over the whole area in [a] little light helicopter, paying soldiers. You’re very vulnerable, getting up and down from the air, from ground fire. We’d take ground fire all the time. We got hit once, and bullets were flying through the floor of our helicopter, and we hit the top of a palm tree. It spun around a couple of times and landed, broke one of our skids on the bottom of the helicopter, and this master sergeant said, “We gotta crawl for our lives, Lieutenant.” You don’t know where you’re going. We [had to] go up to that mountain, it’s about 300 yards. It’s hotter than hell. And I crawled for my life. What were you feeling during this? “I don’t want to die.” I didn’t know where I was, but thank goodness this master sergeant had been there before, and he said, “You’re going to get lost. Just get on your belly and follow me.” I got to the top of the hill and I couldn’t even breathe. That was the same day that our battalion lost 56 guys in one battle. They brought the body parts back on helicopters, and we had to load them into another helicopter. Try doing that- arms and legs and heads- try to get them together. I still have an image in my mind of the stack of body parts; I can close my eyes and see it. We had to get them out of the area and on a plane so when the returning troops came back, they didn’t see all of their friends cut up in pieces. War is for the survivors, not the dead. We got them all out of there, and later, this helicopter pilot said to me, “You don’t belong [here],” and I said, “No.” [He said], “Do you want to fly back to Da Nang with me? I don’t have a copilot.” I said, “I’ll just go.” He said, “I think we should get out of here.” So I jump in this helicopter, and I go to Da Nang- drank beer solidly for a couple days- and eventually got back to my unit. They said, “I don’t know where you were. I thought maybe you got killed.” We didn’t have any communication, like, “Hey, [I’m alive]!” I eventually got back, but that was one terrible day.

What was your job or assignment there? 

I was the platoon leader within B company of the 523d Signal Battalion, and my job was to run the internal communications of an infantry brigade, and then communicate that information back and forth to the field. I had people out in the field, plus I had all the communication vans there- they’re like big metal houses, like you see in the back of a truck, and there’s communications racks on both sides. We’d taken the vans out of the trucks and dropped them into the sand, and you’d connect four or five together, so it’s a little city, if you will. There could be an internal area of about ten by fifteen feet. I also ran all the power for the brigade, because I needed generators running 24/7. So I had this generator farm, with four or five generator mechanics keeping the whole brigade full of power and communications. That was something we had to do all the time. Did your job change over time? No, I actually stayed there. After you have been in the field for nine or ten months [and] you survive, they send you back to the rear for a rear-oriented job, to relax. As I was transitioning back to the rear when I got my letter, and within a month I was going home. When I got back to the rear, there really wasn’t much of a job for me, other than just relax. I was actually sunbathing a little- I have pictures of a bunch of us sunbathing, because there really wasn’t enough to do in the rear, but they wanted to get us veterans out of the field. They felt we’d already done our job. I went to the motor pool and checked the vehicles, went to the mess hall and ate, held formations, went to the officer’s club to have a beer or two- I did that for probably 30 days. Then I went home. It was a good duty to be stationed at LZ Bayonet. It was like leaving your home. Did you miss it? I was glad to go, but I missed all the guys I’d been working with- now I find out they’re all dead. That was a tough thing for a 23-year-old to handle. [I] got early out from Vietnam to go to graduate school, which was just a blessing- Dr. Wolfe, president of Portland State University, gave me a letter of acceptance to the graduate school that basically saved my life. I [came] home, and I’m in my apartment with a couple of close friends, and I get a phone call from my company commander, Captain Adams. [He] said, “Lieutenant M, I’ve made the decision that I’m going to call you, so just listen up. You’re always concerned about the Viet Cong getting through the wire into your unit, and they did. You lost most of your guys. For some reason, I thought you should know that, [because] you were always concerned about it. Have a good life.” And he hung up. That was it. I fell to my knees. I still to this day can’t understand why he called me- but I’ll go with his judgement. He was a good leader. Do you remember anyone specifically from that unit? Yeah. I knew them all! I’d just left them. I knew all their names. The war was pretty close to starting to shut down- we were not winning that war. We were never going to win that war- the Viet Cong had a home-court advantage. Not a good deal. You just can’t fight on someone else’s terrain. Their will to live was stronger than our will to kill. We didn’t have all the support of the United States, and the war was really getting quite ugly in terms of all the political upheaval. When I came home [for] graduate school, Portland State was more of a night-school. So I’m taking night classes, and down on the Park blocks, they are demonstrating. And it’s the worst demonstration you’ve ever seen- they’re [using] smoke bombs, protests, and they’re yelling, “end the war!” and all that. I hadn’t told anybody, but somebody found out that I was a Vietnam veteran, and they really wanted me to tell them what I thought of the war. I said, “You know, I think that’s a decision you’re going to have to make for yourself. I really didn’t have a choice. Am I glad I went? Yes, because I grew up a lot. Am I glad other people went? No, I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.” It was part of the maturing process. You combine that with graduate school, being married, having a baby- you really grew up. Quickly. 

Did you see any combat at these locations?

Yeah. It was all around me- we were in an infantry brigade. I was fortunate- I was shot down once, I’ve been fired at a couple times; I fired back. I don’t know if I ever killed anybody exactly, but I know I killed a lot of people with my communications, and what I was doing. I was kind of one step away from day-to-day combat, but I was vulnerable to be in that at any moment. When you’re out there, you never know when something bad is going to happen. I wasn’t out there trying to fight like an infantry officer, but you’re still in combat. You’re in a position where it could happen at any moment. I was in charge of the security of that base every 9th night. I stayed up all night, going to all the machine guns guarding the perimeter, making sure everything was set. That’s why I knew about this one spot on the brigade headquarters perimeter that I knew was going to get overrun, and I couldn’t convince anybody to fix that, and that’s what happened. [I was] not in direct combat, but eventually I guess my unit was in direct combat, because the Viet Cong came in and killed them. You mentioned you’d seen some skirmishes. What were those like? Not many. A couple of these signal centers that we communicated with, I had to drive to. Imagine what a lieutenant driving down a highway one in a Jeep to these villages would look like. A sitting duck. There’s a couple times that people shot at us, and we jumped out of the Jeep and returned fire. I don’t know if I hit anybody- they didn’t hit me, or anybody around me- so I wasn’t in that big a combat role, but certainly felt like I was in it to some degree every day. You’re still always in a kind of life-or-death situation, but certainly not like the soldiers that are on the ground every day, fighting. No, I did feel that my life was threatened every step- stepping on a mine or getting shot- I just didn’t like coming in and out of these different hilltops in my helicopter. I don’t like taking fire. It’s not a good thing.

Can you describe the casualties within your unit?

Yes. I lost most of my platoon about three weeks after I left. My company commander called me- they overran my unit, the 198th Infantry Brigade, in a really bad skirmish. By the luck of something, I’d already just left. I don’t know- there must be some higher power, because I wasn’t there. Were you the only survivor from your unit after the skirmish? No. Every unit [has] got someone coming and going every month, so there were probably three or four guys from my unit that were leaving the same time that I did, and some that were coming in. I can’t tell you exactly- I know some of them. I can’t tell you exactly who was coming and going that month, or who would’ve left two weeks after me like Captain Adams- he left a few weeks after me, because he arrived a couple weeks after I arrived, so he left a couple weeks after me. I’m not sure what happened to all of them. The war was starting to wind down, and I’m not sure the 523rd Signal Battalion or 198th Infantry Brigade was actually in force a year after I left. I think they were starting to pull back troops, and it was on a slow grind to get out of there. I guess the politicians thought to save face, we gotta get out of there, and of course the South Vietnamese army couldn’t handle the North Vietnamese army, so it’s all communist now. By South Vietnam and North Vietnam, if you see it there today, there are thriving metropolises. You wouldn’t even think so- these were just little villages, like Da Nang- it was nothing, and now it’s got high-rises and trams and ports and docks- things we never anticipated back then. It was a long time ago, too.

Tell me about any specific memories or experiences that stand out. 

That [incident] with General Schwarzkopf was monumental. I really felt bad that the undereducated soldier, particularly from the South- and this could be Caucasians as well as African Americans- they’d never been away from home. They didn’t have much of an education. Never fed well. When they got over there, all the vices in the world were there, and some of them went crazy. They were on drugs, they were chasing girls in their village, they were doing things that honorable, normal people in my world would’ve never done. I don’t play bridge now- I did play back then- and we were playing bridge. I wasn’t flying the next day with these [other] guys, and we decided we’d continue the bridge game the next night. I took the score sheet and kept the cards exactly the way they were. The next day, I came back, and two of them had died that day. One of them, his wife and three kids were in the Rainbow Tower of the Hilton Hawaiian village waiting for him, because he was going on R&R. I went down, and I talked to the chaplain at the headquarters, and he said, “The good news is that I will make a phone call to the chaplain at Fort DeRussy in Honolulu. He’s the one that’s got to go call on room 527 and let his family know he’s not coming home.” Those are moments you’ll never forget. [Something] that was pretty scary- one day I couldn’t find my roommate, John Smalling. The brigade headquarters had 500 people there or so- and I couldn’t find him. I went over to his little area next to mine and said, “We haven’t seen Lt. Smalling either, and we know he’s not flying.” I went down to the helicopter pad and he wasn’t flying that day- he flew, too. So I started looking, and I found him in the corner of the barracks, with a young army private. The guy had pulled the pin on his hand grenade, and he threw the pin away. So there’s John Smalling, sitting there with this guy with a hand grenade, no way to get the pin back. I say, “Hi John,” and I sit down next to him, and I realize, “Holy shit.” And so John and I basically talked for our lives. You could just imagine how I felt when I convinced that young guy, “give me the hand grenade.” I had to grab it with both hands, I was shaking so [hard]. I walk out the barracks and ran into this sergeant, and he said, “What’s the matter?” and I said, “I got this hand grenade. I’ve taken it from one of your men. The pin’s missing.” [He said], “Oh, just give it to me. I’ll take care of it.” So I said, “I don’t even know how to hand it to you.” [He said], “I’ll take it from you. We’ve got some pins.” So that soldier was arrested. I think it took John and I a couple days to snap back into [it]. I’d never been in a situation like that. Do you remember what you told him? I remember I said, “There’s really no reason to die here. If you need some help, we can get you some help. Do you really want to kill the Lieutenant and myself? We’re both married, and John has a baby girl that he hasn’t seen yet. You really want to wipe out his life because of that? You want to wipe out mine? Things cannot be that bad.” Somewhere along that conversation, he- don’t ask me why he handed me the hand grenade- you know the old joke about the hot potato- well, you got it. {Laughs} I didn’t know what to do with it! It’s not like being shot at, I hadn’t been injured and I hadn’t got shrapnel all over me- but I have this hand grenade, and I don’t know what to do with it. I’d say that was a memorable experience, to say the least. When you go back and look through some of the things you’ve done in your life, it was a short life. But you’ve had some things that have been awkward, difficult. And as you get older and older, you’re able to handle those with maturity in terms of your decision-making criteria. I sound like a professor talking, but it’s true. You’ve got more life experience in terms of, “What am I going to do with this young guy? He doesn’t want to die, I don’t want John to die, I don’t want to die. My wife is going to get $5,000 in life insurance, that will really help her when I’m gone.” {Laughs} That was startling. I also think my memories of watching the villagers- they had such little of anything. I mean, they had nothing. So you’re in their country, destroying maybe relatives of Viet Cong, you’re plowing down their fields with your tanks and artillery, you’re blowing the heck out of them, you’re killing them- and you think they’re going to respect you? This is war. It was sad to see [them]. They are very family-oriented. They really take care of each other. I used to go down to this little barbershop-I bet that guy was a Viet Cong at night, and mortaring me, and he’s cutting my hair and laughing and taking my money during the day- he’s going to kill me at night.  They owned the territory at night, and we owned it during the day. They could sneak around, and we couldn’t see them very well at night. Those were experiences. 

What were the most trying and difficult moments of service?

Being away from home; being in a combat area, concerned about your life; trying to take care of your men the best you can. We worked seven days a week, but we took a couple of hours off on Sunday afternoon. After ten months, you are spent, just trying to make things better for everybody. I think just being away from home; watching the war, knowing that you’re not going to win it; watching us beat up the countryside; concerned about your life, your men, your family. My brother loved when I was over there, because back then if I was in Vietnam, he didn’t have to go. “D, hope things are going well over there! As long as you’re over there, I don’t have to go! This is fabulous! Perfect! Keep going bro, you’re doing [good]!” {Laughs} My unit was right next to the scout dogs. Every time we’d lose a dog, maybe 100 guys would show up for the funeral. These dogs would go out in front and take a mine before one of the guys could step on it. They moved very slowly. They’re never coming home, because there’s too many diseases. They all had their little dog houses with their names on them. If you had a minute, you’d go over there and hug them. They are the mangiest German Shepherds you’ve ever seen. It’s very sad. Very sad. {Tears up} 

What were the best memories of service?

I met a lot of nice people. A lot of good guys trying the best they could. It gave me an opportunity to really grow up. This is probably the most important to me- it gave you a tremendous amount of responsibility at a young age, which is worth its weight in gold. You come out of college, “Okay, I’m just going to get a job!” Well, I had a job. And it was a big job. I had to learn responsibilities of managing, recording, being accountable, thinking through your actions, organizing, implementing things. It’s hard to do that, when you’re just out of college. I was able to do that dead out of college. It just happened to me, at least. I think there’s some real advantage to being out, away from home and your parents. [My wife] and I didn’t have a dime. I mean, what we carried was in the back of our car! It’s all we had. I remember one day we went to Kmart, and bought a television set. We only had three channels in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. It was amazing. Just growing up, and finding your way in the world. We never really had a chance to go on a honeymoon, we never really went to Europe or anything- people are graduating college and going to Europe and doing internships now- are you kidding me? I came back from Vietnam- we had ­­$300 in [a Portland bank] in savings. Little did I know I’d be a senior vice president of that organization. We had a broken down, old Volkswagen- a little stick-shift bug. We made it around. We learned a lot from that time, and it probably helped us today make the decisions we [do] for our children and family. I think the roots got planted early with good families, but I also think we grew up a lot during that period of time. [My wife], being alone, teaching school, [a] brand new teacher- going from a teaching certificate to teaching sixth grade- it’s a chore in its own right. I’m over in a war, and she’s doing something that’s challenging to her. We’re both growing immensely, in terms of our ability to be a contributing citizen.

Were you awarded any medals or citations? What for?

I got a bronze star, I got a bunch of combat ribbons for my unit- whenever a unit was engaged in combat, you’d get a little star on your ribbon, so I had a couple rows of ribbons. What was the bronze star for? It’s from our unit- my time there. I don’t believe they gave one to everybody, but they gave one to me. I was honored to get it. There’s a lot of things you could’ve been involved in and get a ribbon from; you could’ve been [an] airborne ranger, you could’ve jumped out of airplane. You could get one for a whole bunch of different things. My position was basically considered more a rear-area job, even though I had to go out in the field. I could’ve gotten a purple heart, [but] I didn’t take it. We were in a combat situation, and we were having trouble with my generators, and I ended up blown off this generator platform 15 feet in this sand dune, and I bit all the way through [my lip]. The guy said, “If we just keep putting band aids on this, we don’t have to put any stitches.” So he said, “I’m going to put you in for a purple heart.” I said, “I can’t do that. I watched two guys die yesterday. You gotta give a purple heart to somebody that got shot. I just bit through my lip.” I turned it down. I wonder, should I have accepted it? But, looking back on it, I’m kind of proud of myself that I didn’t, because I really didn’t deserve it, in my mind- judgement call. But no, I didn’t get shot at. I didn’t get hurt in any way other than that. So, I’ve got some combat ribbons, [a] bronze star. I never really thought too much of them. Nobody else would really know what they are- they’re sitting in my drawer. I don’t wear them around.

Were you injured during the war? How, and any after effects?

{Laughs} No, I really wasn’t. Except for ring worm. God. You get [ringworm] because you have your jungle fatigues washed, and somewhere… I mean, everybody had it. It was just… but, it’s better than being shot. I had some friends that really got shot up pretty bad, and went home early. I was never physically really hurt [in a way] that would require me to leave. I wasn’t willing to put myself in a position just to get myself hurt so I could go home. Did that happen often? I’m sure there are some, nothing I really knew I could say for sure that they did that. I got some doubts in my mind, but I’m not going to push them on that. It’s not my call, it’s their personal decision. I wasn’t going to injure myself to get home, or try to. Not going to happen on my watch.

What were your friends and family’s reaction to the war?

When you got over there, you realized, “We’re not going to win this war.” It took about three weeks [to realize this]. You’d already started to talk to people, it’s hot, it’s humid, you’re on their terrain- it’s kind of like being in an away football game every day where they’re all dressed up in their pads, and you don’t have anything. You don’t have a football helmet on. You realize that their desire to win back their country, in their mind, is stronger than our ability to provide the resources. We could’ve won the war, [but] we’d have to kill everybody, everywhere, to do it, and there’s a lot of terrible stories about killing babies and Mỹ Lai and all that. There’s a lot of stories about doing terrible things. We [weren’t] going to win that war, [and] we shouldn’t have been there in the first place. The more you get away from that war, the more and more you realize that the political decision[s] were poorly thought-out. You’re trying to stop the invasion of communism in Southeast Asia, [but] the French had already been in there and lost terribly- if we’d just listened to what the French had done. Some people could apply that same thought process to being in Iran and Iraq, although because of 9/11, and other things, the powers decided we’re going to try to stop them over there before they get here. Well, the people over in Vietnam aren’t coming over here, but communists could spread more and more. We shouldn’t have been there.

What were your friends and familys reaction to your service?

The tide really turned once the first news guys like Dan Rather arrived in Vietnam- those people came alive during their young 20’s when they’re over doing combat stories. As the ability to get more and more news of what’s going on in Vietnam- and they’re listing the causalities every day- people are wondering, “What are we doing over there? We lost 300 people today.” It was a ridiculous thing. I think [opinion] was changing, and I think that the American people were pushing their elected leadership- Congress, Vice President, President- to get out. We had to lick our wounds and get out. We shouldn’t have been there. The tide had really changed in terms of public perception of war, and the reason behind it. I don’t think people realized how difficult this was when we started to go over there-that we didn’t have a chance. I think, “We don’t go into a war in the military until we win it.” Right? You’re not going to win the war over there. They’re going to throw every body they have at you, and on their territory, at their time and place. We were not built for jungle warfare. We’re built for more like WWII. We weren’t built for that tactical on-the-ground kind of war back then. We tried, but we’re not good at that. We weren’t very successful. Do you remember being in the jungle? The jungle’s just a nasty place. You can get lost out there. You could be in a jungle setting and come back [to it] three months later, and it wouldn’t even be the same setting, because it’s grown differently. Maps, coordinates- things were difficult to find out where you were. We didn’t have all the GPS. Being in the jungle, being out there- the Viet Cong were laying claymore mines and bouncing bettys and all these things that blow up your feet and legs. We all had our dog tags- two around your neck and one in each shoe in case a leg blew off. I have my combat boots at home that still have my dog tags tied in the front of them. I came home wearing my jungle fatigues. I’m sure it feels very primitive, being in the middle of a jungle and rice paddies. Oh, they are very agrarian. I have a handmade Vietnamese sickle that is a carved handle-very sharp. I’ve had it hanging in my storage area in my garden since I got back from the war. I have no idea what to do with it, but it reminds me of Vietnam. These poor people would be out in the rice paddies, and the whole family is there. They work to survive. The whole family did. It was hot. I have that symbol. It has not moved in 29 years. It’s really hard wood, and somebody carved it with a knife- the handle on it is smooth, but it’s uneven smooth. There’s steel reinforcement around the wood. 

How did you stay in touch with your family?

We had little reel-to-reel cassettes. I’d send [my wife] a cassette, and she’d take the cassette and send it back to me. But I was in Signal Corps. I could literally call [my wife] every night, [but] you can’t do that. You have to get on with your life. I said, “I can’t do this. I’ve got to get on with my life, you’ve got to get on with your life. We can write letters back and forth, [and] we’ll call if it’s an emergency.” They’re listening to your phone calls- there’s somebody on the operator listening to it. It wasn’t a great form of communication. I did it a couple times, just to see if I could do it if I really had to, but we basically just wrote letters. All the time, we did cassettes. I say, “This is a day in the life of DLM. I was on a helicopter today.” I’d mail cassettes and photos. I’d always write her a letter and put down how many days we had left, then as we got closer to R&R in Hawaii, I’d say, “I’ll see you in fourteen days,” or whatever it was. It was a big deal, [going on R&R]. I was back in the rear area, and this very military-oriented colonel came in and said, “Lieutenant, I want you to go do this and this,” and I said, “Sir, I’ve only got ten days left.” He said, “Lieutenant, I’m sorry I asked. Move out.” {Laughs} So, once you got within a month, they’re not going to give you anything to do. The colonel said, “Yes, sir, I’ll find somebody else.” I thought that was really a great memory of become[ing] a short-timer. You’ve gotta be short-time within thirty or forty days. [But] I missed my first flight home. I couldn’t get off the toilet. I’d ate something, and it got me. I remember this nurse walked into this men’s bathroom and said, “At ease. I’ve seen it all. Just stay seated.” and sat down and gave me a shot in the arm. But I missed my flight. I couldn’t even move! So I sat in this barracks and this sergeant said, “When we find a seat, I’m going to grab you. You have to run, because there’s a bus out there going to the airport, and you have a seat. You don’t want to miss that seat.” I slept in my jungle fatigues with my orders on my stomach, but when I left, I left my little athletic bag with a pair of shorts and tennis shoes, because I ran to the bus. Two tanks were guarding our bus as we went to the airport. Sitting there in bright lights was my shiny ride home. We get on the plane- all the stewardesses were volunteers- and the plane takes off [and] the place goes crazy. The wheels lock up and the place goes crazy. The pilot gets out of the plane and says, “We’re out of range of any weapon they have.” They pick up the stewardess, and passed them, head over heels, down the plane, so all I could see were these stewardesses going back and forth from soldier to soldier, all the way back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. We got to Tokyo, and then I flew into McChord Air Force Base next to Fort Lewis. 

What was the food like?

The food, from where I was, was pretty good, because I was in rear area. We actually had warm meals. The further you got out to combat, the worse the meals were. GER will tell you, he was probably eating C-ration box or something like that until he got back to the rear-area. I ate some of the meals out in the field- they were manageable, but I was in almost a little cafeteria most of the time, where you could get an egg or chocolate milk. When you saw a soldier that was out in the field for a long period of time, they looked like they’re the walking dead. They’re just moving slowly.

Did you have a lot of free time?

Couple hours on Sunday. I used to go back to the division headquarters for meetings, and sometimes I’d stay overnight and go have a beer, when I was back in the rear area. Most of the time we’re doing something. You’re moving relatively slowly, just because it’s so hot, so it’s not like I [had] 25 things I had to do today. It’s not a fast pace- it’s just too warm to move fast. But, I had a couple hours off on Sunday, and at night, we’d maybe go have a beer if we could, try to get clean some way- brush your teeth. Brushing your teeth was everything. You could brush your teeth and wash your face and you’d feel like you were really clean. 

How did you entertain yourself? How did others?

I was really busy all the time. We didn’t really have a lot of books. If I could, if we had power that day, I’d turn on my little fan, and I’d just try to stay cool and relax whenever I had a chance. I didn’t really have any energy. We did play a couple of football games, and that was kind of fun. Nobody had rank- we’d choose up teams and nobody cared until the game was over with.  

What did you think of your fellow soldiers?

They were in the same boat that I was in- they were just trying to survive and get home. I felt that they did a good job. It was more stressful for some of them that had small kids. I felt pretty proud to serve with them, actually. They were really great guys. I got to know some of them really well. Of course, I miss some of the ones [whose] names I saw on the wall in Washington, D.C. They were as well trained as they could be, given the short time we had before we had to go over there. 

Are there any people you met that you specifically remember?

I had some guys that I went through my training with. I [have a friend] in Bickleton, Washington, and we communicate a couple of times. He’s a wheat farmer. He was a good rifleman. He was in the same job I was in- one of his fingers got shot, and he went home early. I try to call him on Veteran’s day, just to say hi. We try to have a good laugh, if we can. When you’re together in these training camps, they’re people from all over the United States. There are some who are related to people I went to grade and high school with that I kept up with, but not very many. Everyone gets on with their lives. 

Why, or when, did your service end?

It ended when I came back from Vietnam. We were in a little mortar attack, and I was in this bunker with this guy, and he said that he got an early out to go to graduate school. He went up to Da Nang to take the GMAC, and I said, “I couldn’t pass the test. I got forty-five or fifty guys who would rather kill me if I studied for a GMAC exam.” So I wrote Dr. Wolfe [on] a C-ration box and told him I wanted to live, and he gave me a letter of acceptance. He helped me get established, and got my MBA, and put me in a position to get a great job. I had three more years to serve in the reserve. I stayed in the National Guard for two years, and we went to Yakima Firing Center. There was the American Veteran’s Parade in downtown Portland, and that’s where we had the big trouble with all the hippies and protestors. Governer McCall sent many of them to McIver park. I had a riot platoon. We were sitting up at Wilson High School, waiting to go downtown with these incredibly hard batons that would’ve broken someone’s bones. I was gonna have to go downtown with thirty-five or forty guys and beat heads, [but] we didn’t have to do it. I was ready to go home, and my commander said, “No, we want you and your platoon to go guard the Mt. Tabor reservoir.” So there I went, Mt. Tabor reservoir. We got twenty soldiers in that little building you see at Mt. Tabor, by the reservoir. The protestors surrounded us. I did that until the parade was over downtown. I went from there to the Army Reserve, because I realized in the National Guard, you could be called up for war again, and in the Army Reserves you couldn’t, [at least] back then. I started teaching communications classes around the state, and I did that for a year, which was really kind of a boondoggle, but I had one more year to serve. During that time, I became a Captain, and then I got out. I basically had five years of service. 

How did you feel when you found out you were going home? Where were you?

I went on R&R in Hawaii with [my wife], and I came home. I sent the letter off, and I was sitting around in Chu Lai at the Americal Division with nothing to do. The company commander said, “Why don’t you go back to Hawaii? You may be leaving in six weeks. I can fly you back to Hawaii for a week.” I said, “I think I’ll go to Hawaii.” He said, “Good decision.” So, John Smalling and I happened to be in the rear together, and so we went to Hawaii. I came back from Hawaii, and at the airport, there’s Captain Adams in a Jeep. He shook my hand and said, “You’re the only person I know who could’ve gone home from Vietnam five days ago. I’ve got this driver lined up tomorrow morning; we’re going to get you cleared all the way through division, turn in your gear, and I’m going to drive you to the airport tomorrow to fly from Chu Lai to Cam Ranh Bay to get home.” So I went to the officer’s club that night, and they asked, “[Is] anybody in the audience going home tomorrow?” And I raised my hand. There were some entertainers from Australia, and I got up on the stage and she sat on my lap, and sang “Sugar Sugar”. I was so embarrassed. The next morning, I got up [and Captain Adams] took me to the airport, gave me a hug, and I went home. 

Where did you relocate to or stay in Portland?

[My wife] had already organized an apartment out on Murray Boulevard, and so we moved in there. [She] had purchased a bed, a couch, and a table. She actually was going to outdoor school the next day. So, she went to outdoor school with somebody, so I decided to drive up and just say hello. We came home and had an apartment and I went to graduate school, and [my wife] taught. When I got a job in September, and [my daughter] was delivered in December. Little scary back then, when your wife is going to have to quit work, you don’t have a job, and you’re delivering a baby. Part of the reason I was able to go to graduate school is the G.I. bill paid for all [of it]. I was making just about as much money going to graduate school as [my wife] was making teaching school. They paid for my books, my tuition, mileage, housing- it was amazing. It was a lot of money. We could never have afford to go to graduate school, and I was probably the most unlikely to go to graduate school, because I had a 2.6 from University of Oregon, but I stepped it up later on. 

Did you have a family after the war? How did the war affect this?

One of the reasons I got the job at the bank was not only [that] I [had] my master’s degree, but I was a Vietnam veteran, and they felt they ought to help somebody. You never know what little thing in your resume is going to resonate with a decision-making person. They told me afterwards, that was what made the deal. It really worked out well for me to be able to have that background. 

What was your job or career after the war?

I was a banker for twenty years. I ran marketing, sales, advertising, and public relations. I switched to an investment side, selling stocks, bonds, and mutual funds around the United States. It worked out to be a fabulous career. I never had to move to another industry, which there is always a lot of risk doing. I had a family, so I was doing everything I could to stay in Portland. [My wife] and I were not going to move from Portland, we just weren’t, so I was fortunate to be able to find pretty good jobs here, and be able to stay in our home.

How did your military service affect how you think about wars today?

That’s probably the best question you have from all of them. Yes. The wars today are so politically driven, and so oriented towards keeping America safe, that I know we have to do these things, [and] I wish we didn’t. It’s disheartening, like it was in Vietnam- we just can’t go in and win a war. Wars don’t get won that way. I’m a supporter of having a big, strong military. I really don’t have enough information to make a decision if we’re going the right thing in Iraq, Afghanistan, and all those places. I’m hopeful that our elected officials and officers, although I question [it], are making the right decisions. My one personal vote is important to me, but I really can’t make a difference, and I think that’s sad that I can’t make a difference. I’m hoping that we don’t have to go to war. Wars will not be the same; we won’t throw a lot of people at it, we’ll throw technology, and politics, at it. But I wish we didn’t have to go to war. In some cases, we feel we have to do things that are right, and there’s a lot of people around the world that are hurting, but do we have to be the savior of everybody? That’s a fabulous $64,000 question, isn’t it? I don’t think we have to- I think we have to look after our best interests for our populace. Sometimes, we have to do things like war to make that happen.

Has serving in the military affected any decision making today?

Oh, yeah. I’m significantly more detail-oriented. I’m much more objective-what strategies are we going to put in place to make that objective happen. At times, maybe I’m a little too rigid about that thought process, particularly when I’m dealing with people that haven’t been in the military. I have a hard time with people that are slackers, who don’t do things well for their families. I see a lot of people who a few years in the military would’ve really helped them in terms of understanding your values and value structured. Meeting a lot of different people of different races and creeds, etc. It changes the way I think about things. I like to plan and execute things. Probably that’s a good thing, but it’s also a fault at things because I’m too goal-directive at times. But it’s helped me out in business, and helped me raising money for charities. That’s been good. Maybe I should relax more about that, but once I get my teeth into something, if I have a passion about something, than it’s really hard for me not to be all-in. I stay away from things I can’t have a passion about, because there are too many things that I don’t really want to do half-assed- I really want to put my thought into. If I want to embrace it- include other people in a cause, if they have the same attitude and style that I do- I want to not be able to give my best, and I don’t want people to be involved if they can’t [either], for what other reason. It’s helped me be organized in what I do, and the military teaches you that. College teaches you that! High school teaches you that! To be organized. I mean, if you just kind of run around, you get run over. You get run over everywhere you go. You have to be much more organized with the way technology handles school today, more than we ever had to do. We took a book bag and three books and that’s all we had. Three pencils and a pad of paper. Well, with the way you do things online, and this and that, you’re learning some of those things that took us a lot longer to learn. You have the systems, and technology, in place to take advantage of those great tools to be organized. There really isn’t an excuse why somebody can’t be a contributor to society. Really, there isn’t. 

What do you think the general public should know about war?

I try to tell people it’s an honor to serve; if they weren’t in a position to serve, so be it, I would’ve felt the same way, wherever they are. I just feel that we, as a society, have to really, really support our military people. Some of the people that have gone to Afghanistan and Iraq four or five times- I’m just speechless. There is so much more of a conversation, and an awareness, about mental health after war nowadays. Absolutely. When we came back, there was nothing. I can’t imagine going back and forth to Iraq three or four times. Come home with your family, and your kids, and be gone again. I don’t understand that. I want to support them in every way that I can- I believe in a strong military, and I think it’s an honor to serve- but it is a voluntary military service today. The good thing- you just can’t get in the military today. You’ve gotta have a high school diploma, you’ve gotta be in good shape, you’ve gotta be with it. Otherwise, we don’t need you. Back in my days, if you were just a flunk-out, you’d go to the military. Now, you can’t even get into the military. So, there’s a lot of kids who could use a military, but they can’t get in because they don’t have the wherewithal. They have to put themselves in a position to get accepted in a volunteer army. I wouldn’t be opposed that when you graduate from school, you give two years of service. I don’t care whether it’s the Peace Corps, the military- do you know how much better our people would be if they could get away from home, and their roots, and the good-bad-or-different friends they had, and to meet more people, and get out? I don’t understand why you couldn’t give two years. The people I see begging on the streets- isn’t there some way we could actually help them earn something by doing something? As opposed to subsidizing? I really would prefer for people to get out and contribute. Maybe they can’t contribute in the same way you can in your lifetime, or me in my lifetime, but they can go out and use their God-given skills, upbringings aside, and contribute, and do something to help. I don’t expect superstars, but there isn’t any reason why [you] can’t go out and help. There are a lot of things we could get done today with people that are willing to get out there. Living in the society we do today, the opportunities you have are just endless. Your world is really an oyster. Look at what you can do in your lifetime. You have to find something that you really enjoy doing, you have a passion for. If you really do, you will succeed in it. You can have a job that makes a lot of money, or a job that doesn’t necessarily make a lot of money, but you can go home at night and figure, “I’m a contributing member of society and I really feel good. I can’t wait for tomorrow morning.” I loved to write financial plans for people when I was a financial advisor, and make their dreams come true. I could teach them how to finance their kids’ education in this way- you want that retirement home, get rid of that motor home. Let’s pay down your mortgage. You want to put some money way for your grandkids education? Let’s come up with a life plan to use what you have. You can really put a plan in action, and encourage people to have the wherewithal, the stamina, the consistency, to do [with] whatever they had and make it better, and make it organized in a way they could contribute to their families. I really liked that aspect of my job. Surprising people- I told one guy, “Why don’t you retire?” [He said], “Well, I can’t.” I said, “Yes, you can. If we take a minimal amount from [here] plus social security, and your years in the military, I can come up with a very realistic plan [so] that you can make as much money as you’re making right now without ever going to work again.” He said, “Let’s bring my wife in here so we can talk about this.” Three weeks later, I wrote this plan and presented it to them, and he quit! {Laughs} He was ready; he could do it. Those are great moments to have with clients. 

How has living in Portland now shaped your veteran experience?

I’ve never had to use them, but I know that Portland has better veteran support than some of the stories you hear from around the United States. I tried to help a friend of mine get some help, and you’d think, “How would I do that?” I end up in front of this lady down at the veteran’s department, and we found that he didn’t qualify for what he thought he qualified for. I found it relatively easy to get to that person, to find out what you can get and not get. I was very impressed- it took a couple weeks to get an appointment with somebody who was a decision maker. I think we have good systems here- I’m not sure if everybody knows how to take advantage of them. I wasn’t in a place in Vietnam where I had like Agent Orange-where you could have diabetes, prostate cancer- there’s a lot of things you can get from being there. They’ll find out what unit you are in and if you were around Agent Orange. The guy I was with was getting $450 a month because he was around Agent Orange! They know, and if you just walk in there, and bring your military papers, there’s a lot of benefits you can get. I don’t qualify for them, I don’t physically have a need for them, so I’ve only been there to try and help a friend, [so] I think their service is available here. 

How did your service affect your life?

I made a mistake one day saying [it was] the most positive thing that’s ever happened in my life. I should not have said that with my wife sitting next to me, but I was sincere that it was the #1 thing that put me in a position to be a successful person- father, husband, neighbor, friend. In some ways, I’m not as self-confident as I should be at times- somethings I’m really self-confident in. It’s really helped me, from a guy who didn’t have good grades, didn’t come from a lot of money- I was a mail boy [for the Oregonian] for two years in high school, and I worked forty hours a week- I wanted to go to college. I got a car and drove myself to school and to work, and I didn’t get great grades but I got enough to get into Oregon and join ROTC. I learned about hard work, and being conscientious- it made a big difference to me. It got me headed in the right direction.

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Vietnamese sickle described above

This interview has been lightly edited for readability. However, to maintain integrity, and to respect the stories of the veteran, content has not been altered from the original transcription. This interview was originally recorded and later transcribed. Questions partially retrieved from: 

“Guidelines.” Veterans History Project. Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 23 June 2017. <www.loc.gov/vets/guidelines.html>.

2 thoughts on “DLM: “We were never going to win that war.”

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