Title: Interview with Kenneth Newman Hatcher (February 17, 1991)
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00006460/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Kenneth Newman Hatcher (February 17, 1991)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: February 17, 1991
Spatial Coverage: 12031
Duval County (Fla.) -- History.
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00006460
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Duval County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: DUV 34

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Interviewee: Kenneth Hatcher

Interviewer: Stuart Landers

February 17, 1991

L: This is an interview with Kenneth Hatcher. Today is February 17, 1991. This
interview is taking place on the north side of Jacksonville, on Sunset Drive. My
name is Stuart Landers.

The first thing that I need to ask you about is basic background-, biographical-type
things. What is your full name?

H: Kenneth Newman Hatcher.

L: Is that a family name?

H: No. My mother worked for a banker who had no kids, and he promised her that if
she would name a kid after him that he would put me through college or some
ridiculous thing. Unfortunately, he died, and I saw no money.

L: OK. Where were you born?

H: I was born in Sheffield, Alabama, February 3, 1943.

L: Did you grow up in Sheffield?

H: Muscle Shoals, which was a town within three towns. It was called the tri-city:
Sheffield, Florence, and Muscle Shoals. Really there was another one, Tuscumbia,
[but it was] called the tri-cities.

L: OK. How big of a town was it?

H: Oh, it was small. I mean, there was not even a bank when I grew up. There might
have been a little hamburger joint, gas stations, and small, family-owned grocery
stores where you could charge things and pay at the end of the month. [There were]
no big businesses, unless you went to one of the other towns about two or three
miles [away], like Sheffield or Florence. Then you would find Belk Hudson's and
Sears and that type of thing.

L: What did your parents do for a living?

H: My father was a foreman and supervisor for Reynolds Metals Company, and my
mother was a housewife and on-again/off-again [out-of-house worker]. She worked
in a bank.

L: So what would you say was the main industry or the main economy of [the area]?

L: Reynolds Metals Company and TVA [Tennessee Valley Authority].

H: What did Reynolds Metals manufacture?


L: They manufactured just metal. During the war that is why my father did not have
to go, because they were producing metal to make airplanes or the "made-in-the-
war" movement. They made Reynolds metal wrap, or foil.

L: Oh, Reynolds Wrap?

H: Yes. [They also made] aluminum siding and that type thing in later years. Then
TVA, of course, there is the Tennessee Valley Authority which controls the dam
there and the electrical systems. They had some agriculture experimental stations
and that type of thing.

L: Could you give me both of your parents' full names?

H: Let's see. My mother's was Lillian Beatrice Giffin Hatcher, and my father's was
Henry Edward Hatcher, Sr.

L: You went all the way through high school in Muscle Shoals?

H: In Sheffield. We had no high school [in Muscle Shoals].

L: OK. Was it a county consolidated high?

H: I guess it was. Muscle Shoals students went to Sheffield High. Tuscumbia had a
high school [and] Florence had their school system, but we just had nothing for many
years. We went there from elementary school through high school until one was
built in later years.

L: What is your main memory of high school?

H: Skipping a great deal.

L: Were you involved in sports?

H: No. I started working in seventh grade at a novelty toy gas station. It would be like
a Wal-Mart on a smaller scale in a sense. I worked every day from three till seven
or nine at night every weekend, so there was no time [for school activities]. And that
was out of choice. It was not out of need or anything. I just worked.

L: When did you graduate from high school?

H: I believe it was 1960, and college in 1965.

L: So [you went to] four years of college?

H: Yes, four years of college.

L: Where did you go to college?


H: Florence State College, which is now the University of North Alabama. It was a
small school, about 3,500.

L: While you were there, did the beginnings of the civil rights movement hit Florence
State at all?

H: Yes. We integrated either my junior or senior year. The first guy that came there
[was], I want to say, Wendell Wilke Gunn--I know his last name was Gunn. All the
officers clubs and organizations and fraternities had a leadership retreat that summer
about integrating. We all met for maybe two weeks (I cannot remember) at a lake
house to talk about what was going to happen. When he came there there were FBI
agents on the roof watching every move he made. Nothing really happened. Being
in art, I think, at that time [made me a little more open to interacting with a black
student]. I decided my major [art], and art students are always--probably most of
them--left-wingers or liberals--except for me. Anyway, he would come in the student
union and things, and either we would go sit with him or he would come over and
sit with us. But most people had nothing to do with him.

L: Were there any overt acts of civil disobedience as far as protests?

H: I do not think so. I think he was just ignored. Yet he took top honors in math and
chemistry, I think, the first year he was there. I know we were probably all looked
down upon because we did associate with him.

L: Did you take part in this leadership retreat?

H: Yes.

L: What were you?

H: I think I was chairman of the leadership retreat. That was 1964.

L: So you were active in campus organizations.

H: Yes. I helped get that together. I guess it was the junior class officers that were
called in, and we put it together.

L: And you decided to major in art in your junior year?

H: Yes, I guess. My parents always wanted [me to go into] chemical engineering, but
that was boring, so I decided to go into business. That was even worse. Then I went
into political science, and that was fine. I got a minor in that and a minor in
psychology. Then art just seemed to be a neat niche to be in, even though it was
probably more demanding than some of the other disciplines. You would be up to
two or three or four in the morning on a lot of things. I guess it is true in all of
them, though. [There are] deadlines that you have to meet. But the freedom was


there to express yourself, and you could probably get away with a lot more with what
you said and things. Being an artist, they would say, "Oh, my God. He is an art
student." So what we got back was just a little bit easier.

L: Were you working in any specific medium at that point?

H: No. Just like all colleges you did not major in any certain area until you went to get
your master's. We probably took drawing and painting every year and art history and
sculpture and ceramics and design and that type of general courses.

L: In what year did you graduate?

H: Nineteen sixty-five.

L: With a B.A. in fine arts?

H: B.S. I got out of the foreign language. Someway I found a loophole. That is the
only difference.

L: You got a bachelor of science in art?

H: Yes. The only difference at that time was if you had two years of foreign [language
you got a B.A. in fine arts]. For some reason there was a loophole to pick up that,
even though you had the same courses as somebody with ... I do not know if they
offered a bachelor of arts degree. Maybe they did. But language is what was the
key to it. It was all the same courses.

L: And you managed to avoid that.

H: I do not know how I did. I do not know whether through courses that I had taken
that they exempted. I cannot remember that.

L: What did you do once you finished college?

H: Well, we had joined the naval reserves in eleventh grade in high school--a group of
us in my geometry class [did]--so I knew that upon graduation that I was going in the
military. That was just a given. But the war in Vietnam I just thought was
ridiculous, not being a declared war at that time, so I wrote my Congressman [Bob
Jones] and said: "Let me go to the Peace Corps. Let me do community service for
two years. I just do not want to go fight a war that nobody even knows what it is
about." He wrote back and said, "I am sorry, but you are going."

L: Why did you decide to join the naval reserve?

H: Craziness. Back then people just [did things like that]. I do not think it was even
patriotic. I do not know why, [but] everybody just at that time, [in that] generation
just went into the military. It was something you owed your country. It was nothing


you questioned about. My brother was in the service, in the navy. Most people went
in and served two years just thinking that that was something you did for your

L: So of course [running to] Canada was never an option.

H: No. Never. I never thought about that.

L: So once you graduated, you went straight into reserve training?

H: I went to Great Lakes [Naval Training Center, near Waukegan, IL] to [boot camp
and U.S. Naval Hospital Corps School]. Being in the reserves I got to choose a field,
so I said I would go and be a medic, because at least you are helping someone. So
I went to corps school at Great Lakes. It was a boot camp and [center for]
specialized schools, and you went there for--here again, I do not remember how long.
Anyway, you got through with the course, and then from there you got a duty
assignment where you wanted to go.

L: And once you completed the training, where was your duty assignment?

H: I got to choose where I wanted to go. I think the top ten in the class got to choose
a duty station if you had grades there, so I said Jacksonville, Florida, because I just
wanted to be in the South. So I just came to Jacksonville.

L: Where exactly in Jacksonville?

H: NAS [Naval Air Station].

L: OK. How long were you there?

H: Probably I would say six months. Here again, I am not sure of that. Anyway, I came
here and worked in the hospital, which was just a little barracks at that time. Then
from there I got orders to report to Port Hueneme, California. I knew that that was
Vietnam. That was a jumping-off point to get over there.

L: And this was sometime in 1966?

H: Nineteen sixty-five or 1966. April of 1966, I believe. I graduated in 1965. Let me
look. I do not know where it is. I do know why I have kept all of this. I should
throw it away. Well, I came down with hepatitis; I went to Memphis [United States
Naval Hospital] for it before I got out of the navy.

L: How did you catch hepatitis?

H: I do not know. There were sixty of us that had it. It can be caught through food,
working in the emergency room with people coming in, that type of thing. I guess
nobody knows. I did not have the worst type. There were sixty of us in Memphis


with it. [Mr. Hatcher looks through a series of documents.] I cannot make sense
out of this stuff.

L: Is that true of all military paperwork, though?

H: They just have more paper than ... It will be some achievement if I can find it. I
have not even looked at this stuff.

L: Well, the exact date is not [critical].

H: It was 1966. I guess I really was sent to Port Hueneme in November 1966.

L: And that was a processing station for overseas transport?

H: Yes. You went through training. You went through a "gook" village that was a
mock North Vietnamese village, and you learned to crawl under barbed wire, you
learned to kick down doors in grass huts and to look for trap doors and tunnels.

L: They had all of this set up?

H: It was all set up.

L: And you spent how long going through this?

H: I do not remember the time. In other words, we went to Camp Pendleton, which
was in California [just north of San Diego]. With Port Hueneme it was all connected
there together. We would go on hikes all day, and everybody had blisters on their
feet. They were going to make us tough, and people were passing out. Then we
would go to the rifle range one day. I think we had M-ls, which I did not have to
carry because corpsmen only carried a .45 [pistol]. I just refused to do all that. I
mean, I literally refused. The chief that was over us and the marines that were over
us, because we were corpsmen, knew that their lives depended on us when they got
to Vietnam, so they were willing to say: "Go sit down and read your book. If
somebody gets shot, we will call you."

For example, one day we were stacking arms--Randy, Bailey, and myself. They give
the order to stack arms, and you put them in a tripod thing where they all stand up.
Of course, ours did not stand, so they told us to get off the rifle range or go do
something else.

L: Randy and Bailey were people in [your unit]?

H: Yes. They were corpsmen, and we were all in the same [unit]. MCB-11 is what we
started out in.



H: I did not know what MCB-11 stood for, to be honest with you. Anyway, they were
mobile construction battalion; that is what we were. We went over there first.
There was nothing there except land. Well, the MCB-11, which was there with the
3d Battalion Marines--we were all interlocked together--built a mess hall. That is
the only thing I saw built. But they would build towers to take up on the DMZ,
which looked like a fire tower for a forest ranger. I do not know what they built.
Maybe they built roads. I have no idea, because I never saw anything being built.
We were in tents. I think when I left they had just started building plywood sleeping
quarters. Other than that, everything was intertwined.

We were TAD, which is temporary active duty, to the 3d Battalion Marines over
there, because that hospital took care of everything, all the wounded from the DMZ
back. I was just reading [in my diary] last night [that] we were thirteen miles from
the DMZ, so those people [that were injured in battle were sent to us]. For
example, when Con Thien and all those places were overrun, we got all their

When they came in, every corpsman all over came back or went over to Delta Med,
as it was called, which was no more than a little plywood shack. They had metal
sawhorses, and they would bring them in on these cloth stretchers off the helicopters.
We would run down and get them and literally run back with them. I know it was
a good quarter of a mile; it was not a little jaunt down there and back. We would
line them up on the stretchers, and then we would just start cutting their clothes off.
We did not take their clothes off; you literally cut them off to get to the wounds.
There was like one doctor for every thousand men. So you would line them up on
these stretchers. If they had a problem breathing, you would cut a hole in their
throat and put a trachea in and hope they would stay alive until a doctor got there.
You would try to stop the bleeding. You took the ones you thought would live.
The ones that had big old holes in their stomach, you just did not bother with them.
They just died, because there was not anybody to take care of them. There were not
enough supplies. When we got over there we had to go to Delta Med to get all our
medical supplies. We had none; they had not even arrived.

L: Delta Med was a main hospital?

H: [It was] the main hospital near the villages of Con Thien and Cio Linh. We were
right there. Also our battalion called in all of the air strikes for the DMZ. In other
words, if we had a condition red, you heard 150 helicopters taking off at one time
because they were afraid of mortars coming in and hitting them, so they were up in
the air the whole time.

L: To back up just a moment for the purposes of clarification, you were a navy
corpsman attached to the 13th Marine Battalion.

H: When I went over, I was a navy corpsman attached to MCB-11, which was attached
to the 3d Marine Battalion at Dong Ha. Since marines do not have corpsmen, the
navy furnishes all the corpsmen for the marines, so it is called temporary active duty.


That was the fear of everybody, that you would get attached to the marines instead
of being on a ship or working in a hospital, because when you got those orders [duty
with a marine battalion] it meant that you were going to be right there in the middle
of everything.

L: Which is what happened to you.

H: Yes.

L: If I am following you correctly, you were attached to a field hospital?

H: Yes.

L: OK. You mentioned being very disinclined to carry the .45. Did you have any
problems with refusing to do this?

H: No. I had to carry it. I remember one time our battalion was having an inspection
at Dong Ha. You would get these lieutenant j.g.'s [junior grade] that knew nothing
and wanted an inspection once a week or once every two weeks, and you would have
to have your .45 or your weapons all clean. Well, I did not know how to put the clip
in, and I started to put it in backwards. The guy down there that took care of the
weapons cleaned it and put it in a plastic bag for me. He said, "Do not take it out
for anything but inspections." I am not saying that we went on patrol or were out,
or even in camp. I might have shot somebody if my life depended on it, if I knew
how to shoot it. I do not know whether I would have even done it, but you never
know that until something comes up. I mean, I would not stand there and say, "Go
ahead and shoot me." I am not that naive.

People in war on both sides [never get the whole story]. The propaganda is so great.
We are indoctrinated. Every morning we pledged allegiance to the flag in school.
In Iran I am sure they do something, or in Vietnam they did something of the same
ilk. You are just totally ingrained in the propaganda in those countries. Probably
rightfully so. It keeps the country together. I am not saying it is wrong. So I had
a hard time shooting somebody that had the same belief, that they were right and
we were wrong. We were over there for I do not know what reason.

L: Would you describe yourself as a pacifist?

H: To a point. I do not believe in just going out and taking lives. But I know if
somebody came to this country or if we were threatened I think there is a time that
you have to take up arms. You cannot be that naive.

L: What was your rank?

H: I was an HM3, which is a hospital [corpsman third class]. My records, even here,
when I was discharged say [I had an] eleventh-grade education. When we joined and
went to medical school and got to Florida, they found out that I had finished college.


They said they wanted me to go to OCS [Officer Candidate School]. I said, "What
does that mean?" They said, "It means extending another year and a half or year,"
because it was three or four years if you were an officer. I said: "No way. There are
no benefits to it. I want out of here." Being corpsmen we had probably pretty much
the same thing as officers had as far as freedom. We had our own barracks. And
I just did not want anymore of the war. I did not want to extend for any reason.
And I never had it changed on my records, nor did they ever update them.

L: As a corpsman, what exactly was your responsibility? Were you the first person to
prep the wounded when they came into the hospitals? How much actual medical
[activity did you engage in]?

H: It depended on what condition it was. If we were just in camp and nothing was
happening or somebody at night [was] hit [with] a mortar thing and had cut their leg
and gashed it open, they [the patients] rarely ever saw a doctor unless we thought
we could not handle it. We would sew them up and send them back. If somebody
had been overrun or a company had been out and had come back and there were
150 coming in, nobody had a "job." You did everything you could. People would be
sitting there with their legs blown off, and you would check their tourniquets. If
their leg was gone, it did not make any difference about cutting off circulation and
letting blood flow. If he had a big stomach wound you put a surgical dressing on it.
If he could not breathe you cut a little hole through him and put a trachea in. If
they were dead then you went and said: "Doc, he is dead. Come over and say, 'He
is dead.'" The doctor would walk over and say, "He is dead." Then you took him
over and dumped him on the other side of the street. It was all outside.

Nobody had a job. I guess if you were in the OR in surgery you were there to assist.
I never did any of that. Most of it was just done out in the open. There was no
room you were in. It was on the street under a little metal roof. That was all.

L: Did you ever go out on patrol?

H: Yes, we went out on patrol. We went out to treat villagers, which was a PR thing.
We would say they would have done us in in a minute if you had let them. At night
we would have to be right on the barbed wire on the front line. We had to do that
for a month. Then sometimes we would go out beyond the wire. God only knows
why we did it. [Oftentimes we were] out there at night walking around in rice
paddies just on patrol, to see if you could stir up something, I guess. I have no idea
what we were trying to do. Most of the time we were in camp because we were
needed there. If your company was out on patrol, then you went.

L: Were you ever involved in a firefight?

H: Yes. You just laid down and hoped for the best. If somebody got shot or got hurt
a little bit, then you went over and helped him. They would call in a helicopter, and
they would medi-vac them out when it lightened up. Or they would call in the
artillery. Most of what I saw was just snipers and that type of thing, that harassment.


Then I went to Khe Sanh, which was right by the DMZ. I just wanted to get away
from where I was. I flew up on one of those double-prop helicopters--I do not know
what they were called. We got off in a condition red, and I looked for a mortar
hole. There was no mortar hole. Mortars were coming in. There must have been
a ditch maybe six inches by the metal airstrip, so we jumped into that.

I sold beer up there. That is all I did. I just wanted to get away from where I was.
That is how bad it was.

L: You sold beer?

H: Yes. I knew some people that were up there at Khe Sanh, and I told them I wanted
to get away from Dong Ha, not realizing, my God, I was close to the DMZ, and it
was even worse. They had plywood houses and everything--not houses, but ...

L: At Khe Sanh?

H: At Khe Sanh. That was even closer, and we had none of that. It was like a little
village, and I just sold beer. I talked the people into letting me go up there for a
day or two. I remember our going up there, and somebody on the ground--probably
a Vietcong--starting shooting at us. They turned the helicopter around and went
back. We started pelting them with tons of bullets. The [guns] never ceased. The
[guns] went through in a belt-type strip of bullets [belt ammunition].

L: Was this from the helicopter?

H: The helicopter. And I thought, Why are we standing here shooting at these people?
Some of it I just blocked out. I was reading through my diary last night, which I had
kept, and I cannot remember some of it. It is just totally like it did not happen.
Living conditions were awful, and there was just stuff that you did not remember.

L: Did you keep a diary throughout the entire [time]?

H: Yes. Not the entire time. I kept pretty much day to day. I guess that is how I kept
my sanity. I just wrote down thoughts about the war.

L: Would you be adverse to reading me maybe a sample paragraph or two?

H: Let's see. This is just the first one I came to. "Another night gone by without
incoming rounds. Had four beers, and it really relaxed me. I just slept outside as
usual." You did not sleep in the tents; you usually slept by your mortar hole. I think
the thing that impressed me about outside and [was] probably [the most] relaxing
[was] the skies--the sunsets and everything. They were the most unreal, beautiful
things I had ever seen.

Here is one: "Dr. Shirer is back, and he is messed up as usual. He is playing around
with his Sony now." He loved opera, and he really just became a drunk over there.


He was no use to any of us. He would go to the mess hall, and the officers had a
place they could drink at the end of this mess hall. He would usually fall into a
mortar hole, and we would go drag him out. He would be yelling, "Come and get

Let me go back. There is one here [I want you to hear]. This is in June. "I had a
blast at a birthday party last night. Around thirty corpsmen ." So this must have
been all of us in Delta Med.

L: June of 1966?

H: Nineteen sixty-seven. "Around thirty corpsmen came, and we were all stoned out of
our minds." Now, we were not doing drugs. I meant beer. "We drank and did very
little eating, pitched horseshoes, and just talked. We stopped by the club on the way
back and made asses of ourselves. Had a good time anyway." We started talking
about people's homes. Of course, that is when you really get down. After we took
the 9th Motor guys back, we were coming back. Randy was sitting by the window
and decided to jump out. Bailey yelled, "There is a body in the road!" Sure enough,
there was. He jumped out, and we saw Randy. Now, this is a corpsman.

L: Randy?

H: Randolph. They got a stretcher and brought him back to the base. We were scared
to death. Then the first thing he did was he sat up and said, "Don't you ever do that
again." In other words, he was playing a game with us. We were all drunk out of
our minds, so we thought he had been shot or something.

L: These are the same two gentlemen that you were in California with.

H: Yes. We all trained together. Here is one that says: "Mortar started coming in
around 11:00 P.M. last night. I ran into a mortar hole with only my shorts on. They
must have hit over by the airport." Now, there was no airport. There was a little,
short strip. "We could see one or two huge fires running. I ran to the medical
bunkers as soon as they let up. Stayed downstairs a few minutes and then came

L: And this is at Con Thien, right?

H: This is at Dong Ha. Finally they built us a metal bunker that was concrete and had
eighteen feet of dirt on top of it where we could treat people if we got overrun or
the weather got bad and that type of thing.

L: You mentioned mortar holes. Are these actual shell craters?

H: No. Well, they would be foxholes, probably, in World War II. Even thirteen miles
from the DMZ, they had ditch diggers that once your tent was set up they would dig
you a mortar hole that you could stand up in and just your head would stick out.


We spent a lot of time in those mortar holes, because anytime a condition red was
called [we jumped in]. My head was probably no more than three feet from that
mortar hole, so you jumped up. See, I did not realize when I first got there that you
slept with your clothes on. I remember my legs got all torn up because there were
rocks in that mortar hole. So from then on I slept in my clothes. If there was water
for a shower you took a shower and put your clothes right back on. You were never
without them.

L: How often was there water to take a shower?

H: Depending on when you got there. If you were in camp they dug a big hole in the
ground, a huge one, and it had a 12" plank on it. It had one pipe that dripped water.
Holes had been drilled in it, and you walked down this board. If you were first in
it you were the last out. You would stand there, and if the water got cut off and you
had soap on you, so be it. You just had soap there until you could wipe off or
whatever. Then they finally built a shower, but they would only bring in maybe a
tank of water a day or something. You never had enough for everybody, so you just
smelled a great deal.

L: What did they feed you?

H: I do not know. I was reading here last night that [we ate] C rations when we first
got there. They came in a cardboard box, and there were different types of them.
The only one I would ever take was the beans and weenies. And you got a little
cookie, and there were three Camel cigarettes, a can of Sterno, [and] it seems like
there was chewing gum in there, too. So I would always swap the food for the
cookies, because if you were out on patrol you could not heat it anyway. They were
little cans.

I do not know what others they had. They would always give me first choice, being
a corpsman. That is how good they were to us.

L: They treated you well?

H: Oh, yes. We were their hope if they got shot, so they gave us first choice of

L: What other ways did they take care of you?

H: Anything you wanted, I mean, literally. You were almost like God. That is how
much corpsmen were revered over there, because they knew if they got shot or hurt
or if they went to sick bay--we had medical sick call over there, [although] we cut
some of it out--what you did for them was like ... If somebody was an asshole you
treated them like an asshole in sick call. It was a two-way street. It was like that
.45 I had. That guy put it in a plastic bag for me so it would not get dirty. If you
needed boots or needed clothes, [they would get them for you]. You could not even
get boots over there. You could buy them from the Vietnamese, but we did not


happen to get them in camp because the black market would steal them at the dock.
So if you needed boots you might trade a few tranquilizers with the people in supply
to get boots, or they knew when they came to sick call if they needed something ...
It was a two-way system, just like it is now in the real world.

L: You just mentioned tranquilizers and the black market. You were there from April
of 1966 until about April of 1967?

H: I left [Dong Ha, Vietnam] the 27th of April.

L: Did you see much illegal drug use?

H: Yes, a lot of it. Tons of it.

L: What were they consuming?

H: Mostly it was marijuana that was going on at that time. I am sure there was some
other [drugs as well]. They asked me if I would go out, and in my medical bag--it
was called a Unit 1; we kept medical supplies in it, like a little purse--they wanted
me to put a walkie talkie in it. When they started smoking the marijuana in the
trenches, I was supposed to get up out of the mortar hole and go to the head and
call back to battalion headquarters or whatever and say: "Come and get them. They
are smoking." I refused to do it. I just said, "No way." Well, they would kill you,
number one.

L: The marines.

H: Yes. See, in the MCB-11 they all looked alike. The sailors and the marines in the
MCB-11 had the same uniforms. There was no difference to distinguish the two.
They did not wear white uniforms or blues. In other words, you got marine issue.

L: With the camouflage?

H: No, just green. So I refused to do it. But I remember they talked Beal into doing
it, and he went out there. They were smoking marijuana and he radioed back, and
they arrested and court martialed about thirteen of them and sent them back to
the States. They promised they would transfer [Beal], but they did not, and he kept
getting beat up and beat up. At night he would just be pulverized.

And alcohol was probably worse than drugs. A lot of people lost their lives because
[of drinking]. Like when we were at that [birthday] party drinking. I know we were
drunker than coots. When the mortars came in, we were sound asleep on our cots.
When that shrapnel comes through your tent, it is going to get you, too. So if you
were not in your mortar hole,... A lot of people got killed that way. They even
cut us back to one can of beer a night. That is how bad it had gotten with people


You just cannot go through a war listening to 150 helicopters take off maybe two of
three times a night, incoming mortars every night, seeing destruction every day. It
just takes a toll on you. So I guess it was a copout for a lot of people.

L: When you said that once a month you got rotated up to the DMZ,...

H: No, around camp or within our area. We had seventy-five acres that Delta Med and
MCB-11 controlled. We had seventy-five acres that we put barbed wire around to
say, "This is ours. You cannot come in this area." Now, you would go beyond the
barbed wire to treat villagers for PR. There were sixteen different strands of barbed
wire between us and them, but we said, "We control this seventy-five acres. That is

L: Were there ever any attempts to overrun it or any sort of assaults upon it?

H: Just the mortars. There was a $10 million radar setup right beside the hospital. See,
we had what we called gooks--I do not know why [we called them that]; I do not
know what it means, but I am sure it was not a pleasant term. Women and men
would come in, and we would give them forty cents a month or forty cents a week
to wash our clothes, which meant beating them on a rock, because that is all there
was. They would come in, and they knew all the locations [of all the buildings and
equipment in camp]. Well, if you had offered to a South or North Vietnamese the
four freedoms or four sandwiches, they would have taken the food. So if it meant
getting rid of us, they knew every location within the camp, so they would mortar
that $10 million radar setup. It would twist that metal just like it was taffy or

L: So they would come in the day and do your laundry and go home at night and
mortar your [camp].

H: A lot of them. Then we would not let them on the base for a month; they would
say, "No Vietnamese allowed on the base."

Of course, we took over the town of Dong Ha, which was near. We took over all
the rice paddies, the cemeteries, houses that were there. We were not allowed to
touch any of the gravesites because they would [tell "Charlie" so we would be
mortared. So we did not touch any of the gravesites. I remember in our camp there
was a beautiful home standing there. It was flat, but it seemed like it was on more
of a hill than any other over there. We were not allowed to go near that. So they
would do anything to get rid of us. And I do not blame them. They did not ask us
over there.

L: When you went out on patrol, when you went outside the wire at night, how big a
group went?

H: Sometimes there were ten, sometimes there might be twenty, depending, I guess, on
how severe the command thought it was or how bad it was out there. I remember


reading in something last night about walking through rice paddies. It was pitch
black, and [I remember] about being scared out of my gourd.

I think the worse thing is, see, when we went on patrol, we were not allowed to carry
Unit Is, our medical supplies in a bag. You put inside your shirt [what you needed],
because the Vietcong wanted to kill you first.

L: The corpsmen?

H: The corpsmen, because you were sort of the lifeline between the others. And I did
not know what we were looking for. I have no idea to this day what we were looking

L: Did you ever find anything?

H: Oh, we were shot at, and we killed a water buffalo, which the government paid, I
think, something like $400 back to the people for the carcass. [There was] sniping
action, like harassment, but no two-day combat. Those came with the big companies.
We saw some of that in picking up the dead, our men [that] were advancing and had
been shot by the North Vietnamese. We took flame throwers and burned all the
brush so you could see. Of course, it burned all of our men. So our job was to go
in there and drag all those people back so we could ship them back home. I never
saw anything. I think about Con Thien and all those places.

We see in World War I and World War II [movies] where people were lined up in
trenches and just charged each other. Vietnam was not that way. There was so
much jungle and terrain that it was more sniping, and most of the time you called
in a helicopter if you found something and pinpointed it, and they bombed.

L: [You] called in an air strike?

H: Yes, an air strike, too. So it was more than that. Of course, [there were so many]
underground tunnels and so many of those villages and things you could never have
gotten them out in a million years.

L: Did you go over there expecting a World War II or Korea type experience?

H: I had no idea what it was about. I think I started getting an inkling of what was
happening. We started over on a C-131, which had nineteen bunks that were nets
for I think sixty of us on that plane. We stopped in the Philippines and Guam, and
they kept feeding us, I mean, all the food we could eat. It seemed we would eat
every time we stopped. They stuffed us with food. Then when we landed in Dong
Ha, the airport [landing strip] was so short that they put on the brakes as soon as
they hit. The plane never stopped. We had to run off when they dropped the back
down with our duffle bags and everything we had. That plane just kept taxiing and
made a u-turn and was gone. I said, "Something is wrong with this," when a plane
cannot stop. Then you looked on the left and you looked on the right and saw these


jets that had crashed during landing before we got there or had been shot and
landed. When you saw this wreckage, you know something was wrong.

But so much of it I just do not remember. You just made yourself try to be happy
or something. You created diversions. I guess drinking helped a lot.

L: Do you remember any of the lingo or the slang that the soldiers used?

H: Charlie, meaning the enemy.

L: And you used gook.

H: Gook.

L: What did you refer to outside the wire as?

H: Gooks. It was always gooks. We would take the trash out, and we had to go
through the sixteen strands of barbed wire. There was a dump, and gooks would
always be out there. Really they were the South Vietnamese, but we called them
Gooks. Charlie was North Vietnamese. They would be going through the trash.
You could not even set a box down; they would grab it out of your hand. Hanoi
Hanna was always on the radio saying, "Delta Med" or "MCB-11" or "Third Battalion,
you are going to be mortared tonight." Sure enough, we would be mortared.

L: Propaganda from the north?

H: Oh, yes. There was tons of that. This is just stuff I picked up when we were on
patrol or outside of the [perimeter of the camp].

L: I remember your showing me that, and I think you even gave me a lot of Vietnamese

H: Yes. But I think mainly they were targeting the American Negro. Anyway, they
were trying to cause that division, I guess the same way right now in Iran.

L: Were the marines largely black, largely Hispanic, or more mixed?

H: We had racial problems over there with black and white. Those things never
affected me personally. Randy, in our company, was black.

L: Is Randy his last name?

H: Randolph is his last name. He is black. There was no discrimination [that I saw],
but evidently [there was some]. I know we had several lectures or whatever about
racial problems that were going on while we were over there. What they were I was
just totally unaware of. I just do not know that it would have been.


L: Did you get many wounded from mines or booby traps or those sorts of things?

H: Yes. That is when they would come in and their legs were blown off, it would be
because they had stepped on a mine. Some, I think, were called "pungi sticks." They
would dig a hole [and drive in] these wooden sticks [bamboo shoots] and put human
feces on them. You would be walking on patrol or something and come [upon one.
They were covered] with grass. I had some of those [injuries] come in. Shrapnel
from the mines might not take a leg off, but [it] took a hunk of skin out.

L: Did you wear body armor? Did you wear the flack jackets?

H: Most of the time. It was so strange. I thought about what they are doing over in
Saudi Arabia right now with flack jackets. Those people have not even tasted war.
They do not know what they are doing. They are running around playing little mind
games on a game board. They have not tasted any mortars landing next to them.
They do not know what fright is yet.

When we were over there, we would sit and watch SAMs [surface to air missiles]
chase our jets, not knowing that if they exploded right over our heads the shrapnel
would get us. We were chewed out a few times for not wearing our helmets or flack
jackets. But you walked around, and they were not really tied up or anything. You
would have them open, so I do not know what good they would have done. Now,
if you were on patrol or were going outside the barbed wire or going into a village
to treat the Vietnamese, then you pretty well tried to look out after yourself. But
in camp it was sort of like being home.

L: Things got lax.

H: That is right.

L: What did you treat the Vietnamese [for]? What kinds of things did you treat them
for in the villages?

H: Most of them were just infections. There was a lot of syphillis and gonorrhea. If
we could get back to them, if we drew blood to test [we would help them]. That was
from our own men, too. Imagine where they got it. But mostly [we treated] just
minor infections. You could give them a respiratory things, but give them an
antibiotic and it would clear it up in a matter of seconds, because they had not been
built up to resist it. For us, if we got an infection, it took months for it to heal up,
just the weather and the different environment we were in. But just general sick
call. Sometimes babies would come in for respiratory things, diarrhea, or minor
things. We never did any surgery.

I know they captured one woman with a baby--I was reading about this last night.
She had been putting mines down, and they caught her. She had been injured, and
nobody would treat her. I went over. I had a hard time dealing with the human
factor and the enemy factor. I went over and tried to find out what was wrong with


her. I had learned a little Vietnamese. Dau meant pain, and you would just poke
them to try to figure out. But they finally removed her, and I have no idea what
they did with her or her baby. They might have just taken her out and shot her. I
would not doubt it.

L: What kind of home touches did you see around? What kinds of things did people
bring to remind them of home? Did you see anybody with Confederate flags or pins
or anything, sort of personal touches?

H: You did not wear personal touches on your uniform. That was illegal. I guess there
were. I was trying to think. At Khe Sanh the marines had set up a checkpoint. I
do not know what this checkpoint was, but it was like a little sentry box or tower or
short thing that a marine would be in, and you had to get through the center of it.
You went through to go in. I do not remember how that was in relationship to
camp, but it had on there, "Never have so many been so cruel to so few in such short
time"--something like that. But that sort of impressed me that even there they were
making a statement without just verbally rebelling, saying, "We are not going to
fight," and this type thing.

L: I was a student up at UNF [University of North Florida in Jacksonville], and a
historian is interested in what kind of non-US flags the soldiers were taking over
there. Did you see any Confederate flags or perhaps even a Nazi flag?

H: I do not remember seeing one. I do not remember any of it. They might have had
them in their tents. We were so scattered out. I know there was not anything where
I was around. But I am sure there had to be some flags over there. I will look
through my slides one day and see if any of them appear. Que Son would have been
the place. But if you were in our camp they might have been flown on your tent.
I am sure they would have made you take it down. They tried to be military,

L: But not at Khe Sanh.

H: Khe Sanh was right enough, because it was right there on the DMZ.

L: How much time did you spend at Khe Sanh?

H: I went back and forth several times. I never stayed over two days at a time, which
was crazy. It was sort of like R & R to me. For most people R & R, I guess, was
going to Hong Kong or wherever they wanted to for two weeks at a time. But I said
I was not going to risk trying to fly out of that place and getting back in, so I would
just go up there for a break. I had friends that were up there. Then I treated a guy
that had a heart attack. I went out with him to the Sanctuary, which was a hospital
ship. A friend I had gone through corps school with, Mike Pulliam, was out there.
I spent the night on the ship out there. I did not sleep. I just could not believe how
clean everything was for a change. You could get candy bars and Cokes and all


L: And that was about the only thing you got for R & R?

H: I could have gotten [more], but just to jump on a plane that is taxiing to fly out is
just taking the same, to me, as incoming mortar. Yet I could get on a helicopter and
felt much safer about flying to the hospital ship. Going to Khe Sanh was even safer
to me than getting on that big plane to go to Da Nang, and then from Da Nang you
went to wherever you were going. Then you had to come back in. So no.

L: So you just stayed where you were. Did you come into contact with the army of the
Republic of South Vietnam?

H: Just people. There was some intermingling up there, but there was no socialization
or anything. There was a language barrier, number one, and I guess the brass that
was there coordinated things, but they were pretty much separate. They were not
on our camp or in our base as a unit at Khe Sanh nor Dong Ha. There was none.
You might have seen somebody coming in of high rank for consultation or that type
of thing. And they could call in air strikes, I am sure, through our channels if they
got pinned down.

L: What was the main type of air strike? You mentioned helicopter: I guess a Huey
gunship or a Cobra.

H: The only thing I know were the jets. I have no idea what they were that flew in and
took off there. I have no idea. I have photographs of some of them. When they
were in they were kept in little bays that had metal with dirt in between them, and
they would park them in there. Then they took off. The helicopters probably were
called more than anything. I think the air strikes per se came from the [naval] ships,
but everything called in the DMZ came through us, and we relayed it due to the
radar setup that we had there. The helicopters came directly out of there. There
were 150 of them. But the ships out there, and the air strikes were called in through

L: Did you ever see any of the B-52 strikes? Do you have any memory of them?

H: You could see them flying, at night, particularly. [You could see] bombs being
dropped. Then sometimes at night you could see them trying to evade a SAM
missile, which I guess was attracted to the heat of the engine. You could always
see a cloud of smoke every day someplace, because bombing was all around.
Sometimes if you were out on patrol, every now and then there would be an air
strike that would be close by you that some patrol had called in. I am sure there
were a lot of our men killed, probably, because not everybody on patrol coordinated
with the whole marines that were over there. There was quite a bit [of bombing].
Of course, [with the use of] Agent Orange a lot of the terrain was defoliated so we
could see where we were going.

L: Did you ever get very close to the defoliation operations?


H: I do not know whether anybody knows that. When you were out there, whether it
had been flame throwers or had been defoliated, it was there. You did not get
dropped on. I do not know if anybody really got it put right on their heads. But I
am sure that we all walked through some of it at some point. It drifts, it floats. So
I do not know.

L: But you have never had any sort of weird symptoms?

H: No, not that I know of.

L: OK. Is there anything else before we move on from Southeast Asia that you
remember that was an important part of the experience?

H: I think fear. That is the only thing I remember. Here is one: "Last night helicopters
were shooting rockets, and artillery was firing at the VC near our line. It must have
been quite a few for all of the artillery to be put out." We watched tracers for some
time, and then I talk here that when they come in "it shakes underground bunker"--
that is eighteen feet underground--"each time and every time it fires." Then just the
knots in your stomach. Just looking back through this thing [what I remember the
most] is the fear. I think the worst thing is that you do not know what is happening
to you until you are back home, and the quietness comes. Then you realize what
you have been through. So I do not know.

The wind and the dust, I remember that. God! Dust, dust, dust, dust. That is all
it was. It was a big dust bowl.

L: At some point when you were in Vietnam did you first come in contact with the

H: No, before that. I had written them.

L: Before Vietnam?

H: Yes. Then Sister Mildred wrote me while I was over there.

L: So you had already been interested in that. So you spent a year in the U.S.

H: Not quite a year. A tour of duty was nine months, and a tour of duty could include
like Port Hueneme. That was all starting your tour, when you started through the
training there. They would transfer them from one place to another and get them
hooked. But a lot of people shipped over for another nine months.

L: Just re-upped.

H: Re-upped. They would offer more money to stay. And why [they stayed anyway]
I do not know.


L: How much did they pay you, by the way?

H: I was lucky. I have written down when I got my paychecks. I remember one. We
got the hazard pay or hazard-duty pay, and we got a dollar a day maybe for that.
They gave us something else. But [we were paid] $126.06 a month. I think we got
paid once a month. Of course, you did not get your money. You would only take
a voucher, and you got ten dollars worth of [Vietnamese and/of American] money.
[There was] nothing to spend it on, so it would just stay in there [on your account].

L: The beer was free?

H: No, [it was] ten cents a can. You had to buy it.

Here is one: "6,000 marines are coming in for a big operation around July 1. Jets
were bombing."

Everything was cheap. I think they finally went to fifteen cents a can. They cut
everybody back; they were trying to get everybody to quit drinking so much over
there. So I do not know.

L: Where did you go once you got out of Southeast Asia? What happened then?

H: I went to Da Nang and got on that plane. It was taxiing off, and I jumped on with
whoever else was going. It went to Da Nang and stayed there I guess three days.
They called it the [707] Golden Jet. It was a commercial liner that brought you back
to the United States. [It carried] 165 on board.

I remember crossing a river in a boat, and a little boy said, "Do you want to bang-
bang Mamason?" Well, he was selling his mother. [He was asking me] "Do you
want to have intercourse with my mother?"

Then I went to I was trying to think of what they called this big old white
elephant building. You went in there and got your orders, and they gave you your
plane ticket. Then they sent you to this barracks there that everybody that was going
back to the States stayed in. The Red Cross ... I think that is where I learned to
hate the Red Cross. I needed to iron a uniform, and they said, "The Red Cross
would let you." I went over to the apartment there, and they had air conditioning,
nice apartments, and I just thought, something is wrong.

Then after that I flew back to Long Beach, California. I remember writing in here
that so many of them were so proud to have been over there, and they would wear
their little uniforms around, these people who were getting discharged like I was, and
I just could not understand how they were just walking around like they were God's
gift to humanity. I remember writing that in here. I avoided wearing my uniform
as much as possible because I just did not feel good about the war. They gave you


a physical to get out of the navy, and then I flew back to Memphis, Tennessee. That
was it. It was over.

L: And you were out of the service at that point?

H: I was out. I think I had four or six years to do in reserve time, but I came back here
to start teaching right away. I went to the reserve unit here in Jacksonville. I was
so negative about the war they told me: "We will pay you. Just do not come to any
meetings," because I would tell kids: "Get out. Do not do it. Do not join." So they
said, "You do not have to come anymore." I said that was fine.

L: So you moved to Jacksonville.

H: Yes.

L: About what year did you first move here?

H: I think it was the latter part of 1967. I wanted a job right away. I did not want to
think about the war. I did not want to look for a job. I wanted something to
happen quick. Before I went over I applied for jobs and accepted one here in

L: As .?

H: A teacher.

L: Teaching high school?

H: Junior high [at] Kirby-Smith.

L: Teaching art?

H: Yes. So that was probably one of the best things I had done--jumping into
something new that was demanding. Your mind was going in the other direction,
instead of the war.

We flew on a Continental 707 Golden jet, is what we left there on. They did not
lock the back door, and we all could have been sucked out. I thought that was a
bummer. We landed someplace, and they told the stewardess that the door had not
been latched properly and we could all have been sucked out, I guess. I was sitting
in the back, anyway.

L: Do you have any memories of any sort of anti-war activity in Jacksonville? [Was
there] anything going on? [Were there] any marches between 1968 and 1972?


L: You just did not talk about it. The country was not behind it, the people were not
behind it, so you just became a non-entity. It was something you just kept inside of
you. You just did not let anybody know anything about it.

L: Where is Kirby-Smith located?

H: It is right in the heart of Springfield, I believe between 10th and 11th streets. It is
on Hubbard Street.

L: Was it an all-white [or] all-black [school]?

H: No, it was 50/50--50 percent white and at least 50 percent black. The faculty, I
think, the second year [was] totally integrated. [Kirby-Smith] the only school in
Jacksonville with a 70/30 [faculty] ratio, which was required. They were inner-city
ghetto kids, which, again, I think helped me, because I was doing something for
somebody. I think if it had been a regular high school [where] there were no
problems or no social statements being made it probably would have been much
harder, now that I look back and think abut it. That was all just luck that it worked

L: When did you start spending summers in Sabbathday Lake, Maine?

H: I think the summer of 1968 I went up for ten days. Then the next summer I went
fourteen days. Then after that I just went the entire summer.

L: All summer long ever since?

H: Yes.

L: How long were you teaching at Kirby-Smith?

H: I think I have taught there thirteen years.

L: At what point did you meet [your friend] Howard Landers?

H: Howard and Amy were going to a little church that I started going to, St. Mary's
[Episcopal Church] in Springfield on Laura Street. Here again, it was in the middle
of a depressed section, a poor section of town. Yet it started attracting architects,
teachers, some intellectuals, plus people that were in boarding homes that had
mental limitations, to average-class people, so it was a nice cross section.

L: This is an Episcopal church.

H: Episcopal church, and I met them there. They were already going there and had
been for a little while. I think Peter Rumpel told me about it, so I started going


L: He is a local architect.

H: Local architect.

L: Where did you move to after you left Kirby-Smith?

H: I went to Andrew Jackson [High School] for a year to start the art department over
there. Then I went to Maine and taught for a year. I came back to Kirby-Smith and
taught, I believe, another five years. Then I went to Paxon [High School] and taught
eight years. (I may be lumping some of these together.) Then I transferred to
Douglas Anderson School for the Arts and have been there for six years. It might
have been a total of thirteen years with Kirby-Smith. I guess it was a total of
thirteen at Kirby-Smith and eight at Paxon, one out of state, and then six.

L: And you taught junior high or high school in Maine?

H: I taught at a junior college. I covered a man's sabbatical and taught art history three
days a week, two hour's worth.

L: That was at ...?

H: That was at Bliss College in Lewiston, Maine.

L: Exactly what kinds of things do you teach?

H: Now?

L: Now.

H: Now I just teach sculpture, everything from beginning, the lowest courses, all the way
up to Portfolio II, which they take their senior year. So there is five years of
progression in sculpture. I have taught art history, humanities, history, drawing and
painting, fabrics, anything they want in the arts.

L: You are an artist yourself, right?

H: I do not know. [I am] probably more of a teacher first and an artist second, I think
if I had to classify it. If I were an artist I would not be teaching.

L: OK. If you are an artist you have to be doing that full time.

H: That is right. Ben Shan [an artist] says you can only be one or the other.

L: And what medium do you work in mainly?

H: I have probably worked with clay more than anything else. Now I have gotten into
more construction things using other materials [like] wood and not just clay by itself.


L: Have you enjoyed being a high school teacher?

H: Ninety-nine percent of the time.

L: What about the other 1 percent?

H: I am in a bad mood. Kids are pretty well constant in what they do. Either I get
frustrated that they are not moving where I think they should be or I just do not feel
good that day and I take it out on them, usually. But most of the time I have
enjoyed it. I think I would really have gotten out if I had hated it. I do not know
whether I would do it again if I had it to do over, but then that is true of all of us.
That is hindsight. But I really have no regrets.

L: Having had the experience you had in Vietnam, would you have done it differently
in any way? Would you try harder to avoid going over there?

H: I do not know. I guess generations are different. Even though there were kids that
went to Canada to get out of going to Vietnam and people went into teaching so
they did not have to go to Vietnam, I was just brought up and we were all
indoctrinated to believe that you always have to give back something, whether it is
your college you graduated from, or university, or whether it is your church. You
just were not takers out of society. Even though my parents did not want me to go
over there, they never said, "Go to Canada," nor did I ever think about it, to be
honest. I just knew that the law said I was to go, and laws only work as long as
people let them work or want them to work. I could have run off to Canada, but
I thought, God, I would hate to live up there the rest of my life. Of course, they
have amnesty now, but I am sure their lives were screwed up as bad as ours were
going to Vietnam. Maybe in a different way.

L: How badly was your life screwed up by Vietnam?

H: I think mentally things bother you, like the first two nights they really declared war
on Iraq I literally drank [away] those two nights. That is how bad [it was for me].
It brought back memories. Just knowing that they did not know what they had
gotten into. Again, they had no idea what they had gotten into yet. They had not
seen anything until they see those bodies coming back. Then it would be pretty bad,
so I do not even watch the news, or very seldom. See, I have no control over it. I
think a lot of [Vietnam vets have had similar experiences]. You think about it.
Helicopters bother me to this day.

L: Helicopters?

H: Yes.

L: The sound. Certain things [also bother me]. I mean, I know I am crazy, but that
is not the point. Some people had it worse, especially if you were shot over there


or left out there for a day or two by yourself before somebody got to you. We
picked them. I mean, that is a mental trip that you will probably never forget. I was
just lucky. A lot of people were not. They had more to deal with.

L: And you never received any injuries.

H: Nothing. In Vietnam they said a purple heart was if you were evading action. Well,
when incoming mortars came in and you tripped over your tent peg and cut yourself,
that was [qualification for] a purple heart. Dr. Shirer never would give us one,
because we had to run for our mortar hole to find our company at night when
mortars came in. We were the only ones running around, the corpsmen, and we
would always get injured. I mean, those tent pegs sticking our there were something.
But there was nothing like getting shot. Purple hearts were a dime a dozen in
Vietnam. They really meant nothing. And they probably did it rightfully so for
morale, because they would line a hundred of them up and give out purple hearts.
Some of them deserved it and some did not. So I guess everybody has their own ax
to grind.

Sometimes you can drown in your own sorrow, but that does not do any good. Here
again, different people react in different ways and are capable of doing different
things. You came back home, and I am sure a lot of their spouses and kids, families,
had not been through the war, and there was nothing to talk to them about, and
there was no support group for the Vietnam [veterans]. There still is not, or very
little. Now, there will be for the people that are coming back now [from the Gulf
War], because they learned a lesson of what happened. I remember when they were
remembering Vietnam veterans and asked everybody to wear a little ribbon, and I
cut a bunch of them and took them to Paxon and was passing them out. Some
teachers refused to do it, and they grew up during the 1960s. They still just did not
believe in that war. It was not for the war. It was for the people that were alive,
not what happened. That really irritated me, that people just do not commit or
maybe just take a stand as much as the people going to Vietnam. You have to deal
with your own circumstances.

L: Did you ever get involved in any of the veterans' organizations?

H: No. I never even joined. I just got a letter last week again [asking me] to send in
I think seventeen dollars.

L: [I have] one final question that is just [to tie up] a loose end. What faith were you
raised in?

H: Baptist.

L: Your parents were Southern Baptist?

H: Die-hard Baptist.


L: Are you a member of [a Baptist fellowship]?

H: St. Mary's Episcopal church. I was a communist.

L: A communist?

H: When I was in college we had to read books like Why We Can't Wait [by Martin
Luther King, Jr., and] Catcher in the Rye [by J. D. Salinger], and my parents just
thought that communists had taken over the college university. Then when I
switched to the Episcopal church in college, [they got all bent out of shape]. They
think that when it the Nicene Creed says "the catholic church" [it] means Catholicism.
They never could understand that that was what it meant. They just thought I had
turned communist there for a long time. Now, why they thought I had turned
communist [is a mystery to me]. But that was just that generation.

L: Have you ever wanted to become a full-time Shaker?

H: Probably at one time. I went and lived there [Sabbathday Lake, Maine] for I guess
it was fifteen months. Well, it was a year plus some of the summer.

L: This was .. .?

H: Nineteen seventy-one or 1972. I realized that as a Shaker you usually lose your
identity and become one of a hundred or one of ten or whatever, and you had no
control over your mind. There was so much of it that is controlled by one or two
people, and I just did not have that freedom, so I decided that is just was not for me.

L: Well, I think that will conclude our interview. I appreciate your talking to me.
Thank you very much.


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