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Perselay, Gerald

Shaun Illingworth:  This begins an interview with Dr. Gerald Perselay, who is also a colonel, US Air Force, retired, on May 25, 2010, in Charlotte, North Carolina, with Shaun Illingworth.  Dr. Perselay, thank you very much for being here. 

Gerald Perselay:  I appreciate the opportunity.

SI:  To begin, could you tell me where and when you were born?

GP:  I was born on April 9, 1927, in Irvington, New Jersey, which was a very small town, or was at that time, outside of Newark. 

SI:  Can you tell me a little bit about your parents and their family backgrounds?  Your father was a Rutgers graduate.

GP:  ... Yes.  My parents were born in; ... what do you call it, first generation born in the United States?  In other words, my grandparents came from Europe.  ... Both grandparents on both sides came from what they call Poland-Russia, which is short of an area between the two, has fallen into it.  On my father's side, his father went into the coal business in Newark, New Jersey, and my father spent his early years driving a team of horses, hauling coal and that sort of thing, but my father was the first one to go to college in his family and he was very bright in school.  He got a scholarship to Rutgers and he finished in three years, Phi Beta Kappa.  So, he was, you know, very bright and he became a schoolteacher right off the bat.  Eventually, ... he did go to law school.  While he was a schoolteacher at Battin High School in Elizabeth, New Jersey, he met a young woman who he fell in love [with], who turned out to be my mother.  ... She was simply a student there, at that time, and he was a teacher and they got married, I think it was 1923.  He had finished Rutgers at that time and he went on to Newark Law School to become a lawyer and, eventually, served in a number of positions in savings and loans in Newark, New Jersey, that sort of thing, in the business world itself.  On my mother's side, they came, as I said, ... from Poland-Russia also.  My ... grandfather was in the paper box business in Brooklyn, New York, and, although he lived in Elizabeth, New Jersey, he traveled ... each morning and returned each evening from his job, that sort of thing.  Grandmother, my grandmothers on both sides, were, let's say homemakers.  That was about it.  My mother came from a family of [four], she had three brothers, and my father came from a smaller family, [in] which he only had one brother and no sisters.  So, that gives you a little background of where the family was at that particular point in time.  ... [My] father, I think, ... as I mentioned before, went to Rutgers, because, as he said, when I asked him about, "Well, how did you get in there?" and so forth, and so on, that was 1919, ... just after the war, and I said, "Well, take tests?" so forth.  "No," he says, "I got on the train ... in Elizabeth and it went to New Brunswick and I got off the train and walked up the hill and I signed the book."  ... That's the way that they did things in those days, but, also, in those days, you have to recognize, it was more of a church-oriented school, talking about Dutch Reformed.  ... The chapel, that's still there, things like that.  He joined a fraternity, which, at that time, was Omicron Alpha Tau, OAT, "the Oats," and, subsequently, became Tau Delta Phi, which I belonged to, and he did, too, but he lived in the dorm.  They didn't have a fraternity house at the time, that sort of thing.  The friends that he made there were, several of them were, lifelong friends that he kept [in] contact with over the years.  So, as I said, he went on to law school, and then, from there, to Newark, and so forth.  ... I was the first born.  I have a sister--and who is also a Rutgers graduate, Rutgers-Newark, okay--and, after I got going, ... actually, we lived in Newark for my early years, which was during the Depression.  ... Things were, let's say, a little bit difficult, because we didn't have a lot of money at that time, and [my] parents seemed to have the ability to bring up sister and myself at that time.  Later, ... during the early '40s, or late '30s, my father started doing fairly well and they decided [that] they wanted to send me away to school.  At that time, I had finished seventh grade.  My parents and I were living in the same house as my grandparents.  It was a four-family house, believe it or not, in which there were four different apartments, and so, I got to know my grandparents very well, because they were right there, but, also, the fact that I went to public school there, in what was then Hillside.  In other words, we moved from what was Newark to a little bit further out, to what was at that time ... known as Hillside.  We didn't have any car, we rode the bus and, as I said, money was ... somewhat of a problem.

SI:  Was your father's employment affected at all?

GP:  I think it was, up to a certain extent, and I think he did [not] become really involved with the savings and loans until after the Depression, ... [when] the economy started to go back and pick up again, that kind of thing.  They decided they wanted to send me away to school.  That was after I finished seventh grade, there in public school in Hillside, with my sister.  My sister is three years younger than I am.  So, I was sent away to school, [to] a place called New York Military Academy, and it's located in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York, about fifty miles north of New York City.  So, the distance was not great, such-and-such, but it was strictly living a military type of life, that sort of thing.  I went there--I was sent there--in the eighth grade and I was there for five years.  Each summer, I had off, but, each year, I would return in the fall.  I graduated as a cadet lieutenant.  I did fairly well in school.  I got the German Medal and got the Latin Medal, a couple of other things.  In my graduating class, you're talking about seventy-five students, seventy-five men, at that time.  Subsequently, believe it or not, that school is still in existence, in spite of ... much of the anti-military feeling that swept the country over a period of time.

SI:  Can you tell me a little bit more about life in the military academy and the things you would do on a daily basis?

GP:  Very regimented program.  You wore a uniform, okay, and your day was programmed out for you.  Your classes matched each year.  For example, in the senior year, I had senior English, had math, trigonometry, history, the usual high school type of subjects, but everything was regimented.  In other words, you marched to class and you marched away from class.  ... You had parades on Sunday.  You had inspections every Saturday morning.  It was, as I say, a very regimented type of life.  The ultimate--my parents were hoping for me--was that I would go to West Point.  [Of] course, I had mixed feelings about West Point.  I do now, too, but West Point is a great, great place, but, once again, very regimented, very narrow, and West Point, in particular, had one curriculum and that was it.  For example, I mention that because, as opposed to the Air Force Academy, [the] Air Force Academy came along about 1959-1960, many years later, and had a varied curriculum.  [Editor's Note: The Air Force Academy's first class entered in 1955 and graduated in 1959.]  You could major in a number of different things going to the Air Force Academy, but West Point was always, at that time, you went there and you took the engineering curriculum.  That was it and, when you graduated, you were commissioned a second lieutenant, okay.  Bear in mind, when I graduated from Rutgers, I was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Force.  You may say, "Well, yes, what's so great about that?"  Well, the unusual thing is that, in 1947, the Air Force became a separate service.  Up until then, it was Army.  So, back up just a bit, where we were; when I went to Rutgers, in 1944, ... they had a very small student population, like, three hundred students.  That's, you know, so small, it would get lost in today's class, [laughter] that sort of thing, but the rest of the campus was being used by what they called the ASTP.  [Editor's Note: The Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) was established in 1942 at major colleges and universities to train enlisted men to become officers trained in several specialties.]  The Army's program was there, and there were a few Navy programs there, ... students from Navy programs, also, and they took classes together.  They marched to class, that sort of thing.  When I went to Rutgers, as I said, there were only about three hundred students there.  ... When I went down there, rather, to live in the dorm, I made arrangements to live in the fraternity and I pledged the fraternity at that time.  So, over a period of the first, let's say six months that I was there, I pledged and became a fraternity member, okay.  ...

SI:  You went into the New York Military Academy in 1939.  The war broke out in Europe and would continue throughout your entire time there.  How much was that discussed and how much were you aware of what was going on in the world?

GP:  Pretty much, because we were looking for enemy air attacks, that sort of thing.  ... People outside the military academy would just sort of look at us and shrug and say, "You know, you're just ... going off and getting upset about, getting concerned about, things that may not be all that useful."  A number of graduates of the military academy, at the time I was there, went into the military.  When they finished, they went into the military.  Now, bear in mind that the draft was going on at that time.  That's quite different than what you have today.  You look at people and you say, "Well, you know, the people you have today are part of what, in 1972, became an all-volunteer force."  In other words, at that time, if you wanted to be in the military, you had to join.  Before that, if the military had requirements, which the Army almost invariably did, then, they would rely upon the draft, forcing people in for a period of, usually, two years, that sort of thing, but that's all gone now.  There it is, you know, starting in 1972, because the people, the components that furnish [people] for combat and for ... [service in] foreign places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and so forth, are actually Reserve forces, either they're National Guard or Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Army Reserve, that sort of thing, or the National Guard, okay.  So, that's what you did.  That's been the case since 1972, I think it was; okay, backtrack to where you were.  [Editor's Note: The US Army completed its transition to an all-volunteer force in 1974.]

SI:  You were also there when Pearl Harbor was attacked.  Do you remember that day?

GP:  Yes.  I remember that day, and we started patrols on the campus, this sort of thing.  The campus, as I said, it's about fifty miles north of New York City, just about eight, ten miles from Newburgh, New York, and just off the Hudson River, so, mountains all around, that kind of thing.  ... So, it became quite secure and we became much more interested in what the military was doing at that time.  Remember that the academies, and some other officer producing organizations, at that time, started making plans and did, in fact, accelerate things, like Officer Candidate School and that sort of business, in order to produce officers over a period of time, but the draft was still in effect at that time.  So, although the war was going on, I was still at military school, ... I was too young.  ... By the time I finished, at age seventeen, I wanted to join the Air Force and my parents wouldn't sign the paper to let me.  So, that, in fact, meant that I would go to Rutgers.  I took the SAT, I applied to several schools.  As you pointed out, my father was a Rutgers grad, so, I applied to Rutgers.  I was accepted there and, [to] reiterate what I said before, there were only about three hundred students, civilian students, on campus when I got there in August-September of 1944, okay. 

SI:  The curriculum was greatly accelerated due to the war.

RP:  [The] curriculum was on a quarterly basis.  In other words, what you have now regularly is a semester basis, but a quarterly basis was about half--was a little bit more than half--of what the regular semester would be, okay.  I stayed at Rutgers for five quarters, okay, in other words, through until about 1945.  I registered for the draft and I thought, because of my own physical limitations--I had flat feet, a couple of other things--they'll never accept me, and people that I talked to said, "You don't have to worry.  They're not going to take you."  Well, nothing could be farther from the truth, because, early in August 1945, just before the end of the war, I received a notice, "Report for Duty," report to, at that time, [the] induction center in Newark, and then, I was shipped to Fort Dix.  ... So, I spent sixteen months in the military, in the Army.  What did I do?  Well, most of it, believe it or not, was spent in basic training.  I took basic training starting at Camp Croft, South Carolina, [outside Spartanburg, South Carolina], just down the road here, okay.  It was infantry basic training.  It was supposed to be about sixteen weeks.  I got through about the third week and I caught pneumonia, and so, I ended up in the hospital, and I was the last group going through there.  So, they couldn't put me back in my group, because I had lost a couple of weeks.  So, at that time, they shipped me off to Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Arkansas, to finish my infantry training.  So, I spent another ten, twelve weeks there, finished infantry training, okay.  They said, "Okay, you're going overseas."  So, they gave me orders to report to what they called Kearns Overseas Replacement Depot, which is just outside Salt Lake City.  Here, bear in mind now, when you're talking about my traveling, all the traveling was by train.  I didn't have access to military planes, that sort of thing, and so, believe it or not, I ended up, after thirty days leave, going out to Kearns Overseas Replacement Depot.  That was in, trying to think now, January of 1946 and I stayed out there ten days and they shipped me back to Mitchell Field.  They were looking for anybody that had some college training.  It didn't matter in what.  They were looking for [college-educated men] and they were saying, "We need people in the weather service."  So, at that point in time, they shipped me back to what they called the 102nd Weather Group, which was at Mitchell Air Force Base, and I became a weather observer at Mitchell Field for the next about six or seven months.  I learned the job "OJT," on-the-job [training], from other people that were there.  ... I liked it, because nobody bothered me, [laughter] and what I'm saying is, you did your job, there was a place in the barracks, you kept it clean, you slept there, and the only twist in the whole thing is that the shift [changed].  It was actually shift work.  So, you had three days of day shift, three days of what they called from five in the afternoon until midnight, and then, you have three days of the swing shift.  Swing shift was from midnight until eight in the morning.  ... You worked and you did weather observations, actually, and sent them out on a Teletype network and you provided weather observations for pilots and things like that.  So, to me, it was a very good job.  ... Of course, this was ... the Army Air Corps and they wanted me to stay, go to sergeants' school, all this sort of thing.  I said, "No, I want to go back to college and finish," because I had finished, as I said, five quarters.  ... That equated to maybe a year-and-a-half, if you squeezed hard on it.  So, I came back to Rutgers in 1947.  ...

SI:  After attending a military academy and, now, being in the Army, did you take to the Army easily? 

GP:  Yes, excellent point.  Yes, I accepted the regimentation without any problem.  In other words, they put me through basic training and I said, "Man, this is it," you know.  I probably accepted it better than most people did, because I had had the military training before.  ... I thought that the training that they gave me had been pretty much perfected over a period of about three or four years that they had been doing this, with draftees in particular.  I think, at the time I was drafted into the military, I was making twenty-one dollars a month, okay, to give you an idea of the type of thing [pay], but you went to the PX [post exchange] and a pack of cigarettes was ten cents.  So, what I'm saying is, according to the standard of living, it was okay.  I didn't have a lot of money.  My father, at the time, ... he had gotten himself into some problems with the savings and loan business and he ended up being charged criminally, okay.  ... He ended up serving time in prison, about that same time, from about ... 1945 until about 1950, I think it was.  So, he was in a prison up in Northern New Jersey, in Caldwell, was that sort of thing.  [Editor's Note: The Essex County Penitentiary was located in North Caldwell, New Jersey.]  So, [being] in the military, if you were in the military and I wanted to visit him, they'd say, "That's not a problem.  We're glad to let you talk to him," so forth, and so on.  So, if I wanted to visit him, anytime, all I had to do was go up there, but I say that only to give you a little background on my father, okay, at that time.  He finally came back, succeeded, made his own way later.  Okay, let me go back and talk a bit about the Army, okay. 

SI:  Sure.

GP:  I served sixteen months in the Army, okay.  When I came out, I had the GI Bill, okay.  The GI Bill, in those days, paid the tab--paid tuition, it paid seventy-five dollars a month, which, to me, was a lot of money.  ... That may seem [like] peanuts today, but, in those days, seventy-five dollars could take me a long way and, if I hadn't served in the military, I'm not sure I would have had the finances to go back to college, okay.  So, to me, the GI Bill was my ticket, and I rode that ticket for ... the remaining two-and-a-half years that I spent at Rutgers, because I finished up in a short time, trying to overload courses.  ... One of the problems is that I decided I wanted to go back to the military when I finished college.  So, I took ROTC.  In those days, ROTC paid twenty-six dollars a month.  That's not much, but you say, well, that, together with my GI Bill, was enough to allow me to go out on Saturday night.

SH:  You also had many part-time jobs, too. 

FP:  Yes.  [laughter] I was a good typist and that was something that my mother decided I should do way back when I was still in public school and [had] just started military school.  The first year back, during the summer, I took a course in typing.  Today, they call that "keyboarding," right, that sort of thing, but, of course, in those days, and up until the '90s, when you had computers, advent [of] computers, and so forth, the typewriter was a pretty important thing; so, if you had touch typing, fine.  I worked for [the] Bureau of Business Research, the Bureau of Economic Research, ... several bureaus in the University, as well as the B'nai B'rith-Hillel Foundation, which was downtown.  Bear in mind that I'm Jewish, or I like to say I was brought up Jewish, okay.  I served most of my career in a Christian world and I recognize that.  For example, people say to me, "How come that you are working for a Catholic organization down in Columbia?"  In other words, ... the name of the organization is Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina.  ... Their main purpose is to help poor people.  ... My own thoughts, in trying to do things to help, is that it doesn't matter what the organization is; what matters most is what they're trying to do.  So, if I want to help poor people by working with them, which is what I do, or with this camp for the handicapped, that's something that I think overcomes religion and a lot of other things, too.  [Editor's Note: The Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina and Camp Discovery at His Acres are clients of Colonel Perselay's consulting firm, Consulting Unlimited, LLC.]  That's not to say that you shouldn't be religious and you shouldn't believe in religion, everything it counts for.  ... I had a wife that was brought up in the Orthodox, what do I want to say? Orthodox part of the Jewish religion, which is very strict, this [keeping] a kosher home and a lot of going to temple.  ... Since I was in the military, I became, I think, assimilated in many respects.  Also, you were asking [about] military school, [in] military school, either you went to Catholic church or you went to chapel; not too different than Rutgers when I was there.  With Rutgers, okay, on Wednesdays, why, you have to go to chapel.  I don't know [if] it's still like that.  I'm sure it's long gone.

SI:  Yes.

GP:  But, anyway, that's the way it was at that time and, regardless of what religion you were, if you couldn't prove why you shouldn't go, then, you couldn't go, [get out of going].  That's the thing, okay.  ...

SI:  Did you mind going to the services?

GP:  No.  I got kind of used to it, and I got kind of used to being assimilated, you know, in the Christian world.  All the way across the board, even when I became an officer, other things, I never hid the fact that I was Jewish, and neither did my wife.  In fact, she'd be the first one to tell you, "Well, the thing was, I was brought up in a Jewish home," and so forth.  Okay, fine, but I think that has become even more so with our children.  As you go further along in generations, they become much more assimilated.  What do I mean by that?  Both of my children married Christians, okay.  ... If I were in a real Orthodox Jewish home, you would disown them.  That was the [way], you know.  [Editor's Note: Colonel Perselay mimics a person washing their hands of something.]  ... We're all family and, if you're Christian, you believe in this, that's fine.  You make up your mind [about] what you want.  How about your children?  So, okay, should your children be Christian?  Should they be Jewish?  You make up your mind what you want to do, and if that's what they want.  It's difficult, sometimes, to be a minority and, sometimes, there are prejudices, no question about that.  ... I've had people say to me, "Well, you're Jewish, you'll never get promoted," or, "You're Jewish, this..." so forth, and so on.  ... I've never run into that sort of prejudice, put it that way.  People have always accepted me for what I am, and that goes pretty much [for] when I was at Winthrop, and people sort of accepted me for this is what I am.  ... [Editor's Note: Colonel Perselay was a faculty member at Winthrop University from 1978 to 1997.]

SI:  Did you experience any anti-Semitism either at Rutgers or in the postwar Army?

GP:  I don't think so.  I don't think at Rutgers, put it that way.  Rutgers had Jewish fraternities at that time.  You're talking about Bart Klion; he was a Sammy, okay.  The Sammies were Jewish, okay, the Tau Delts were Jewish, the Phi Eps were Jewish.  [Editor's Note: The Sigma Alpha Mu, Tau Delta Phi and Phi Epsilon Pi Fraternities were predominantly made up of Jewish students in the first half of the twentieth century.  Sigma Alpha Mu members were commonly called "Sammies."  Colonel Perselay and the interviewer had been discussing Bart Klion, RC '48, an acquaintance of both men, prior to the interview.]  Some of them were Jewish rich; some of them were Jewish poor.  The rich ones were Phi Eps.  They had cars, that's the thing.  [The] fraternity I was in, nobody had a car.  If somebody had a car--one guy, one of the older members of the fraternity, who had been in the military and come back, got himself Doris Duke's old Rolls Royce.

SI:  Really?

GP:  I mean, a 1937-type thing.  This was considerably later, in the late '40s.  The car was probably about ten years old, but we used to like the car because it had jump seats and we could take the whole softball team to the game, [laughter] but, anyway, so, I think less anti-Semitism at Rutgers, okay.  I don't know if that's still true or not.

SI:  I think it is a pretty diverse place.  There are probably isolated incidents, but, as a whole, no. 

GP:  Yes.  Well, you're talking about blacks.  You're down in an area here [North Carolina] that [it] used to be, if you talked to a black person, you were [scolded], "No, no."  I'm serious, it was that distinct at that time.  It started changing, I guess, here, in the '60s, and then, finally, when I came down here, with the wife, it's been thirty years now, 1978, ... you know, there are black people that are mayors, there are black people that are high in government, responsible citizens, so forth, and so on.  One of the most distinctive black people here was a guy by the name of Harvey Gantt.  Harvey Gantt was the first black [student] at Clemson.  [Editor's Note: Harvey Gantt desegregated Clemson University when he entered as an undergraduate in January 1963 and later served as Mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, in the 1980s.]  You have to recognize that once you cross the North Carolina-South Carolina [border] into South Carolina, the racial [in]equalities at that time were much more accentuated.  People in South Carolina [said], "We don't want anything to do with blacks," this sort of thing.  They finally have come around; it's been a long time and, you know, when you ask about that sort of thing, okay.

SI:  When you came down here to Camp Croft, for example, did the segregation stand out in your experience?

GP:  No; well, on base, no segregation, okay.

SI:  However, when you would go off base ...

GP:  Now, on the other hand, let me go back to, that was 1944 [1945], okay.  Let me talk about 1949; I was already in the Air Force, okay.  I was a second lieutenant, and where did I go? Savannah, Georgia, okay.  At the base in Savannah, Georgia, which at that time was Chatham Air Force Base, they had two officers' clubs, okay, one for whites, one for blacks.  That's officers okay, ... but, then, topside, I think, when you take a look at the Presidencies and the other people that came along, they eventually got that wiped out and, eventually, the services, I felt, ... offered some of the best opportunities to minorities.  They really did.  I think there were a lot of things you could do.  People, as I mentioned before, people have told me at different times, "Don't do something like that.  You'll never get what you want."  That was told to me in Vietnam, when I was there, and I spent a year there before I came [home].  About six months before I came back, they asked, "Where do you want to go?"  I was a lieutenant colonel, okay.  "Where do you want to go?  What do you want to do?" okay.  I told them, "I want to go to ROTC and I want to go to Rutgers or, if I can't get Rutgers, I'll take Stevens," or not Stevens, Georgetown, that's it.  I ended up at MIT.  Anyway, that was an experience in itself, but, anyway, great school, really great.  If I had gone to school there--but you'd have to be [non-military], pretty much, at that time, even when I was there, when you were talking ... 1969 to 1971.  When I was there, they're spelling peace symbols in the sky, you know, and that sort of thing.  It's not exactly the place you'd like to go as a military person.  ... As I mentioned in my piece of paper there, one day, the Sergeant came in to me and says, "I just wanted to tell you that I heard something outside that you'd better know about," and I said, "What is it?"  He says, "They're coming by today to burn the building down."  Well, they didn't burn the building down.  I stayed.  I let the Sergeant go home, so, he felt better, but, anyway, those are things that, you know, you pretty much accept.  ... Then, okay, when people told me, some of my colleagues told me, "Don't ask for ROTC.  You'll never get promoted from lieutenant colonel," well, I did.  I beat the odds, okay, just to show you it could be done, okay. 

SI:  I have a few more questions about Rutgers.  Tell me a little bit about your studies, what you majored in.  Do any classes or professors stand out?

GP:  ... Okay.  When I went to Rutgers, I wanted to study chemistry.  So, in that first five quarters, my curriculum was pretty much chemistry, starting with basic chemistry, then, organic, you know, inorganic, those three, at least, going forward.  ... The studies themselves, keep in mind, ... the classes themselves were pretty small.  Some of the classes were mixed with the military.  ... I mentioned the ASTP there and, also, Navy people.  They were going there for their program, specific programs, but, when you were talking social life, things like that, it was sort of on a very small scale.  Don't forget, [the] football stadium, at that time, was twenty thousand, twenty-two thousand, I think.  It was built by the WPA [Works Progress Administration], right, in 1930s, as a project.  Of course, now, you have something topnotch, no question.  The only thing an old guy like me starts to question is, is it really worth it, right?  Is that something you really want, you want Rutgers to be a football power? of course, but, you know, we used to settle for the big game being Rutgers-Princeton.  That was it, and we never won.  They always won.  [laughter] ... I think, up until the time I got there, it was almost invariably played down in Palmer Stadium in Princeton, ... but, anyway, a couple of times, we went down there.  The idea was to try to steal a chair out of the tavern down there after, [laughter] but, anyway, you wanted to know a little bit about the background--social life, fraternity, yes, dances, a few little things here and there.  Now, [if] you're talking during the war, practically nothing, and I didn't have any social life at that time.  I think social life came along when I came back in 1947, and so, between '47 and when I left in '49, ... May-June '49, then, it was going gung ho.  In so far as athletics were concerned, they were growing up big.  This was before the Big East and it was just, you know, okay, you picked up a schedule and you looked at that, but, typically, Rutgers would play Lehigh, Lafayette.  Those were the two contenders.  Princeton was always on the schedule; well, not always on the schedule, once every couple or three years, that sort of thing.  Other things that happened during that same period, from, say, '47 to '49, Bucky Hatchett, a black basketball player, became head of the class, [the Class of 1950], was a big guy up topside.  Many of my fraternity brothers went on to graduate schools.  A number of them wanted to be doctors, medical doctors, ... and I know of only one or two that ever made it, and they were the two that I didn't think would ever get to the topside.  One of them ended up at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, that kind of thing.  I haven't kept track of people very well.  I think, if I had continued to live in New Jersey, I probably would have kept track much better and I would have gone back to reunions and things like that, but I separated from the whole business primarily because of the [fact that the] military carried me away.  Those people, fraternity brothers I had, most of them settled in New Jersey and that area, put it [that way], Metropolitan New York area, for graduate school, for professional life and a lot of other things that went with it.  Being in the military carried me away from it all, because the first place I got stationed was down here in Savannah, Georgia, and, in those days, Savannah was like the end of the world, put it that way.  They pulled in the sidewalks at five o'clock.  [laughter]

SI:  One thing that always stands out from that era at Rutgers is the impact of the veterans, especially in terms of their refusal to conform to many of these traditions, like hazing freshmen, that they were more vocal in classes and that they challenged old prejudices.  Do you remember other examples of how the veterans really made their mark on Rutgers?

GP:  Yes.  Well, I think so, even in my own fraternity, okay, where we had, like, well, let's say thirty-five, forty members, total, the veterans were much more vocal, much more active, than those that had not been [in the service].  ... The veterans had a limited amount of money, finances and such.  They didn't have a lot of money.  ... A few of the fraternity members, I think we were kind of a poor one, we did have ... several members who were, whose parents were, wealthy and who gave them the resources to go and that sort of thing.  Rutgers was still growing up at that time.  It was expanding.  Don't forget, I talked about three hundred students in 1944; I'm sure, by the time 1947 came along and I came back, it was well up into the thousands.  ... I guess you could prove it by ... [going] back and taking a look at the data as such, but I think the veterans started to take an active hand in their own careers there, ... from the little bit that I know.  So, I think your statement is well founded, from the look of things.  ... The fact that I had ... done well in ROTC meant that I ended up with a regular commission.  They offered me a regular commission and I took it.  Regular commission meant you could stay in, not forever, but for a longer time.  In other words, you have a certain amount of job stability.  If you went into the Air Force, for example, as a Reserve officer, you were guaranteed maybe two or three years, that was it.  ... In fact, I had a cousin, my Cousin George, ... George Perselay, who took ROTC, then, went on to law school, served in the Air Force for just a few years, got out.  That was it.  He passed away just about two, three years ago, and it was unusual, because ... he and I had the same names and, sometimes, we'd get our grades mixed up.  Unfortunately, he didn't do as well as I did, but, anyway, that was the way it goes.  [laughter]

SI:  After you graduated from Rutgers and received your commission, where was your first duty assignment?

GP:  Okay.  The first thing that happened was that they said, "Well, as long as you have a regular commission, then, you're going to have to go to school."  So, they sent me to a school that was called the Air Tactical School.  It was down at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.  It was for sixteen weeks, okay.  ... All during this period of time, I'd been going steady with this Douglass student.  ... Her last year was 1950.  She graduated '50, one year after I did.  So, she had classes at Douglass even after I was gone.  ... So, I should say they sent me down to Tyndall Air Force Base, and then, they reassigned me, and my first assignment was as an intelligence officer at the Second Bomb Wing, which is at Chatham Air Force Base, Savannah, Georgia.  I got there on New Year's Day, I think it was 1950, ... and called the base for transportation.  They took [me] out to the base and I stayed in the bachelor officers' quarters, that sort of thing.  I didn't have a car, I didn't have any money--let's say I didn't have hardly any money.  So, over a period of time, serving there, I accumulated enough money to buy a car and lived in town, that sort of thing, and I got married in 1950 in Belmar, New Jersey, June 11th.  I'll be celebrating my sixtieth wedding anniversary.

SI:  Congratulations. 

GP:  In a couple weeks, but people say to me, "Sixty years, that's a long time."

SI:  That is wonderful. 

GP:  Yes.

SI:  How did you and your wife meet?

GP:  I had been going around with her roommate and her roommate said, ... "I have other things I want to do.  Why don't you take my roommate out?"  So, I started taking her out, that type of thing.  So, back in those days, I don't know if it's still the same, they used to have eleven o'clock curfew; still the same?

SI:  No. 

GP:  [laughter] But, anyway, so, ... on weekday nights, they didn't ... let them out, put it that way.  They could stay out late on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, I think it was, at that time.  I didn't have a car, so, I had to bum a ride, that kind of thing, and, sometimes, I walked.  That's the way it was.  So, that's the way I met my wife.  She came from a relatively poor family.  As I said, her father owned that Army-Navy store at Wrightstown, [New Jersey], that kind of thing, and her grandparents lived in New York City, in the Bronx, in New York City.  She had a brother.  [Her] brother passed away not too long ago here.  He decided he didn't like high school.  So, he quit at the end of the second year and he joined the Army, and he was in the 82nd Airborne.  ... So, he was in the war, that sort of thing, came back, he got into the clothing business, then, became fairly successful at it, over a period of years.  That's just background, but, anyway, okay.  So, after I served at Savannah, we served at Savannah for two-and-a-half years.

SI:  What did you do with the Second Bomb Wing?

GP:  Yes.  I was sent there as a squadron intelligence officer.  So, that's the person that briefed, does briefings on the targets, on what the enemy resources are like, that sort of thing, handles classified information, that sort of thing.  I was the only non-flying officer in a squadron of about three hundred people, three hundred officers.  So, everybody else was flying and the only one who wasn't ... flying was [the] squadron adjutant and [the] squadron intelligence officer.  That was it.  After about a year, year-and-a-half of that, I moved up to what they called group intelligence, and group intelligence was about one step higher--same location, doing the same type of work, but on a larger scale.  There were three different squadrons assigned to this particular wing, okay.  ... Now, my wife, at the time, got her teaching license, and so forth, got a job teaching.  In those days, you're talking 1950-'51, something like that, in Savannah, Georgia, if you wanted a driver's license, you go to the drugstore and buy one for fifty cents, and so, she got a job teaching.  Her first year, she was making eighteen hundred dollars.  I mean, you know, you're talking practically nothing, but she liked it.  She liked teaching, and even though the area she was teaching in, the kids were poor, so forth, and so on, it was something ... she really enjoyed.  She's that kind of person, and, as I've said in there, many of the things that I accomplished, most of the things I accomplished, were because ... she made it possible; so, give credit to Douglass.  [laughter]

SI:  Your wife sounds like a pretty amazing woman. 

GP:  Yes, that's it.  Okay, so, after two-and-a-half years in Savannah, we moved to--we were ordered to--Alaska and that, in those days, Alaska was a territory, was not a state, and so, I was assigned to a place called Eielson Air Force Base, originally as an intelligence officer, but, then, turned into a personnel officer, because there was a need for one.  ... So, I became known as what was the personnel services officer, ... who is responsible for recreation and athletics, okay.  So, I got into a different phase altogether when I was up there.  We liked it up there.  The tour was two years; we stayed four.  Why?  There was no place to spend any money, the summers were all right, and you had summers that are fairly warm, but winters were very severe.  In other words, from about ... October through to maybe April, there was usually snow on the ground, temperature was any place down to minus fifty, sixty degrees, ... but we liked it.  We got used to it.  She was teaching school there and I was the base personnel services officer, had a new field house, new theater, library, service club.  All of these things were, in fact, for our people.  There were approximately three thousand Air Force people on the base and about twenty-five hundred Army people.  The Army people were there to help support us, too.  ...

SI:  Was this a Strategic Air Command base?

GP:  Actually, it was an Alaskan Air Command base and it was a staging base for the Strategic Air Command.  In other words, flights, missions, would come through there, that sort of thing.  The U-2 mission, okay, which was not SAC, which was CIA and some other stuff, ... some of them were launched from that particular base.  It was twenty-six miles south of Fairbanks, sort of remote, was out by itself.  There's nothing else out there but land and moose, put it that way.

SI:  From what I have heard from others, in those kind of conditions, morale can become a real issue, with the light difference, and so forth.  Can you talk a little bit about that, particularly since your job was to combat that?

GP:  Yes.  ... I think that the fact that we were there, sort of remote, in terms of the base itself; ... well, the Alaska Highway ran from Fairbanks down to British Columbia, Dawson Creek, and [was] about fifteen hundred miles.  We were mile twenty-six on the Alaska Highway, and they were saying, "If, in fact, you need to leave in a big hurry and we're under attack or something, okay, you could take the highway," but, in fact, any enemy would know all they had to do is blow a couple of bridges on the highway and that would take care of that.  You wouldn't go anywhere.  No, I think that your point [was] that people up there needed those recreation facilities in order to take up their time usefully, put it that way, as I say, service club, the field house, which [was] something unheard of in those days, had a swimming pool, had a basketball court, handball courts, seating capacity of, audience seating capacity, about two thousand for basketball, weight rooms for both men and women.  The swimming pool was Olympic size, heated, that sort of thing.  You're thinking, "Well, at fifty below, that really was something."  Yes, that was the way it goes, but, ... of course, you had to learn how to dress and how to get around and the rest of it, but life went on, pretty much.  As you pointed out before, it was a Strategic Air Command staging base.  So, flights would come in there, stage out through there to other overseas type locations, put it that way, or targets, if you want to call them that, those sort of things.  In those days, Strategic Air Command was big stuff, and, in fact, the four years that we spent there, felt that we had done quite a bit.  ... The people that I met up there, the officers that I worked with, and so forth, became lifelong friends, at least a handful of them did, people that I still know.  They're long gone now, that sort of thing, but I wanted out of Strategic Air Command, because I had been in Strategic Air Command, I didn't mention it before, in Savannah.  I was Second Bomb Wing.  Up in Alaska, [the] 5010th Air Base Group that I was with was part of the Alaskan Command, but their mission was SAC, Strategic Air Command, as such.  Wife felt she did well, had classes, branched out.  Salaries, her salary probably was about five thousand dollars a school year, which, in those days, was phenomenal, considering she was making about eighteen hundred in Georgia, that sort of thing.  We got to go home, usually, once a year for two or three weeks, something like that.  We'd fly back.  ... In some cases, we sold our car up there, bought a new car, drove back.  ... I drove the ALCAN [Alaska-Canadian Highway] three times, and not a pleasant experience, all right, dirt road and, in summertime, hot, dusty.  ... You could see a car coming from just the dust rising off the road, that sort of thing, but you were a pioneer.  That's what I said.  I mentioned my father.  I might mention him again here.  He decided he didn't want to stay in New Jersey, so, he ... decided he'd come back with us on one of our trips back.  That was in 1954 or '55, I think it was, and he later sought employment in Fairbanks.  He later ... worked for a company called Puget Sound and Drake [the Siems-Drake-Puget Sound Company], which put up the radar network up in the ... northern part of Alaska, that sort of thing, and then, eventually, came back to Fairbanks, was there, and my mother came up there.  At the time, she worked for the Bureau of Land Management.  Father, who, as I mentioned before, [was] a Rutgers grad, became the city revenue agent for the City of Fairbanks, and they got to know a number of political people, including the Governor and other people like that.  This was only after we left, because we left in 1956.  They were still up there and my father passed away in 1968.  So, they were up there about ten, twelve years.  There was a flood, a bunch of other things that they encountered, okay; I mention that just on the side.  Okay, so much for Alaska; when I left Alaska, I had decided I really didn't want to go back to SAC--you mentioned Strategic Air Command (SAC)--I wanted to go someplace else, but I did.  I ended up back in SAC at Plattsburgh, Plattsburgh Air Force Base, New York, which is about sixty miles south of Montreal.  It's probably, give or take, about 250 miles north of New York City.  There's the [New York] Thruway that runs up there now, but, in those days, it was just Route 9.  My wife had two children there, as I mentioned before, a boy and a girl, at [the] base hospital.  So, I was there from 1956 to 1960, okay.  For the last two years I was there, the general who had come in, brand-new, came in in 1958, wanted someone else to take over his administrative function.  So, the base commander--I was working down at personnel in a nondescript job, helping in different areas of family services, personal affairs, things like that--and the base commander called me up one day and says, "The General would like to see you."  I said, "What's that mean?"  He [the base commander] says, "I don't know.  You're going to have to go up there."  So, I went up there.  He was a little guy, smoked a big stogie and had his feet up on the desk, and I gave him a highball [salute], went in and said, "Yes, sir, you wanted to see me."  He said, "How would you like to be my new Base Director of Administrative Services?"  I said, "Sir, that's a job;" I was a captain at the time.  I said, "Sir, that's a job for a lieutenant colonel."  He says, "I didn't ask you that."  He says, "I asked you if you wanted the job."  So, he put it to me, says, "I want you to take over down there and I want you to be in charge of the communications, so that nothing comes on this base that I don't know about, okay."  So, I said, "Well, if you think I could..."  He says, "I've seen your record.  I know what you can do."  So, downstairs I went, into a function that I really didn't know a hell of a lot about, pardon the expression, but I did pretty well.  I worked at it very hard and, for two years, I did it.  I'd get up at pretty early hours in the morning in order to get the messages and stuff and keep things running, pretty much.  That's not to say I did it all myself.  I had a warrant, chief warrant officer, that worked with me, I had a master sergeant, ... both of whom were highly experienced in the area.  So, if I wanted something, they were more than likely to say, "No, you can't do it, because of this, but, if you want to do it, you can do it," that kind of thing--did, as I said, well enough.  My wife had two children up there, fifteen months apart, which, in itself, was difficult, just as background, because that led to varicose veins and that, later, meant that she had to have those veins stripped.  So, that led to a lack of circulation in the legs in older years, which is what her problem is now, okay.  ...

SI:  What are your children's names?

GP:  ... Yes, my son's name was Lee, L-E-E, and my daughter's name is Mara, M-A-R-A.  They're both college graduates and [I will] talk about them later, okay, but, anyway, so, they were both born up there.  Well, about a year-and-a-half into my tenure as Base Director of Administrative Services, I decided I'd like to get a master's degree, and so, [the] Air Force had opportunities.  They have what they call the Air Force Institute of Technology, which is located at Wright-Patterson [Air Force Base], but I was lucky to get their Civilian Institutions Program.  I wanted to get a master's degree; okay, put in the paperwork, my Rutgers record, my general's recommendation, a couple of other things.  They came back and said--this was in 1959--they said, "We'll send you to Syracuse for a master's in management," and I had asked for a master's in all sorts of things, but that wasn't one.  [laughter] So, I asked for one in industrial administration and a couple of other things of that type, but they came back and said, "No, we need somebody in management."  They accepted me for that, and Syracuse accepted me, but I said, "No, I want to delay a year, because my wife is pregnant."  At that time, she was about five, six months pregnant and [the] child was due in August.  So, I said, "Well, if I get transferred right then, it's going to goof up the work, so, how about if I stay on another year?"  General said, "Fine."  So, we stayed on another year.  So, we didn't leave Plattsburgh until, say, 1960, went to live at Syracuse.  They said, ... "You're here for one year.  If you get a master's degree, that's up to you.  We're going to tell you what courses to take," and so forth, and so on.  My wife said she would take care of the children and, at the time, my mother-in-law came to live with us for a couple of months, so, that helped, too.  So, we lived in a rental house in Baldwinsville, just outside of Syracuse, and I drove into school every day.  We got there in June.  I took courses during the summer, prerequisites.  So, I finished four courses, four or five courses, during the summer.  Then, I finished ten courses for the master's degree.  I got a "B" in one, and I'm still hurting about that.  It was in statistics, of all things, but, anyway, everything else, I got an "A."  So, I made honor society and everything else.  The Air Force was real happy about it.  So, when I got through, they said, "All right, we're going to send you to Washington."

SI:  Did you have to write a thesis as part of that master's course?

GP:  Yes, I wrote a thesis.  They had a program whereby you could write a thesis or you could write a research paper.  I decided, "Well, a thesis is tough stuff, because ... a lot of it is original.  Research papers [are] not all original," okay, and what I wrote ... turned out to be on labor unions.  Bear in mind that one of my big, my main subjects when it comes to study was industrial relations, which is [the] study of unions, union-management cooperation, that sort of thing.  In those days, unions were big stuff.  Today, unions, not much; they've faded out and that sort of thing, a lot of reasons for that, but, anyway, so, I wrote the paper on industrial relations.  ... They require an oral defense.  So, I took the oral defense and I finished in about an hour, a little over an hour or so.  They said they didn't have much problem; boom, bang, gone.  The Air Force said they wanted to send me to Washington.  They said, "We've got a need for people in the casualty business."  I had had experience in casualty business at Plattsburgh.  The casualty business is taking care of benefits which pertain to next of kin, that kind of thing.  They get into all sorts of legal aspects of benefits and who's entitled to what and how much they get, that sort of thing.  Okay, so, I ended up in the casualty branch at Headquarters, Air Force, okay.  Along the way, since the General thought so much of me, he recommended me for what was called promotion below-the-zone.  Below-the-zone meant you didn't have to have as many years as were necessary in order to make the promotion.  The promotion was from captain to major, which is a very important step, because, in fact, you're going from what the Army used to call company grade, which was the lieutenants and captains, to field grade, major and above, okay.  So, I served in the casualty branch for about a year-and-a-half, and then, someone who I knew; okay, well, I'd better tell you this part, too.  When I got to Washington, I decided, "Well, maybe I ought to try for a doctorate."  I really was starting out to get a second master's in guidance counseling.  I wanted to go into high school guidance counseling, at that time.  The more I talked to academics, the more they told me, "Two master's don't make a doctorate; don't go that way.  You're better off going for a doctorate."  I said, "That's big stuff.  I don't want to get into [it]," and so forth.  They said, "No, if you've done well enough in your master's work, and so forth, you're motivated, you can do it."  What it meant, essentially, was going to work during the day, going to school at night.  Are there people that do those things? yes, a lot of them that do it now.  In those days, this was the '60s, [there] weren't too many people.  In the Washington area, yes, you got military people, civilian employees that take night classes.  Are there universities that sponsor doctoral programs on a part-time basis? yes, George Washington, okay, George Washington University, downtown Washington, and so, I went there, talked to people.  They were pretty optimistic, and I had to take several entrance examinations.  I took two courses, then, take the entrance examination, passed those, said, "All right, you're in the program.  You could start taking courses."  So, over a period of the next two-and-a-half, three years, I took forty-eight hours of courses, sixteen courses, over a period of time, two or three courses at a clip, and I kept at it.  That's why I say, "Okay, where was my wife all this time and ... where were the children?" and so forth.  Fortunately, she was taking care of the children and I was able to do this sort of thing.  Is this the right way to go? Depends [on] what you want.  I wanted a doctorate.  I wanted a doctorate because I wanted to go back to teaching.  I never really did any teaching, but I wanted to go back to it, anyway, and so, that's what happened.  So, over a period--actually, for a lot more time than that, turned out to be close to eight years by the time I got my doctorate.  Part of that was the tour in Vietnam, that I didn't do anything, because I couldn't, part of it was a transfer out of the area.  In other words, we stayed at Washington, actually, until 1965, and the organization was transferred out, that I was a member of.  That was the Air Force Military Personnel, I guess you'd have to call it Military Personnel Organization.  They became what was called the Air Force Personnel Center, down at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.  Was it easy to keep on doing that sort of thing and to keep up ... what I needed to do? and the answer was yes.  I took the test, actually.  They required a written test for a doctorate, okay, six, at that time--one a day, every other day, for two weeks--in different areas, for example, like, human resources, organizational behavior, ... economic history, and so forth, okay.  So, I finished those all right and came back, passed the written, okay, and then, I had to come up with the dissertation, the paper, research paper.  I chose a subject that was Air Force-oriented.  It was, "How has the Executive Order which had to do with labor relations for civilian employees ... affect Air Force civilians?" okay, and so, I worked on that, starting in ... 1967, I guess, '66, yes.  ... Then, so, I asked the Air Force for six months off to do the research.  So, they gave me six months off.  At that time, I was located down in San Antonio.  So, the research I had to do was up here, ... in Washington.  So, I came up to Washington and I lived in the Washington area for about two or three months.  ... A friend of mine offered me a bed, so, I took the bed, since I had to find a place ... that wasn't going to cost me a lot of money, that sort of thing.  I used public transportation, and so, I was up there for two months, and then, one month, the last month, I spent home, writing, just before I went to Vietnam, okay.  ...

SI:  How did you do the research?  What material did you look at?  It seems like it was a fairly new thing.

GP:  Yes.  I looked at information in two places, principally.  One was the Library of Congress, okay.  They had some documentation and they had extensive publications on the subject, okay, and then, the other place I looked was what was then called the Civil Service Commission--Civil Service Commission [goes] by a different name now--those two places.  [Editor's Note: The US Civil Service Commission became the Office of Personnel Management in 1978.]  ... I went around and did interviews, interviewed union people, interviewed Air Force civilian personnel people that could give me information, and then, I used a questionnaire that I sent out to several, a number of bases, okay.  So, this is all my documentation that I looked at when I got done, but, as I said, by the time I finished, I was almost finished writing when I had to go to Vietnam.  They had told me that and I knew it.  I thought it was sort of quid pro quo for being able to go out and do the research, because I didn't do anything, in so far as they were concerned, but, in fact, when I came back, I was very fortunate, because I ended up as chief of what they called the R&R branch, rest and recreation.  I was assigned to Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, in Saigon.  That's a combined command, but, primarily, Army, and, when people used to see me in uniform, in my fatigues that said "Air Force," they'd say, "What are you doing here?  You're not Army," and so forth, but, anyway, it was something else, because we provided rest and recreation for 550,000 troops in-country.  That meant a trip outside country for any place from four to seven days, something like that.  There were ten different sites.  Only one site was in the United States.  That was in Honolulu, and that was maintained for married people, so that wives could fly to Honolulu, meet their husbands there, spend a week, and then, that was it, and so forth.  So, I stayed with that program one year.  As I mentioned before, I left there and was assigned to the ROTC unit at MIT, which was pretty much a surprise to me, but is something that I really looked for.  As I mentioned before, many of my friends told me, "Don't take an ROTC assignment.  You'll never get promoted."  A year after I got there, I got promoted.  So, I was lucky.  I became a colonel and they said, "You're going to have to move and, in so far as the whole thing is concerned, you know, would you like to go back to Washington?"  I said, "Yes."  So, they said, "Well, go down and get interviewed by the," at that time, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Education, and so, I became his executive for a short period of time, and then, became the Director for Pre-Commissioning Programs, handling all the commissioning programs for the service.  You say, "How could you do that all by yourself?"  [I] say, "Well, I had a secretary."  That was it.  The GAO [General Accounting Office] would come visit me and say, "Where's your staff?  You're cranking out all this paperwork," and so forth.  The services were pretty good, and I enjoyed the opportunity.  The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Education was Dr. George C. S. Benson, the former president at Claremont Men's College in California.  [Editor's Note: Dr. George C. S. Benson served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs from 1969 to 1972.]  He and his sons, two sons, had no less than four Harvard degrees, so, you know, high-powered stuff, but very pleasant and just a great fellow to work for.  I didn't have any problem at all.  After about six months, he left.  He decided he wanted out.  He had been there for awhile, and a person, ... a doctor, by the name of M. Richard Rose came in.  [Editor's Note: Dr. M. Richard Rose served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Education from 1972 to 1974.]  Rose had been the deputy provost at the University of Pittsburgh and he was a Marine lieutenant colonel, Reserve, a couple of other things, but, anyway, so, I worked with Rose.  He said, "Well, why don't you take over my pre-commissioning programs?  You've had experience," so forth, and so on.  So, for the next two-and-a-half years, I was Director of Pre-Commissioning Programs at [the] Secretary of Defense level, up high, okay.  When Rose decided that he wanted to leave to become president at Alfred University, in Alfred, New York, Upstate, he said, "Where do you want to go?  Do you want to stay or want to leave?"  "No, I want to leave--done working for you, now, I want to [go]."  He said, "Okay."  I found that probably the closest thing to what I wanted was at a place called the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, just across the river at Fort McNair.  ... It has a nine-month curriculum.  It has a military and civilian faculty of probably about fifty and civilian and [military] students, about 225 in a nine-month course, and their specialty was management, economics, computer science.  You can't get too much better, as far as I was concerned.  So, the last four years I spent there as a faculty member and liked it very much.  ... There was a lot to be learned.  I had a chance to do research, had a chance to work with students.  As I said, all these students were either colonels, lieutenant colonels, Navy captains, Navy commanders, or civilian GS-14s and 15s, that sort of thing.  It was the type of job where you wore civilian clothes most of the time.  You wore a military uniform when necessary, put that on [for] trips.  ... I took at least two foreign trips while I was there with students.  Each of them at least ... were about two weeks in length.  One of them went to Australia, New Zealand.  The other one, the following year, went to Turkey and Israel.  So, you talk about being able to, you know, go out and see things, and you go on those trips because, through the embassy, the American Embassy in those countries, they helped plan your itinerary, where you're going to go, what you're going to see, that sort of thing, you know, tremendous opportunity.  I left the military in 19-- ...

SI:  1978? 

GP:  '78, right.  I knew I was going to be leaving, so, I started writing letters for applications for a job.  I'll back up a minute; ... I finished the doctorate in 1970, which in itself is a miracle, since that's nine years from when I started.  Most schools say you have five years, but I had the year in 'Nam, other things.  ... So, they said, "Well, as long as you're working on it, we're not going to cut you off," that sort of thing, and so, finally, ... after I came back from Vietnam and while I was at MIT--I had a secretary, had sergeants, other things--I had time to work on it.  ... The idea at that time was, the dissertation turned out to be about 350 pages in length, which was much too big.  They looked at it, said, "You know, we're not trying to conquer the world in one fell swoop, okay."  So, they said, "How about cutting it down?" that sort of thing, and so, it was no great problem.  For example, the first chapter turned out to be eighty pages in the original.  By the time I cut it down, which was a review of what had been done in the past, it was about ten pages.  It was the summary which was at the end of the chapter, okay, by the time I got done, but the rest of it, as I mentioned before, had to do with ... Air Force civilian personnel units, and interviews and research, that sort of thing.  My adviser, who had been appointed at George Washington, ... originally, after I finished with the examination, told me, "Well, it's about time, and I'm going to be leaving."  This was in 1969, and he says, "I'm going to be leaving.  I'm going to Temple.  ... You'd better finish or you're not going to make it," or he didn't say that, but that's about what he meant.  So, they said, "All right, we've set up a defense for you."  This was back in February, "We've set up a defense for you in July," and so, I went down to Washington in July and there were six professors on the board, okay, and the defense lasted two hours.  A friend of mine was sitting there--their defenses are open, anybody could come in--but this friend of mine, who had gotten his doctorate the year before, said, "I'll come and sit there, ... back you up, if any[thing happens]."  ... The main thing with those defenses, that I found, was, and I was warned about this, too, if you don't know something, tell them, "I don't know," or, "I didn't do that," or, "I didn't investigate that."  Don't try to put on something you don't know, because they're going to trip you up and you'll end up out in the hall.  Well, I was lucky.  ... After we finished--they go around, I think it was three times--they said, "Go out in the hall.  We're going to make our decision;" called me back, patted me on the back and said, "Congratulations, doctor."  So, that was it.  I'd made it, but a lot of it, my advice to other students that I've had that became doctors, is, "Look, you've got to roll with the punch[es], do what you can, do the best job you can and get out there and, you know, show them that you have what it takes."  That's it.  Then, okay, after that, so, after I got my doctorate in '70, I did considerable part-time teaching while I was at the Industrial College--I had time in the evenings, so forth--for George Washington, University of Maryland, Central Michigan and University of Baltimore.  Now, so, it was either on weekends or nights, I wanted classroom experience, and classroom experience in things like organizational behavior, human resources management, things like that. 

SI:  How did you get to teach at colleges across such a wide area, like Central Michigan?

GP:  They were all located locally; they all had branches locally.

SI:  Okay.

GP:  Okay, right.  Central Michigan is kind of an odd one, because, I won't call them a diploma mill, but they're the closest thing to it that I know of, okay.  They wanted to teach the course in one month.  You're going to do the equivalent of about thirty-five or forty hours on Saturdays and Sundays, okay, each week, Saturdays and Sundays each week, for limited periods of time, say, four to eight hours, something like that, but, then, the last two classes are all day, eight hours a piece.  I never had any success like that, put it that way.  ... I could go just so long, and then, ba-boom, but you're right.  Was it lucrative?  Michigan was paying about twelve hundred dollars a course.  At the time I started, George Washington was paying about eight hundred dollars a course, that sort of thing, and, when you're talking a course, other than Central Michigan, you're talking a semester.  So, you're talking one or two nights a week, depending on how long.  Some of them would run two hours a night.  George Washington ran two hours a night.  Michigan, I think, ran four hours.  I taught some courses for them, but that's a long time.  ... That's where you get the different schools involved in the whole thing.  Okay, when I got done in Washington, I went down, I got a job at Winthrop, which is just south of here, in Rock Hill.  At that time, it was called Winthrop College--now, it's called Winthrop University.  It's a state school.  It was a women's college, originally, going back to 1886, I think it is, and then, ... in 1972, they became coed.  So, I came along in 1978.  They had just started a business school.  They didn't have a business school ... and I started out to teach human resources and organizational behavior, those two things in particular.  They had, at that time, a graduate program.  While I was there, we started an executive program, which is for working people.  You're talking about alternate Fridays and Saturdays, that kind of thing, and something like fifty-two hours over about a two-year period.  I did pretty well.  I got very much involved in a lot of things, probably pretty vocal on some things, not so vocal on others.  In 1992, I won the university's faculty award [Distinguished Professor Award] that they give to outstanding faculty, an outstanding faculty member.  What I didn't realize at the time was that there was a twenty-five-hundred-dollar bonus attached to it, okay, and a plaque, a bunch of other stuff.  ... Where the business school did not have departments when I got there, there was the dean and forty-five, forty faculty, something like that, ... he decided, "Well, I'll have department heads."  So, I got tapped as the department head for management, in fact, management and marketing, at the time.  ... I stayed with that until, ... pretty much, I left.  So, I retired from there with nineteen years of service, South Carolina retirement, okay.  ... In order to help my own finances, and so forth, they had a deal whereby, in South Carolina, if you had served in the military, you could, through buying time, buy that much time, buy up to, I think it was six years more on your retirement.  So, I bought six years on my retirement.  So, instead of retiring with nineteen years, I retired with twenty-five years, okay.  They have what's called a deferred compensation plan.  I don't know whether you've ever heard of something like that, and so, you got a 401(k) and 457 plans.  So, I put a lot of money away with that, and so, I saved it and it was a good investment, in so far as I was concerned, but, with that sort of thing, you also have to, once you retire, then, you're going to have to start drawing it down, and soon as you start drawing it out, it's taxable, okay.  What else would you like to know?  ...

[TAPE PAUSED]

SI:  I want to ask about your year in Vietnam.  You arrived in April of 1968.

GP:  That's right.

SI:  That was just after the major part of Tet, but the offensive was still going on. 

GP:  Right.

SI:  What was it like to enter Vietnam at that time?

GP:  Well, one of the things that sort of stymied you is, when you got off the airplane, you were given instructions about ... where to go, how to act, so forth, and so on.  One of the things they said is, "Just don't worry about the fact that the bus driver is Vietnamese."  In other words, you don't know who the enemy really is under those sort of circumstances.  It was actually rather tenuous at that particular time.  They had us sort of locked up in a compound for several days, just trying to give us orientation of, "This is what the situation is like at the present time," that sort of thing.  ... So, they gave you uniforms, they got tapes, name tapes, passes, the whole bit there, but there was sort of the idea that, "Look, you've got to operate, you've got to work, and that's the way it really is."  Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, Headquarters, was just across the street--well, just across the road--from Tan Son Nhut Air Base, okay.  Tan Son Nhut Air Base was the largest airbase in Vietnam, but it was also right there adjoining to the Saigon Airport, that sort of thing.  All of the military, most of the military people there, were brought over on civilian transports, in other words, 707s, at that time, Pan Am, Braniff, just depended who they chartered aircraft with.  ... That goes back to how I got there, and that was, I was given orders to report to Travis Air Force Base, which is just outside San Francisco, and at not later than midnight on one particular day.  ... They processed you, your orders, gave you your pass to get on the airplane, and that was at something like three o'clock in the morning.  They put you on the airplane, took off, airplane took off--it was completely full, probably 160 people on it, something like that--flew to Hawaii.  We were on the ground in Hawaii about two hours, got off the plane, stretched, got back on.  Plane took off and continued to circle, instead of taking off toward, I think the next stop was [the] Philippines, and, finally, landed.  He had lost an engine.  So, we were told, "Okay, we're going to put you up in the barracks.  We're going to put you up in a hotel for a short period of time, give you some transportation, but we're going to come pick you up probably sometime within the next twelve hours."  So, you couldn't go too far, as much as you may have wanted to.  Anyway, to make a long story short, they came, picked us up about midnight, something like that, put us back on the airplane.  We flew to the Philippines, were on the ground there a couple of hours, flew to Saigon.  That was it, got on the ground there.  By that time, you're sort of pretty much groggy, because you've been flying on and off, landing and all the rest of it.  So, you hope you just don't put your foot in the wrong place; put you on the bus, Vietnamese driver, [laughter] and away you go into this particular compound where they process you.  ... We were there, I think, two or three days, something like that, and then, put us out on our place of duty, that sort of business.  As a lieutenant colonel, at that time, I was entitled to live at what they called BOQ 1.  BOQ 1 was just on the edge of Tan Son Nhut Air Base itself and they had a dining hall there, a small dispensary, other things.  The person I ended up working with, to start with, was an Army colonel who ran the particular division that was at Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, put it that way.  So, there was a dining hall at the headquarters.  So, you could have lunch there, that sort of thing, and so, the office I had, the rest and recreation office, was staffed with six people.  Two of them were officers from other services, one was an Army major and the other one was a Navy commander, Navy lieutenant commander, and then, I had, the others were Army enlisted people to do the job.  We had, at that time, the contract with Pan American Airways and they did all of our airlift.  So, we were allocating, in fact, these R&R seats to different organizations and to different sites, that sort of thing.  The sites themselves, in-country, were staffed by--the one at Cam Ranh Bay and the one ... in Saigon, Tan Son Nhut, was staffed by Army, the site up at Da Nang was staffed by Marines, okay.  Why that was done that way, I don't know, but that's the way they had it.  The other ten foreign sites were staffed by whoever happened to have jurisdiction in that particular area.  For example, one of the more popular sites for single people was Hong Kong, and we were talking about having a good time in Hong Kong.  There was a hotel, actually, two hotels, in Hong Kong which were used by R&R people and they were given R&R rates.  So, I would say a hotel room, probably, we're talking, at that time, twenty-five, thirty dollars a night, which is practically nothing.  ... The good thing about Hong Kong is that ... the Navy maintained a large exchange, base exchange, post exchange, that kind of thing, on Hong Kong Island, and so, if you wanted to buy things, you could go over there, buy things.  Transportation in Hong Kong, not difficult; they had, at that time--of course, since then, they've got subways and other things, too--but, at that time, they had trolley cars and ferries and things to take you across the bay, that sort of thing.  Hong Kong [is] kind of a fascinating place.  As I say, if you've been there, you'd know what I mean, put it that way--good places to eat, speak English, that sort of thing.  Some of the other places, like Bangkok, for example, you may have a language problem, that sort of thing, but, once again, ... in terms of female companionship, buying female companionship, that sort of thing, pretty much accepted in those foreign places.  Maybe the exception--of course, Honolulu was one exception, for married people--but the other exception was probably Australia, where they had no problem with language at all.  Maybe they drive on the wrong side of the street, but that's [how it is].  ... So, these different places would host and Pan Am would furnish these aircraft.  It was one of the largest individual ... aircraft schedules in the world, that type of thing. 

SI:  You were obviously setting up a lot of the schedules and accommodations, those sorts of things, but did your authority extend to, say, dealing with problems, such as guys who got in trouble on leave or where general anti-American sentiment might crop up in these areas?

GP:  Yes, I think that your point is well taken.  One of the biggest problems were drugs, okay.  One of the biggest problems also, in places like Hong Kong, is [that] they don't tolerate drugs.  So, if your people got caught taking drugs or buying drugs, that sort of thing, into the "hokey-pokey" they would go, into the prison, and the military would keep an eye on them, but it was up to the foreign jurisdiction to determine what should be done.  So, to go back to your question, that was so in Singapore, that was so, also, in Taipei, those places, but ... there didn't seem to be much, from what I could tell, anti-American sentiment.  In my trips, and I made several trips to all of the sites, it was one of the things that, you know, you sort of accepted.  That was probably because the jurisdiction itself had a military connotation.  For example, in Taipei, the actual rest and recreation center was staffed by the Navy, okay.  There's a Navy commander there that handled the whole business, and the troops were put up at different hotels.  One of the hotels was the Grand Hotel, which was the one owned by Madame Chiang, Chiang Kai-Shek's wife, former wife, I guess, but, anyway, those sort of things went on and on.  ... I guess it was overridden by the dollar.  They saw profit in it and they saw that, okay, they're going to show this guy a pretty good time, so forth, and so on, but it's going to cost.  Okay, how much is it going to cost?  Well, if you were talking someplace like Taipei, probably twenty dollars a night for a prostitute.  How did the GI find a prostitute? at a bar.  There were certain bars.  Okay, if you went into these bars in Taipei, you'd find these girls sitting along the wall with numbers on, and you could pick and choose what you wanted, okay.  You had to pay for her there, okay.  You took her out, back to the hotel, she spends the night with you, okay. 

SI:  Did the Air Force--and the military in general--just turn a blind eye to that or did they try to regulate it? 

GP:  Yes. 

SI:  Turned a blind eye. 

GP:  And they said, "Well, troops have to have recreation.  They have to have their sex," so forth, and so on, "Where you go?"  Could I give you the price for prostitutes ... at all of these sites? well, probably so, at that time, but that was custom there.  That was accepted.  The only place it wasn't accepted was Honolulu, because it was for married people to meet their wives, [and] Australia.  Australia, different entirely; they didn't have prostitutes there, but their women are, let's say their morals are less than you would expect, and they saw the Americans as something, as people who were, at times, saviors.  What do I mean by that?  Back in 1942, when the Japanese were on their way ... down the Pacific and it looked like Australia was going to get hit, that Australia was going to be invaded by the Japanese, the American fleet interceded, in the Battle of the Coral Sea, and defeated the Japanese there.  [Editor's Note: The Battle of the Coral Sea was fought in May 1942.]  The Australians, believe it or not, never forgot that.  They say, "We owe you for that and we still owe you, because we wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for the American Fleet going in there and blowing [the] hell out of the Japanese."  So, that's why I say, a different type of approach altogether.  ... They speak English, but their slang is a lot different than ours, let's put it that way, but very friendly, good-looking, you know what I'm saying, quite different from what you might see in the Japanese or the Chinese prostitute in Taipei, that kind of thing, but that's an accepted way of life for them.  Prostitution for women is pretty much accepted.  That's the way they make their money. 

SI:  Had you ever worked in an inter-service situation like this before?

GP:  [No.]

 

SI:  In your opinion, how well did it work in Vietnam?

GP:  I think that it worked pretty well, okay.  I think that the fact that they were given R&R, that, in fact, the GI didn't pay for ... the transportation there, didn't pay for the transportation home.  Internally, while they were there, they were at a particular site, they paid for their food and lodging, and give the prostitutes whatever it managed to be.  They went there with the idea that they were going to have a week's leave off and that was about it.  Some of them were five days, some of them seven days, depended upon the schedule that we had.  Some of the sites were more popular than others.  For example, down on the Malaysian Peninsula, they had two, one in Singapore, well, three, one in Singapore, a site at Singapore, a site at Kuala Lumpur, which is the capital, and a site at Penang Island, which is a resort, was a resort that was patronized highly by, believe it or not, Thai people looking for a resort to go to, that sort of thing.  So, we ran into that sort of thing, but those particular sites were not very popular as such.  ... You'd have to want to go there for a particular reason.  A place like Hong Kong, you knew, you had English, you had good eating, you had good places to stay, good gifting, there was the Navy store, so forth, and so on, and those things have always been topnotch for Hong Kong.  So, what I'm really saying is, and you're asking the question, I had absolutely no experience, number one, in that sort of business before and, number two, in that particular geographic area at all.  It's something I learned in a year, and is still going on.  Well, of course, Vietnam's long gone, but, in those particular days, the idea was to get out of Vietnam.  The one problem in Vietnam, when I was there, was, for Americans, particularly, you didn't know who the enemy really was, because they all looked the same. 

SI:  Did you ever have to work with the South Vietnamese Military or Government?

GP:  No, never worked with them, but ... a number of the troops that we serviced did and that was the main thought behind the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, MACV.  General [Creighton] Abrams was there when I was there, that kind of thing, ... and General [William] Westmoreland had been there before that.  Westmoreland's in South Carolina, he's still living, ... but those people, that was an experience that it was the first experience where we didn't succeed, put it that way, in so far as the military was concerned. 

SI:  How was the overall mission viewed within your unit and within MACV at that time?  How did you view the war at that time?

GP:  I think it was viewed as, "We're holding our own," that sort of thing.  It's not that, "They're beating us."  You talked about Tet a little while ago, and Tet had just taken place, and the problem with Tet was that they, once again, ... the enemy forces, managed to gain access to the city and parts of the city, that sort of thing.  ... I think, ultimately, the idea was to try to strengthen, as you point out, the Vietnamese military.  They see the people loyal to the actual country itself, but you still see here, today, and, in fact, I saw something the other day, even down here, in one of the rural areas, I think it was up near Asheville, one of the Montagnards, all of a sudden, is making efforts to do things that are going to make it a better country, that sort of thing.  [Editor's Note: Several large Montagnard communities have developed in North Carolina since the end of the Vietnam War.]  So, you see that going on, even now, even though you would have to count Vietnam as a military failure. 

SI:  While you were there, were there any rocket attacks or mortar attacks on the base where you were?

GP:  ... Yes.  I lived in town, believe it or not, yes.  ... Well, I lived in town to start with, put it that way, for about three or four months, and then, I moved out to the base.  I didn't tell you that.  I lived in town at a hotel, ... at one time, been a fairly nice hotel.  It was about ten or eleven stories.  On the top, they had a dining room, on the top floor, and I was given a room by myself and shared bath facilities, so forth, and so on.  It was done in an apartment style, or a hotel style.  ... One night, I was sleeping; I used to, when I was in-country, I'd work from about, oh, seven or eight in the morning at the office until probably about eight at night, and one of the reasons why is that they served dinner until about nine, nine-thirty, ten o'clock.  So, I could ... come home and eat dinner, if I wanted to, upstairs, but I was sleeping one night, this was after I'd been there about two, three months, and, all of a sudden, I hear this piercing whistle and a loud explosion, right across the street.  So, it turns out that we were living [next to] and that hotel was right across the street from the National Parliament [National Assembly] building and it was a target, and the colonel that I was working for at the time asked me about it.  He said, "Were you downtown last night?"  I said, "Yes, I was there."  He said, "Did you hear this?"  I said, "Yes."  He says, "Where were you when it happened?"  I said, "I was in bed, but, after I heard that, I was out of bed, okay, and it happened close by."  He said, "I don't want you living downtown.  I'll make arrangements for you to live up here at the BOQ 1."  So, he moved me to BOQ 1 and, after that, I didn't have any rocket attacks, but those are very dangerous things and, you know, they [may] have your number on it and that's it, so forth.  That's a concern today.  This answers your question.  There was a curfew while I was in the area, was a curfew in Saigon.  I think it starts about ten o'clock, something like that.

SI:  Did you do much traveling around Vietnam itself?

GP:  I traveled to two or three places, well, four places.  I traveled, first of all, if I traveled to Cam Ranh Bay and Da Nang, which were our ports, put it that way, ... fields for where we had the troops depart from, to see what they were like, okay, I thought the services they were furnishing were pretty good.  ... Once again, Da Nang [was] much more difficult in so far as security is concerned, because you were closer to North Vietnam and closer to the trails and other things where they were bringing in munitions and that sort of stuff at the time.  The other place I traveled to was a place called Long Binh, which was down south and was a rest and recreation camp the Army had established for itself.  ... I wanted to see just what they had and that was about it.  It was easy enough for me to get around if I wanted to, because, for one thing, I could ride on the R&R airplanes and I didn't count as anything.  I could ride up front in one of their staff seats, that sort of thing, but I felt that Pan Am, at the time, and then, later, the contract, I think; I'm trying to think of when it was.  [The] contract, about the first of the year, changed from Pan Am to World Airways, and both of them were doing what I considered to be a pretty good job in so far as feeding the troops onboard, even on short flights.  For example, from Saigon to Bangkok, on a 707, you're talking maybe twenty, thirty minutes, that sort of thing, as opposed to Australia, which was the longest--well, Australia and Honolulu, both longer flights.  I think Australia, about eight hours, but they would stop at Darwin, which is on the northern tip of Australia, to refuel, take off again.  Sydney was where they were going.  Then, with the Honolulu [flights], the aircraft ... would fly to either Midway or Guam, I think it was, and refuel, ... but, that, you're talking twelve, fourteen hours.  So, the flight over we were talking about before, ... you're talking about four hours from Travis to Honolulu, Honolulu to the Philippines, you're talking about eight, six to eight hours, Philippines to Vietnam, another four, five hours, that sort of thing.  ... We didn't have the long-range aircraft that they have now.  They were doing all of it with 707s. 

SI:  Considering all the units you worked with in the Navy, Marines and Army--the actual administration, not the men you were sending off--how did all the services work together?

GP:  Not too badly.  Actually, they worked together pretty well.  One of the reasons why, as I mentioned before, MACV itself was staffed with different services, mainly Army, but they did have Air Force, Marines and Navy.  So, I think, from the little bit that I saw; now, bear in mind, I had an office that was staffed across the board, because I had ... a Navy lieutenant commander and an Army major, both of whom were--I considered to be--topnotch guys, and they knew how to run the whole thing, if they had to, put it that way.  The enlisted people, so-so; I had one upper grade sergeant, one lower grade sergeant and two lower grade people.  So, I had four or five people to help run the organization.  Of course, once again, you're talking the '70s, before the advent of the computer, okay.  So, everything was done typewriter, Teletype, that sort of thing, telephone, okay.

SI:  Did you ever have trouble getting supplies or getting the things you needed to do your job?

GP:  No.

SI:  Getting any assistance you needed?

GP:  ... I don't think I ever had [any problem] there.  Maybe, if I had any problem at all, ... along that same line, maybe the top people looked down upon us, maybe, as something less than what was needed, put it that way, but they all wanted it done and they all were pretty much in favor of it.  As I say, they bought 550,000 seats from Pan Am, okay.  That contract was negotiated by Military Air Transport Command, MATS, and I don't know how much it was worth.  [Editor's Note: Founded as the Air Transport Command in World War II, the organization was renamed the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) in 1948 and the Military Airlift Command in 1966.]  I dealt with their representative who was located there.  So, if I had any problem about a schedule, that sort of thing--in actuality, one of the things we did was meet with Pan Am people once a quarter, in different locations.  One time, it was Hawaii, another time, it was Hong Kong, and so forth, on down the line, and it was for a period of two or three days, when we would negotiate with them as to, you know, what the totals were going to be, how much they were going to furnish.  I think, at any one time, they had something like ten or twelve aircraft dedicated to that particular lift, airlift.  So, it was a big deal for them.  There are people that would say, "Oh, they were flying people for a dollar a person;" not true, okay.  They were getting paid what they normally would get paid for flying people those distances in that particular time.  The only thing that they did throw in was, they threw the meals in, and they're talking about the meals onboard the airliners and they decided they wanted to upgrade those.  So, in fact, on some of the meals, they would have steak, when they normally wouldn't have that sort of thing.  Okay, so, we had those meetings once a quarter, to resolve any scheduling differences at that time and make sure we got everybody.  Did everybody in Vietnam, who wanted to, get the R&R? and the answer is yes, okay, as far as we could tell, and, if anybody came back and complained, we never heard about it, put it that way.  As you mentioned before, the only time we had some problems, and they had to resolve it themselves, was when one of our people, one of our soldiers or sailors or Marines, were caught with dope, because some of those places, like Singapore, and so forth, you don't want to play around with that stuff.  The British'll just--at that time, they're on their own now, but they were a British mandate, at that time, and Hong Kong, the same thing--they just put them in jail.  They'd throw the key away.  So, you want to get them out?  You figure out how you want to get them out, but that was the biggest problem, as far as I could see, and they had, apparently, decided to resolve it in that fashion, which was to let the particular organization that had jurisdiction take them.

SI:  You had a lot of exposure to the antiwar movement at MIT.  When you were in Vietnam, did you hear anything about the antiwar movement? 

GP:  Yes, well, it was known and there were pictures.  We had Stars and Stripes and other media there and we got some of the newspapers from the States, and so forth.  So, it was known.  I think it was pretty much known, but I think that is what ultimately caused what I mentioned before, which was the all-volunteer force.  ... I think what happened, really, one of the biggest reactions was, if you're going to go ahead and draft people, you're putting a gun in their back or you're putting a gun in their hand and saying, "Go out there and fight."  You think, "Should you do that?  Was that a good move?" and, even today, you find anti-Obama movements, right, anti-health care, that, "Is health care [reform] the right way to go?  Is it?"  Someone like myself, who has health insurance, okay, my health insurance is paid for, right.  I have Medicare, okay, I paid for that, nominal, a thousand dollars a year, something like that, okay, and I also have Tri-Care for Life with that.  That's for military retired people.  Do you pay for that? no, okay.  So, I'm saying I have Medicare first, Tri-Care second.  If I get sick, I go in the hospital, I have insurance, right.  How about people that don't have insurance?  Do you have insurance? yes, probably so, okay.  ... Does your wife have insurance, children have insurance? yes, okay, but what happens for people that don't have insurance, the thirty-two million people? that sort of thing.  You sort of wonder about it, from that particular [perspective].  Are there people against it? yes.  Are there people against the military? yes.  There'll always be people against the military, so forth, and so on; less ... from the standpoint that you have an all-volunteer force now, even though you're forcing people in the Reserve and the National Guard.

SI:  Did it have any kind of morale effect that you could see in Vietnam, among the people you had contact with?

GP:  I didn't see any, put it that way, I didn't see any.  ... Everybody, where I worked and came in contact with, were pretty much in favor of the whole thing, and the organizations that staffed the sites were from different places.  For example, the Navy staffed the Hong Kong site, and I said I think they also staffed the Philippine site, that sort of thing.  Good or bad, [you] sort of wonder; you get some insight.  For example, the Thanksgiving that I was there, I ended up ... with my boss in Taipei.  He wanted to go to Taipei, so, all right, we want to go to Taipei.  "We'll take a look and see what's going on there," and so, we were staying over in a hotel there and the lieutenant commander that runs it said, "No, I want you to come to my house for Thanksgiving dinner."  [We] said, "Okay, fine."  So, we went to his house in Taipei and had dinner with his wife and children, okay.  Did I sense anything there other than the fact that they were pretty supportive and they were there and they were doing their job?  That's it. 

SI:  Did you have much contact with your family while you were over in Vietnam?

GP:  Well, of course, I used to send tapes--in those days, you had tapes and had a tape machine--to my wife, but that was about it.  I don't think I had contact with too many other people.  Even now, a question, do I have contact with the rest of my family and that sort of thing?  I get emails from my sister all the time.  I'm not sure she knows what's going on, but, anyway, ... you sort of wonder.  Down here in the South, that's an interesting question, because they believe, I think they believe, much more in family than any other group, single group, that I know of.  It's the idea that you take care of your own, in one way or the other, that same sort of thing.

SI:  Is there anything else you think we missed or that you would like to add about your year in Vietnam?

GP:  Okay, I just wanted to add, okay, ... since I left Winthrop and the academic world, I did spend three years at a place called Pfeiffer University in Charlotte.  It's basically graduate; they have graduate programs, three graduate programs, MBA, MHA [master of health administration], and then, a third one in work behavior, and then, they also have an adult course for undergraduate work and they have one large building on Park Road.  The reason, after I left Winthrop, I was asked by the head of their program, used to be somebody that worked for me, and so, he asked me if I wanted a job.  I said, "Well, okay."  He said, "Well, why don't you teach?"  He says, "You teach org behavior; why don't you teach that to our classes?"  So, I took three classes, two down here and one up in Hickory, which is about sixty miles up the road.  I said, "What are you going to pay me?" and he said, "Well, I'm going to pay you five thousand dollars a course."  I looked at him, because that's considered to be very lucrative, five thousand dollars a course.  At Winthrop, we would pay the part-time people about fifteen hundred dollars per course.  This is the same time, same length and everything else.  He's going to pay me five thousand dollars a course.  I said, "Okay."  ... So, for one semester, I taught two nights a week down here and one night up in Hickory, so, it was three nights, in their MBA-MHA program.  I got to be pretty good friends with the faculty, too, other people that were there, but, anyway, what I wanted to say was, eventually, their Director of Student Research left.  They require a student paper for each of the graduate programs, okay, research paper.  ... I think they originally put it in as a moneymaking scheme, you know, because they were charging something like three hundred dollars a credit hour, and that course, when you're talking the paper, would be three credit hours or more.  Anyway, what happened was, I became their what's called the Director of Student Research and I monitored and managed their student research papers, of which there were probably, at any one time, several hundred going on, that sort of thing.  I ran classes on how to do a paper and what are the things you should look for and required them to submit a proposal to start with, and then, do the paper on your own, give it to me, that sort of thing.  Over a period of time, as I say, probably three years, [I worked with] several hundred students, that sort of thing, and it worked out, I think, fairly well.  I had students from up at Duke, for example.  Pfeiffer--I should have explained this--Pfeiffer has not only a campus here, but it has satellite campuses in Asheville, in Durham, in Fayetteville, about six or seven throughout, and they hired pretty much part-time people to staff those, but the paper was my responsibility.  So, for three years, I pretty much did it.  It paid reasonably well.  Why did I get myself out? because I felt I wanted several other things that they were unwilling to give me, okay.  So, after three years, I just flat out quit.  So, in the year 2000, I quit and went to work just on a consulting firm, [Consulting Unlimited, LLC].  With the consulting firm, I went through a corporation lawyer, so forth, and so on, to incorporate in North Carolina.  North Carolina requires you to register your company, or to have your company shown annually, for two hundred dollars, put it that way; so, been doing that since, right.  I do, probably, a year, at the rate of maybe 150 dollars an hour, something like that, for consulting, ... I'm making, you're talking a couple or three, four thousand dollars a year, something like that, not a lot of money, and I'm not spending a lot of time on it.  It's becoming more and more difficult for me, in terms of my own health and my wife's health, have to spend time at the doctor, have ... to spend time taking care of her, okay.  That ends it.

SI:  Do you want to say anything about your children?

GP:  Yes, okay.  I consider [the] children to be reasonably successful.  [My] son started out, he did his undergraduate work at Penn.  ... He has the facility that he inherited from my wife of being an excellent writer.  I'm not, but he is, put it that way.  ... At some point further on, he decided; ... he had started work for this Disability Rights Center in Concord, New Hampshire, and he and his wife lived up there and they have one child.  She currently is a sophomore, she's going to be a junior, at Syracuse University, and bright, no question.  ... My question is, "How do you get the money to go to Syracuse, forty-six thousand [dollars a year in tuition]?" but, anyway, she's bright.  She gets scholarships, financial aid and all the rest of it.  Okay, back to my son; he eventually went to law school up in Concord, New Hampshire, and at the only law school up there, the Franklin Pierce School of Law, and recently incorporated into the University of New Hampshire, and, when he finished there, he continued to work at the Disability Rights Center.  He wanted to try to get to Washington, to see what he could do there, that sort of thing.  He got a fellowship to work with a Congressman for a year and it turned out to be two or three years, and then, finally, ... there was an opening for disability counsel for Senator [Tom] Harkin (D-IA).  Harkin is known for his helping the disabled people, that sort of thing, and so, for the past three, four, five years, I guess, he's been his disability counsel.  Personal life, not particularly good, divorced his wife; wife didn't want to move to Washington.  So, he has a person who he lives with, who takes care of him, too.  She's disabled.  She doesn't have use of her legs, but does an amazing job at getting around by herself, that sort of thing, okay.  [My] daughter; daughter went to, originally went to, Douglass for a year, tried it and decided she wanted, once again, special ed, something like that, and found it up at Syracuse.  So, she turned around and we sent her to Syracuse three years.  She got her degree in special ed and she divorced one husband, married a second husband.  He's a schoolteacher, and she has three children, one of whom's in college now, at a place called Lasell College, just outside of Boston, that sort of thing.  He's going to be [going into his] junior year.  So, both children [are] doing reasonably well, put it that way.  That's about it.

SI:  Thank you very much.  I appreciate it.

GP:  Well, listen, I appreciate the opportunity, and you know, if there's anything else I can add in for you, [I will be] more than happy to.

SI:  Wonderful.  Thank you very much, Dr. Perselay.

-------------------------------------------END OF INTERVIEW---------------------------------------------

Reviewed by David Ley 1/18/11

Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 1/20/11

Reviewed by Gerald Perselay 11/25/12

 

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