Thomas Chalfant, Jr. was born and raised in Harrison, New Jersey. After he graduated from Harrison High School, his family moved to Parsippany. He attended college at the Newark College of Engineering, now known as the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). He decided to take a year off of college in 1966, during which time he was drafted. He went to basic training at Food Hood, Texas and then to advanced training at Aberdeen Proving Grounds to become a fire control instrument technician. He was stationed at Food Hood for six months, before being sent to Vietnam. In 1967-1968, he served in the 704th Maintenance Battalion in the Army's Fourth Infantry Division at Dak To in the Central Highlands. After his military service, he finished college at night. He went to work as a mechanical engineer at Worthington Corporation and then as a sales engineer for Process Pumps for thirteen years. Then, he started his own business, which he operated for the next twenty-six years. In the interview, he discusses the treatment of Vietnam veterans in the immediate aftermath of the war and his reticence to discuss his service in Vietnam for many decades. He sought counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder, which he relates in the oral history. In 1998, he became involved with the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial, first donating letters and a diary and then becoming a tour guide for fifteen years.
The Rutgers Oral History Archives received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. In the 2020-2022 cycle, this grant assisted the ROHA staff in making this oral history available to you for your use.