• Interviewee: Smith, David B.
  • PDF Interview: Smith David B.pdf
  • Date: April 4, 2011
  • Place: New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • Interviewers:
    • Sandra Stewart Holyoak
    • Lindsey Bernstein
  • Transcript Production Team:
    • Domingo Duarte
    • Alexandra McKinnon
    • Nicholas Trajano Molnar
  • Recommended Citation: Smith, David B. Oral History Interview, April 4, 2011, by Sandra Stewart Holyoak and Lindsey Bernstein, Page #, Rutgers Oral History Archives. Online: Insert URL (Last Accessed: Insert Date).
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Sandra Stewart Holyoak:  This begins an interview on April 4th, 2011 in New Brunswick, New Jersey with David Burden Smith, Sandra Stewart Holyoak, and Lindsey Bernstein.

SH:  I would like to thank both of you for coming today to talk with us.  To begin the interview, just for the record, can you tell me where and when you were born?

DS:  I was born on 15 September, 1941 in Watertown, New York.  ... The reason I was born in Watertown, New York was my father also was a military officer, and he was stationed outside Watertown in what is now Fort Drum, but what was then called Pine Camp.

SH:  Could you tell me a little bit about your father to and your family history?

DS:  Sure.  Well, maybe we can start then, with my middle name is rather unusual, Burden.  Why I am named Burden is my father was born on a farm outside Burden, Kansas and my great-great-grandfather, Robert F. Burden, went from Iowa to Kansas and homesteaded there in the 1870s and founded the town.  He was a veteran of the Civil War.  He was a captain in the Iowa Regiment, and he returned from the war, and went then to homestead in Kansas, and this town Burden, Kansas--which still exists--it's a small town.  [David B. Smith Note: Robert F. Burden (20 September 1832-3 February 1901) was a First Lieutenant in Company C of the 33rd Iowa Infantry Regiment.  The unit saw considerable action in the vicinity of Helena, Arkansas, and Company C alone had thirty-one men killed, wounded, or captured during the war.  Robert Burden was later promoted to Captain of the Union Guards of Mahaska County, Iowa.]  I think there's not more than 350 people say.  It's still there, I visited it, and it kind of looks like the Wild West out there still.  ... Going on with my father, like I say, he was from there, and he was born in 1910, and he did pretty well in school.  He lost his mother when he was ... a child.  He had a brother and a sister.  The mother died soon after the sister was born, and he went to Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas and applied to West Point.  He wanted to go to West Point, little chance really that he'd ever make it, because there were all sorts of political appointees and so forth, and sure enough somebody else was selected, was going to go to West Point, and then, phenomenally dropped out of the running to go and for one reason or another didn't go.  Well, then the second runner up came into the picture.  So, he was going to go.  He dropped out also, and there was my dad, Russell Smith, went to West Point.

SH:  The "B" in your middle name stands for Burden then.

DS:  And the "B" is Burden, my middle name is Burden, yes, so named after ... the town of my great-great-grandfather, Robert F.  Burden.  My father, Russell B. Smith, went to West Point, and then, graduated in 1935, and then, of course, war clouds were already brewing.  Hitler was stirring things up, they were trying to keep us out of the war, and so forth, but as we all know what happened, and I remember my mother would always tell the story about, he was out washing the car, and she ran out with the news, "The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor," and his whole life just changed like that.  [Editor's Note:  The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.]

SH:  Did he stay in the military?

DS:  He stayed a full career.  He retired as a colonel--full colonel.  ... He retired in 1963.

SH:  Did he really?

DS:  Right, the time when I graduated from Rutgers, he retired.  ... Then, he was off to World War II.

SH:  You were just a baby then.

DS:  ... I was born September '41, just before Pearl Harbor.  ...

SH:  Do you know if your mother stayed in Watertown?

DS:  She did not.  ... At the time of the announcement, he was in California.  ... They had already moved, yes.  ... She spent the entire war at our hometown, her parents' hometown, in Middleburg, Pennsylvania, okay.  So my hometown, if you look at my Rutgers' yearbook, my hometown, Middleburg, Pennsylvania, because that's always where we went when my dad went overseas, and he was in Korea twice, and then throughout the war he was there, and he was a battalion commander of an amphibious tractor battalion and was in both the Okinawa and Leyte invasions as a battalion commander.  So, he really saw it, you know.  [Editor's Note:  The Okinawa and Leyte invasions were two major campaigns in the Pacific during World War II.]

SH:  Why was he was sent to California?

DS:  Training, they were training, yes.  ... The powers that be were thinking, "We're not going to stay out of this thing."  So, there was a lot of extensive training, like he was on those Louisiana Maneuvers, famous, with General Patton, and I believe ... he'd met Patton, but things moved fast.  I mean, he was probably, he was a captain, I guess, probably, when the war broke, but he went quickly to major and he was a major for one month before he moved to Lieutenant Colonel.  I mean, that's how fast, because they were so short on people.  [Editor's Note:  The Louisiana Maneuvers were military exercises held by the US military in August and September 1941.]

SH:  Did he spend his entire career in the Pacific during World War II?

DS:  In the Pacific, during the war, yes.

SH:  Who was he attached to there?

DS:  He was with two separate armor commands.  [David B. Smith's Note:  My father, Colonel Russell B. Smith, was the Commanding Officer of the 535th Armored Infantry Battalion at Camp Polk, Louisiana and Camp Cooke, California.  Later he took command of the 536th Amphibian Tractor Battalion and commanded the 536th during the massive landings on Leyte and Okinawa.]

SH:  Tell me about your mother's family and her background.

DS:  My mother's family, they're from Pennsylvania, by and large Pennsylvania Dutch--German background--except on her mother's side there's a lot of Scots-Irish.  ... Her maiden name was Gougler, G-O-U-G-L-E-R, which usually in German is spelled G-A-U-G-L-E-R, but somehow it got to G-O-U.  ... Middleburg is not that far from the Susquehanna River, and her family, believe it or not, her father and her grandfather on her father's side, worked on ... the Susquehanna Canal.  ... If you go up along the Susquehanna, you can still see the traces of the old canal.

SH:  They preserved part of that I think.

DS:  Oh, yes, they have.  So, that's what he did, and she was born right along the Susquehanna in Liverpool, Pennsylvania.  ... She became a school teacher.  Her father was rather prominent in the community.  ... They called him "Professor," even though he wasn't even a college graduate, you know, in those days.

SH:  Did he teach school?

DS:  He did teach school, that's where he met my grandmother, but he got out of that.  ... For the rest of his career, ... he worked for Ginn and Company which was ... a big book company.  At least when I went to school, a lot of books were still Ginn and Company.  I doubt if it exists anymore, but I'm sure there's derivatives of the company, and he traveled around Central Pennsylvania for Ginn and Company, but he was very prominent in Rotary.  He was the district governor of Rotary, and there's a state [school], they call it the State School in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, and there's a building named after him there.

SH:  Really?

DS:  Yes, because he was involved in that charitable work and so forth, and he was a Mason, you know, the whole business.  He was a very good public speaker.

SH:  Did your mother and father come from large families?

DS:  No, my mother was an only child, and she was a graduate of Susquehanna University, okay, and she went into teaching, first taught in Pennsylvania, and then moved here to Pemberton, New Jersey, and that's where she met my father.  ... He was with a regiment there at Fort Dix, and the colonel had a social occasion like they did in those days where I don't know how they got the word out, but young eligible ladies from the area would know that this, and things were very formal, that this dance, social event was being held at the colonel's quarters, and so she was a teacher in Pemberton, and that's where she met my dad, and they were married in '37, and soon thereafter went to Hawaii, and I wasn't born yet, of course, but he missed Pearl Harbor.  He was out of Hawaii before Pearl Harbor occurred.

SH:  When your mother and father married, did they marry in Middleburg?

DS:  They married in West Point, the chapel.

SH:  Did your father's family come from Kansas for this?

DS:  ... No, I don't believe anyone from his family attended, possibly Albert, his brother.  Albert his brother almost I would say surely attended.

SH:  I was wondering how the Great Depression impacted your parent's families.

DS:  Well, it did impact.  This I will say, ... my grandfather on my dad's side, would be what you'd classify as a depressive now.  He was from this prominent rancher's family of Burden, and he just kind of existed.  Once the wife died, and my father was a child, he just kind of sat, and I'll never forget when Peggy and I, we went out to California on a trip, across the country, because I was assigned out to Monterey, California, and my father said, "Well," you know, "You're going to stop in Kansas."  He said, "You drive this road, and you find the ranch, and you'll find Dad sitting under the Catalpa tree."  We drove out there, it was a hot day, and sure enough, there was Dad underneath the Catalpa tree, and Dad pretty much sat under the Catalpa tree since forever there.

SH:  Was it just the one brother?

DS:  There was the brother and a sister, okay, and the brother, we were very close with.  Albert lived in New York, worked in the shipyards, was a foreman, very skillful with his hands, a rather bull-headed guy.  ... He wasn't like my dad at all, he was not intellectual, didn't have a bone of intellectuality in him, I would say.  Well, he was very interested in history, but his own views of things, and the sister, she was kind of a non-entity in my life.  ... They had no children and married a guy that taught driver's ed and just kind of existed, kind of like her dad, but when you consider the upbringing, no mother, you know, and this reclusive, depressive father, you can imagine, she was kind of farmed out.

SH:  One of the questions I wanted to ask was had your grandfather been a rancher, but you answered that.

DS:  He was a farmer, but a few chickens, this and that.

SH:  Did your father's brother also serve in World War II or was he deferred?

DS:  ... My dad was the big success story, see.  So, I'm sure Albert wanted to do something, you know, in the military, and he went with the CCC.  ... There's pictures of him like in an Army uniform, but he wasn't actually in the Army, but they had all of these programs under Roosevelt and so forth.  [Editor's Note:  During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) offered unemployed, unmarried seventeen to twenty-three year old jobs working across the United States in public works programs.]

SH:  Yes, the New Deal programs.

DS:  ... He was associated with the Navy, and he almost went on active duty with the Navy, but he didn't.  They needed him in the shipyards, and he was really vital there, and so, that's what he did, and he stayed and retired from the shipyards, Brooklyn Navy Yard.  ... After that he worked for the subway system in New York.  ... He has amazing stories about that.

SH:  I can imagine.

DS:  ... I loved his stories, he was used to working so hard in the Navy, and so he started the same thing in the Metro, and the other guy said, "Hey, you know, slow down.  Slow down.  We have a certain pace here," and then, you know, they'd go off, and they'd find a little corner in the subway, and they'd read the paper and have coffee and breakfast and rolls and so forth.  He'd be like this, you know, and they said, "Just take it easy, take it easy.  This is New York.  This is the way it is.  Slow down."  [laughter] ... I just thought it was just interesting, yes, a little social, yes.

SH:  Did he have children as well?

DS:  ... He did.  He had two daughters, and the one is still alive.  ... She was born in November of '41.  I was born in September '41, so she's still out on Long Island.

SH:  Was your father older than Albert, or was it the other way around?

DS:  He was older than Albert.  He was the older guy, yes.

SH:  Well, thank you for sharing your family history.  Did your mother continue to teach after she got married?

DS:  She did, and throughout even after my dad retired, she taught.

SH:  I wondered how hard it was for her to find work.

DS:  A bit, as a substitute, ... but she taught.  When we'd go overseas and all, she would teach, yes.  She taught in various school systems, ... wherever we'd go, she'd put in.  ... In Germany, she didn't teach.  We were in Germany for years.

SH:  What were your earliest memories in the different duty stations and bases that you went to?

DS:  Well, I remember a lot.  You know, I think what's important with oral history is that you have these old memories.  ... I remember the end of World War II, very, very clearly in my mind.

SH:  That is amazing that you remember it, because you were only five years old.

DS:  Yes, very clearly, and I remember clearly getting information from my dad when he was overseas.  He sent, and I remember we listened to it over and over, one of these old steel records.  It probably still is around the house somewhere that, "Hello," you know it was all scratchy, "Hello, Mary.  Hello, David," you know, and all this, "I'm here."  He couldn't say too much, because they were very clear, strict on the censorship and all, but I remember that.  You know, I remember all this stuff very clearly, like just listening on the radio to Charlie McCarthy.  ... I never knew television really until we came back from Germany in 1954.  I had no knowledge of television, none at all.

SH:  Were you in Middleburg while your father was in the Pacific?

DS:  Yes, the whole time.

SH:  Is this the only recording that you remember getting from him?

DS:  That recording, I think he probably only sent one.

SH:  Did your mother talk at all about the letters that they exchanged or anything like that?  Are there any keepsakes that he sent?

DS:  I have some photos, and so forth.  I have a photo down in my den of him receiving the Bronze Star from General John Hodge.  I remember looking General Hodge up on the internet, all about his career.  I have lots of photos of my dad in World War II and in Korea.

SH:  What do you remember about the period when the war ends in 1945?

DS:  I remember this strange man coming up on the porch in Middleburg that I didn't remember at all.

SH:  Was he in uniform?

DS:  No, not when he came up on the porch ... as I recall, there was no uniform, but soon saw him in uniform, and by darn, he came back and would you believe in no time he was called to Korea.  First, he was going to go to prepare for the invasion of Japan and that didn't happen because of the bomb, and so he, of all things, and I'm sure my mother must have been very disappointed, but my dad had an incredible knack of getting horrendous assignments.  [laughter]

SH:  Where did you live at this point?

DS:  We're still in Middleburg.  We just stay in Middleburg.  ...

SH:  What was he assigned to do, your father?

DS:  I think he got a little bit of training here and there, like Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and places like that, but we just stayed in Middleburg as far as I remember.  I don't remember anything but Middleburg. 

SH:  Was your mother teaching at this point?

DS:  At that point, I think probably she was teaching off and on, I think maybe as a substitute, as a fill-in.  ... My grandmother, her mother, was a full-time teacher, and some of my earliest memories in this period are ... she taught fifth grade.  I think it was combination fifth and sixth in one of the smaller Pennsylvania schools, and she taught in a nearby town, Beavertown, which is right up from Middleburg about probably ten miles, if that, and I would go up there with her, and for some reason or other--I don't know, maybe my mother was doing something--but I remembered many, many times going with her up there and staying in the class all day.  Now, you can imagine doing that now, you'd never be able to do that.  ... I remember she had a ... sheepskin that she put on the back of her car on those cold Pennsylvania mornings.  That would be back then, I was just fascinated.  This is a real sheepskin with the real skin on there, you know, as I kid, I remember that was just very interesting.  I don't think I've ever mentioned that in my life before now.

SH:  But it was warm.

DS:  Yes, yes, so those kids just loved me, of course, the fifth grade kids.  I'd sit there in a desk.

SH:  Do you remember any of the rationing and how that affected the family?

DS:  No, about the only thing I can remember on rationing, there was always a guy coming around there in Middleburg, a small town, collecting iron, and he'd shout, "Rags and old iron, rags and old iron," and people would do that.  But could you imagine that now?

SH:  You are in Middleburg when the Korean War breaks out.

DS:  My dad went to Korea okay, but he didn't go during the war.  See, this was the amazing thing, ... the war is just ending.

SH:  World War II.

DS:  World War II.  ... He goes to Korea, and so he is in Korea with the communists in the North and ... the US, allies in the South, but it's kind of like East and West Germany at the end of the war.  You can go back and forth, and he has been, he was assigned in intelligence as the G2 in Korea, and he would go to Pyongyang.  In fact, he got pneumonia on the train coming back from Pyongyang.  It was so cold, you know, no heat at all.  They're not in good shape now.  You can imagine what it was like then. 

SH:  Do you know anything about how big the facility was that he worked in?

DS:  Horrible, I think, horrible.  I've got some pictures, and it looks like everything is just miserable.

SH:  Where was he?  Was he near Seoul?

DS:  I think it was near Seoul then, yes.  He was near Seoul for that assignment, yes.

SH:  Did he ever talk about the living conditions?

DS:  My dad was one of these people that, you know, if it was rough, and that's the way it is, that's the way it is, and he wouldn't complain about it, nothing.  He just, "That's what you're giving to me," and he was one of these guys too, "The Army is always right."  He'd get these lousy assignments, and I think that, that used to get to my mom, you know, because, "Yes, they assigned me to Korea, and somebody else is going to Washington.  I'm going to Korea, so what?"  It wasn't that he was treated--some of these people are careerists, and they would just as soon go to Korea.  My dad wasn't like that at all.  He'd just as soon stay home, but if they assigned him to Korea, okay.

SH:  There was no chance that dependents could be sent to Korea.

DS:  No, not in those days, no way.

SH:  I know they started to let dependents go into Japan after the war, not too long after the war.  Did he talk at all about what he saw there?

DS:  Yes, sure, he'd talk about the conditions and how miserable it was and all of that.

SH:  Did he ever talk about his thoughts on the Korean War breaking out?

DS:  ... He was assigned to Korea.  ... I don't know where he was, but I remember distinctly the day the Korean War broke.  I remember that distinctly.  ... How do I remember that?  I was at a Middleburg baseball game.  In those days, the towns had teams.  I mean now, it's American Legion and all that, and I think still, the towns themselves had, the Middleburg baseball team, and I mean these guys were good, you know, and I was really into the town team as a little kid, and I'd go out there and watch the games, and I remember I was at the game, and they had a newspaper there, and it was in red headlines, you know, "Korean War is Breaking," "They Crossed the Border," and all that, and Truman decided we're going to fight.  ... Then, we went to Germany.  ... He came back from Korea.

SH:  Before the war actually breaks out?

DS:  Yes, yes, and then, he went to Clemson, South Carolina as the Professor of Military Science.

SH:  With the ROTC there.

DS:  And that's where I was in first, second, and third grades, and then part of fourth, okay, in Clemson, and that was a shocker for me.  That was a shocker.

SH:  Why?

DS:  Why was it a shocker?  Because it was nothing like Middleburg, I mean, what knowledge does a kid, you know, six to seven years old have of the Civil War?  I sure got one quickly, because those kids down there, even those little kids, "You're a doggone Yankee," and they'd beat you up.

SH:  Really?

DS:  Oh, yes.  I knew quickly about Sherman, and what he'd done and all this kind of stuff, and then, of course, I'd go home and tell them about this, and my mother would give me a totally different story.  [Editor's Note: William Tecumseh Sherman was a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War who used "scorched earth" policies in the American South.]  ... All my family on both sides, Peggy's family as a matter-of-fact also, were all Union, every one of them was in the Union military, you know, seeing some of the worst of it.  ... She just had no use for that stuff.  ... That was a profound experience for me, moving to South Carolina.  I'll never forget the scene.  I mean, I'll never forget going into a Woolworth's there, and they got two fountains, and one says "Colored" and the other one says "White."  I thought it was colored water, so I go to take the colored water, and my Dad says, "That's actually [for colored people]." "What's colored?"  "Well, those are for the Negroes."  What's all this?  And, of course, I'd never seen hardly Negroes, [laughter] as they said in those days for colored folks.  I'd never seen ... and I go down there, and you have this dichotomy, and all the black people live in one area and the whites in another.  It's total segregation, total, unbelievable, and then, I'm getting this all about the Civil War, and being a Yankee, and we got friends there from Clemson, South Carolina, and we went up to Middleburg for the summer, and they visited us there in Middleburg and like every small town, and every town really in the North--New Brunswick's probably got one somewhere--there's a Civil War monument, and that kid went up and spit on the monument.

SH:  Oh my word.

DS:  Yes, I mean, really.  It's amazing how we've come that far now to where we are now, you know, that who can believe that, but that was a different world.  You probably don't remember it at all.


SH:  This is before the Korean War that you are in Clemson.

DS:  In Clemson, right.  We went to Germany in 1950.  We were like three-and-a-half years in Clemson.  ...

SH:  I am trying to make a mental chronology of your childhood because you go to so many different places.

DS:  We went then from Clemson to Germany, and I remember my mother being so excited with getting the news.  We were walking out of my school there in Clemson, and she said, "David, we're going to Germany."  ...

SH:  You saw the headlines about the Korean War when you were in Middleburg.

DS:  In Middleburg.  Now, what he was doing right at that time, I'm not sure. 

SH:  Around 1950.

DS:  ... At that time, it could have been he was already, who knows, oh, for one thing, I'll bet you, yes, he went to Germany ahead of us.

SH:  You did not go to Germany together?

DS:  Yes, he went to Germany, we didn't travel together.  We came later, we came at Christmas-time.

SH:  He went to Germany from Clemson, and you went to Middleburg for the summer and joined him later.

DS:  Actually, the last sentence is wrong.  We went from Clemson, South Carolina to Fort Benning where my father joined the 12th Infantry Regiment.  The entire regiment shipped out to Germany from Fort Benning.  The regiment joined the 4th Infantry Division in Germany.  My mother and I joined my father months later in Germany.

SH:  How hard was it to make that adjustment going from school to school?

DS:  Very, very difficult.  I'm sure it varies from child to child, you know.  Of course, I'm a military family.  I have two boys, it was difficult for them, it was difficult for me.  Some kids can really adjust.  Others, what was difficult, was devastating, and you see that.  So, I remember going to three schools in a year.  I think that was for fifth grade.  ... It would have been Middleburg, Fort Benning, Georgia, and Germany in the fifth grade.  ... He went from Clemson to Fort Benning to join a regiment that went over in its entirety to Germany from Fort Benning.  So, I went for a brief period there to Fort Benning to the school, and like I say, it was the Twelfth Infantry Regiment.  In those days, they still had a real regimental system in the Army.  Now, your regiment is more of a historical thing, and you have brigades and so forth.  You may be part of a regiment, but it's a historical thing more than anything, except for some units like the Third Infantry Regiment in Washington which is historical, you know, where they do the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and so forth, but anyhow, in those days, it was a big deal, and he went with his Twelfth Infantry Regiment to Germany, and then we joined him.

SH:  What was the crossing like?  How did you get to Germany?

DS:  Oh, that was, boy all these memories, I never talked about any of this.  Let's see, we traveled over there on, ... they had these military transport ships that they brought dependents en masse because we just had a massive number of dependents there in Germany, and I left Brooklyn Navy Yard, and I just remember I got out, I was so excited, and we got out just a little bit out in the water, and I was so sick, and I think I was sick the entire time I was over there.  [laughter] It must not have been a pleasant experience.  I knew from that moment the Navy will never be for me.

SH:  How did your mother do?

DS:  She was better than I was.  So, I remember that, yes.

SH:  At that point, did your mother know any of the other Army wives that were being transported as well?

DS:  On that ship, probably not on the ship, but she was a very social person, my mother, very social.  ...

SH:  At that point the Army is very social.

DS:  Oh, very social, very hierarchical, yes.  ... She was really into that, so if there was an officers' wife's club, she'd probably be president of it before long.  She was that way, was a very good dancer, very intellectual person, loved the theater, everything.  ... She was always extremely social, so she got with it there in Germany and every place we would go.

SH:  Where is the base and where were you housed?

DS:  Heidelberg, Germany.  We lived in Heidelberg, and at that time it was the occupation.  It was really the occupation, I mean, but we were in it in 1950.  ... Things were slowly being turned over.  When we first got there, still the best hotels were run by the Americans and the Allies.

SH:  For the Americans.

DS:  For the Americans, yes, for them, yes, and we lived in this huge house across the Neckar River from Heidelberg in Handschuhsheim, and we had fifty-six steps going up to the house, and when you got up to the top of the house there and to the steps, we had a huge, very well-trained, but very--could be very sweet, but could be very vicious--German dog, German Shepherd, that we got over there.  My dad had, I guess he got it just soon after we arrived.  He got these quarters, and so, we had that, and the dog loved me, but boy, I'll tell you what, if you were an intruder, watch out.

SH:  Were you going to an American school?

DS:  American schools, yes, American dependent schools.

SH:  Was it on the base?

DS:  ... At that time, it was in a, probably an old German school that I could walk to, down the hill from us, and then, my grandmother was back in Middleburg, my mother's mother, and developed, went for just a routine screening there in Beavertown and got lung cancer and went down to Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia and had her lung removed.  ... Her husband, my grandfather, had already died, and so she was over there.  So, she came to Germany, and so obviously, she couldn't handle the fifty-six steps, so we moved from that house to a house near, real near the headquarters which is probably still headquarters on the other side of Heidelberg, ... Seventh Army headquarters.

SH:  Do you remember if the base was an old German base?

DS:  Old German base.  I was very fascinated by that, because they had the statue of the German soldiers and all that.  All swastikas had been removed, of course, everything, everywhere they'd removed the swastikas, and I was always looking for where the swastikas were, you know, because I expected, you know, as a kid like that you had all comic books, and all that about the "Krauts." you know, the "Jerries," and always these guys with machine guns mowing down the Jerries and the Japs, they would call them, you know, and they made everybody with big teeth and all that, charging, and you'd be mowing them down.  So, you know, as a seven year old kid, you went with that.  [laughter] ... I expected to get off the ship there as a young kid, you know, a fifth grader, I expected that ... they'd be coming with the helmets, you know.  They'd have to ferret me through there somehow, and I was looking, I was looking.  I remember going to that train from Bremerhaven down there and looking out the window, and saying, "Where are the Germans?"  [laughter] I was fascinated, I would say I was rather precocious as a kid, and my mother was really into history and talking about that, and remember even at the time, talking to Germans, you know, this happened and that happened.  I remember even as a child, there were no Nazis in Germany, nobody was a Nazi.  "Oh no, we were against Hitler," yes, right, and even then, I had the phenomenon of just these people had to know, they had to know.  Even as a kid like that I said, "This can't be."

SH:  Did you get to travel at all?

DS:  Yes.

SH:  What did you see?  What stands out in your mind?

DS:  Since we're into that with the Germans and all, probably, it was very difficult some of them, one of the things I saw.  We went to Dachau [a German concentration camp during World War II].

Lindsey Bernstein:  I did not know you could go that soon after the war.

SH:  Even then you could go. 

DS:  Well, that's just it.  It was too soon.  So, now you go to Dachau and it's like a park.  I went back there in the '60s when I graduated from Rutgers.  I went with my roommate, and we took a trip through eighteen countries to see Europe, and we went to Dachau, and I was stunned in the difference for what I had seen and what it was like then, because then everything was as it was.

SH:  That is what I have understood, that immediately after the war, very little had changed in the concentration camps.

DS:  And what does that do to a ten year old kid?  ...

SH:  Was that something that your family took you to? 

DS:  Yes.

SH:  I was shocked because I thought it was a school trip or something like that.

DS:  ... I don't think they were ready for it either.

SH:  Were you able to drive anywhere you wanted to in Germany at that stage?

DS:  Up to the east.

SH:  Of yes, of course.

DS:  Yes, couldn't go to the east, but the thing was Germany at that time you see, like we had very good friends in Austria in Vienna.  ... Vienna was an occupied city.  Did you know it was divided like Berlin?  ... One of my earliest memories is seeing the Russians, just massive numbers of Russians in uniform, with the fur hats and everything, marching down the streets of Vienna in formation, and we watched this, and a tourist, American, took a picture, and the Russian just came up and slapped the camera down, ... smacked it hard, yes.

SH:  Was your father in intelligence at this point?

DS:  ... My father went with this infantry regiment, and he was a lieutenant colonel, still a lieutenant colonel, for all those years was a lieutenant colonel, and he was promoted to colonel while he was in Germany at that regiment.  ... Then he was not in the rank for that position, so they moved him.  He became the deputy commander of what they called Labor Services, very interesting.  ... They had taken all these refugees that had come out of Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Hungary, and all of that and they put them in uniforms.  I remember they wore a very dark blue uniform, and they guarded the depots and the various sites that the US military and the Allied forces had, but we were in charge, and his counterpart, he had a German counterpart, General (Brandenburger?), who was a German lieutenant general, and this guy was "bona fidely" anti-Hitler, "bona fidely."  ... He was famous for Heidelberg because he was supposed to defend Heidelberg.  Heidelberg was virtually untouched, and Hitler said, "Destroy, Heidelberg," you know, "Defend the city," and he refused to do it and backed out.  ... It's the truth and I'm sure the Gestapo were ready to grab him when the war ended.  ... They were going to take him out and hang him up.  ... He was just General (Brandenburger?), but he didn't wear a uniform or anything like that, but he was one of the big administrators.  ... I remember when he died, we got the funeral notice and all that and it's still, they called him a lieutenant general, and panzer trooper and all of this kind of stuff, but he was supposedly a good guy, you know, and if there were, you know, but there were a lot of Germans like that, and there were Germans like that a lot of them that well, they tried to kill Hitler.  He was obviously of that ilk of the same type of guy that tried to kill Hitler.

SH:  What were your father and Labor Services protecting?

DS:  Ammo, equipment, anything like that, yes, and this was all over, and the depots were not only in Germany, but they were in France, in Belgium, all over Europe.  ... My dad traveled a lot.

SH:  Did you get to travel with your father as he performed his duties across Europe? 

DS:  ... Usually when he'd go off to these depots, he was just gone, and it wouldn't be interesting at all.  ... He didn't take us, no, but we saw some of it.  I was fascinated as a kid by the dogs they had.  These labor services, they had these dogs units of these massive German Shepherds.  ... We had one at home.  ...

SH:  Were there a concern for American dependents and their safety?

DS:  You know, by and large not, because I'll tell you what, I mean if they, at that stage still, if Germans got out of line or did something bad, they better watch it, because it's not going to be just the Germans there.  The MPs are going to grab them, and you're going to be in bad shape.

SH:  As a kid, were you ever told to take any precautions?

DS:  ... My mother had an incident though at the train station in Heidelberg where some guy who would be just about the right age, she was just standing on the platform, and this guy came up and just stamped on her foot, just as hard as could be, and took off.  ... She wasn't too badly injured, I mean, she was bruised pretty badly, but this guy was obviously just somebody, just couldn't stand Americans and what had happened and he thought he could get away with it, and he did it.  So they were out there.  ...

SH:  I have heard other stories where you were not allowed to leave or travel alone.

DS:  ... In recollection, I am just extremely surprised the freedom I had as a kid.  I wouldn't say my parents were negligent in it, but ... as I was just a kid, they didn't realize what I was up to.  [laughter] ...

SH:  Do you want to share with us what you were up to?

DS:  Well, no, what I was up to was, I mean, I would just get on the German streetcar, and for the occupation people that was free, the street cars.  ... We would just ride with my friends, we'd just go off to some German castle or something.  ... I remember going to Schwetzingen which is some distance from Heidelberg, and we'd go all the way over there on a street car and feed the carp frogs that we'd catch on the side.  Well, that's a long ways for a kid.  I mean, we wouldn't think of doing that in this country now.  ... I wouldn't think of letting my kid go down to, you know, at that age, I wouldn't think of it.  My neighbors wouldn't dream of it.  ... I did that, and it was just so dangerous, I had my bicycle, and you'd ride along on that bike, and you had those street car things with, you know, the tracks would be there.  You could get your tire in there, and it happened a couple of times, and you'd go flying across the pavement.  ... I don't know but they just didn't worry about it, but they were good parents.  They were really good parents.  They were concerned and all, but they just didn't, I don't think realized what I was up to.  ... Of course, I never probably realized what my kids were up to either.  In fact, I find out things now and then.  [laughter]

SH:  What about the Displaced Persons camps?

DS:  Yes, and they're in Dachau.  ... They still had a lot of gypsies who were still camped in there.  They were still in there, you know, the wires were all up, and they were living.  You wouldn't think they'd want to live in there.  ... The buildings in the camp were still, the furnaces were all still there.  It wasn't like now they got a model furnace, it's all cleaned up, it was there and the ashes were still there, and the boxes were still full of ashes, and they just had, they had mounds there, and they said, "Well, this is where they shot the Russian prisoners of war, so many were shot here," and all this kind of stuff, you know, and they didn't have any formal photos.  They were all just like you'd have in a very sloppy house where you just took family photos and pasted them on the walls.  That's what they had, but they were the same horrible photos, and that's of course that's when I started asking Germans, "Did you know about that?"  "Oh, we didn't know a thing about it, didn't know anything, nothing."

SH:  The school that you went to is an American school run by the Americans for American dependents?

DS:  Yes, all American teachers except for the German class I took.

SH:  Was that class in German language?

DS:  In German language, yes.

SH:  But you went to a German school?

DS:  No, no, I said the teacher was a German, ... but all the rest were American teachers, yes.  It was very prized to get a job over there, you know, for an American in those days.  They loved that because you get paid well and you get to travel and all that.  ... You had all these young teachers coming over there, and they might meet a young lieutenant and captain or whatever, so, you know, they wanted to come over there.  ... 

SH:  As a dependent, did you and your mother do any traveling with family friends?

DS:  A great, amazing amount, yes.  We did a lot of traveling, and then when my grandmother came over, we did even more and, you know, went to Holland, and France, Italy.  You know I had the first pizza in my life in Italy.  I mean, ... there's pizza everywhere now, but that shows the difference in time.  I had never had a piece of pizza pie until we actually were out, I think it was in Naples of all places to have pizza, and there it was, you know, pizza place, pizza pie.

SH:  How did you travel--by car, by boat, or by plane?

DS:  Usually by train, sometimes by bus, and occasionally by car.  We did a lot of local travel.  My dad was really into like castles and stuff like that.  So, we did a lot of that.  ... It was quite an experience.  I was in the Boy Scouts and went to Boy Scout camp down in Bavaria and Fussen in Bavaria, right below Neuschwanstein Castle, the famous Disneyland-type castle.  ... I just remember that was an incredible experience, because it was a lake there, we were right on this lake, and it rained.  I think I was there thirteen days and it rained every day.  ... The mud was like up to your mid-calf, you know, just outside your tent and just not nice, and then, you're supposed to go swimming, and that water was something else, cold, cold, cold.  I remember my friend and I we went down.  ... He just cried and cried while he was there, you know.  I "guts" it out.  [laughter]

SH:  How long were you in Germany?

DS:  Three-and-a-half years, I believe, three-and-a-half years.

SH:  You were almost a teenager.

DS:  ... Yes, I completed seventh grade there. 

SH:  You probably were around fifteen when you left.

DS:  Yes, yes. 

SH:  Did you feel that you had made the adjustment to living in Germany?

DS:  Oh, I thought that was home, you know.  ... The shock was coming back here where nobody cared you were in Germany.  ... My children had the same thing.  We were in Greece all those years, and they'd come back here, and even though northern Virginia is a very cosmopolitan area with people, everybody is from somewhere else, still they had the cliques and so forth, and you were just a fish out of water, even there.  ... I related to that from my Clemson experience.  [laughter]

SH:  In Germany you go from being a little kid to a teenager.  Your perspective must have changed in some way.

DS:  ... I suppose, you know, some of those things kind of blend, because, you know, I can't, like some of the things, I'm saying, are probably later, but, yes, I remember the high school, you know, going to high school.  Like every kid, it's dramatic, and we moved, like I said, we moved from Handschuhsheim over there.  ... The high school was down, near where we lived.  ...

SH:  That would have been grade school when you were in Germany.

DS:  The place I went over in Handschuhsheim was a grade school, yes, but then I moved to the high school when I reached that junior high, and like every kid, junior high school is a huge change from elementary school whether the kid admits it or not, you know, you get all, you're moving the classes and the whole business.  It's like in America.  It's the same thing.

SH:  Where was your father sent from Germany?  Where was his next posting?

DS:  We came back from Germany, and my father went to Camp Kilmer, right, so that's a story that's very related to where we are.  ... We were in Camp Kilmer, and he was the colonel, and he was the Chief of Staff there for Camp Kilmer Second Army Corps and that was a Reserve Army Corps, and they cut a wide swath, because the Army was still huge, so they had all these Reserve units all over the place.  ... We had a really nice quarters there on Camp Kilmer ... because it was a permanent building.  Most of the place were cantonment-style buildings but his and the generals were permanent buildings.  ... I went to Roosevelt Junior High School here in New Brunswick.  ... They bussed us all the way over from Camp Kilmer, which is now part of the Rutgers campus, probably where we lived.  There's still I think a little headquarters there.  The military has kept something there as a headquarters.

SH:  Have you ever gone back to look?

DS:  ... Somehow I wandered off there ... when I went to a couple of football games here and as I recall seeing still some military thing there, like an enclave.  I don't know if it's still there.

LB:  Is it on Busch Campus?

DS:  ... Livingston campus, I guess, now.  Is there some military thing there?  I think so. 

LB:  It looks like a factory area now.

DS:  ... That was a huge post then.  ... We didn't know whether we were going to go to war or whatever in Germany.  ... Camp Kilmer, you had all these structures built where even though it was an embarkation point, in other words, that was the last step before you got on a ship and went to Germany.  ... They kept the training up even while you were there.  ... I remember as a kid being fascinated, you know, seventh, eighth grade, ninth grade even--freshman kid--being fascinated by these structures where it was like the side of a ship, and you'd climb up and down, and they'd have these guys climbing up and down.  ... Little did I know and we're going way ahead that I had that experience in Vietnam, but I might as well relate that now just because ... why not go ahead all the way to 1965, alright, just, since it's related to this.

SH:  It is ironic that ten years later you are doing the same thing.

DS:  That's right when you think about it.  We went over there with this transportation unit, and we'll get all into this later, but I get there, and I have this platoon arrive in Vietnam ... and we are going to unload this ship.  So, I go out there with my soldiers, I am a platoon leader on this boat, you know, through the Pacific like this, and we get to the ship ... where like the First Cavalry Division is on there, see, and we're going to disembark them and unload the ship.  ... I see this ladder, a rope ladder hanging on the side of the ship, swinging.  I had never done anything like this, but I'm the platoon leader, you know.  Son of a gun, I grabbed that bottom thing, and I went up that ship, up that side, you know.  What else are you going to do?  [laughter] ... They had these things, it would have been better if I had practiced at Camp Kilmer, right?  [laughter]

SH:  You lived in Germany during the Cold War.  Do you ever remember any kind of drills in case a conflict broke out in Europe?

DS:  Yes, in Germany, we had evacuation plans and all of that, and I was very conscious of the Cold War.  You may know that in, what was it, '51, '52, huge riots in East Germany, huge riots, and we went to Berlin after that just to visit, you know, as a tourist, and I remember the news and all, and I remember the glass, and all of that, you know, and what was the situation.  [Editor's Note:  In 1953, Germans protested working and living conditions across Soviet-controlled East Germany.  The unrest was suppressed by Soviet forces and German police.]

SH:  Were there ever any issues about crossing borders and things like that?

DS:  I remember getting on the train to go to Berlin, and you don't see anything, because you had to close the windows and off you went.  ... When you got to Berlin, we, like everybody else that were on the tourist route, you were allowed to go to East Berlin as a military ... dependent, so you, they had to let you, they had to, didn't want to, but it was part of the agreement in World War II, so we got on the bus.  They encouraged you to take these trips, because they wanted to always show the Soviets that, "By darn, we have the right."  Now, they could come over and visit the West, the Russians could, Germans couldn't, but we could, so we took the standard tour, and of course, it was full of information for our side where the guide and everything, he'd show you the way things were over there, and they were a mess, you know.  West Berlin was being already really rebuilt, still a lot of bombed-out area, but compared to the East, East there was nothing.  It was flat, and it was like the place where they were showing was like one of these Wild West movies where you just had the front of the building, and then, you look behind the building, and it was all ruins.  ... It was terrible.  ...

SH:  I am surprised.  I did not realize they would let the dependents go into East Berlin.

DS:  Oh, yes.  ...

SH:  Could you go to the French and British sectors as well?

DS:  Well, I went over there when I graduated from Rutgers, like I said, in '63, and as an American, you could visit East Berlin, and we did, through Checkpoint Charlie, and so, we just drove.  We had rented a Citroen car ... in France, my roommate and I, and we went across there.  ... We had amazing experience in '63, we had an amazing experience in East Berlin.  We went to a cafe there, and we met this lovely young East German couple, and they were kind of like eyeing us, and the guy spoke English and all, and she spoke English, and started talking to us and said, you know, "Why don't you come up to our apartment?"  ... My roommate and I went there, and they just unloaded about the horrible conditions they lived under there in East Berlin. 

SH:  I thought you were going to tell me they were East German police.

DS:  No, no, far from it.  ... I remember they were just going on and on.  They were like in tears about how horrible life was there, and we were just like, "Wow."  ... That was an amazing experience for two college grads to go there, yes.

SH:  It had to be much different than what you had seen ten years before, I am sure.

DS:  Yes, they gave us I remember a really rough time at the border going into East Berlin, the police there.  ... I wasn't into acquiring, but apparently, my roommate had gotten all these orders, you know, from home, and most of them were like ... beer steins.  He was supposed to get beer steins, so he bought I don't know how many.  ... These guards started opening up the stuff, and they'd say, "What's in that?"  He'd go, "Beer stein."  "Yes, yes."  ... They opened up one after the other, they opened up every damn one.  It was awful, you know.  [laughter] He had to re-wrap all this stuff.  I said, "That what's you get buying all this stuff over here.  You'd probably have got those in the States cheaper." 

SH:  To come back to when you lived in Camp Kilmer, at that point is a military installation.  When did you live there?

DS:  Let's see, what would that have been?  Like '55, '54, yes, '55, '56, yes, I guess.  ... I went to eighth and ninth grade there.  ... I really didn't do that well.  ... I had adjustment problems coming back from Germany, all that bussing, and like Roosevelt High School, it was just a whole different experience then that dependent school, and it was rough there, you know, and I wasn't used to that.  I just wasn't used to it.  The kids were rough.  ...

SH:  What kind of a presence did Rutgers have in your life at that stage?

DS:  I just knew it existed.

SH:  Did you go to any of the football games?

DS:  None, no, I don't think so, at that stage no, not a bit.  I remember Roosevelt, of course, it was very mixed racially and all, you know, mostly with blacks, not with Hispanics and so forth and all that.  ... That didn't bother me and all, but I remember the kids, like I say, were rough, and teachers were different.  I mean, the kids wouldn't perform in gym and so forth, they'd be down and they'd say, "Do pushups."  I mean, they'd come and practically kick you in the side, the PE teachers.  I mean, it was different, yes.  ... I thought that the teachers I had were pretty lousy.  ... I remember one of the teachers.  ... I said I wasn't going to mention names, but she is so long dead, ... but she was an old maid.  ... I remember she commuted every day from Elizabeth, but ... she had no rapport with those children whatsoever.  She was so boring, you know, and such a crummy teacher, got to excise this one.  [laughter] Might be some niece or somebody saying, "Oh, my darling aunt."  [laughter]

SH:  How many dependent kids were on that bus with you?

DS:  It was a full bus, I remember that, yes.

SH:  It was that many. 

DS:  Right.

SH:  After ninth grade where do you go?

DS:  ... He there was Chief of Staff, and then he is assigned to, so I'm in ninth grade, okay, he is assigned of all things from Camp Kilmer to Fort Dix, and this is considered a step up because ... if he wants to move up in his career, he's got to get something to do with troops and command.  ... You say what step up can you make if you're a colonel?  Well, you can be a general, of course, but a step up in those days was not necessarily promoted to general, because he's a colonel, but in those days you had permanent colonels and you had temporary colonels.  Everybody was a temporary colonel until you got your promotion to permanent colonel.  Now, if you became a permanent colonel, it was considered a real big deal especially for a West Pointer.  If you got to be a permanent colonel, you could stay for thirty years and whatever, crack at general.  If you did not get permanent colonel, you had to get out at twenty-eight.  So, you say, what's the career?  What are you looking for?  Well, he was looking for that, okay, so wow, troop assignment, and off I go to Fort Dix.  ... He was a training regiment commander which that's the prize thing the army is to get a command--and a regiment, that's a big deal.  So, he got that, and he loved it, did well.  ... We're down there, and I go to Pemberton High School.  Pemberton High School, you graduate with all "A's" always from Pemberton High School, and do real well, you might get into Glassboro [Rowan University].  I mean, it was not a good high school.  I mean, if you wanted and if you didn't have anything to do, you could always see the fight out on the playground or between the busses, you know, after school or between classes.  It was rough, I mean, it was really rough.  It was full of "Pineys."  Pineys and dependent kids from Fort Dix--that's what it consisted of.  It isn't Pemberton like it is now.  There's still a lot of Pineys, but in those days it was [more so].  ... I was not used to these kids at all, you know.  I remember I had some colossal fights there.  ... There I was in Pemberton, not doing well.

SH:  Having not been well-prepared here.

DS:  ... Not doing well, not adjusting, even though my mother, she substituted, taught there in Pemberton, because that's where she taught, remember, when she met my dad.

SH:  Right.

DS:  ... The circle turns big time.  So, there I am, freshman year completed it with difficulty at Pemberton.  [laughter] So, my parents in their great wisdom--it was probably my mother--said, "David isn't going to do well if he continues here."  So, they had a friend who went to the Peddie School in Hightstown.  Have you heard of the Peddie School?  ... In those days you could send a kid to Peddie without paying what it costs for a college education, you know.  A middle-class family, you could afford to send a kid, now, forget it, you know, you pay as much as you do there as you do for college in these private schools, and not only that, the school was much more egalitarian, you know.  There wasn't all a bunch of rich kids, and snooty kids and people on athletic scholarships and stuff like, it wasn't like that.  I mean, you just had, it was only later that I realized that some of these kids were super rich, but while you were there, it wasn't like that, you know. 

SH:  Did you live there?

DS:  So, I went there, boarded, and I didn't want to go.  ... Admissions people said, you know, "He's behind on this and this, he needs to get up to snuff."  So, I went there over the summer between my freshman and sophomore years and I went to summer school, and I remember just standing there, looking out the window, you know, yes.  "What the hell are they doing with me?"  ... Boy I got in there, and I loved it.  The three and a half years at Peddie were just happy.  The only better years were the years at Rutgers.  [laughter] I just loved it.

SH:  What do you remember about Fort Dix at that time?  You lived on the base.

DS:  Yes, base housing, nice base housing.  I remember, I was the colonel's son, and everybody else, I think, that rode on the bus were sergeants' and corporals' sons, and I remember them just getting on me for that. 

SH:  Really?

DS:  Oh, yes, they'd say, "Hey, colonel," you know, and all this kind of stuff.  ... These are high school kids, they mean business, you know, and I had to take that stuff, you know, so that was all part of the fun and games.  ... Thank goodness my parents had the good sense [to send me to Peddie], because how many parents don't see?

SH:  Talk about your time at the Peddie School then.

DS:  ... It's an old school, and they had these, at that time especially, they had these professors that had been there since the millennium, you know, and I remember ... there was no fooling around, and I remember the introductory thing for the new students, and they'd say, where they gave you the rules, and we do this, and I remember old Dean DuBois, I remember he always wore a bow tie, rough looking guy, big broad nose, and he said, "There are students here that have thought they could disobey and skirt the rules.  They're now attending other schools."  You know, so that was the way it was, but it was good.  Everybody participated in sports.  You had a work program where you had to clean up the school and everything in the morning before you went to breakfast.  Everything was very regimented.  I would say that my one criticism of the school at that time which was probably typical, since you were considered, you know, a private school and all that, there was no typing class or anything like this, you know, which that has been my detriment since that time, to the point that computers and I don't get along, you know, and I'm still not a typist and all of that, no, no, which was I'm sure, I know because I get their alumni thing, they totally changed, but in those days, you were being trained ... for the liberal arts or to be an engineer or whatever, you know, and this and that, you know.

SH:  The curriculum focused on preparing students for college.

DS:  ... I did well at Peddie, and I came here and, you know, all these people are just terrified here coming to Rutgers, and so I was terrified with everybody else, you know, first set of exams.  I found they were like, "zippo," after Peddie.  It was nothing.  ...

SH:  You had to take foreign language and classic liberal arts at the Peddie School.

DS:  Yes, yes, that's right.  ... The bane of my existence was you had to take all the math.  I said, I have a shotgun, I hunt, and I said the last class I take, I'm going to take that Algebra II book, and I'm going to blow it to smithereens.  [laughter]

LB:  That is my sentiment about math as well.

DS:  ... But you had to take it.

SH:  Were you involved in any organizations such as the Boy Scouts?  Were you involved in any church activities?

DS:  ... At that time, Peddie School ... was a Baptist school originally, yes.  It was named from Thomas Peddie who gave the money.  ... Peddie is now considered one of the primary private schools in the nation.  It's right up there with Lawrenceville, and Andover and Hill and all of that, but it was a Baptist school.  ... Let me take an estimate.  I would say thirty, thirty-five percent of the school was Jewish, but you had to go to this chapel every day, you know, and all that business, and you had to attend church or synagogue, you had to, every weekend.  ... They made sure, and you had check off.  You had to wear a white shirt, no blue shirts, no pink shirt, nothing, white shirt.  I remember the headmaster stopping me one time and said, "Your shirt's not white" when I was on the way to church.  ... Anyhow that was, you know, a bit of a problem, you know, because it was not keeping in the way things are.  ... One of the reasons Peddie is so powerful now is because of Walter Annenberg.  Do you know Walter Annenberg?  Triangle Publications, ambassador to Great Britain, everything else, okay, Jewish, and he gave a fortune to Peddie, a fortune.  It's the Annenberg Library, the Annenberg this, the Annenberg that, okay, because he had gone to Peddie in the '20s, and his father went to prison, I believe.  Annenberg, you know, they were wealthy and all, but his father was involved in, I don't know, in a Madoff-type thing [pyramid scheme] or something.  ... Something was haywire, and they sent young Walter to Peddie and he always credited Peddie with putting him up there.  So boy, he was going to be sure Peddie got rewarded, but you had this phenomenon, this Baptist school, and then, Annenberg, see, and ... things changed, but not during my era, not during my period, okay. 

SH:  Do you remember any class trips?  One of the things that Peddie is well-known for now is going into the community and doing community service.

DS:  Well, we didn't have that then.  No, we just had this work program and all of that, no, but they made sure you were culturally attuned.  I remember going there in that summer school, and ... we would go to dinner theaters.  In those days, they had the tents, you know, Lambertville and all of that, Neptune.  They all had dinner theaters and they were famous.  ... Peddie would have trips to these, and, you know, you might have a trip to Broadway to see a, you know, great play, you know, even though it was Baptist it might be something like "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" or something like that.  ... [laughter]

SH:  Did your parents come to visit you or did you go home every so often?

DS:  Oh, they were right down there in Fort Dix, so, yes, I'd go down Route 130, ... my dad would come or my mother would come pick up me up, and, but not that much.  ... Then, my dad goes to Korea for the second time while I'm at Peddie, so off to Middleburg.  So, most of my trips were on the train for Princeton Junction to Middleburg.  In those days, you could take a train all the way to close to where Middleburg is, to Sunbury, Pennsylvania and get off there, and then, my parents would pick me up.  ...

SH:  There is no chance your mother could go to Korea at this point?

DS:  No.  ... I don't think, that was rare, and maybe you could, but it would be, even in our time, if you went to Korea, you went to Korea on your own.  In other words, you were not sponsored.  Only very unique assignments, you might be able to get to Korea where you could bring the dependents and you'd have some sort of a sponsored tour.  ... Even the years we were in Greece, they had units, American units there in Greece that you could not bring your family unless ... they were on the economy but the military had nothing to do with you.

SH:  How did your life change when your father went to Korea?  You moved to Middleburg from Fort Dix.

DS:  ... It was a good home, it was a good place to be.  I felt I belonged, maybe for one of the first times, you know, I really felt I belonged, and it got to that when I went for Christmas vacation and all, and I came back, I was anxious to get back.  I couldn't believe that, considering my initial reaction there.  ...

LB:  Why did you choose to go to Rutgers University?

SH:  This would be in 1959.

DS:  That's a real good one.

SH:  I am anxious to find out if there were any instructors at Peddie who influenced your decision.

DS:  No, in fact that is one of my few hang-ups with Peddie then if I go back there and talk to some of those people, I'd say, "Why aren't more of your people coming to Rutgers."  ... Why was I at Rutgers?  Thank goodness I went, this is '59.  ... I was there in Middleburg all of my life, so Middleburg, you got Susquehanna, and then the prestige place nearby is Bucknell see, Bucknell, so that's--I was always going to go to Bucknell alright--and then, Penn State.  ... So, that's where I applied.  ... They have admissions guidance people there at Peddie, and they really try to spread these schools out.  They loved these schools like Trinity and Williams and Tufts and all that stuff, they just loved that, because somehow that gives them real good feeling that their kids going to this school.  "We got so many people at Tufts," and all of that and I mean, I can see that now, still continuing, and so ... they thought Bucknell was just great.  So, I applied to Bucknell, to Penn State, and not to Susquehanna though, because my parents said, "Eh, Susquehanna, I don't know."  Now it's considered really good, but in those days, "eh, a little icky."  ... So, I got in, "Yay, Bucknell!"  I got into Penn State.  "Whoa!"  ... My parents announce, "You're going to Rutgers.  You're applying to Rutgers and you're going to Rutgers.  ... It was a state school, and there was a discount for military, a substantial discount.  "You're going to Rutgers.  That's a great school."  I changed very quickly, "I'm going to Rutgers," and so, I went to Rutgers, and from day one, I loved Rutgers.  I just thought Rutgers was just the greatest thing and I always did and still do.  [laughter]

SH:  Was your father still in Korea when you went to Rutgers?

DS:  No, no, we were at Camp Kilmer then.  See, he had gone back.  He went back then to Camp Kilmer.  ... He no longer had the position that he had before, and it was less prominent by far.  Second Corps still existed.  Yes, it was a different type of place.  There weren't all these people going as much en masse to Germany, and he was the adviser to the 78th Division, which is the New Jersey division, okay.  So, he was their principal US Army adviser.  Nowadays, I'm wondering even if they have advisers.  I don't know, but in those days, I mean, they had so many colonels that they had to find places for these guys.  ... He did not make that permanent colonelcy, even after the thing, and, you know, these are career things, but I think he attributes that to his experience at Kilmer.  I think he ran into a general there with a buzz saw.

SH:  That is what they say.

DS:  Yes, yes, that's all it takes.  I can tell you all about that.  ...

SH:  He was here at Kilmer when he decided you should go to Rutgers.

DS:  He was at Kilmer, yes.  "That's where you're going," yes.

SH:  Were you going to be housed at Rutgers?

DS:  We were housed at Kilmer in much smaller quarters.

SH:  Really?

DS:  So, during those years at Rutgers, we lived, until '63, '59 to '63, we lived at quarters there in Kilmer.

SH:  Is that where you lived?

DS:  I lived here at Rutgers all the time.  ... I just made the vaguest suggestion one time and not really seriously that much, ... thank goodness.  ... I lived in dorms except for grad school here.  ...

SH:  Before we get to the questions about Rutgers, I wanted to ask what you did in the summers before you go to college.  Would you go back to Middleburg? 

DS:  ... What did I do?  Yes, interesting, I worked in the Middleburg Cannery.  In Middleburg, everybody just couldn't wait till they were sixteen because you ... had to get a driver's license, and you had to have a job.  You expect it, and as soon as I could, I worked at the Middleburg Cannery which was about the biggest industry in town.  They had a tannery, and they had a silk mill, they had a potato chip factory, but the place for kids to work was the cannery, a dollar an hour, and you worked ten hours a day including Saturdays, and when I still get my, you know, I get my social security thing, and it shows you, nineteen whatever, it shows whatever I got that year, same thing with Peggy when she was working at the grocery store at Point Pleasant.  [laughter]  They build character these jobs. 

SH:  When did you first come to the Rutgers campus?  When did you tour it?

DS:  The first time I really got into Rutgers was when I came to Rutgers.

SH:  Really?

DS:  Yes.

SH:  Even though your family had lived just across the Raritan River?

DS:  That's right.  I didn't know anything.

SH:  Did you have a clue what you wanted to major in?

DS:  Yes, I knew it wasn't math, and it was probably going to be, my parents, my mother was a teacher, grandparents, ... my grandmother was a teacher, and I was going to be a teacher.  So, I entered education.  ... When I graduated in 1963, I was the last School of Education graduate.  I got a Bachelor of Science in Education, that's what they gave you from the School of Education.  Even if you were an English or a History major, you got a Bachelor of Science in Education, and that's what my degree reads. 

SH:  They have a five-year program now where you come out with a Master's in Education.  You get your bachelors and then your master's degree.

LB:  You cannot major in education here anymore.

DS:  ... No.  So, I majored in, I had these education courses I had to take which I got to say were something else, so, but these were good guys, the guys that taught, you know.  You ever heard of Pitt, a guy named Pitt?

SH:  Yes.

DS:  All right, he was in my education, he was a great guy, great guy, but he was primarily a radio broadcaster [laughter] which maybe made him a great teacher and involved in athletics and all of that.  He was "Mr. Rutgers," see.  Well, that was a good experience having him there, and you're probably going to get an "A" too.  [laughter]

SH:  Where were you housed the first year that you were at Rutgers?


DS:  ... What is the one that used to be sitting right up above the Commons?  I was trying to think of those today.

SH:  Right where the Quad is?

DS:  Yes, right, yes.

SH:  Demarest and Leupp.

DS:  ...  It was Leupp.  Yes, Leupp, that's where I was.  You looked over the Commons, yes, that's where I was.

SH:  Who was your roommate?

DS:  My roommate, we had two roommates, Tony Brazel and Roger Matthews.  Both are really great guys.

SH:  Was the campus really full?

DS:  Oh, full, full, full.  I mean, we came, and I had a room.  Other people didn't have a room, they were in the hall.  ... You didn't have to worry about getting a room though because they flunked everybody out if you didn't make it. 

SH:  Talk about that.

DS:  All right, well I remember that first [meeting] with Mason Gross.

SH:  The convocation?

DS:  Yes, the big convocation in the gym, and he said, "Look to your right.  Look to your left."  He says, "One or both those guys almost surely won't be here next semester." 

SH:  Next semester?

DS:  I mean, yes, or next year or next semester, I think, yes.  It was tough.  I mean, you either performed or you were gone, yes, and, you know, you had that thing.  Everybody ready, you talk to all these students, everybody's nervous, and it's the same thing now, you know, everybody is going to be an engineer, and everybody is going to be a doctor, and, ... boy, pretty soon nobody is going to be an engineer, you know, because ... they were tough.  Both of my roommates were going to be engineers.  The one guy became an engineer, but the other one, he became a professor in geography and was with me until the end, yes.

SH:  I know that your focus changed at some point.

DS:  Yes, in graduate school.  ... Yes, I was going to teach.  I wanted to teach social studies and minor in English, but I took all of these, in fact I did minor, I guess my minor would have been English at the end, but in my social studies I took a lot of geography courses.  I was just fascinated by it, and we're getting way ahead here, but when it came time for graduate school, I was going to be a teacher still, and so, I wanted to get it.  I'm going to go right through, ... my parents were willing to foot the bill, so I'm going to go right for a master's degree now, and I went up to Columbia, and took the tests and all of that, and I was going to get into Columbia.  I would have gotten in, and I just talked with Guido, Dr. Weigend here, who was the head of the geography department.  He says, "What are you doing, Dave?"  I said, "I'm going to."  ... He said, "You don't want to do that.  You like geography, you've done very well."  He says, "Stay here."  He says, "You're in.  Come on in."  You know, "Stay here for graduate school."  I did it, yes.

SH:  Talk about your freshman year at Rutgers then.

DS:  Sure.

KB:  Was there any hazing?  I know that there was a lot of hazing at Rutgers.

DS:  Oh, yes, it was just, I'm sure a total different world than it was now.  I mean, everybody had to wear a beanie, ... a dink, beanie or dink, and you had to wear, you had to know all ... songs; you had to know all the cheers, all the basic historical facts, and these people, they would stop you on campus, and if you didn't know it, you were in deep doo-doo.  You had to do pushups or what have you.  ... You had a very strict orientation program.  You went down to the chapel here, and you learned all the songs and all the stuff, you know, that you needed to know, but, yes, you were considered a second-class citizen.

SH:  Was it the sophomores who were doing the hazing?

DS:  Sophomores and up.  Football team was particularly rough on you.

SH:  Was it really?

DS:  Yes, they would be standing around getting those freshmen.

SH:  Were there intramural sports?  Were you involved in any kind of sports activities?

DS:  I was involved in intramurals with the fraternity ... to a large degree, but not in others, but in those days you used to just get up games with kids.  I did this right through graduate school, some of the greatest touch football games ever existed were when I was in graduate school here.  We just had a wonderful time.

SH:  Was there still one hundred fifty pound football here?

DS:  Oh, yes.  ... There isn't now? 

SH:  No.

DS:  Oh, that's a shame, yes.

SH:  During this time period, was it mandatory that you attend football, chapel, and games?  ROTC was mandatory as well.

DS:  ROTC was mandatory the first two years.  I don't remember the football games being mandatory or anything, but people all wanted to go.  ... You wanted to go, and, you know, I get tired of reading about how, you know, Rutgers now is in the big-time football, and they're so great, and they're doing this and that.  ... We're looking at an undefeated season and all this.  We had darn good football teams then, but we were in the Middle Atlantic Conference.  We were playing, you know, Lehigh, Lafayette, Bucknell, so forth and so on, but we had an undefeated season, you know, the '62 season, undefeated.

SH:  I understand Rutgers had good basketball teams too.

DS:  Very good basketball teams, oh, yes, wrestling, everything was good, baseball.  ... It was good sports, you know, very good, yes, and I used to go to all the stuff, even fencing, which is really boring to watch, but I went anyhow.

SH:  Did you still have mandatory chapel?

DS:  No, mandatory chapel, no.

SH:  Really?

DS:  No.  Peddie, we had it.  ... Maybe the chapel programs where you learned all the stuff, but it wasn't [mandatory].  ...

SH:  Were there convocations?

DS:  There were, but you didn't, you know, now that I think of it, there were some you were supposed to go to, yes, you're considered, that was part of your program, but it wasn't like a religious sermon and all that, no.  It was a chapel thing where you got guidance in something or other, yes. 


SH:  Can you talk about ROTC?  Your father himself was a West Point graduate so I am curious if your experience was different.

DS:  ... The guys in my fraternity and all, they called me a "ROTC major."  [laughter] You know, even though I wanted to teach and all, but I was the ROTC major, because I was so into it, you know.  I was on the drill team.  Scabbard and Blade was an honorary society, and I was chosen for that.  I doubt if that even exists anymore but it was a real big deal, and everything was just, I was just, I wanted to be an officer, wasn't sure about a career, but by darn, I was going to be an officer.

SH:  That means that you applied for the advanced ROTC program.

DS:  Then, you go for the last two years are voluntary, and I can tell you a story about that.

SH:  Please.

DS:  ... Between your sophomore and junior year is when you go.  ... If you're going to be, go to advanced ROTC, then you go to summer camp and all of that business see, so then you're committed to go in, and they're going to pay you.  They pay you when you get to advanced ROTC, so, not much, but it was nice.  So, they just had the basic physical.  They had a physical down here, right, you lined up here outside, right not far from here, you could probably throw a baseball down there from here, and all these guys were lined up, and the guys going down the line checking this, checking that, checks your heart, and the guy is checking the heart, checking the heart, checking the heart, comes to me, "You're out."  "What do you mean I'm out?"  He said, "Your heart.  You got an extra 'cardiac crunch' there."  I said, "Listen."  I said, I didn't say that, I said, "I know I have a heart murmur.  I've had it since I've been a kid," I said, "but they never said it's any kind of a deal," and he says, "Oh, no, no."  I said, "Are you sure?"  He says, "You couldn't even be drafted."  He says, "You couldn't even be drafted.  Forget it."  So, I mean the typical student is going to say, "Oh, man."  He's going to go home to Mom and say, "I'm not going to be drafted.  The heck with the military."  ... So, I went to the professor of military science here, Colonel Bradley, and I said, you know, "I've been rejected here, and I want to have this further evaluated."  "Well, you know, they've determined this.  This is a doctor."  ... I said, "I want to have it evaluated."  I just stood my ground, and so, "Okay, all right, we'll see what we can do here."  ... They set me up for an appointment down at Fort Dix to the cardiac ward.  Guy gives me the full business, you know, the everything, echocardiogram, EKG, the whole business.  He says, "You got a little click there, a rhythm."  He says, "That's nothing."  He says, "You'll probably live as long as anybody else, and when you go, it'll probably something besides the heart that takes you out.  ... That's a nothing thing, you know.  ... It's there."  ... He gave a percentage.  ... So, here I am you know, but that shows how things can just change like that.

SH:  In an instant.

DS:  Yes, in an instant, yes.  ... I went to ROTC summer camp, at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, and I graduated Distinguished Military Graduate--DMG it's called--and which meant I could have taken a regular Army commission right from there, but I didn't do it, because I just wasn't absolutely sure because one of the things, if you're a DMG and you take a regular Army commission you have to go Airborne or Ranger.  So, I wasn't too sure about that.  After ROTC summer camp, you know, and so, I said, "Well, you know, if I want to go regular Army I can do it later," which I did.  So, I graduated with DMG.  Also, I graduated with honors from Rutgers.  I had like a "A-" minus average or something like that, which some of the times I didn't think I was ever going to make.  ... I had taken just what I needed, and I had to take courses in statistics which are, you know, because of the School of Education and all, but you had these educational guys teaching us, so it wasn't too bad.  [laughter]

SH:  Did you have to take foreign language courses? 

DS:  Didn't have to take one then.  They didn't have to take one in an education school, no, because you were preparing for whatever you're going to do.  ... It would have been nice.  ... I could have done that, but I didn't have to take it, so I didn't.  So, I took a lot of history courses, as many as I could, and loved the history department, loved the geography department.

SH:  Talk about some of the professors that you remember.

DS:  Loved the English department for that matter, except, you know, English.  Let me tell you about that.  Everybody had to take English comp, everybody.  Well, it's, now that I know the system and know all about it--a lot of my good friends are in the universities--I know how these basic courses are taught.  They're taught by the, you know, by, ... you don't call them interns what, instructors, graduate students.  So, at Peddie, I got the award for English, okay.  ... My name is on a plaque down there in Hightstown.  ... I take basic composition here.  I thought I wrote some great papers.  I turned them in, they come back, D, C-, and again, you got to stand for your grounds.  If you don't stand your grounds, you find that in life, I'm still finding at sixty-nine years old, you got to stand up.  If you don't, the world is going to run you over, remember that.  [laughter] I went into that guy, and I told him, I said, ... "I don't see the problem here.  ... You're giving me this grade."  He was kind of obnoxious at first, and then, I told him, "I'm a graduate of the Peddie School and I got the English award."  You could just see his face like that, "I'm making a boo-boo here, yes.  I'm making a boo-boo here."  I got all A's and nothing more or less than like a B+ from then on.  Oh, yes, but that just shows you've got to deal with these people.  If you're going to let a professor or whoever run over you, they will.  If, you know you're in the right [do something].  ...

SH:  Or at least give you an explanation.

DS:  That's right.  I want an explanation.  Why can I go through, you know, three and a half years at Peddie and I get all A's and you here in a basic comp course is saying I can't write this thing.

SH:  Who were your favorite professors in each of these three fields?

DS:  Oh, I just loved them.  I just remembered that history department, you know, even these basic lectures, was it Weissman?  Yes, he would give this phenomenal lecture on the Holocaust and all of that.  ... You had people hanging from the windows to hear the lecture.

SH:  Really?

DS:  Yes, I mean people would come in.  The Greek.  ...

SH:  Charanis?

DS:  ... Yes, fantastic professor.  Who could ever forget Charanis' lecture on the Byzantine Empress Theodora?  Gosh, I had so many.

SH:  Did you have Dr. McCormick?

DS:  ... No, I had a guy, Susman, political.  Dr. Susman, as I recall was a bigger than life type guy.  Very left politically.  I was in a small honors class with him and clashed with him on discussions and papers.  He was very, very fair and appreciated the opposing viewpoint as long as it was presented well.  I always got top grades from him.  Another example of the great professors I had.  They stimulated my mind for life.

SH:  Warren Susman. 

DS:  Yes.  ... He was a little bit over there, you know, but let's see.  ... I had a guy, Brown.  I remember him, Brown as I recall I think it was.  He was good, but everybody, even like the art department, I just, I learned so much.  I mean, that has stuck with me through life.  I knew nothing about art and the history of art and just that course here, just set me on a whole new life thing, you know, and I see these students now coming out of schools they don't have any of this.

SH:  They do not have that liberal arts background. 

DS:  No, nothing in music, nothing in art, nothing in literature.

SH:  Rutgers had fantastic music programs in the late 1950s and 1960s.  What do you remember of some of the programs that they had? 

DS:  Well, I was a big fan, and that's the one thing where I'd go get my--one of my big regrets in life, and I think we all have these regrets ... is your parents are with you not for your whole life, you know, and I was here at Rutgers, and I was so into the school, and here they were just over the [Raritan] River and especially my mother who is into all this stuff, I would have done much more, but one thing we did do, is I would go get my mom and we'd go to the glee club stuff, you know, and she loved that and anything else like that, but not enough.  I'd have done much more if I had to redo it, ... just take care of them.  [laughter]

SH:  These were fabulous programs to just take advantage of.

DS:  They were great, and that glee club was fabulous, just fabulous, yes.

SH:  It is really well-known.

DS:  ... The geography department were just great folks, like all these people, Dr. Weigend, Dr. Brush, he was an expert in New Jersey, Kolars.  We had a guy Kolars, Jacobson, of course.  Jacobson's main place was up there with Peggy in Montclair State where he had to teach basic geography courses.  ... I don't think that was really his forte.  He loved to teach like historical geography and cultural geography and regional geography, and he'd come down here and do that, to Rutgers, and he was wonderful, ... gave you an appreciation for the country, and for New Jersey, like that has just stuck with me, knew everything, just everything always, and he had a way of presenting it, that it was just phenomenal. 

SH:  What was the political environment like on campus?

DS:  Very interesting, we can really get into that, very interesting, because I've reflected on this a lot.  I came to Rutgers in 1959.  You'd go to mixers and so forth, and no kidding, they still were playing like swing music and stuff.  There were still big bands and all of that, if you had a prom here and all that.  Rock and roll was a little bit, you know, it was there, but 1959 was a big year by the way in rock and roll.  You look at how many hits there were and so forth, and that was the year Buddy Holly died.  ... I was really into rock and roll.  That was the "Old Time Rock and Roll," as they say.  I was so into that, and Peggy knows I'm still really into it.  Yes, it's incredible.  ... The political environment, what I'm trying to say is Rutgers in '59 was still in the old Rutgers period.  There was no, if you would have said what happened like in '66, '67 was going to happen at Rutgers in 1959, ... they'd think you were crazy.  Political, I would say people had a very open attitude as far as race or anything like that.  It wasn't because of the students or anything that we didn't have a lot of blacks on campus, it was because it's just the way things were I guess.  There just weren't a lot of blacks because I remember we had a speaker.  I used to go to all the speakers we had over in the gym, and they had, what was the guy's name?  It was a senator from Pennsylvania, ... Scott, I think it was, and Strom Thurmond of all people on the debate, but they went into this thing, ... a lot of students watching this thing, ... but Thurmond said, "You go down to Clemson, or you go down to the University of South Carolina, you're going to find more blacks in the students there than you do here.  So, what are you talking about?"  ... That's the way it was.  ... You could count it seems like on one, two hands on the number of blacks that you ever see on the campus.  ... I know my fraternity we had a totally open attitude.  If a black came to and wanted to join our fraternity, he could have got in, you know, if we liked him, you know, and all that, it wasn't that.  It was more the way it was.  Now politics, like left-wing politics, anti-war stuff, you had a few.  In 1959, 1960, you might have a couple of people that you'd identify, ... and I can look at my yearbook and see some of these in the old books and see them, they were considered weirdoes, really weirdoes.  You didn't harass them or say anything, but what the heck is the guy doing standing up here in front of the Ledge talking about, the thing it was called SANE, remember, Safe Nuclear Environment, or what did it stand for?  You remember that, that was one of the organizations.  I remember that it was big on campus on the left-wing, but these are guys were considered a bunch of "kookballs."  They were just considered kookballs, so if you would have said that in 1967, that these people would be campus leaders, you wouldn't be able to believe it.  ... Politics was not, people were interested, but it was not a thing.

SH:  To go back to your family, traditionally military families are apolitical.

DS:  ... I'd say my father, I doubt if my father voted until he retired.  Military, you know, whoever it was, fine, Army is right, [laughter] but my mother and her family, big Republicans.  Well, Middleburg, Pennsylvania, was solidly Republican.  I mean, I remember looking at the elections for Goldwater, and they were like three to one Republicans for Goldwater there.  [laughter] So, I mean that's the way it was.  [Editor's Note:  Barry Goldwater was the Republican presidential candidate in 1964, losing to Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson.]

SH:  Prior to Rutgers, did you ever consider going to West Point?

DS:  ... Yes.  When I was at Peddie that was my goal for the first year till I ran into math and that changed me, terribly.  It wasn't going to happen.

SH: Was that because engineering was required at West Point?

DS:  ... West Point is much different now.  You could go there and have a good grasp of math, but you wouldn't have to be a potential engineer.  West Point at that time was basically, they were training everybody to be an engineer.  ... I scratched West Point in my own mind at that point, but I would say I kept it up through my sophomore year and even into my junior year, beginning of my junior year at Peddie, I was probably still thinking, "Maybe."  ...

SH:  Was there any pressure from your father to go to West Point?

DS:  No, because he saw that I might screw up at West Point, that I would, you know, academically.  ... He was a whiz in math which is phenomenal, not my mother, but he was a whiz.  He was just very, very good in that, which I think was part of his success early in life was that, so he saw that, but he was a West Pointer through and through, my dad.  Those people, I mean, are just incredible, from that era especially.  It's not what it is now the military, but, "ring knockers" we call them.  They all wear this big ring, you know, this West Point ring, and we all see it, and we joke that they have signals and everything, "I'm class of this and take care of me," you know.  [laughter] ... They just love West Point like I do Rutgers, I guess, but more than that, they're just, if you're not a West Pointer.  ... I remember my dad came down there when I graduated from one of many schools in the military, came ... down to Fort Eustis, Virginia, and the speaker was a three-star general, and my dad goes, "Not bad for a non-West Pointer."  ...

SH:  Your father's career and your career do not overlap.

DS:  No, my father retired in 1963, and I entered the active Army in 1965.  Careers, no, he was an infantry officer.  I was transportation, and then, military intelligence, and military intelligence was the thing.  ...

SH:  Jumping back then again to Rutgers, I wanted to ask about your choice of fraternities and how that came to be.  Why Theta Chi?

DS:  Theta Chi.  Next to Rutgers, there's Theta Chi.  [laughter] ... Great time, wonderful place.  Why did I choose that?  Because we had Rush Week, and I went around to the different places and maybe more than now, but the fraternities were very segregated according to interests, ethnicity, and so forth.

SH:  Really?

DS:  Oh, yes, "jock houses" were jock houses.  ... If you weren't a jock, forget it.  They were only interested in jocks.  They'd hardly even take a token non-jock.

SH:  Really?

DS:  Yes.  ... Lambda Chi Alpha, are they still here? 

SH:  Who knows, but go ahead.

DS:  They were kind of like Italian, you know, and then you had Jewish fraternities.  ... Yes, "Sammy" [Sigma Alpha Mu] and all that, and they would take some token non-Jews, you know, just as we had.  ... Now, we didn't care.  I mean, Theta Chi wouldn't care if the person was Jewish.  We had Jews, but, you know, it wasn't a Jewish fraternity.  ... We were very mixed.  There was no particular, well, if there was anything particular, we were known as a "good time."

LB:  Where were you guys located on campus?

DS:  We were on Bartlett Street at that time.  Bartlett Street, I'm sure the building is not there.  It was an old red Victorian house, red and white, the colors of the fraternity, and it was a dump.  ... That's one thing, see, I never lived in the fraternity, no way.  I mean, no way.  I mean it was filthy in there.  ...

SH:  Where did you live then?

DS:  In the dorms, stayed in dorms the whole time, ate in the fraternity, all my meals, social life.

SH:  You were telling me that you had a house mother.

DS:  Oh, yes, we did.  We had all of that.  She had a nice little room downstairs, but better than half the fraternity didn't live there.  Everything was filled, all the beds were filled, and they were trying to always encourage people to live in there, but I mean, they slept up in the attic a lot of them.  The majority slept up in the attic, and I remember going in there in the morning in the attic, and I kid you not, there was an inch of snow on those guys, blowing in.  No, that isn't for me.

SH:  Did you live anywhere besides Leupp on campus?

DS:  ... What are the two big ones?  I lived in one one year and one in the other.  Is it Hardenburgh and Frelinghuysen?  I lived one year in each.  ...

LB:  The river dorms.

DS:  Yes, I lived in the river dorms two years, and then Leupp down here and then Ford Hall.  You know that?

SH:  Yes.

DS:  ... Then, in graduate school, I lived in two rental houses.  I mean, I rented a room, and that was an experience.  ... Weird people.  ...

SH:  Really?

DS:  [laughter] Yes, it was unbelievable.  I remember this one guy, geez, a Hungarian family, they were just weird.  [laughter] ...

SH:  From what I have heard from some students who rented from some of these landlords, they make slumlords look great.

DS:  Yes, right, right.  ... My one boy had, he went to Bloomsburg University, and he would always choose to live in these horrible places.  I mean, just horrible, even though we'd say, "You're not doing this again."  He'd go again, but they had terrible experiences.  They had two tragic fires, killed I don't know how many students.  I mean, we were just sick about it, worrying about that stuff, you know, but he was going to do that.  He's Theta Chi too by the way, yes, then he moved into the house.

SH:  What were some of the things that Theta Chi was known for besides having a good time?

DS:  ... We did well in everything, we had a lot of campus leaders, believe it or not.

SH:  Really?

DS:  Yes, and very accomplished people.  ...

SH:  You had distinguished military graduates too, such as yourself.

DS:  Well, one member, there were more.  Stan Cherrie, he became a general.  He lost his leg in Vietnam, but he continued his career, they kept him on.  He became a general, and he was in the First Persian Gulf thing.

SH:  Did you participate in activities, such as homecoming?

DS:  Participated in all of that.  That was such a big deal, like we had a float for Homecoming which we would just work and work and work on.  The fraternity, and dances were a big deal.  You were expected in the fraternity to go to everything, especially as a pledge, you had to go to everything.  ... We had a party virtually every week.  ... If you had a pledge son, one of my biggest jobs and difficult, was finding dates for these guys, because you had to go, so I had some really great dates which I could tell some great stories on, not only mine.  [laughter] No, definitely we're not getting into, but, you know, you had to do that.  You had to attend or you were in trouble with the brothers if you didn't show up, so, but we had a very successful choral group, and at Christmas, they would have the competition of the different houses, and now, that's one thing I do not shine at.  We all had to buy a red vest.  We all had to attend.  ... You'd sit out there on the porch of the fraternity and you sang all these songs.  They told me, "Just move your mouth."  [laughter] So, you know, that was not my forte.

SH:  Did they still have dances like the Sophomore Hop?

DS:  Oh, yes, and, yes, all of that, junior prom, senior prom, the military ball.  ... Do they have that anymore?  No way, but that was a big deal, big deal, yes.  ...

SH:  There was a military field day too I believe.

DS:  Field day, military, yes, and that's where I found out--when I was at basic ROTC, you'd have these juniors and seniors, and they'd be going around like this, you know, with a clipboard, and I was probably a sophomore I said, "What the heck is on that clipboard?  I bet there's nothing on there."  When I got to be Advanced ROTC, I had my own clipboard, there was nothing on there.  [laughter]

SH:  Was there any interaction between the fraternity, ROTC, with the University administration?

DS:  Well, let me say this about that.  Mason Gross was the president.  We all felt in the fraternities that Mason Gross did not like fraternities, and I don't think he did.  He tolerated them, but we loved Mason Gross.  He was a personality, great guy, just looked good and just spoke well.  Everybody loved Mason Gross, you know, and, but he didn't like fraternities.  I'm sure he didn't, and I'm sure there was a strong element in the administration that didn't like fraternities.  I don't know if that exists now, but they didn't like it.

SH:  What about the Dean of Men's relationship with the fraternities? 

DS:  The same, ... didn't like them.

SH:  Who was the Dean of Men when you were here?

DS:  Can't remember, if you mention his I'd know it, but I can't remember.

SH:  Was it Dean Boocock?

DS:  Yes, Boocock, you got it, yes, Boocock, you're right.

SH:  While you are at Rutgers, Americans are becoming more aware of what is going on in Vietnam.

DS:  In graduate school, yes.

SH:  You were in the military.  What are you hearing about American involvement? 

DS:  Yes, and I remember getting my commission, and I'm getting my commission, and I decided I want to be, I love this geography, I want to be a geography professor now, you know.  That's my idea, and the military, yes, I want to go in as an officer, but really this geography, you know, I had all these very close friends who were, at least the one gentleman is still a very close friend of mine now.  He's the chairman of the department down at the, geography department, University of Miami, and this is my life, this is what I want, this is intellectual, this is stimulating, this is wonderful, and this is what Peggy, when we became engaged thought I was pursuing. [laughter]  ... I want to go to graduate school.  I told you about how I went to graduate school here, but meanwhile, I still have this obligation.

SH:  The Army deferred you.

DS:  Yes, they deferred that, but they deferred it, but, you know how it is with professors here.  They think you're going to be in school forever like they are, you know, and Dr. Brush especially.  He was my thesis adviser, and, you know, you'd write it, and he'd come back and say, "Well, maybe you can add this.  Maybe you could do this, and write me this," and it went on and on like that, and finally I said, now, he's a Quaker.  The plot thickens--and I said, "Dr.  Brush," I said, "Whether we like it or not, March 1965, precisely 18 March 1965, I have to be in the United States Army, and I can't be writing this thesis."  "Oh, well, we'll work it out."  [laughter] So, lo and behold, it gets closer and closer.  He says, "Well, you know, just a little bit here, a little bit there," and so you know where I spent my first thirty days leave?  Here.  ... Here and in Trenton, because I have a very original thesis on the Hungarians, the dispersion of Hungarians in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  I got to say it's a good thesis.  ... I wrote it, but it is good, because it is original, and a lot of master's theses are not original, but this is a goodie, because I used the archives, census figures, and all of that.  ... I polished it up, got it and got my degree, got my degree and was in the Army.  ... Where do we go from there?

SH:  How did you meet Mrs. Smith?

DS:  ... This professor of military science, Colonel Bradley, we actually became pretty close, and I became a good friend of his son who was also a Rutgers student, John Bradley.  John Bradley II--III, I don't know--but anyhow he still lives here.  I think he lives over in East Brunswick, and we were very close friends, and I became close friends with Colonel Bradley and with his wife and with John and to the point that we were really socially on good terms, and I went over there in the midst of these graduate studies on a cold December day to Milltown, to their house, not knowing there were lovely ladies in the house, and I actually went to see Colonel Bradley and Mrs. Bradley and I said, "Where is John?" and "John is downstairs ... he's got his date, Alice ... and there's another girl from Montclair there."  So, I go downstairs to John, and she's there with this doofus, that's a blind date with this guy, and snow starts coming down, and this guy says, "Well, I'm going home," this blind date, and I thought this young lady was just charming.  I mean, if you think she's cute now, you should have seen her then.  I mean, just phenomenal, and so, ... even though it's a snow storm stirring, I said, "Let's go out for pizza."  [laughter] So, we get in there, and so that was our encounter, and so, I went with John up to Montclair one time, and lo and behold, Peggy was there.  That was my prime objective, just to find this lady, and she was there, and they had a dance, and we went from one thing to another and got married.

SH:  Was Mrs. Smith going to school at Montclair?

DS:  Montclair, she is a graduate of Montclair University.

SH:  Also a teacher?

DS:  Also a teacher.

SH:  What did you teach?

Peggy Smith:  We were all secondary in those days.  Montclair had only had secondary.

SH:  When did you marry Mrs. Smith?

DS:  June 16th, 1967.

SH:  The marriage comes after graduate school.

DS:  Yes, and after the first tour in Vietnam.  ... I was in Vietnam, and we all had R&R that you got.  Everybody went pouring off to Hong Kong, and wherever, Thailand, wherever, by the time.  The Army set it all up, and you had this R&R, and lo and behold Peggy was in an exchange program in Japan, so where did David go for his R&R?  Was to Japan, and that was a fantastic experience, fantastic.  I mean, she was there, not in Tokyo, but in Kofu City.  I mean, you could tell this as well as me, in Kofu City, and the next day these students were leaving on a trip through the main island, and so, I just got on the trip and saw more of Japan in that period than you could ever imagine, yes, and I really got to know Peggy, and we sat there on the train and talked and those other students, ... "You must be really hitting it off, because all you do is talk and talk," and that's continuous.  We do a lot of talking.  [laughter]

SH:  You had not proposed at that point.

DS:  Oh, no.  When I came back, I didn't waste too much time.  We knew what was good.  [laughter]

SH:  Let us go back to March 18, 1965.

DS:  Okay.

SH:  Your thesis was approved?

DS:  The thesis is no, remember, I was actually in, March 18th, it was during my first leave before I went to Vietnam for thirty days.  I went in August of '65 I believe it was.  ...

SH:  To Vietnam.

DS:  Yes, 18th of March I reported to Fort Eustis, Virginia, which is the home of Army transportation, and I went to the Transportation Officer's Basic Course, which I got to say I was very disappointed in because I'd been through all of this business with ROTC and with the summer camp especially where they treated you like dirt and doing a lot of stuff that really didn't help you in the future, which we can get into later, but I get down there to take this basic course, and it was almost like a repeat of the doggone ROTC summer camp other than it had a transportation bent with, I'd like to get into this a little later, because that's, I think I just had some really strong views of Army training at that time which I don't like.  ... I can do it now, okay, because like I went down there, and I say I was very disappointed in this.  It was so much the Army training was shining your shoes and polishing your brass and all of that stuff and just get a smattering of this and smattering of that, and just in physical PT, and an emphasis on this stuff and not training to what you were going to be facing in your next assignment, whatever it was, much less to Vietnam.  ... As a transportation guy, which I was in a truck platoon, they tell you, you know, your secondary job is infantry ... because you're taking these convoys and so forth, and you can get attacked and all that.  Well, maybe most of transportation don't get this, but I got it, and I'm telling you, I was not prepared, and it wasn't because of David Smith I wasn't prepared.  It was because the Army had not prepared me properly.  You know, I mean, we got ambushed, and I got that newspaper article there, and we had that machinegun up on the jeep.  Now, you know, some officer at that time is trying to defend the Army said, "Well, you should have known how to operate that thing.  We gave you training."  Well, how much?  Ten minutes?  You know, one session, a forty-five minute session on the M60 machinegun, if it was that, and then, firing, but if you're engaged in that kind of thing, you need to know how to do it, and I didn't, and I don't think it was my fault, you know, in any way shape or form, because there was no opportunity.

SH:  Were those officers who had not come from ROTC better trained?

DS:  I would say a West Pointer is better trained, yes, West Pointer, but ... ROTC at the time, ... no way, not trained in anything.  You had all these war crimes things in the Vietnam War.  Well, you didn't get training in military law and the code of conduct to the degree you should, there wasn't the emphasis.  Now, you see that now there is the emphasis, but we still have the problem.  We still have the problem, but it's not to the degree that it was in Vietnam.  No way, I don't think so in any way shape or form.  My son is in the National Guard and went to Iraq with his National Guard unit, and I mean, he was so much better prepared than I was, oh yes, oh yes.

SH:  In 1965, did you express this to your father?  Did you say to him, "I'm not being trained correctly?"

DS:  ... Yes, I'd say this to him, but, you know what I said, "The Army is right."  ...


DS:  My father, you were saying preparedness, like a West Pointer I'd say would know more, and like my father I said was a battalion commander and all, and I think he was much better prepared.  Now, of course, a lot of it was my father had a very good mindset for the practical, for hands-on type of things for mechanics, for engineering, for all of that, and, of course, he'd been trained for all those years at West Point, plus had the experience from '35 up to '40.  ... By the time he got over there at Okinawa and Leyte was what, '43, '44.  ... He had a lot of background, but I mean, he was faced with enormous challenges including like I mentioned an ambush.  He had a huge ambush on Okinawa, and he actually got to the point where he got a .50 caliber machine gun, he himself as a lieutenant colonel, and was firing away.

SH:  Unbelievable. 

DS:  But he could do that, I wouldn't know.  ... I'd done it once at Fort Devins probably, but I didn't know how, I didn't.  ...

SH:  How was Vietnam being presented to young officers such as yourself?  You were a second lieutenant. 

DS:  Yes, second lieutenant, brand new.  Well, I have to go ... into my personal background, my views of things, and I think it was with a lot of people, a lot of people of my ilk.  Been a long time since Korea, it had been a long time since we'd had gotten involved in any kind of military fracas, any to speak of.  You had that Lebanon incursion with Eisenhower, but just "zilch" really, and you've been instilled with all this stuff at ROTC, not that they were teaching you that much, but, "Wow, military, whoa go there.  Charge forth," and a lot of people I know in that basic course heard the same thing, and can't believe it now, but I was down there in that basic course, and I had orders to the Third Infantry Division in Wurzburg, Germany, and I just loved Germany and just couldn't wait to get there, but this Vietnam thing came up.  1965 was the big build up, okay, and they came in, and they said, "We want anybody.  If you just, you feel it, you should go.  We need people to go, and we got the units, and we need people to go."  "I'm going," and what's interesting, what I always find interesting is some of those guys who were the big, tough guys in the basic course, they didn't volunteer.  You know what the one guy said?  He was like one of these real macho guys, he was always the best in everything, you know.  He says, "We're going to get in."  He says, "I'm not going there."  He says, "We'll going to get involved in that and we're going to screw it up."  He said that at that the time and everybody said, "Oh, you just don't want to go."  "Nope, we're going to go in there, and we're going to screw it up, and we're going to get run out of there.  That's it."  That's before we were involved, and everybody thought he was a jerk.  He says, you know, "I'm all for the military, ... but I am not going over there because they don't have the right mindset of this thing."

SH:  Interesting.

DS:  Yes, and so, I volunteered, all "gung-ho" for this stuff, and it was quite an experience.  I got off that.  ... I was assigned as a platoon leader, out of this basic course, second lieutenant, green as can be, to a 147 man platoon.  Now, a company usually has like a 140 men.  In a transportation outfit, you have three hundred and some people.  It's a stevedore company, okay.  The stevedore company was the 117th Transportation Company (Terminal Service).  It's huge, and so, I had what they call a beach platoon in this stevedore company, so I just go out there, green from this lousy basic course, and right away, I'm thrown into this, to run this.  ... I had a sergeant there that was like 106 years old, you know, and weighed about 350 pounds, two teeth and dumb as a box of rocks.  ... You're supposed to rely on your NCOs, and I got this guy. ... These guys were nearing the end of their career, but ... Vietnam caught them, so there he was.  I remember, you know, one of my first weeks there ... I used to tell my father stories about this guy by the way.  He loved it.  [laughter] I remember, I went to this platoon, and here's this guy, and they said, "Lieutenant Smith, you have to do the flag-lowering ceremony today."

SH:  Where are you at?

DS:  ... Fort Eustis, Virginia, it's at the same place, well this is where all these, they had so many transportation units there, and they had this huge thing, and this huge unit, and so, "You got the flag-lowering ceremony.  So, you're going to march your people out.  You put on this uniform and this helmet and this kind of scarf, and you go out there, and you do this."  Okay, fine, and we got there we lined up and for once my ROTC thing came in.  One thing they really taught you how to do in the ROTC, if nothing else, was to march, as if that's really going to do you great, but you really learn to march.  I'm sure he's long gone, probably, but anyhow, we marched down there.  I see the sweat just pouring off this guy, he is sweating like a horse.  I go, "This guy is going to collapse," you know, and I say, "Hang in there, just hang in there.  Hang in there.  It's not that far," [laughter] but that was the experience, so he went over.  ... The other sergeants, they were a lot of them, ... there were some that were really good, thank goodness, some of the younger guys.  We had a warrant officer there that was really good, and, you know, they got us through.

SH:  How integrated was this unit?

DS:  Very integrated.  I'll tell you about our transportation unit, okay.  My father, when I went into transportation, he says "Oh."  He says, "You don't want to go there."  He says, "I can tell you all about transportation.  These are some of the dumbest people in the Army," you know, and all of that, and he said, you know, I can say it now, but he said, "They're almost all blacks," because that was the way, you know, in World War II, logistics and quartermaster and all that, were almost all blacks, and that's what I found, see, and that sergeant I mentioned was not.  He was like a redneck.  You know how it is, a redneck guy.  ... The thing is with a stevedore unit you've got these dolts out there, but you have the people that keep the records and all that.  ... There's math involved, there's, you know, competency and everything, these guys are, a lot of them are college graduates.  They'd send them there.  So, you can imagine ... a mix those guys made in the barracks and when we got to Vietnam.  The day we arrived in Vietnam, the one guy shot the other one.  Thank goodness, it just went through his hand.  One guy shot another guy.  ... Thank goodness it wasn't officers.

SH:  At this stage, were there draftees in your unit?

DS:  They were largely draftees, yes.  ... NCO's not, of course.  They were all career.  ...

SH:  Before we get into your first tour in Vietnam, I wanted to ask about the use of drugs and alcohol during your time at Rutgers and later in the Army.

DS:  Alcohol, yes, drugs no--absolutely no.  Rutgers--absolutely no.  I don't remember, other than maybe somebody making some reference somewhere to somebody smoking marijuana, or something but maybe just not even as a reference that he smoked, but that, just as a general reference, that I knew of nobody whatsoever from my days from six years at Rutgers basically, I don't know one person that I knew that was smoking, not one.  Drinking, "holy mannoli," I can tell you drinking, whoa, yes sir.  I saw people in my fraternity that got to their junior year and flunked out, and it was largely because they just were hitting the bottle.  We had a bridge, of all things a bridge contingent in the fraternity.  They would sit there.  You'd go three in the morning, these guys are [drinking].  ... You're going to be gone buddy, and they were gone.  Yes, it was going on and heavy drinking.  I mean, we had a bar downstairs with a keg, with an open keg that was, you know, they'd crack that sucker open, they'd buy those up, we had stuff going on down there.  I mean, I'm telling, you know, Animal House (1978) the movie--no exaggeration at all--no exaggeration at all, not a bit.  I mean, maybe the parade at the end, but that's ridiculous, but in the house, oh, that's typical.  ... We had very few incidents like where, like my sons went up there to Bloomsburg.  Both of them went to Bloomsburg.  ... My other son went up to Columbia after, got a graduate degree from Columbia, but at Bloomsburg, the drinking, they had more, much more regulations than we could ever imagine, you know, when I was here, but the kids would be drunk and throwing up.  You'd go up there as a parent, and you'd see these kids walking across campus throwing up.  There was all sorts of rowdiness.  You'd go up there, and they'd break your car windows and all of that sort of stuff.  ... My son was giving ... a talk on one of the projects he had, and I wanted to hear it, and I walked in there, and this girl just throws up, you know, and it's just drinking, drinking, drinking, drinking, but no controls, and smoking.  Everybody was smoking and doing stuff, you know, and fighting on the campus.  I can't tell you about any fights on this campus all the years I was here, and there were kids that would always be talking about they fought here, and they fought there.  The only time we'd ever have a ruckus with fighting was with Princeton, when we went, they had the Princeton game, and they'd fight with the Princeton students, and there'd be kids with black eyes and skinned knuckles and all of that.  ... They tried to tear the goalpost down at Princeton, and the cops would come out there and try to prevent it, but they'd get it.  ... In every fraternity house, the big thing was to have a piece of a Princeton goalpost.  It was a big thing.

SH:  Did fraternity alumni come back to your house?

DS:  Oh, yes, yes, we had that, and that's still going on.  I'm somewhat active with the alumni of Theta Chi and all of that, but Theta Chi, you know, got canned here, and now they're back, and they're supposed to be doing very well, you know, but years, I don't know how many years it's been now, what seven, eight, nine years, I don't know, they were thrown off campus.  The national abolished them.


SH:  We were talking about some stories here at Rutgers during the break.

DS:  ... Some stories here was the famous mooning incident, which I'm sure if you go back to the records at the Targum, you will find that for probably a week of different stories on it, because there were a lot of comments and so forth about what happened, but what it was, was my freshman year, I guess it was the Leupp dorm which overlooked the dining area, which I understand now is an administrative records building, ... but it was like a, we were referred to it as like a Quonset type building, but that's where the dining hall was at that time, and the dorm was on a little hill and below the hill on the other side of the Quad, as we called it, was what you'd almost call an asphalt-covered path between the dining hall and the dorm, and apparently every year, they invited these high school students from New Jersey, apparently better, you know, better scholars in their various high schools, to come here to Rutgers and look at the campus and so forth, and apparently they still do this from what I've heard, but this was the day, and our dorm had ... all freshmen in there, I believe, and I don't know how it ever happened, but all of these high school students came walking down that path all dressed up nicely and going into the dining hall, and how it started out, I'll never know.  I was not a part of it--I'm proud to say--but a lot of those students in that dorm mooned these high school students as they walked by, and you could imagine the shock there, and talk about the Dean and the President and everybody else getting involved.  I mean, it was a scene right out of Animal House, the movie, and there was a lot of commentary, ... but that happened, and that was amazing.  ... The other thing that had a widespread thing, incident, I would say is when we had the undefeated football team in '62, and Rutgers, I don't know if they'd ever been to a bowl, but somehow it got into the fraternities and the students and everybody in generals idea that we should be going to a bowl and not only a bowl, but the Rose Bowl.  ... Somehow Ozzie Nelson or something was involved in the idea, you know, that he was a graduate, and I'm sure it was all just a vast rumor, but that he was out there, and they were encouraging Rutgers to come to the bowl game, and it was only the administration that was preventing us from going to the bowl, and so, I for once participated in a demonstration as did probably thousands of other Rutgers students, and we marched down George Street, down to the city, down to, right down there toward near the train station, and then, they put up roadblocks and police and the whole business, and it never got violent or anything like that, but it was quite a scene, but things calmed down, and of course, we didn't go to any bowl, much less the Rose Bowl.  We should have.  [laughter] ...

SH:  What was the relationship at the time between New Brunswick and Rutgers University, "town and gown" as they say?

DS:  Well, I would say there was some welcoming from the town, but it was not great, you know.  Some of the stores would put in, "Welcome Rutgers Students."  ... There were certain bars in town and restaurants that catered to Rutgers students, and I noticed some of them still exist, and some still appear to be catering to Rutgers students, but there was not a great welcoming of Rutgers that I recall from the town.  ... I always did a lot downtown, I always got my haircut down there and would go.  There were certain favorite restaurants.  One of the things I remember when it comes to the town is I was here and when I was in graduate school, ... in the end of '63, '64, '65, the beginning of '65, in graduate school.  So, sometime during that period, there was a huge fire in downtown New Brunswick, a huge fire, and it was down across from the train station, and it burned the entire block along there, and I'm sure you can go back to the New Brunswick papers and see this, because it was a big deal, and now, of course, I noticed, coming back here--I haven't been back that much--but George Street is just, there's nothing left from that, and I think that started, because that was just burned out for a long time.  It was unbelievable.

SH:  So you really did see the downtown change a lot from when you went to school here.

DS:  Oh, yes, and of all things, that night I was with some of my friends from graduate school, and we were eating in a Chinese restaurant down there, not far from maybe where the fire started.  ... I think it started in a paint store or something down below there, and we were told in the restaurant, "There's a fire starting down the street," and we could see the smoke.  We got out, and then, we went across, and boy, that fire went like crazy, and I'll never forget, like there was a jewelry store there, and the fire company came in there, and they had these big hoses, and they were hitting those windows and everything where the blaze is, and all those jewels and stuff were there in the window, and they hit that window with those big hoses, and that stuff went flying, all those jewels, yes.

SH:  Was there any looting?

DS:  Well, I didn't see any.  ... If you were just a person, you couldn't get close to there, so if any looting occurred, it would be from our finest, and let's hope none occurred.

SH:  Can you talk about going back and forth between Rutgers and Douglas?  You talked about the mixers at Douglas.

DS:  Yes.

SH:  Did you walk?

DS:  Walk.

SH:  Did you have a car?

DS:  We walked.  Well, later on I got a car.  Graduate school time, I had a car, ... but we walked.  We walked all the way across town.

SH:  How long were your parents at Kilmer during the time you were here at Rutgers?

DS:  ... I'm thinking they were there the whole time.  He was in one job and then, the other, my father.

SH:  He retires from the military in 1963.

DS:  He retires from the military in '63.

SH:  Do they go back then to Middleburg?

DS:  To Middleburg, took over my grandparents' house in Middleburg.  They had both died, and that was where we stayed, and then my dad retired and became a teacher, a math teacher, needless to say, and taught for ... years, and eventually retired from that job.

SH:  How long was your grandmother with you?  She had been with you when you went to Germany.

DS:  In Germany, and she died, we came back in '54 from Germany, and she died, I'm saying in '57.  They got to the other lung.  They took out the one lung, and it went to the other lung and suffered.  ...

SH:  Before we talk about Vietnam, I would like to talk to you about your thesis that you wrote, because you said it was original research on the Hungarians in New Brunswick.  How did you come to the topic?

DS:  ... I'll tell you how that all happened, is like I said, the math thing, you also in geography have a very strong statistical math and physical geography field, and as Dr. Weigend used to say--I think he's still alive by the way--he must be really old, Guido Weigend, G-U-I-D-O W-E-I-G-E-N-D, fantastic guy, but one of the things he would, either you knew, or all the professors knew all the graduate students very well.  I mean we went to their houses.  We socialized.  We had classes in the houses.

SH:  Really?

DS:  Oh, yes, everybody knew everybody, it was just one big happy family.

SH:  Where was the geography department located on campus?

DS:  Geography was, what was the name of the street?  ... The old gym is still there?  Okay, the gym, on that side of the gym, the other side of the gym, what's the street that goes? 

SH:  Sicard goes this way.

DS:  ... It must have been Sicard, because it's the one that goes on the other side of the gym.  ... On Sicard, there were other offices from other departments, yes, but they had an old, as did so many places, ... an old Victorian house that was the geography place, spent many ... hours in the place and working on stuff.  ...

SH:  You were talking about math.

DS:  ... Dr. Weigend said, "David, you're just not getting good in physical geography.  You're just no good.  Just stay out of that."  ... You had to take certain courses.  You had to take field geography.  I did it, and I got an A in it, but I got a little help from some of the other students and all.  I remember one of the things we had to do--crazy stuff.  I mean, we had to go out to ... Buccleuch Park.  It snowed, and whoever was in charge of that physical geography class decided, "We're going to map Buccleuch Park, and we're going to show the different depths of snow throughout the park and how it changes."  So, we spent like two days out there, you know, with poles and everything and mapping, and then, you had to draw this thing.  That was murder, but I did it.  ... I got through it and, yes, but my interest was in cultural and historical, regional geography, economic geography like that, all of that.

SH:  Demographics?

DS:  Yes, all of that stuff, and I've always been interested in ethnic groups and ethnicity and how cities are, and all that kind of stuff.  ... For cultural geography, we had this big paper we had to do.  ... We had two big papers, I had one, and I did one on the Amish and that was rather sophomoric.  I don't think, it wasn't that good, but I still got a very good grade, ... but just as myself I can say, it wasn't that good.  It was undergraduate level, a good undergraduate paper, but it wasn't graduate level.  ... Then, we had to do this major paper, not a thesis, but a major paper.  ... It was for field geography, this was your project.  The project, ... field core, and I forget how many credits they gave, but a lot of credits, and you had to do this.  So what the devil am I going to do?  ... People had these very scientific things.  ... What the dickens am I going to do?  So, I always am a big local color guy.  I learn all about a city and everything, you know, like I mean, I just really know the locations like Greece and everything, I know everything.  Peg can attest to that.  Saigon, I could go to Saigon now, I'm sure it's changed, but I'm sure I could just get in a car and drive and find the different places, because that's just my way, you know, and Peg will say, ... "How do you know this?" and she'll get so mad at me, because I'll just go, and I won't say, how, you know, in directions.  I never ask for directions, but I'll just know how to get there.  It's just a sixth sense, right?  ...

PS:  That's right.  ... If you say so.

DS:  ... I really like knew New Brunswick because I'd lived in Camp Kilmer.  I'd gone to junior high school even down here, and so I was interested in, you know, this is St. Ladislaus Hungarian Church, and this is St. Peter's, and there's this restaurant and that restaurant.  So, what I did is map all the ethnic establishments in New Brunswick, by hand, ... and I'm telling you, Weigend and those professors were so impressed.  I mean, these other people were doing statistics, but they loved my thing.  They loved that.  I mean, I remember Dr. Brush, he just, "Whoa, this is just, oh, wow," and, you know, I had all the stuff, and so, and I remember it was quite an experience, because here's a student, and I'd be down there.  I remember being in some shady areas, [laughter] and I'd be writing this thing, and I remember a guy, "What are you doing?"  ... He was a black guy, you know, and all that, and some of these things.  ... So, I had that.  So then, master's thesis, what am I going to do?  I don't know if somebody even suggested it or I just thought of it.  Let's just expand this, and let's do the Hungarians.  I knew about the Hungarians, I'd seen somewhere that--you probably know--New Brunswick, percentage wise, has the biggest percentage of Hungarians in the United States, percentage wise.

SH:  I have read that.

DS:  ... This started with Johnson & Johnson, and they had rubber factories here.  They had cigar wrapping factories believe it or not here, all of these different things, and they somehow got attached with Hungary.  They would go to Hungary and put up on the trees and in the village squares, "Workers Needed," and they would come here.  So, you had this amazing influx in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries of Hungarians coming in here.  ... Then, of all things, of all places you could select in the United States, where did they select to bring Hungarian refugees in 1956?  Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, and where did they stay most of them?  Right here.  So, I knew about this phenomenon, and so, I decided I was going to write a thesis of it.  ... I've often wondered how many people have taken this out of the library, because it's really raw data.  There's a lot of maps in it and so forth, but pretty much it's raw data, and I went down there to Trenton, spent weeks down there and went through the census figures.  I got all the names, how many times they were repeated, Kovach, 105 times, you know, all this kind of stuff, you know, on and on and on, and I got through that thing, thank God, through my father, because he had just retired.  He had nothing to do.  ... He went down there to Trenton with me and with the old microfiche, and he would write it down, and I'd read it.  Otherwise, I couldn't have got through that.  So, I, in my dedication and the thesis I wrote, I did that, yes.

SH:  An amazing story.

DS:  ... Then I had to go, and then I thought, that's over with.  ... Of all things, the Army sends for a master's degree in Greek Area Studies to the University of Cincinnati, and I have to write a thesis.  I said, "I can't believe this.  I've got to go through this again," and I did.  I wrote a thesis, and I wrote on the disaster in Smyrna, which is now Izmir, of 1922, when Ataturk rose up against the Greeks, ... so I wrote it on that.  ... Basically again, you have to be original, ... so I wrote it on our assistance to the Greeks and to a degree the Armenians.  The Armenians, of course, the ones we think about mostly, but the Greeks were ... profoundly affected by that thing too.

SH:  Were a lot of them transported to this country as well?

DS:  Oh, yes, many, and millions overnight, Greeks poured into Greece proper from Turkey, from Asia Minor, and I mean, there were tent cities over there, ... the Acropolis, and it has affected Greece to this very day.  ... It's called the "Μεγάλη Καταστροφή," which is the Greek for "The Great Catastrophe."  So, when they say, "The Great Catastrophe," they're not talking about 1453 when the Turks took over.  They're talking about 1922, "The Great Catastrophe," because see by law, getting farther afield here, but by international, by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, all Christians had to leave Asia Minor and all Muslims had to leave Greece, with certain exceptions, namely like in Istanbul, which the Greeks called Constantinople, you could stay, and certain other places, certain islands, the Christians could stay, and in Thrace, the Muslims could stay.  So, you cross the Nestos River in Greece, and you right away start seeing minarets.  ... People don't realize it and the Greeks don't talk about it.  They don't want to admit they got any Muslims there.  There's also Muslims on Rhodes, for example, ... but this is because they were not included, those islands.  Rhodes is part of the lower Aegean, Dodecanese Islands, and they were owned by the Italians at that time, so they weren't included.  So, the Muslims got to stay.  Again, the Greeks don't talk about it.  Anyway, we are way off.

SH:  Was your father here at Camp Kilmer when the Hungarians were brought here?

DS:  No, that was '56, no.

SH:  Did you do the same kind of research about Vietnam when you found out that you were going to be sent there?

DS:  To a degree, you know.  I read up on it, I had all these opinions.  ... Even when I was in graduate school, and we first started getting involved in Vietnam, I was very interested in the thing.  You know, the fact that we were getting involved in a military expedition of sorts, and the Tonkin Gulf Incident and all that, I followed that closely, but as far as the culture and history of Vietnam, I didn't really get into it that much, but why I volunteered and all that, I mean, I have, I suppose I can say I have, ... put it in the present tense, but I certainly had a very idealistic notion about things, about the military, about patriotism, and about all that.  Some of that, you know, has become a bit jaded, but at the time, I was really into that, so the idea, and a lot of people shared it, people always talk about it anyway.  [Editor's Note: In early August 1964, the USS Maddox (DD -731) and the USS Turner Joy (DD-951) were involved in a controversial naval attack by North Vietnamese forces in the Gulf of Tonkin.  Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on August 7, 1964, authorizing the President to take retaliatory action against North Vietnam.]  I mean, you talk to the country now, you'd think everybody was anti-Vietnam, and that this was just terrible.  No, go back to '65, go back to when we first, people were behind you one hundred percent.  We were going to go in there and kick butt and save the world from communism and save this country, and that's the general attitude people went with.  ... You can't get that now, you can't find that out.  You tell people now you're a Vietnam vet, and they look at you like, "Whoa."  You know, they don't want to even get into it, they don't ask you anything.  That's the usual reaction I get from anybody on Vietnam, especially on the left, you know, and a good percentage of our friends are, you could say are liberals, but they will never, and you can actually physically see them shudder when you say you were in Vietnam, "get me away from that."  ...

SH:  Do you remember anything about the Civil Rights Movement during this period?  Is this something you are aware of?

DS:  Oh, yes, sure, I kept close abreast of that.  ... I think everybody was.  We were all for Civil Rights, you know.  ... In the North here, I think by and large.  ... I would say, here at Rutgers, I don't remember Rutgers students making comments that much.  Usually that was from an older generation, from our parents' generation, if you heard strong racial comments.  Yes, they had these ingrained attitudes that just they couldn't seem to shake and still can't seem to shake.

SH:  Especially this time of the year, we reflect back on the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and while you were at Rutgers, President Kennedy was assassinated.  What do you remember about those incidents?

DS:  Profoundly both, first of all Martin Luther King, ... I met and talked with Martin Luther King at Peddie.

SH:  Did you really?

DS:  Yes, Peddie, he came to Peddie, spoke in the chapel, and we had a little "round robin" thing.  I think I was in honor social studies or whatever, and we had probably no more than six or seven students in there, and I sat right around the table with Martin Luther King.  I remember shaking his hand, I remember his hand was real soft, yes.

SH:  What was the discussion about?

DS:  About Civil Rights, and I remember my primary impression was that I didn't quite agree with was that, you know, he is all for this passive, and I'm thinking, "You're not going to make it if you're always passive."  I mean, I still believe that.  I'm sorry, but that's the way I am.  You're not going to make it, passive is not going to do it.  I mean, okay, Gandhi wanted passive, but they didn't win because everybody was passive.  ... It's the same thing with Civil Rights.  You've got to butt heads.  That's the way it is.  [laughter]

SH:  What do you remember about Kennedy's election in 1960?

DS:  Alright, I was for Nixon.  ...

SH:  What about on campus?

DS:  ... Well, this is New Brunswick, so there's a lot, I voted here, and so, I would say it was probably more Kennedy, yes, but I went down to George Street and ... saw Kennedy in a campaign rally.

SH:  Did you really?

DS:  Oh, yes, I sure did.  I remember it distinctly, right here in New Brunswick.

SH:  What do you remember about Cuba and the Cuban Missile Crisis? 

DS:  Oh, profoundly remember, you're bringing all these stuff up, I don't think I've discussed all this, profoundly remember, big deal.  I was doing my student teaching in Highland Park during the Cuban Missile Crisis, okay, and it was a big deal.

SH:  Was it?

DS:  We took those students down to the basement for air raid drills.  ... I remember thinking at night, I remember having a nightmare that I repeated.  This is amazing, but it's still there.  When you go into New York City, and you go into the tunnel, you cross around this loop there, and you go down into the tunnel.

SH:  The ramp down?

DS:  Yes, and I don't know how I had this dream, but I had this dream that I'm going around this loop, and they're bombing, because we really thought they were going, that the bombings were going to start.

SH:  Did you really?

DS:  Oh, yes.

SH:  Do you think it was because of your father and the military background and you having been in Germany as a child?

DS:  No, the whole country, I think the whole country was into it.  The whole country I think was profoundly into this.  Do you remember?

PS:  I think so, yes.

DS:  Yes, I really thought that we were going to war, big war, not, big war, and it was going to be here and they were going to bomb us, and the missiles, the big ICBMs, were going to come in.

PS:  The Soviets, yes.

DS:  ... It's hard to get back, but it was there, but I remember my opinions were a little different, of course.  I thought, you know what, and I still think, we should have taken them out.  We had the momentum, but you got to be the President, and you got to realize that if we go to take them, they might launch that thing because Khrushchev was a crazy bastard.  ... You got to think about that, and I think we might have taken them out if it weren't for Bobby Kennedy, you know, and Stevenson.  I think we would have taken them out, because I think Kennedy leaned more to the military, and this is a serious thing, but if we would have taken them out, and we would have been successful, things would have been a lot different, because those buggers are still down there, and we're still having a heck of a time.  ...

SH:  When Kennedy was assassinated, where were you, and what do you remember?

DS:  Oh, I remember it very well, I just remember the moment, as most Americans do believe it or not.  ... It's one of those things like Pearl Harbor.

SH:  You had just graduated from college.

DS:  ... I think it was a '54 car that I had, a Pontiac, and I was driving right over here close to Bartlett Street coming from the around the fraternity, and it came on the radio.  ... I was glued to the television and the radio from then until ... after Oswald was assassinated, killed.  ... Ruby later, I mean I didn't stay long, ... but until after Ruby shot Oswald, and I just was glued as everybody was, everybody was talking about it.  The whole streets, you go to New York City and people were talking about it, and big headlines, the papers, and everybody talking.  It was a big, big thing.  Yes, it just shook the country.  ...

SH:  You have a military obligation at this point, which you were very aware of.  What did you think of Lyndon B. Johnson replacing President Kennedy as the Commander-in-Chief?

DS:  ... It didn't affect me, you know, Johnson, experienced man, has military experience himself.  I didn't think, "Oh, well this is some clown stepping into ... that doesn't know what to do," not at all.  ... Like I said I'm a Republican and all that, but I think Johnson is probably one of the most underrated presidents we've ever had.  Peggy and I went down to Texas, we've made a couple trips to Texas we have friends down there, went out there to the Pedernales Ranch where he's buried, and I just thought back on all that, and all that he's done.  In Austin, they have the University of Texas there.  They have his archives, and I just reflected on all of that.  His accomplishments were immense in the Civil Rights area, in the social area, and he had that one problem of Vietnam, that just killed him, you know, but I don't think that was handled right at all, Vietnam. 

SH:  All of this has taken place and now you are on your way to Vietnam.

DS:  ... I was going to go over there and help save the world.  So that was always [there], just get to the military.

SH:  Where did they send you from Fort Eustis?

DS:  So, Eustis, I'm in this huge company.  They send the whole company, all three hundred and some people, as many other companies, directly to Vietnam, and so that was an experience.  So, here I am, the only officer on this C-130, which is an ... old propeller plane, still around, all the way to Vietnam from Virginia, with all these men, and I'm in charge.

SH:  Where did you land?  Where did you refuel?

DS:  Where we land and refuel?  ... We took off from I think our base down there, near Fort Monroe, there's an airbase down there, ... Langley Airbase, not to be confused with Langley where the CIA is, but Langley Airbase, so we left from there, and we landed.  I know the big stop was in Travis Airbase, California ... and then from Travis we landed in Hawaii, and then, of all things, we land on Wake Island.  ... We stay on Wake Island because the plane had a mechanical malfunction.  ... Here I am with all these guys on Wake Island, I don't think I'll ever go back to Wake Island, but that is a place like you can't believe.  It is just this postage stamp in the middle of the Pacific, and if you ever want to be conscious of being on just a little piece of land with just the ocean, just everywhere, just pounding, pounding, and you're there.  That's what it is, you know, and I got so interested in my little stay on Wake Island overnight there and all, that one of the first things I did in my spare time, I went to the library there in the base, the military library, and checked out a book, Wake Island Command (1961) and studied the whole thing about the battle for Wake Island.  ... Of all things, some guy ran off on Wake Island.  I don't think he really meant to run off.  ... Anyway, he wandered off, but we had to search all over the island for him.  I'm riding around on this jeep, and we found the guy, out there just a beach and a bunch of mangroves or whatever they that grow out there and got this guy and put him back on the plane, and we went back.  ...

SH:  Was he trying to go AWOL?

DS:  ... Probably not, I don't know he might have had some sort of misgivings, but that'd be a hell of place to go AWOL.  [laughter] That would not last, that would have to be, end badly.  So, we landed again on Okinawa, and then we went to Qui Nhon, Vietnam.

SH:  That is where you landed.

DS:  Qui Nhon, yes, so the whole platoon was there, the whole company.  ...

SH:  Had your trucks arrived?  What do you do to stay busy?

DS:  ... The trucks have not yet arrived, but we still can go to work, because we have, there's forklifts and everything, they were ready for us, so we unloaded stuff from the beach, and that's my incident with the ladder.  ... We off loaded the Air Cavalry Division, the First Air Cav, and like I said, I went over there so idealistic.  I can tell you about my first day in Vietnam.  It was just so interesting.  I mean, you get off the plane, and they had us encamped with pup tents and whatever tents we had, they had some squad size tents in the middle of town, and what I found out later was where the Qui Nhon residents used to go to the toilet, and the place, it was just awful, and I remember being there the first day, and I looked over, and I saw this Vietnamese guy, and he's lifting rocks from one place to another.  Why, I don't know, but it was the thing like you see in National Geographic with the pole and the two pans on the other side of the pole, and right away I'm thinking, "He's doing that for hours, if the guy had a wheelbarrow, it would take him two loads," [laughter] but that was one of my first impressions.  So, I learned quickly, you know, about the Army and about things, and my idealism was shattered before you knew it.

SH:  Really?

DS:  Yes, and my lack of training and everything was just shattered, especially my idealism.  ... I learned about careerism and all of that from day one, because they told us, "We have this perimeter here and we're expanding the beach.  Your job, Lieutenant, is take your platoon and take the barbed wire, build new bunkers, and expand this, and we understand that the Viet Cong are, there's a regiment on the way," or something like that.  So, that never happened, but thank God, but I went out there to do this, and we worked till late at night and all of that, and I had these men, and they're moving this, August '65.  ... I'm just there, fresh, okay, and we had these platoon leaders, and the one guy was already, he was only a first lieutenant at the time, but he was soon to be a captain, and he was on his way, and he was one of these guys, he wasn't there just with all his ROTC "weenies" and OCS weenies, he was there to make time.  ... He was, first day, when he came off the plane and everything, and of course, you're exhausted and everything, and he's telling you what you're going to do, what you're going to wear, and what we're going to do and, "blah, blah, blah."  ... I had these guys working out there, and working and working and working, and we expanded this barbed wire, and we got everything done, and some lieutenant colonel or major came with another captain or whatever, drives up in his jeep, and he says, "Good job here, Lieutenant," he says, "You got all this done."  He said, "You guys, of course, all have gloves and everything with this barbed wire?"  I said, "No sir, we don't."  So, this guy's name, I mean, this guy, I won't give his name on this one, but he's standing there, and he's just there with this colonel, see, and I just look at his face, and he gets me later.  He comes up to me, he goes, "Don't you ever tell them any negative information again.  My career in 'blah, blah, blah.'  You're giving him bad information.  That could reflect badly on me, and badly on you and badly on the company and 'blah, blah, blah, blah.'"  I was supposed to say, "Oh, yes, we had gloves," but I ran into that for the next twenty-eight years in the military, of those type of people.

SH:  How do you fix that situation?

DS:  I don't know, I'm sure it still exists, but think it was worse in Vietnam than it is now, I think.  No, I don't know about that, because Matthew, boy, ... his Iraq thing, he had a colonel there that was the biggest, you know.  It's the old story, the Army got rid of the horses years ago, but they never got rid of the horse's asses, you know, and the thing is my father's ilk, and so many other people, especially with the Marine Corps people that I know.  They'll never say that, but I'll say that, and lots of Army officers will say it, because the Army is different.  There's a lot of people that say that and that's a problem.  Unless you keep doing that, the Army is, you know, because you always have these people, and this is just a token example of that.  ...

SH:  That was your first week?

DS:  That's my first day, yes, maybe, yes, first day essentially, and, of course, people, of course, that was the story of Vietnam about, you know, the body counts and the "BS" briefings, and we're doing this, and we're doing that, we're doing fine, and they just kept that up, kept it up, and kept it up.

SH:  Did you stay at Qui Nhon for your first tour?

DS:  No, trucks came.  ... Thank goodness.  I wouldn't have wanted to stay in Qui Nhon.  It was a crappy place. 

SH:  No pun intended.

DS:  [laughter] Very good, very good.  They took us on a ship from Qui Nhon.  Now, this is an interesting story.  You talk about like things coming around full circle.  The ship we rode on to go from Qui Nhon to Vung Tau, which is off down below Saigon, Vung Tau, was the Rose.  Why is that significant?  The ship that I came back with my mother and father from Germany on, in like, what, '54, was the Rose.  Wow, so, that was amazing, that's amazing.

SH:  Had you gotten over your seasickness by now?

DS:  It wasn't bad going, you know, it was a big ship just right along the coast.  We didn't have any problem at all, I remember, but it was not too good on the going out to those big ships, but it was a rather short trip, so I was able to keep it in, but I wasn't ready for that ladder.  [laughter]

SH:  You made it.

DS:  Arriving in Vung Tau, I'll never forget that.  The captain we had, ... he's probably still alive.  ... He was one of these guys, he was too much "hands-on."  He's the captain, he's the head of this company.  You don't get down there, you're directing the operation.  You're not down there doing it, but he loved that, and he used to do the same thing in Fort Eustis, he did the same thing.  We'd load a plane going somewhere, we'd have that job, and he'd get on there.  He'd push the thing, get right down there instead of directing the thing.  I'll never forget getting in there to Vung Tau, and we have to move the stuff onto the shore, including all the personal stuff for guys.  So, you have these duffle bags.  The last thing in the world is he should be down in that little boat catching duffle bags.  He's the captain of like almost a four hundred-man company, and he's down there catching duffle bags.  A guy tosses a duffle bag, and there's a helmet in a duffle bag, "ka-whum-ba."

SH:  Did the duffle bag knock him out?

DS:  Well, he was hurt.  I remember he had a good welt ... on there.  ... He was like that all the time.  So, we go to Vung Tau, and then, little did I know that my career would be involved in Vung Tau later, but all Vung Tau was, ... they put us then on planes, personnel wise, and we went to Saigon to Tan Son Nhut airport, and they put us in Tent Camp B.  Well, that was the end really of the company, the 117th Transportation Company (Terminal Service).  In a way, that was the end of it, because what they did then is they just took the company and they just divided it into tasks.  So, what did it mean to be the company commander of the 117th, when you had these guys delivering cargo to this place, you have these guys doing that, and they'd say, "Dave Smith, you go down to the port of Saigon, and you got three warehouses you're in charge of."  So, that's what I did.  Now, what is a company commander going to know about what I'm doing?  He's writing my efficiency report and all that, but what's he possibly going to know?  He can't know anything, ... and of course this again was something I saw throughout my career.  I have guys who were writing your efficiency report until you're a colonel, and you'd have a guy writing your efficiency report, he wouldn't know you from Adam.

SH:  He did not even come down to see what you were doing?

DS:  No, he was assigned through the setup on what his position in the hierarchy to write your efficiency report, and he wrote it whether he knew you or not, and he depended on somebody else to give you your information, the information, and this happens all the time.  It happens to this day, it happens with my son in the National Guard.  It's the same thing, it's the same thing.  The guy that's writing your report might not know a darn thing about you, right.  It's just unbelievable.  Peg heard about this forever.  It would drive you crazy but the Army wants to deny this, "No, no, no, you're really being evaluated."  You're not really being evaluated, the guy didn't even know you.  Plus then as I found later in my career, is later in my career as an intelligence and then staff officer, you're not even working for an Army guy.  You're working for an Air Force guy, or a Navy guy, or a Marine, and he has no idea of the Army system of efficiency reports, he doesn't have the foggiest idea.  He's got the Navy system, that's all he knows, and he's supposed to write you a report.  Now, how does anybody succeed?  ... You have the wrong guy succeed, and the right guys not succeed.  I saw this time and time again.  You have some of the biggest clowns get to be three-star generals or whatever, and some of the most efficient people, retire as majors, lieutenant colonels, or colonels.  ... It's just on and on and on and on, and it's only like through politics that you get saved on this thing.  I'm getting further afield, but I think this is important.  Colin Powell is a good example.  Colin Powell was a very great officer, efficient person.  ... I think he's outstanding person, should have been President okay, but he went up through the ranks, he would have been just another officer, but he got on the staff there at the White House and they loved him.  ... He got great reports, and he moved up ahead.  He went out, then he had to do the progress of the Army.  He went as assistant division commander.  You read his book, and this is all in there.  He went there as assistant commander out there to Fort Carson, Colorado.  He had some ass as the commanding general, he didn't care who Colin Powell was.  He wrote him a crappy report that me or most generals would be destroyed by it.  ... You couldn't do anything after that, but he was Colin Powell.  The President knew him.  ... They take that report, and they put it aside, see, but that just shows you how, unless you've got the hook or you've been extremely lucky, you know.  ... If the Army read my interview now, I mean, a good percentage of the Army, especially those people, ... "Oh, no, no, no, Army is great.  Army is wonderful.  You know, every bit of the right people get."  Well, of course, you have the same thing in business and everything else but it's certainly true in the Army and it was a very frustrating thing, because you always had to play this efficiency report game, always had to.

SH:  Did your father ever say anything about this?

DS:  Never, never, never and as a result, if he probably had stuck his nose out, he would have got that permanent colonelcy, might have even been a general.  A lot of his classmates were, but he was always, "This is right."  ... So many generals, four-star generals, in his class.  ... He's a full colonel, you know, but he didn't make that personal, the permanent colonelcy was always just like a shame to him, and to my mother and all that, oh, terrible.

SH:  He had high expectations, especially coming out of West Point.

DS:  Sure.  ... These people really dwelt on that.  My godfather was his classmate, and we were very close to my godparents, and he made general during the war, but it was temporary general, see.  He was in the Pacific, and temporarily, ... immediately put him down to colonel again, okay, but he was assigned to the Pentagon and everything.  He was surely going to be a general, but they sent him to be the head of the military advisory group in Libya, and I almost went over and visited him as a kid, as a teenage kid, I remember, and they just never got over that he didn't make general.  ... My godmother, she was ninety years old, or close to it, and she would still just go on and on and on that he was ruined by the ambassador in Libya, see, but that's how careerist and important they were, you know, on that kind of stuff, but again, it was just, all it took was that one.  ... I think that's the tragedy of the military is you should be able to make a mistake.  You should be able to get some guy that doesn't understand the system and writes you a bad report.  You should have been able to do it like Colin Powell, and get that reversed, and have somebody help you out.  It shouldn't be a one time and you're out system.  That's wrong, that is wrong.

SH:  What is the saying, if you do not make mistakes you cannot learn from them?

DS:  Exactly, and that's the truth, and the military doesn't buy that.  You can make mistakes, but don't get them reported, don't get them on the efficiency report [or] you're done.

SH:  This almost explains some of the paranoia of this captain that you had to work under when you first arrived in Vietnam.

DS:  Yes.  Oh, he was mild compared to other ones.  That was nothing, he was nothing.  He was a good guy compared to later experiences, but I mean, if they heard what I'm saying now in the hierarchy in the Army now, especially those people who work in the personnel section, they'd say, "This guy is a sorehead, I'm a sorehead."  No, I'm not a sorehead, I love the Army, love the career, but they got huge problems in this type of thing, huge problems.

SH:  In Vietnam, you are now working in Saigon.

DS:  Yes, Saigon in Tent Camp B, I think it was.  ... Then I'm working with these three warehouses which had been run by the Navy.  I got there in August of '65 and that was the big, big buildup.  Before that, the people in charge pretty much in Saigon, it was the Navy.  Navy ran everything, and I replaced a Navy lieutenant--which is an Army captain, of course--that had these three warehouses and that was an experience.  They're all experiences.  [laughter] It's just unbelievable, bringing the stuff back, I never even talk about it.  ... It just was unreal.  I mean, you had these warehouses filling up with stuff and all sorts of inefficiencies, and you just got to see everything, and you had a lot of Vietnamese working there, and the stuff you saw.  I mean, the Vietnamese, like they'd go to the toilet and stuff off the side of the river, and they'd fall in the river, and, oh my gosh.  ... The thing is with, you know, again, covering up.  It was one of the first things I saw was these vehicles, you always wanted to show everything is going fine, everything.  The general comes around, ... "We moved this much cargo, we did this, this."  You didn't show them anything bad, but they went to the extent that even, they had deadline vehicles.  You didn't want to deadline vehicles, right.  They'd hide them.  They would take cargo and put it around the vehicles, load boxes and inside these loaded boxes would be deadline vehicles.

SH:  Deadline meaning the vehicle did not run.

DS:  Yes, yes.  So, I mean, and things like that all the time.

SH:  Was there trouble with the "black market?"


DS:  Oh, yes, huge, huge, huge to get to the bottom of that, forget it, you know.  I mean, how could you?  You know what I mean?  ... I'm sure things were disappearing in a massive quantity, but even the military would steal from themselves.  I mean, I can tell you all kinds of stories about that.  ... You'd go in a convoy--this is later when I was with the trucks--I mean, you've got to watch your jeeps.  You'd have somebody from the infantry unit come in, put some mud on the vehicle, and run off with that jeep to use for their unit.  They weren't trying to steal it or anything.  ... They just want an extra one.  ... "These transportation weenies, they got everything they need anyhow.  They get everything, ride everywhere, and they get anything they need to eat, you know.  Take their jeep, we need a jeep.  We need a truck.  We need whatever."

SH:  How long were you in charge of the warehouses?

DS:  Okay, that's really interesting, because, let's see, I wasn't there more than I would say three months.  I would say for about three months.  ... Then, what happened was profound.  ... All these units came over at the same time, or like three, four, ... but there had been some that had come like three, four, five months before we did, including the 120th Transportation Company (Light Truck), okay.  The 120th Transportation Company (Light Truck), from my understanding, was the first truck company in Vietnam.  Okay, it comes out that they want to have, they don't want all lieutenants and all captains from a unit leaving Vietnam at the same time.  So there's a mass reshuffle of officers, and I get the orders, "You are to report to the 120th Transportation (Light Truck)," and so off I go.  ... What's this going to entail?  [laughter]

SH:  Did anybody tell you what you would be doing?

DS:  ... Nobody knew.  Well, off I go and the place was called Camp Red Ball, and it was from the Red Ball Express in World War II.  ... We were located out by Tan Son Nhut again, but just a separate compound, very interesting, and they gave me a platoon of trucks and there I go.  So, we had this captain there.  I think the guy just had made captain and he was in charge.  He was a good guy and these other lieutenants, and we lived in what we call hooches out there.  You've probably maybe have heard that term before, little wooden things.  ... They had roofs, yes, roofs, and I got in there, and they combined me with another lieutenant who was a complete ass.  Just to give you an example, the USO and whatever, they sent books for the troops, he'd take them all.  He took them all, kept them in his hooch in a footlocker.  I mean, that's the kind of guy he was, all right, complete ass.  ...

SH:  It was not like he read them and then shared them.

DS:  No, no, no, he just kept them.  He thought it would be good to have, he did all kinds of asinine stuff.  Plus, he just endeared me immediately, you know.  I was so idealistic and everything, his term for the Vietnamese was always, "Slopes," "Slopes" and "Slopeheads."  That was the first time I met him, "Slopes, Slopeheads," and I just found that so repulsive, you know, because I had gone there for different reasons, and, you know, I just, I've always had a good view of them, and I still have a good view of the Vietnamese.  You know, the bad guys, I'd shoot them, but the Vietnamese, I like them.  They had their problems in their lives.  They've had a hell of a history, ... one person or another person occupied them, and so anyhow, I didn't get along with that guy, but I did my thing.  ... I had some exciting times there, including this ambush that is in there.

SH:  Could you talk about what the daily routine was like?

DS:  The daily routine is we had routine trips down to the port and out to other logistical bases carrying everything from ammunition to barbed wire to defoliant.  Now, that's an interesting point too.  I didn't know what Agent Orange was and all that stuff, but I distinctly remember down there at that port, walking through with defoliant on my boots.  I should have lung cancer and bladder cancer and everything else.  ... I'm on the Agent Orange registry because everybody that was exposed they, you're on there, but thank God, for genetics or whatever, I haven't gotten anything.

SH:  It did not affect your children.

DS:  No.  The cystic fibrosis thing--one of my grandsons has cystic fibrosis--has nothing to do except that's in our genes from a thousand years or more, you know, ... unbeknownst to us, you know, but at any rate, so yes, we had this defoliant like I say.  So, that was an experience, but we did all these routine convoys, but then, they had this huge thing toward the Cambodian border, and we went into the, took the, we had two big convoys that I remember that were huge.  One, when the Twenty-Fifth Division came; we were in their big incursion to carry supplies into their base, just establish it.  Now, if you go to Vietnam now, the big tourist site is Cu Chi where they went.  Cu Chi, that's where the tunnels were.  They have these extensive tunnels.  They built their headquarters and everything right on top of these tunnels.  ... I go in there, Second Lieutenant, and I too was with the convoy, and I remember that convoy.  One of the things I remember about it is we were getting screwed up on the road, and I see this guy, he's in the road there, and he's kind of holding things up, and he's standing like this, and I came over to him, and I said, "What the hell is going on here?"  Turns around, it's a general.  [laughter] ... He just kind of laughed, so, but we went in there to this Cu Chi, and we went in right into the main encampment there, where the Twenty-Fifth Division was going to be, and all of a sudden, "Boom, boom, boom," and right there where we're unloading, they took those howitzers, ... right from the base area, and they just started cranking the rounds out ... and before long one of these Skyraider planes came--they were propeller planes--and they spotted these guys that were firing, and they just hit them with napalm, and it wasn't that far ... but they hit them with napalm.  ... I've had some experiences like that, and of course, one of the big things there that just bothers the hell out me, I mean, it just convinced me the whole medal system in the Army is so profoundly screwed up, because I was transportation, and nobody knew what the hell you were doing and nobody cared.  ... The infantry guys were there, and rightfully so, they're out on patrols and doing the fighting, but these transportation, what do they care?  So, you left Vietnam with nothing, unless you're in the headquarters.  Then, you probably got a row of medals like you cannot believe.  ... You got covered, and the closer you were to the flagpole the more medals you got, you know, unless you were out there really in the boonies with the infantry, and rightfully so, they should have gotten this stuff, but guys like my platoon didn't get squat, you know, never recognized for what we did.

SH:  Talk about the ambush that you mentioned before.

DS:  ... We had this Parrot's Beak they called it, an incursion towards Cambodia.  ... We were again one of the main convoys, and it was my platoon again.  ... Off we went, and the company commander wasn't there, nobody else, and I'd been on so many convoys before, but there was something peculiar about this one.  For one thing, the kids in the village and stuff, they'd all come running out, and they'd say, one of the big thing was cigarettes, "Salem, Salem."  They'd smoke Salem cigarettes; they loved Salem cigarettes, and still to this day, where there's a Vietnamese community, they're big, huge in Falls Church and the area and still the Vietnamese stores, I notice they got Salem cigarettes, but they would say, "Salem, Salem," and these kids, "Salem, Salem, Salem."  Well, I was affected by the fact that I didn't see anybody hollering, "Salem, Salem."  I didn't see people coming out trying to sell you Cokes or anything like that; there was just something about it, and then we slowed down, and I looked on the ground, there was all these leaflets on the ground, and the leaflets were, and I still, I saved them.  I'm going to get those sometime and turn them over to a museum or something, and they were like you know, "You dirty GI," you know, "We're going to win.  We will kill you.  Go home to America," you know all this kind of stuff, you know, "Long live the revolution," you know, the typical, typical stuff.  Printed very crude, but printed, they were printing down there in the tunnels.  [laughter] So, I said, "Boy, this is something," you know.  I grabbed a bunch of them, put them in my pocket.  ... The quiet continued, and then, all of a sudden, "Ba-wom-ba," ... wow, I mean, they really were hitting.  ... The dust and the dirt and just everything, and I'm in the road and nothing I could do.  ... You just hoped that things would start moving again, ... what they trained you, one thing they did, "Get moving," you know, but you're in the convoy, you can't get moving, so we were there, and the shooting continued and continued, you know, and you could see these rows of hooches, Vietnamese hooches out there, couldn't see any people.  So these tanks, thank goodness, just came in there and swept up, and, you know, they have these rice paddies, and, you know, they went up on the rice paddy, and they just started cutting loose with those ninety- millimeters, and they just hit those hooches and I'd never seen that.  I mean, they'd hit a hooch, and "boom" it would go up ... and "boom" because, you know, they had to stop this thing, you know, and then, the helicopter comes, Cobra helicopter, that sucker comes right over us, right over, and I'm saying it wasn't one hundred yards.  I don't think it was even, not even that close to two hundred yards, less than two hundred yards, that thing comes like this, and those rockets, you know, coming out of the helicopter and all of a sudden the helicopter goes, "boom," on the ground, but didn't explode, and the guys run out of the helicopter, and it just stayed down there, you know, ... but it was down, it was down, and the guys ran out, and so then, things break and off we go, and we got up the road a little bit, and I see all these bodies, Viet Cong, black pajamas, just along the road.  So, that was the biggest one I had, but I had others.  The ambush took place near the village of Go Dau Ha.  The event was covered in a June 15, 1966 article on page twenty-eight of the Pacific edition of the Army Times.  I was interviewed for the article and quoted--actually misquoted--extensively.  I have left a copy of the article with the Rutgers Oral History Archives.

SH:  Who had taken out the enemy so that your convoy could move?

DS:  The tanks and the helicopter.  ... The rockets, yes, they stopped that.

SH:  When you are in convoy like that, what kind of protection did you have?

DS:  Pretty good there, you know.  We had those tanks, and you had guys in APCs and tanks.  ...

SH:  Were they part of your convoy?

DS:  Well, the helicopter, probably the helicopter was also part of it.  ... It was a huge convoy, so probably they had helicopters designed to just keep going, you know, along the route, and then, when something happened, they'd go.

SH:  Convoys seem to be especially vulnerable in Vietnam because they have to use existing roads.

DS:  Oh, yes, sure.  ... The guy that took the platoon over after me, ... he was severely wounded.  ... We took another one up to the, I remember the first time that a big convoy went up to, was wherever the First Infantry Division was located, and I remember, it was the first time I really went up on a big one.  I remember, they told me they have never, never gone up there that they weren't hit, and I remember the night before, I didn't think much about dying.  ... That was just kind of crazy, I never thought about it much, they weren't going to get me.  ... I don't know why.  I just never thought that they were going to get me and I didn't think twice about it.

SH:  Did that mindset ever change?

DS:  It changed in Greece.  ...

SH:  Do you think that is because you had family at that point?

DS:  Yes, well, my second tour was ... much different than my first because I had family, but I was an adviser.  ... I had that crazy macho stuff as a second lieutenant going over on this tour.  ... I welcomed being involved in that kind of stuff, you know.  Somehow, they weren't going to get me.  I don't think I really thought that they weren't going to get me, but I didn't think that they were, you know. 

SH:  When you take these convoys to their destination, what do you do after?

DS:  Go back.  Sometimes we take, I mean, one time it was very interesting, we took.  They had gone into an area, and they had raided a Viet Cong area, found a huge storage depot for the Viet Cong, with peanuts, and I remember, we took truckloads of peanuts back.  That was cool.  ... Going back to this First Infantry thing, like I remember that convoy, it poured rain like you cannot believe, and there I am in this open jeep, and I mean, you couldn't be, you were just one drop of water, you know.  You're just soaked through and through, and I got in there, and even in the heat like that, you're cold, when it gets in the evening, and I remember being so damned cold, you know.  I got in there, and I was so tired and so cold and getting in there, and they had a bunk there, you know, just a canvas bunk, and I fell back, and I had a cold beer, and I'm telling you, that is the best beer I ever had in my life.  I'll never have a beer ever like that one.  ...

SH:  What would you be armed with personally?

DS:  ... We had this machinegun on the jeep that I didn't know how to work.  I had a grenade I'd carry, I thought that was cool, and I should have brought that picture, I have one with a grenade, with a helmet, and all that.  ... I had a grenade launcher, short grenade launcher and an M14, so we had a lot of stuff, but I didn't shoot it.  I also carried the standard 1911 model .45 caliber sidearm.  As an adviser to the Vietnamese, I had an M1 carbine.  One time on a small convoy, a man with a water buffalo suddenly cross the road in front of my jeep.  It seemed really suspicious.  I raised my weapon, and shouted and waved for him to get moving.  When we got hot on convoys, my job was to keep us moving and out of there.  The infantry, the tanks, aircraft, helicopters, and APC's took care of the enemy.

SH:  Did you have a driver?

DS:  I had a driver, yes.

SH:  It was just the two of you.

DS:  Yes, at that stage, I was the platoon leader, so my driver was a sergeant, you know, as I recall most of the time, you know.  We just kind of conversed and all that and get things organized.  ... By and large, those sergeants were pretty good.  ... This is where we had this very good warrant officer that handled our motor pool.  The company commander was a good guy, but I don't recall him ever going out on these convoys.  He wrote me a great efficiency report and all that, ... but then he went back to the States, and I'll tell you about that.  ... I was there ... at Camp Red Ball, and then, lo and behold, I get orders from the company commander from the battalion on down.  They're going to detach a platoon and send it down to Vung Tau.  Guess who?  ... We went from Camp Red Ball with the platoon to Vung Tau by truck.  I don't know if this had been done before or what, but it was with the Australians, the Prince of Wales, something or other, and we had this briefing, and we're going through this thing, and we may get hit really big time, and what are we going to do?  Well, we have howitzers on the convoy that we're taking down there.  We would just turn the convoy, the howitzers around on the road, and they discuss this.  "We'll turn the howitzers around and just start shooting, if they come, you know, come get us.  It's a really big convoy, and we don't know what's going to happen," and, you know, a lot of these were administrative vehicles that weren't equipped, they didn't have jeeps built the way they do now.  ... They didn't have Humvees.  You had these old M38 Jeeps, and we used to put sandbags on the floor, that was what we did to hope that the mines wouldn't get you, ... not great protection, you know, you were just a sitting duck.  It was just the luck of the draw that you survived, that's all, that's all it was.  ... Somehow, we made it, we made it, and we got down there.  ...

SH:  The convoy did not get fired upon?

DS:  That whole big convoy, ... that whole big one going to Vung Tau, and we made it, and we got in there.

SH:  I am a little ignorant to this, but was it feasible to turn around the howitzers in case you were attacked?

DS:  ... You could detach them, you know, and get them around somehow.  They were discussing this, and I don't know that much about artillery, but I think you could.  ... You'd have to wheel them off maybe a bit, get it all set up, you wouldn't have time to do that probably.  Yes, I mean you'd be dead before you could, but it was an idea, and, you know, Australians, British, are just stiff upper lip.  ...

SH:  Were these the only allied troops that you encountered during your first tour?

DS:   No, no, this gets good.  They sent me to Vung Tau ... with just my platoon.  I am totally divorced from the 120th, I am totally divorced from our battalion.  I'm not only that, I'm totally divorced from the transportation group which is the huge overall thing.  I'm just Dave Smith down in Vung Tau with a platoon.  That's it.  ... You were just "ash and trash" as far as they're concerned.

SH:  What are you supposed to be doing?

DS:  What am I doing?  I am supporting the Australians, the New Zealanders, and the 173rd Airborne Brigade, carrying artillery ammunition out to the jungle, I mean, way into just horrible places.  I mean, you can't believe it.  I should have brought that picture, yes.  I mean, I remember getting out on a jeep one time and just backing a little bit towards the jungle and all of a sudden, "Ya!"  I'm just crawling with these ants, and I mean, they just tore you apart.  ... This was back when we went over to the Parrot's Beak, but I remember sitting in the jeep, looked over there, "that grass is moving."  "What's going on, lieutenant?"  ... There is a python there, like I mean, that sucker was fifteen feet long, I think, you know, big around like that, you know.  I thought it was kind of neat, you know.

SH:  Well, of course.

DS:  Yes, yes.  ... I'm down there, and I'm supporting, and these people were hostile, I mean really, down there.  I mean, they had a logistical command down there that ran Vung Tau.  It was overall, and these guys on the staff, they wouldn't go out on a convoy, more than the man on the moon.  These guys were a bunch of clowns, and I had to run these damned, these convoys.  We ran those things out there and we got a big hit again.  ... For a transportation unit, I'd say this is a rather major thing because we were at night and had to take this ammunition down there for the Australians, and we just got hit at night, and you could just, I mean, it was so, you just saw those flashes from the tracers just coming from the wood line, just fire, "Boom, boom, boom."  I don't think that many guys, none of our guys got hit, but some of the infantry guys got killed or hit.  How many, I don't know. 

SH:  How often would you go out at night?

DS:  ... We had other night time things, but that was the first, the only night time I had down there.  ... Why, I can't remember just exactly why.  I think we actually had troop support, some of the trucks.  I think there were some troops on the trucks, but it was at night there, and so, had that one.  ... You talk about like nighttime things and, you know, adventures in combat type things.  ... The road, the big highway, out to Bien Hoa, and then there was this huge base of Long Binh.  You might have heard of that, okay.  Long Binh is actually where the transportation, the 48th Group, and the Eleventh Transportation Battalion, I think they were located there, and that's when I was back with the 120th, but I would be on missions of various sorts to go out on that highway.  ... One night, somebody began shooting, the tracer that a sergeant and I saw was from here to you.  We're moving like this, and the tracer goes like that.  ...

SH:  Right across the front of the jeep. 

DS:  Yes, and so a tracer is out of how many rounds, so how many went by, you know.  So, we go down the road on the same night, and I see this disabled Vietnamese Army truck and a guy is lying on the road, okay.  So you don't know who this guy really is, but, you know, I'm Dave Smith at the time.  ... I said, "I'm not going to let that guy lie there."  So, I tell the sergeant, ... I said, "I'm going to get him," and the sergeant, "Oh, don't go."  ... "I'm going to get him."  So, I went back, the guy's bloody, ... just carried him up, Vietnamese guy, put him in the back of the jeep, and he's Vietnamese.  I said, "I don't care if he's Vietnamese or Vietnamese Army," and I said, "Sergeant, we're going to the hospital."  So, we went to Bien Hoa Hospital, an Army hospital, and US Army took the Vietnamese guy, and I said, "Here, you take him."  They took him.  He's Vietnamese, but, you know, so that's that, but again, these are the things you do.  I'm sure the guy was an ARVN (Army of Vietnam) soldier.  He had a uniform and was near other ARVN soldiers, as well as the ARVN truck.  He was badly hurt, and I hope he survived.

SH:  Did you have any other interaction with the South Vietnamese Army?

DS:  Very, very extensive, the next tour, which we're not even there yet.  [laughter] ... Things like that, you know, and so, you know, like I said, I knew Saigon like the palm of my hand, and I remember a guy--also, I saw a guy, just in a routine automobile accident one time, and I took him, I took a guy, a Vietnamese, you know, you're not going to get an ambulance there in Vietnam, you know, or anything, so I put him in the jeep, just a routine thing, and I took him to the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, and from that day, they took him, and they were so nice, and from that day, I have respect for Seventh Day Adventists, you know, because they were really operating there, and I remember they were just so busy, ... there were bloody sheets all over, and it was just a mess, you know, and so, whenever I see Seventh Day Adventists, you know.  ... It's funny how these things ... change your life, ... your thought process in life.  ... You don't really think about something like that.

SH:  How was it being attached to New Zealanders? 

DS:  Well, we were supported.  ... I was in a sub-area command.

SH:  Did you have any interactions with them?

DS:  Oh, a lot of interaction with them, but, you know, they just were kind of like get the job, you know, we got this guy out there, get the job done, you know.

SH:  Did you have an Officers' Club that you could socialize in?

DS:  There was one there.  ... There was one in Vung Tau.

SH:  Was that for just US officers?

DS:  No, no any Allied, yes, they did.  I roomed with a guy that's in charge of the Officers' Club, and he got caught up having some kind of money thing.  I don't think it was his fault at all, but you know, things were, and they kept him there longer.  ... He was a good guy, Puerto Rican guy, officer, and the Puerto Rican guy, he liked cockfights, so we went to cockfights, Vietnamese cockfights, all these screaming Vietnamese there and everything, but see that's the difference with Vietnam, like I would walk around Saigon or I'd walk around Vung Tau.  I never worried about anybody shooting me there.  ... I don't think about it.

SH:  Really?

DS:  Yes, no, no, no, you just talk with them, buy stuff whatever.  They were friendly, you know, and all that.  You'd be there with these, I mean, these guys were really peasants, the cockfight people, and, you know, I would be in with these screaming Vietnamese all around me and there were cockfights.  ... With my son in Iraq, I mean, you couldn't do anything, you couldn't.  You walk outside the compound, and, you know, they don't like you, and you're always at risk, but the Vietnamese were different.  They had organized military units, the communists and the South Vietnamese, and they were going to fight, you know.  Of course, you had some terrorists, but you had terrorism, but I got the feeling terrorism was very planned.  Okay, we're going to blow up the floating restaurant, or we're going to blow up this BOQ, or we're going to do this, and then, you had the Tet Offensive, but it was like, you know, order of battle you have in the Army, in the military, you had an order of battle for the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, this is the such and such regiment, the such and such company, the such and such of this, Viet Cong or North Vietnamese unit.  ... We were probably way too much involved in getting with the Vietnamese and securing this and securing that, because my own view--is the same thing with Iraq and Afghanistan--is you can only go so far on that.  These people are Iraqis or these people are Afghanis, and these people are Vietnamese.  You as an American you'll never really going to understand that, get with it, unless, you know, and I think the American Army and military is made to fight one unit against the other.  Of course, you have to get involved in the other things with special forces and all of that business and civil affairs and all of that stuff, but to win a war on something like that, I don't think so.  You're not going to take a country boy, or some black from the slums down here and make him an adviser to the Vietnamese to be successful.  He doesn't understand what's going on, and he's never going to understand what's going on.  He probably doesn't speak the language.  ...


SH:  Thank you, we just had a short break for lunch.  Now, we will continue with your first tour in Vietnam.

DS:  ... Let me just say a little more about the Vung Tau experience.  Like I say, we were in this sub-area command, and like we were supporting the 173rd and the Australians, the New Zealanders.  I also experienced there ... a lot of Koreans, there were a lot of Koreans, and I was very impressed with them, very tough and really the type of people that kept their nose down over their pieces, sort of folk, and the Viet Cong and from all I heard, they just really feared those guys, and it was the story there in Vung Tau, I didn't see it myself, but I understand they caught a guy inside the compound one time, stealing or what, but they killed the guy, and they put him up on the wire, hung him up on a wire outside the compound, and this is the story, and it was all over Vung Tau.  I didn't go up to see it, I didn't have any desire to, but they were a no nonsense type of folk, you know, and tough.

SH:  What were they doing in Vung Tau?

DS:  I don't remember what exactly their unit was, but I ran into various other functions too in Vietnam.

SH:  Would their officers come to your Officers' Club?

DS:  Sure.

SH:  Was there interaction with them?

DS:  Yes, I had interaction with them.  ... They introduced me to that liquor they drink, where they put the root inside it.  What do they call that stuff?  I don't remember.  ... Yes, with a root and all.  ... The guy was very friendly and all that, so, but I continued there.  ... One of the banes of my existence there is this just kind of loose platoon leader, under a sub-area command was that you'd have visiting people coming in from Saigon, and they wouldn't know what was going on, and remember I was just about to go back to the States, already had orders, and this guy comes in, and he inspects the unit, and it had already been reported.  He'd been down to this other platoon that was in a similar circumstance to mine.  He'd gone in there, he didn't like this, and he didn't like that, and he didn't like the way the housekeeping was, or whatever in the hooches, and he fired the guy, and so, there was trepidation between me and my sergeants and everything else, and they were going to come down kind of heavy on us, because one of the things that, you know, the person like that has a reputation coming in, and they'll just fire you.  They don't know who you are or whatever, and I was of all things down off-loading men coming off of a boat, coming in at the port, but they had, they would dock the M-boats or the LCUs where they come right in, and they'd let the ramp down, and then, these guys would walk off, and then, they would get on my trucks and we'd take them to where they were going to be temporarily or whatever, and then they were going to go off to the division.  We're probably taking them up to the airport or whatever, and this guy comes down here, he was a colonel, and looks at the thing, and he says, "Lieutenant, what are you doing here?  These men are coming off that boat, and they're walking through water before they get to the trucks.  Why do you have them walking through water?  Can't you move the trucks back?"  You know, there was mud and all that, you know, I didn't want to move.  "Well, sir," I said something or other, but fortunately something distracted him, and he went off somewhere else, but again, it's one of those things, you know.  ... "Those guys were walking through water to get to the trucks?  Wait until tomorrow," you know.  [laughter] When they get out in the boonies, you know, walking through a mud puddle is going to be the least of their problems, but what are you going to do?  What are you going to do?  You know, you have to deal with these folks.

SH:  How does the monsoon season affect your vehicles? 

DS:  Difficult, oh, difficult, I mean, we'd have to build these, we didn't do it, but people would.  ... Down there in Vung Tau, we'd get these rains, and they'd have to build bridges out of wood or whatever they had, pierced steel planking, or whatever to cross ditches and all that to get the stuff into where it was supposed to be.  That was a big problem, and we were always worried about getting stuck and something happening, you know.

SH:  I have heard that the roads were very narrow.

DS:  ... You had winches and so forth that they could bring out to get you but you didn't want to.  That's the last thing you wanted, you know, but these people they were unrealistic, and these people that weren't really out there, they would come in.  They were the bane of your existence, you know, just a pain.

SH:  What kind of medical treatment or facilities were available?

DS:  Yes, of which I had experience with.  ... We're going way back to Qui Nhon.  ... I was not only shocked about the training I didn't have, and people didn't have, to get to go to Vietnam, but also I mean, the facilities were just horrendous.  I mean, to be out there in tents, in what was actually the public privy for Qui Nhon, and how everybody didn't get horribly sick, I don't know.  No shower facilities, eventually we set up these big containers where you would pump water up into them, and then you could stand under there for a brief shower, but you were grimy and dirty and the food was totally inadequate.  ... We didn't have even enough, even if we were transportation, you had the old C-Rations, which were the cans, and that's what you had.  If you were lucky, you got enough, so people would go and buy stuff from the Vietnamese.  Well, a lot of people, including yours truly, regretted that experience.  ... As far as the showers go, they were so grubby, so a bunch of us, one time down at the port, we just stripped down and went in the surf.  Fine, next morning, I woke up, I couldn't hear.  I couldn't hear anything.  It was bad water, you know, polluted water you can imagine with those ships and the bilge, plus the sewers from, you know, but stupid to go in there, but, you know, you do it.  You know, it looked alright.  ... So, I got up and, you know, I went over to the medical, and they gave me penicillin and off it goes.  It was, gone, gone, thank God.  ... Then, I'm still up there in Qui Nhon, the same situation, and then I got ... amoebic dysentery.  ... That was horrible, absolutely horrible.

SH:  Was this from eating contaminated food?

DS:  The first tour I had amoebic dysentery, the second tour, we'll just go to that, but the second tour I was in Saigon, and I got bacillary--E. Coli--bacillary dysentery.  I think maybe that was worse.  ... It was blood and pus coming out as much as you could, you know, fifty times a day, and then, water, and you just lay there, but they didn't take you to the hospital, they just, unless you got, they determine, you know.  I went back, and they saw I was not dehydrated.  I could just keep enough water, and it passed before they had to hospitalize me, okay, so I had that experience with our medical facilities, and then, on my second tour ... I got dengue fever.  You always hear about that on the radio and everything.  ... It is horrible.  I mean, temperature, you know, 104.  ... You feel like your legs and everything you can hardly move, and with that they hospitalized me, and let me backtrack, that was my first tour.  ... It was the Vung Tau Hospital, Vung Tau.  Anyway, it was just like hooch-type buildings, you know, with canvas and all the way around and pierced steel planking on the floor, and you were there.  ... I was in there like a week and just got my strength back somehow and back I went.  ... Dengue fever, they said it was almost one hundred percent sure they were to actually take the blood out and isolate it, and to be positive it was dengue fever, they'd have to do that, but there was no need.

SH:  Was there a treatment for dengue fever?

DS:  They gave me some stuff, yes, but by and large I think not.  I think you had to wait for it to do.  They gave me whatever they needed to, lots of aspirin, and things to bring your fever down, you know, that was that, you know, but that was a big thing in Vietnam, and a lot of times they call it, what, FUO, Fevers of Undetermined Origin.  ... Sometimes it would be cause of death, Fever of Undetermined Origin, you know, so it wasn't good.  I remember I had a sudden and severe FUO back in Tent Camp B.  Again, a huge fever, 104 or so.  Doctors gave me massive doses of aspirin.  Brought the fever down, and I was better.  While on the medical topic, I will mention an incident I had while working at Saigon Port.  I was riding with a sergeant on an open dock mule.  Front tire of the dock mile hit a deep pothole which had a 4X4 lying over it.  The 4X4 flew up and hit me in the face.  Sergeant thought I was shot.  I was knocked silly.  Put me in an ambulance and took me to the hospital.  Face was smashed, but worst part was it knocked my incisor tooth out except for a tiny piece.  I recovered from the face smash, but I went many times to a tent based dentist who worked hard to give me a temporary incisor.  Back in CONUS I had elaborate dental work to permanently cap the incisor.  Everything was fine until about three years ago when the artificial tooth deteriorated, and I had to have extensive and expensive dental work to put in a new permanent incisor.  Cost better than $2500.  I could have done it for nothing at the VA Hospital in DC since it's on my medical records as a line of duty accident.  However, my experience with the Veterans Hospital dental clinic has not been good, and I decided to get the best from my excellent private dentist.

SH:  Did you have any incidents with the Red Cross or the USO while you were in Vietnam?

DS:  ... Not really except, you know, you hear all these people talk about World War II and all that, "Oh, I'll never give to the Red Cross.  ... They did this.  They wouldn't help us.  They didn't do anything for us."  ... We heard a guy just the other day saying that, and he was a World War II guy, I think, but my big experience was with the Red Cross was my mother got critically ill ... but it cut short my second tour at the ninth month, and they got a hold of me out of nowhere and got me plane tickets and everything and I was just out of Vietnam like that, and it's thanks to the American Red Cross, as far as I'm concerned.  ...

SH:  Did you have to pay for it?

DS:  Oh, no, nothing.  ... They got me out of there.  There were always planes and everything going back to the States.  There was no problem with that, yes, so. 

SH:  That is good.  You came back "military."

DS:  ... Yes, I did, across the ocean, but not when I got to the continental United States.  That's an experience too, my trip back military.  I got Tan Son Nhut airport, and another thing, I get a little emotional.  ... I got to the airport to go back, and there's a couple of deuce-and-a-half trucks parked there right next to where I'm going to go.  I look in there and it's American bodies, stacked up.  The bodies were still in uniform with their boots on.  They were going right from the battlefield to the morgue.  I rode back on a plane, the military plane that went back, and it was me and the caskets, ... not good, yes.  So, you know, makes you think.  ... Iraq and Afghanistan and all this, it's terrible, absolutely horrible, and every death was horrible, horrible, horrible, but, and then, you compare Vietnam and World War II, I mean, we lost hundreds and hundreds a week in Vietnam.  I mean, it was big-time casualties. 

SH:  Especially by your second tour, the casualties were much higher as compared to your first tour.

DS:  Yes, yes.  So, you know, they're all bad, but that was bad, you know.  Life was cheap.  It really was, and, you know, you're just going to come out of it. 

SH:  Can you compare the two tours and the differences in the attitudes of the soldiers you served with in Vietnam?

DS:  ... Well, sure, the second tour was entirely different.  ... Should we go to the second tour?  ... Let's get me home from Vietnam, the first tour.  I think we've pretty well exhausted that.  ... Just very briefly, what did I do when I came back, okay.  I went to Fort Dix, New Jersey.  I asked to go to Fort Dix, New Jersey, because my full intention was I wanted to pursue this young lady who was in Montclair, and she lived in Toms River, or actually Lavallette, New Jersey at the time.  ... I did not plan to stay in the Army.  I still was fascinated with the world of geography, okay, and I was going to go for a PhD or go into as an instructor at Rutgers or some place, you know, probably would have been one of my first places I would have pursued and do a career in geography, as did almost every one of my colleagues at the graduate school here, ... they all went for PhDs and all became professors, virtually everyone.

SH:  Really?

DS:  Yes, did very well.  They've had ups and downs.

SH:  Yes, of course.

DS:  Marital and otherwise, personal, but they've done well. 

SH:  What were you doing at Fort Dix?

DS:  ... I just wanted to get to Fort Dix, and then, I was going to get out and pursue this career.  ... She can attest to that, and so, we dated intensely.  She'd come to Fort Dix, and then, I'd go down to Lavallette, and boy, I tell you, I had that road just between Lavallette and Fort Dix and up to Montclair and back down, I had that really down pat.  ... I wasn't going to lose my sight of my goal.  ... [laughter] I was the operations officer in the motor pool at Fort Dix, and we had these great big vans that we'd carry these guys out to the training ranges to the shooting ranges and to all over the post and all of that, it was, and we're in the middle of Vietnam, we're really in the middle of it, and what was normally a contingent of an operations officer, a transportation officer for the post, and what they call the director of services for the post, went to like, I don't know how many we had, like let's say three captains and like seven to ten lieutenants, I don't know.  What were these guys?  They were just waiting to go to Vietnam.  They had to do something with them before they went over there, and they were just like a staging area, and all these guys went to Vietnam, but meanwhile, we had all these people running all over the motor pool, and a lot of them were OCS guys.  By that time they just were cranking out these OCS, and if I thought I was unprepared, these guys were horrendous.  I would say most of them not college graduates and just wild.  ... You had to watch out more for them than you did the "other guys," you know.  ... They were always up to something, car accidents, drunk, whatever, and these are officers, you know, but I mean, we were really cranking them out, officers, OCS.  You may have heard this before, and that's the ilk of how we got Lieutenant Calley, how we got people like that.  That's my contention because they just, you know, we need officers, crank them out, but somehow in World War II, you know, maybe we got them like that, we probably did.  ... Not a pleasant assignment, not pleasant at all.  It was no fun.  [Editor's Note: Lieutenant Colonel Smith is referring to the massacre of unarmed Vietnamese civilians by US soldiers under the command of Lieutenant William Calley in the hamlet of My Lai on March 16, 1968.]

SH:  Were you living on base?

DS:  I'm living on base in the BOQ.  I proposed, she agreed.  Peggy was a junior and went into her senior year.  ... I went to her graduation, and we got married soon thereafter, nice wedding in Lavallette, church is still there, same size as it was, even though the minister at the time said, "Oh, we're expanding.  Look here.  We're going to breakthrough here."  So, we go by that church, we always go to Jersey Shore, and we always say, "They've never broken through."  [laughter] So, anyhow, I did that, and then, I was assigned to there.  ... Well, let me back up.  We were getting married.  Oh, she's already engaged.  ... I come down here to Washington to check out, more or less, and to just make sure my records are straight.  I go down to Washington, I check out the records.  I'm in there checking the records, this afternoon, late afternoon, and he was a full colonel.  I don't remember his name, but this guy, whoever he was, had a profound influence on my career.  He was one of the personnel colonels and for some reason, he saw me there and said, "What are you going to do, captain?"  I said, "Well, I'm planning to leave."  He says, "Really?"  ... We started talking.  He said, "Well, what's your background?  What are you going to do?"  I said, "Well, I'm, you know, I have this master's degree in geography, and I plan to go teach, and I don't know.  I'm looking for an instructor job, and I've got some friends."  "You have a master's degree in geography?"  He goes, "Oh!"  He says, "We are looking for people like you.  We can offer you something," and he didn't say "you can't refuse" but something of that nature.  ... He outlines this thing that, whoa, you know, Defense Language Institute for a year in Monterey, California, lovely place, followed by the University of Cincinnati, another year, master's degree in Greek Area Studies, okay, and then, as a crowning glory, eighteen months in Greece for training, study and research.  Who is going to turn that down?  Who?

SH:  Why Greece?

DS:  Okay, well, it didn't say Greece at the time.  It didn't say it.  He just said master's degree, ... area studies, but at that time it wasn't, I didn't know where, it's just you knew, everybody got a master's in their field that they'd selected them for, okay, and there's one for Greece, I think, before that.  At that time maybe it was Princeton, but they changed to University of Cincinnati which probably unbeknownst to you or anybody else, is one of the foremost Greek departments, Greek Studies departments in the country, very famous in archeology, a lot of the excavations are definitely done by the University of Cincinnati, so, but to skip ahead, so, I mean, this guy.  There was only one thing, he said.  He said, you know, "You're here in your career," and all that and you had this.  ... He said, "You know, you're probably going to have to do another tour in Vietnam."  You know, he says, "You're a transportation officer going to a career course, and if you go there," he says, "we can't really pull you out right then, and almost everybody goes back to Vietnam after the career course."  So, I don't know if I even said that.  I called Peggy and told her and said, you know, "they've offered me this, that, and that" and you were just incredulous, ready to take the ring off and, but anyhow, she agreed to it, and I stayed there, we got married, and I went down to Fort Eustis.  ... I went through the transportation officer advanced course, which was also a bad experience, not as bad as the basic course, but still not great.  It was okay, but then, like they so much promised me, the whole class--virtually the whole class--went back to Vietnam, but this time I was to be assigned to the Military Assistance Command, the famous MACV in Vietnam.

SH:  Before you returned to Vietnam, had you gone to language school as they had promised you?

DS:  No, no, this is all, Fort Dix, Fort Eustis, ... and then Vietnam.  Fort Dix, got married while at Fort Dix, ... transportation officer advanced course, Fort Eustis, and then, to Vietnam directly to MACV.  ... This time, ... it was not going with, with taking a unit or anything.  I was going just as a separate staff officer.  So, no training in Vietnamese, even though I was going to MACV, but, of course, you could be, MACV was just a broad thing.  You knew, probably, you'd be involved in the sort of thing logistics, not necessarily transportation, but being a transportation officer, some sort of staff position, probably MACV headquarters or something like that.  ... They wouldn't train you in a language, you know.  They would train the people in the language that were going, that they knew were going like to a combat unit that was going to be attached to a Vietnamese division or something like that.  They'd send them to Monterey and learn Vietnamese, but not me.  ... They didn't know what they were going to do with you until you got to Vietnam.  You didn't know, you just knew you were going to MACV, which is a huge thing.  So, I got there ... to Vietnam.  ... I remember when I got off the plane there, I mean, you flew over there.  ... It was just a really sinking feeling, get off that plane, and it was like, you know, 93 degrees, and it wasn't the heat it was the humidity and the heat, and I just remember getting off, still with like a khaki dress-type uniform and just soaked through within minutes, and I don't sweat much, but I soaked right through.  I thought, "What am I doing back here?  Good grief."

SH:  You go back to Vietnam in 1968.  What time of year did you return for your second tour?

DS:  This again, it was almost the same time it would have been in August, right, I think.  ... It was like the first time right in the summer, yes. 

SH:  Was it the same route that you took the first time?

DS:  Oh, no, this was on a commercial flight.  ... They had all those chartered flights, totally different experience as far as the trip over.  ... You were just a passenger with "umpteen" other guys going to Vietnam.

SH:  You went straight from Fort Eustis to Vietnam?

DS:  No, I actually, no, I went home, took thirty days leave.  ... left from Harrisburg.  ... You just flew on regular commercial planes and they gave you a stub that paid for everything.

PS:  You went up to see your parents.

DS:  I went to see my parents and off we went, you know, a very sad situation, and of course, my whole attitude was different than the first time. 

SH:  You were teaching in New Jersey, Mrs. Smith?

DS:  Wall Township.

SH:  You were living at home with your parents.

PS:  No, I was living by myself, with another teacher.

DS:  ... My attitude was totally different, you know.  I was leaving somebody I loved dearly back there, and there wasn't any of this, I'm going out and volunteering for patrols or anything.  No way on this, you know, nothing, and I fully expected having a nice cushy office job and all that, but as it would be, didn't happen.  It was, you know, "office-y" enough, but not what it would have been, because I went, the Transportation Advisory Division, which was out by the famous Cholon Race Track.  I don't know if you ever read about the Tet Offensive, but there was enormous fighting up at the Cholon Race Track but those guys who were up there in the office that overran the thing, and I had a very close friend.  ... Bill Riggs was a black officer, and he was assigned to Cholon to the headquarters ... and I was assigned directly to Vietnamese units and I thought, "Oh, crud," you know, "Here goes Smith again getting, really getting it."  Well, as it turned out I was a lucky one from a career standpoint because I think Bill Riggs had a full intention of having a career too, but he was in this headquarters up there, and these guys were SOBs, you know, and he got screwed on efficiency reports and so forth, and he didn't continue as a career.  He said, well this is, smartly for him, because he's had a very successful life.  I hope that guy is still alive.  The last time I talked to him he was, but if I would have gone there, I would have ended up in the same boat as he did, because it didn't make any difference, because it was the way it was, a bunch of careerists up there, who just, they would have screwed you, probably if they had half a chance, you know.  So, I ended up down there.  They assigned me, a lowly captain, to advise a terminal service company, a boat company, and a truck battalion, okay, and then, we had a whole bunch, we had a major and another captain and two or three sergeants, three sergeants, and we were located down there in the area of Saigon, it was called Khan Hoi.  Khan Hoi is right off from the port, a grubby area, really grubby as most port areas are, and we were there.  ... This is the place where I was telling you about Agent Orange, and the trees died and all of that.  ... We were walking through the stuff, but one of the things that I noticed all the trees in the area died, you know.  So, it was powerful stuff, got into the soil there, and, you know, heavens knows what it was doing to the drinking water, these Vietnamese were pumping this stuff out of the water, you know, who knows?  ... We talk about that, about how filthy it was.  ... This is one Vietnamese story I do tell.  These people ate tilapia, you know, and these weren't tilapia, but they were kind of like catfish.  Who knows, we're probably serving them over here too, but these ... fish were so powerful, you'd see them in the markets, and they had them on land, and they'd still be just moving, and who knows how long they're on land.  They're tough, they're tough--catfish are tough in general--but these things are tough.  ... What they did, they crossed the roads and stuff.  If they were in one rice paddy, they'd go over to the other rice paddy across the road.  How they made it across I don't know, but at any rate behind the compound was a pond, and as I say when I tell this story, it's probably better not before people are eating tilapia, ... but there was a pond, and these Vietnamese hooches were all around the pond.  ... Going out to the pond was a walkway.  At the end of the walkway was a toilet.  Now, I don't think those fish, even, nothing had to hit the water, all they had to do is see the "moon," and the Pavlovian reflex or whatever fish have would just go into a frenzy, a literal frenzy, and the water would just foam, and these fish would eat, and that I mean, ... that's a different part of the world, and then, periodically they would have to, you know, it would fill up with all this filth and all, and then, they would go, and you'd see these Vietnamese in there up to here dredging the bottom of the pond, you know, what an experience.  ... That is one story I tell.  ...

SH:  Is there a fish you do eat now?

DS:  Oh, I love fish, I love fish, yes.  I don't know.  I was raised up there in Pennsylvania Dutch country.  I was always trained to eat everything, and I eat everything, and a lot of it, and I still do that.  I just take my chances. 

SH:  Did these units you were attached to listen to your advice?

DS:  ... I think I was a good adviser, but you had to say, "Well, what do I have as an American that can help these guys out," you know, and you had to have a way to deal with them.  You just don't go up to a Vietnamese captain and tell him, "You're an idiot.  Why are you doing this?" or "Why are you doing that," which, you know, you say, "Look," but that was the attitude and knowing military personalities, there was a lot of people that did that.  ... I didn't do that at all.  I was very like, ... I'd say, "You have this bunker there," you know, "It's right on the edge of the compound, and you had the Tet Offensive here, and they almost got in here," you know.  I said, "You know, that's full of water."  I said, "I wouldn't want to get in there?  You wouldn't want to get in there, captain, would you?"  ... "Why don't we try to fix that?  ... I think I can get you some concrete," you know.  "This is what you do.  I think I know where I can do this, let's see what we can do."  I had an experience on that though.  I decided I was going to improve all this, and I got a great efficiency report out of this tour, because I fixed the bunkers and all of that.  ... I had a major who was really impressed that I got this guy who had not been performing before, and he just improved everything, and I got to say, I got to pat myself on the back, I think it was a lot because of me, but this concrete story.  I'll do things to get things done, even if they're a little bit circuitous some times.  ... We went out to the Bien Hoa where I knew from my previous tour that there were huge concrete bags of cement and all of that, so, I thought,  ... "They're just waste bags, we can get those.  I'm going to talk to the guy there, and he'll probably give them to us."  You know, rather than waiting for requisitions and all this kind of stuff, you know, through MACV, why don't just get these, maybe I'll go talk to them.  So, he says, "Yes, you can take them," he said, "but they got to be broken.  Take any one that's broken."  So, we got all the broken bags.  I said, "There's not too damn many here.  Let's hit a couple of bags with the shovel."  [laughter] So, we hit a hell of a lot of bags with a shovel.  Oh boy, the guy saw me.  I thought, "I'm screwed.  This is it.  This is probably my career right here, over some damn concrete bags," you know, and he comes out there, and he says, "Captain, you know, I told you could take the broken bags.  You're not taking the broken bags, you're breaking the bags."  I said, "Yes."  I said, "You know it's very hard out there.  See, we got a compound that, things are full of water, and, you know, I'm trying to build these concrete bunkers and all that.  I'm sorry, you know, but I just wanted enough bags to build my bunkers."  The guy goes, "Ah, go ahead.  I know you guys are hurting out there.  Go ahead take them, take the concrete bags, but, you know, you better stop now."  [laughter] So, there was a good guy.  ... He was a major or whatever.  ... He had the right idea.  So, that's what I did like as an adviser doing that.  That sort of thing, had a lot of adventures.  We had an ammo place that we supported down river, and I was supposed to go down there.  I went down there periodically, and they say, you know, Vietnamese don't drink a lot and get drunk.  Well, I had probably, if that was the case, I had one of the only Vietnamese, I think he was a captain, that was a true alcoholic.  They drink this Ba Muoi Ba beer, "33."  That sucker, he'd go down there, he'd have shower shoes on, he'd be sitting back, Ba Muoi Ba, and he'd be sitting there beside the river, grabbing a Ba Muoi Ba, but I went down then I'd stay overnight and all that kind of stuff, and we'd go back up, but just to show how a person can die, you know, from no reason at all, and Peggy knows all about this guy.  ... He says, "You're going down the river."  He says, "Why don't you drive down there?"  "Why the hell would you drive down there?  You want to get killed, you're going to drive down there," you know, but he was one of these guys that he, you know, I mean, you don't think this guy would get access to this, because he was one of these guys that would, I mean, right on Tu Do Street which was the main drag, he was a show off type of guy, and he had a grease gun.  A grease gun is a, it looks like a grease gun, it's the old, they used them in World War II, they put them in a tanks so you could, if the Germans came up through the hatch, you could shoot through the thing.  He had one of these, he was so proud of it, and he cut loose with that just by accident on Tu Do Street one time, it didn't kill anybody thank goodness, ... but so he had his idea, "Let's go down in there on the jeep."  ... Thank goodness I didn't do it.  Okay, but he had other great ideas.  We had boats that went down to Phu Quoc Island where they had the biggest prisoner of war camp for the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese.  ... We supported that.  The Vietnamese units supported them with food and all and we'd go down there by plane.  So, we had rice bags, rice, loads of rice on the LSTs, and you'd go down the river, and all the way around--it was over by Cambodia--to the island, and I went down there, and, but the problem was they kept doing this and the rice, they'd take off so much rice, and the rice would be missing when they got to Phu Quoc.  So, they'd load so many tons, and this would be gone, so many bags, and they'd be gone.  ... "Smith, why don't you ride down there with them?"  Oh, that's great, that is a great idea.  How far do you think I'd go before I'd be food for the sharks of the South China Sea, you know?  No need for it, so what the heck am I going to do, this guy wants me to ride down there.  I don't want to ride down there.  So, I just get the notion to go, let me go watch them load these things.  So, I sat up on the bank there and watch them load these rice bags and what they would do was the old cement bag routine.  They'd take that loading hook, and they'd go, "wham" like that as they'd load it.  The rice would go "shhh" [Editor's Note: Colonel Smith makes a falling noise.] out through the side onto the floor of the ship.  Then, they'd scoop it up, see.  Well, the stuff that got scooped up they took and sold or did whatever, you know, cook it, and so, I figured the whole thing out without having to risk my life, and that was it.  Okay, so stop using your hooks on the bag or if they ever did, but the least we had the answer, you know.  ... That just shows you how you can over just nothing, do something unnecessary to lose your life, you know, for some silly rice.  ...


SH:  Of the Vietnamese that you worked with, were you ever unsure of where their loyalties lay?

DS:  I never suspected any of them of being a Viet Cong sympathizer who was going to do me in or anything like that, never at all, maybe wrongly so, but I never did, but I'll tell you about the Vietnamese, the officers that I dealt with, and I dealt with them closely, this Captain Ahn and the colonel there and all of that.  ... Very smartly from their standpoint, ... they kept you at arm's length.  You never got invited to their homes or anything like that, no, no, and I don't know of any cases like that.  Maybe there were some cases where they'd have a big gathering, and there'd be a wife there and everything, but they didn't want you at all involved with their families, and they would deal with you just on the job.  ... I'll never forget this guy when I worked back there in that port job.  We worked very closely with him.  He was very involved in the cargo handling and everything, and he had worked for the Vietnamese, for the Japanese, for the French, for the Vietnamese again, and then, for us, and now he's probably working for the "commies."  ... You want to survive, you better be ready to, and I think this was the attitude with a lot of them, you know.  Now, some of these guys, of course, got in a lot of trouble when the communists won, even if they weren't wholeheartedly [American supporters], ... didn't matter.  It didn't matter, you went to a reeducation camp by darned, and if you survived, that was your luck.  "We don't care if you do or not.  You were buddy-buddy with the Americans.  You were Vietnamese Army, and you did work with the Americans, or you were just Vietnamese Army.  You need some reeducation, buddy."  So, some of those people now, some of the lucky ones, the high ranking guys, they came here, they got here some by hook or crook, you know.  I was in that period in after '75, when you might go to a 7-11 down there in Vienna, Virginia where we live, and you talk to the guy cleaning the floor there, and he was a major general in the Vietnamese Army, you know.  That guy is probably doing real well now because they worked in restaurants, they did this, they did that.  Their kids are going to school, kids are going to West Point even, Vietnamese, you know, and by and large I liked them pretty much.  ... I had this little office on my own there within the Vietnamese unit.  I could leave anything out or anything and nobody ever stole a thing, nothing, you know, and people were polite and nice and all that, but there was a shiftiness, you know.  They were not immune to bribery and to black market and corruption of all types, but that's just part of the culture if you've been overseas.

SH:  What did you think of the American policy of "winning the hearts and minds" in Vietnam?  Did your unit participate?

DS:  ... Yes, of course, and, you know, my attitude is what I expressed before on that.  I just think our abilities in that are limited, ... but I think certainly the way we were going about it--we weren't no.  ... The way we were going about it, I don't think, you know, it just was, because you just can't take these GIs or even the typical officer, and you're not going to win hearts and minds.  You're who you are, and they're who they are, you know.

SH:  Did you get an R&R on your second tour?

DS:  ... The first tour, yes, I had that R&R.  In the second one during my scheduled R&R, I got the dengue fever.  I was sick and couldn't make it.  I was sick, I was in the hospital.  ... So we couldn't go then, and then, we were all set for another one, and my mother was critically ill.  So, we were going to do another one, the last three months which would have been very unusual, but my mother got critically ill, and they flew me back, and then she died, and then I had nine months, and I fully expected to go back.  I left everything there just as it was, and they say, "Well, you can't go back.  The Department of the Army policy, you have less than ninety days.  We're not going to ship you back."  So guess where I went?  Fort Dix, New Jersey, again because they said, "Well, what do you want to do," because I had already been now slated to go to the language school.  ... What do they with a guy for ninety days?  She was teaching in Wall.

PS:  I had a contract.

DS:  ... So what better than to go to Fort Dix, and I just did like ash and trash jobs.  I had reserve units coming in, and I would arrange their dinner at the Officers' Club or at a restaurant, and I'd get everything squared away for them.  I'd make sure things were okay, you know, get them settled and all.  I did that for ninety days, and then I still had time left over before the language school started, and we went out to Monterey together ... and they didn't know what to do with me in the Defense Language Institute until the school started, and they put me on this project.  I was like a gardening officer, built gardens, because they had all the GIs in the same boat I was in.  So, I knew a lot about gardening, because my father was always really into gardening, and so I knew all.  I was great, and I put in this huge palm tree I remember, and my dad came out to visit us, and we'd go by, we'd salute the palm tree and I put in a whole picnic area.  I'd go out with these guys early in the morning, direct them, you know, gardening, I know how to do this.  ... I got a special letter of commendation and all this kind of stuff, and ... I built this picnic area.  They had a big dedication and everybody is out there [clapping], and all that's ... before I started Greek.  That was my one career there.

SH:  Was Greek easy to learn?  Of all the languages, why Greek?

DS:  Oh, that's interesting, see.  So, the guy told me about these great programs and all.  So, yes, I'll put in my application.  So, it was in that advanced course I put in my application before I went to that second tour in Vietnam, so I already had the application in, and while I was in the course, they selected me.  Now, how do they select you, because in those days this was a very, very strict entry program.  ... It's now called the Foreign Area Officer Program which is huge, huge, and isn't only in the Army, but it's in the other services, but then it was an Army program, the Foreign Area Specialty Program, it went way, way back, and they would never even be able to do this now, but Peggy had to submit her resume and on all that, you had to show your aptitude.  ... They gave you this test in "Martian" for your language aptitude, you know.  Have you ever seen those tests?

SH:  No.

PS:  It's a made up language.

DS:  ... They give this stuff really quick, and so you have to absorb mentally very fast.  These are the rules, these are the rules, these are the vocabulary, ... and then, start the test.  ... I owe it again to Peggy Smith for succeeding well in that.  ... She's smart, she heard about this test and I described what was going to happen.  You went to the library and you researched it.  This is before the internet and everything, and she found these languages, the similar type tests, and I studied those and studied those and studied those, so when I took that test the other guys are like, "Huh?"  ... I scored well on it, you know, but not that high, but high enough, you know, high enough to, because you had to go that high, and many people were rejected because they couldn't pass the test.  Lots of people had all kinds of master's degrees, you know, but unless you could pass that test, you couldn't do it in the Army, in the other services, now you can, but not the Army.  ... Anyhow I knew I was going to Greece, and I was going to go to Monterey while I was in [Vietnam].

SH:  But why Greece of all places?

DS:  Why Greece?  You chose what you wanted.  ... Guess what I put first--Germany, France, Belgium, you know, whatever--so you just go on down the list, so I finally, "Well, Greece," down there in Europe, ... so that's what I got.  ... I remember my question was, I was in that advanced course, and we had these foreign students there.  I said, "Why would they ever chose me for Greece?  I don't know one single word in Greek except for Theta Chi which is my fraternity, which is not a word, it's two letters."  [laughter] ... The guy--he was a French Officer--said, very, very smartly, and which I found to be the absolute truth is, "The last thing we want as an attaché is somebody that's one of us.  We want an American.  We want somebody that's representing the Americans."  ... Boy, did I find that to be true.  I found it to be so true.  ... Especially the other services, they had Greek Americans that went over to the embassy.  ... You start talking about Greek, Turkey and conflict there and all that, and these guys are getting red, and you can just see them physically getting red in the ears and stuff, because they're Greeks at heart.  You don't want that as an American.  I mean, this is our ally saying it, but Americans don't want that either.  You want somebody that has American interest, and, you know, I either, when I got involved in this program, I was either in Greece or except for two lousy assignments, well, one lousy assignment, I was either in Greece or involved in Greek issues--Greek, Balkan, Near East issues--mainly Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Albania, Yugoslavia.  I was "Johnny On the Spot" for the Army on that kind of stuff in the Pentagon.  So, that's what I did, that was my career, not good for being promoted to full colonel or general, but very interesting and fascinating.  [laughter]

SH:  After Monterey, where did you go?

DS:  I went from Monterey, to Cincinnati, to Greece.

SH:  Did you have any children at that point?

DS:  ... Our baby was born in Cincinnati, and he went to Greece, he was nine and a half weeks old.  ... He had his passport, and we have this picture of him in his car seat, and his hand up like this, and just by chance.  It was so cute.

SH:  You said that Mrs. Smith had to be tested as well.  Did you have to take courses?

DS:  Oh, yes.

PS:  Well, I took Greek with him, at the Defense Language Institute.

DS:  She was a star pupil, honor Greek.

SH:  You actually attended the same classes?

DS:  Oh, yes.

SH:  Oh, really?

DS:  Oh, yes, they want that.  ...

SH:  I thought maybe you had to take another class.

DS:  No.

PS:  I think in our life, the way it fell to us, we had no children at the time, and we were there together, and so, unlike a lot of people where their spouse was somewhere else or you had kids.  I wasn't employed in Monterey, so I had the full, I had the opportunity, it was a great opportunity for me, because I always liked languages, so here they're going to pay us to go to school, yes.

SH:  You got paid as well?

PS:  I didn't get paid, he got paid but they gave us the housing.  ... I didn't have to pay anything to go to the school.

DS:  We had quarters on Fort Ord, which is just across the way from Monterey.  Are you familiar with that area?  Yes, well Fort Ord is right there. 

PS:  It was like a second honeymoon for a year, I mean.

DS:  Oh, it was wonderful, but it was the first time I ever gained weight in my life.  ... We had a two hour lunch break, and so we got like the Mobile Guide at that time and started checking off the restaurants for our two hour lunch break, which included a drink usually, or more, and then, we just kind of trot happily up the hill for afternoon classes.

PS:  The vocabulary tests.

DS:  The vocabulary tests probably would have, probably came out smoother.  ... [laughter]

SH:  Who was teaching Greek?

DS:  All Greeks.  That was a very interesting experience, it was fabulous.  ... I mean, it was tough.  It was tougher on me than it was on her.  I mean, I just had a hard time.  ... I did alright, you know.  We just both enjoyed it, we loved these people.  They're all Greeks, and I tell you, it wasn't just the language.  We learned more about Greeks from those people.  ... You couldn't teach it, because there was a stereotype of every archetype, on every type of Greek that we got to meet later.

SH:  That is interesting.

DS:  Yes.

SH:  Do you think they were picked that way?

DS:  No, no, it just happened that way.  ... It was fabulous, and we just got to love all these people, ... and they loved us.

SH:  That sounds like a great experience.

DS:  Yes, and to top it off, we were there for better than a year with my gardening experience.  [laughter]

SH:  Did you get to see the garden bloom?

DS:  Yes, but of all things the last months of our tour, we had this lovely quarters on Fort Ord.  I was a captain, but I had field grade quarters because everybody knew I was in Vietnam.  ... Lo and behold, we got an even better deal, because our professor in Greek said, "You know, I'm going with my family and my mother and the whole family, we're going to Greece for the summer.  Would you mind taking over?  All you have to do is watch our dog, just take over the house for the summer."  "Oh, that would be tough, but I think we can handle it."  [laughter] He had this beautiful house overlooking Monterey Bay and all that.  I mean, did we have it made or what?  ... It was sweet, yes.

SH:  What kind of requirements were there for your wife?  Did your wife have to take etiquette school? 

DS:  Oh, that came later.  ... That came later with the attaché assignment, and then that's big time, but for the foreign area especially, no, and just as well, because there was no "knife and fork" stuff in Greece, not at that level.  ... I could tell you about that.  That's very interesting.

PS:  It is wrong to say the language was required for the spouses, it wasn't.

DS:  Oh, no, the language wasn't required, no.  She was unusual because most people had children, or for one reason or the other, they had no language aptitude.  ... You were the first, the first in all the years of the Greek department, the first woman to totally complete the course, and she was an honors graduate, honors plus.  ... She is a whiz.  I mean, Greeks, when she speaks Greek, they don't know whether she's Greek or American.  It was seriously, her pronunciation is just flawless.

SH:  What do you study in Cincinnati?

DS:  University of Cincinnati.  So, she's on a roll, she goes into the Greek Studies program with me, gets a master's degree and great.  ... It's going great, and then we had that blessed event on coming.  So, it didn't happen, so she waited years to get your master's which she eventually got.

SH:  Good for you, congratulations.

DS:  Not from the University of Cincinnati.  Peggy got her master's degree from Lesley College, Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1988.

SH:  How long were you in Cincinnati?

DS:  So, we're in Cincinnati a year.

SH:  Then, where did they send you?

DS:  We're at Cincinnati a year, and then I'm going to this training, study and research, in Greece.  So, off we go to Greece with a nine and a half week old baby.

SH:  In 1971.

DS:  Yes, '71, nine and a half week old baby on the plane, we go there, not to Athens, but to, Thessaloniki, Greece, sometimes known as Salonica to us.  ... Paul's letter to the Thessalonians and all?  That's Thessaloniki, which is the second biggest city in Greece, in northern Greece, Macedonian.  It is Macedonia, ... you know, that's Alexander the Great and all that.  That's his area, okay.  ... So, why did I go there?  This was not what you'd call a pleasure program of travel study and research.  The Greek program was a very old program and very thorough.  They really trained you.  The Greek program meant a year.  Now, it's no longer a year, because the school is no longer a year, but they had one foreign officer, an American.  You were a student at the Greek War College for one year and all in Greek, and you were there in a totally Greek environment.

SH:  Total immersion.

DS:  Yes, total immersion, and I had a boss, I was there eight and a half years, he was there eleven years.  He was just into Greece like you cannot believe, and he insists that everything I do had to be Greek.  ... If we went somewhere, I could, I was not allowed to stay in an A-class hotel.  I had to stay, he'd love you to stay like in a D-class hotel where you had the bedbugs and everything, but, you know, we stayed in crummy hotels, because of his obsession on this idea, you know, and you needed to, and thank God I insist, you were supposed to visit all the contiguous countries and really get to know them.  He went, "Ah, you got to go there.  Well, you got go there, but I want you to stay in the Greek areas in Turkey, you know."  ... He was just obsessed on Greece, but thank God, I went to everybody and got a good feeling because I was in the Pentagon then ... with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and all that, and the issues I was involved with, a lot of times, involved these other countries, you know.  Cyprus, thank goodness I went there, and I took to the thing after what happened, you know.  So, that's what we did.  We went to this Greek War College which was an experience beyond experiences.

SH:  Was this the Greek Army's War College?

DS:  Exactly.

SH:  Was anyone from NATO in the War College?

DS:  No, nobody, nobody, and in those days, in 1971, they still had a military junta in Greece, run by colonels, and the relationships were not warm in the United States, you know.  Like the Left in Greece likes to try, "Oh, you know, Americans."  No, no, the Americans were not close with the Greeks at that time.  We didn't even put an ambassador over there at that time.  Later they got into it more when Agnew got to be Vice-President, and ... he was Greek background.  So, they cozied up, and we started home porting but there was really friction, and so here I am going up into this Greek War College, the only American officer, and we were really on the economy.  Thank God we knew Greek, you know, because everything was Greek, and I go out there to this war college, which was just on the outskirts of Thessaloniki.  It's an old, old building, with a big courtyard.  I go in there, I drive up, I park, I walk in there, and here's like two hundred officers, Greek officers, standing there, and they all just look at this guy, kind of look at me, but not too much.  I didn't know what to do, I walked over toward them.  Nobody said, "Hi."  Nobody did nothing, and I just stood there in the middle, not anybody approaching me, nothing.  It's so political, and then, the commandant or whatever had appointed an officer to come greet me, and he remained my buddy throughout our tour there, but then, everybody got to know me.  So, except some people that were real political, that had a particular chip on their shoulder, I was popular with everybody.  I got along fine, but those first weeks were murder and very uncomfortable.  So, that was that, and then, the hard part for me as a student, was that we studied this intense Greek for a year, and the Greeks speak modern Greek, ... everyday Greek, okay, but the junta especially, had said like Hitler did in Germany, said, you know, "We've just corrupted this language so much, we need to go back to the Old Greek, not the ancient Greek, but like it's not even the New Testament Greek, but the Greek professors had written this language which they called Katharevousa, the "pure Greek," okay, but you didn't speak that language, but it was in a lot of the newspapers, the more educated newspapers, the only thing that was not in the Katharevousa was the communist newspaper.  That's the one I could really read.  They spoke Katharevousa in this college from the podium.  So, I go there, and they give us the first administrative instructions, "Wear this uniform.  Do this.  Wear that."  What the hell is this guy saying, because they exposed us to Katharevousa at the Defense Language School, what, maybe three weeks, if that, of just the format of this language.  The Greek in school doesn't know, and naturally, he has to be taught this other language and so they fooled around with us.  Well, then it got so, as I continued in the course, that from the military lecture standpoint, I could understand, because they'd repeat the same words, these units moving there, and this is doing that, and it was all on maps, pretty much, and so, I did alright, did okay, very difficult, but got a lot of help.  They were very nice about that, very nice in the school about that.  They liked me, you know, the school, the commandant liked me, but I'll tell you a story about getting back because I like to tell this story too.  The US Army has changed a lot since that time.  The Army in general did not appreciate any exotic programs from the standpoint of promotion boards.  Now, they do, because how many things we've been involved in since then.  I'll never forget going to the commandant's office.  He'd called me down from class.  The commandant said there was an American colonel that was special forces that was liaising with the Greek special forces, probably from European Command or whatever, and, you know, he was making the rounds, the military rounds to Greece, and he'd stop there at the war college, and he found out that there was, the commandant told him, "There's an American here," and so, I go down there to see him.  He goes, I mean, I almost quote exactly the words he says, "What the hell are you doing here?  You're one of these goddamn intellectual son of a bitches, overeducated, that the Army doesn't need."  Now, how are you going to, how are you ever going to make colonel with that kind of attitude, huh?  That's almost an exact quote, and I'm sitting there, what the hell am I going to do?  ... "Yes, yes, nice to meet you too," you know.  ... I'm glad that's recorded, because that, you know, and again the personnel people would say, "Oh, it's changed.  It's not like that now," but I'm telling you it is.  There's still the attitude. 

SH:  After those comments, the officer left?

DS:  Yes, well, then I went back to class.  I went back to class, yes.

SH:  You hoped you did not see him again.

DS:  Oh, yes, yes, puffing a cigar, you know.

SH:  What happens when you finish your courses at the Greek War College?

DS:  You get a diploma, which I have proudly on my wall in my house.  It's still has the King's symbol up there, because even though the junta took over, they didn't get rid of the King for years, and so, it was still the Kingdom of Greece.  ...

SH:  Did anybody ever ask you about your experiences in Vietnam while you were in Greece?

DS:  Oh, yes, a lot, and they were very impressed.  ... The Greeks haven't had a combat experience except for Cyprus since the 1946-49 Civil War and a significant support to UN forces during the Korean War which ... for the Greek Army was small.  They don't even like to talk about Cyprus, they'd much rather blame it on us and the Brits.  They haven't had any combat experiences, so here's a guy who actually was physically in combat.  We had our senior staff there in the school, like the commandant and some of those, ... two generals, and some of the colonels there had been in the civil war because, you know, till 1949 they fought against the communists, and that was as vicious an experience for them as it was fighting the Germans.  It just was terrible.  ... If you really want to read something that's brutal and horrible, that you can't even believe took place in one country fighting each other, read about the Greek Civil War (1946-1949).  Brutal!

SH:  After 1973, where do they send your family?


SH:  Before we leave Greece, you were there with a nine and a half week old baby.  Was it difficult to raise a child there and to do everyday things, such as going to the doctor?

DS:  ... Very, very difficult, and Peg can address that better than I can.  That was absolutely incredible, and my hat's off to Peggy and to me too, actually, for getting through that.  I mean, it was not easy, and we really didn't get support from the Greek wives at all, nothing, no.

PS:  It was so peculiar, because in our schools, our military schools here, ... were very organized.  So, if there's a foreign officer there, who comes perhaps with family, there's a representative who will meet them.  There would be somebody designated to contact the wives to take them shopping, to show them how to do this and that.  ... The first time I saw any wives was at his graduation a year later because they just didn't involve themselves, and it was not structurally done.  So, that's how it was.

SH:  They were not ignoring you, it was just that they did not do those types of things.

PS:  It wasn't personal.  I don't think it was anti-American exactly.

DS:  But there was a political element.

PS:  I think that they were afraid to involve themselves with anybody politically, but I don't really think that was the main thing.  I think basically, Greece is a very traditional country.  I think, well, just how we rented an apartment. 

DS:  They were intimidated by Americans.

PS:  I think they were a bit intimidated.  They didn't know how to approach us.  Most of them didn't speak any English.  They don't imagine you're going to know any Greek, and they were just busy with their own families, I think, they just, and they weren't told, and they had no tradition of helping anyone else outside of their own family.  I think that's basically it.

SH:  Were these wives living on post?

PS:  There was no post.  ...

DS:  There was no post.  ... I can't remember, and I should know this, as an attaché of any government quarters anywhere in Greece, any place.

PS:  No, I don't think so.

DS:  No, they all live on economy, whether they were assigned out on the islands or on the border or whatever.  You find a house.

SH:  Did you live in an apartment?

PS:  Yes.

SH:  Did you have a vehicle?

DS:  Yes, I was assigned a vehicle.  Plus, I had my private vehicle, but they had an assigned vehicle for the student that was up there.

SH:  Were you able to drive?

PS:  I was able to drive around privately, ... but we lived downtown, so mostly I would not drive, I would walk, so.

DS:  Because, see the first part of this tour, was the war college, and then, you got the "great benni," which was a six month travel program, and you had to, with this very, very strict colonel, down in Athens, in the embassy, and to the Army back in the Pentagon, you had to submit a travel plan, and say where you were going, how many days, and all of that, and then, it had to be approved by the embassy attaché, who ... I was to become, it had to be approved by him, and it had to go back and be approved by the Pentagon.  ... You had that and to get to the war college were the reason you had your vehicle.  So, then we would use that vehicle for that travel.

SH:  Would you be traveling with your wife and son?

DS:  I would, yes.  You were allowed to do that, yes, but you were given, on these trips you were given a TDY [temporary duty], but not for your, so if you had a hotel bill you, now a room price was the room price, but I was obliged to say what's the price for a single room or whatever, you know, and it usually was the room price.  There wasn't any, it didn't make a difference.  That's the room.  It didn't matter how many people you had, so I don't think I was almost ever faced with that.  ... So, they went along.

SH:  What were some of these countries you went to?

DS:  Some of the trips, no, like the other countries.  ... She didn't go to Cyprus.  It was too difficult.  For one, they could have, if we ... didn't have the baby, yes.  We would have done that, but she didn't go to Bulgaria, but you, we went to Yugoslavia all together, and was that a trip, the Yugoslavia thing, whoa.  We took a Greek girl with us that lived in our apartment.  She got so upset and so nervous, she was throwing up.  It was bad, it was bad.  This was the old communist Yugoslavia, under Tito, and we ran into some stuff like you can't believe, I mean we, and then this vehicle I had, oh my gosh, it was an International Scout and the maintenance, we had a consulate there in Thessaloniki, and then, the embassy, so both places I would try to get the thing, but they were horrible mechanics.  I mean, it was horrible, maybe the vehicle was horrible.  I don't know, but I am not a really great as a mechanic or anything ... but boy I had to get to be.  I had to know where this was and that was and what I needed to do because that doggone vehicle was just driving me crazy, and we'd go off like in Yugoslavia, it had problems, and you think you're never going to get out of there.  [laughter] It was terrible, yes. 

SH:  Yugoslavia was still a communist country when you visited.

DS:  At the time, yes.

SH:  How did you get across the border?

DS:  Yes, right, had ... visas.  I had not a diplomatic passport, but an official passport, and that got me out of "dutch" in Yugoslavia.  This doggone vehicle broke down and in this god awful place.  ... The name of the place was Raska.  I'll never forget it, and we mentioned ... to like Yugoslav friends of ours.  ... It's just considered in the middle of ... no man's land.  ... The thing was breaking down, and we went into this hotel there, and the guy at the desk looked at me so sullen and all, and we look in, and they're having this big room with all communist banners and everything in the room, and we want a room, and, you know, I looked out of the window, I remember, and they was like crates, and I would have sworn they were crates of arms or whatever.  ... "What the hell are we doing here and what's going to happen?"  ... The door didn't lock.  We put the chairs up against the door, the sofa, and everything, and we didn't plan for this long trip and all these expenses with this doggone, and I had travelers checks, that I did have, see, but this is Yugoslavia in the middle of nowhere, and they hadn't cashed a travelers check around there since forever, and so the Greek girl and I went out, to get, and Peggy's back with the baby, and we must have gone hours, and we come to this bank, and there's a line forever, and we stand on the line in this bank, and these people are so poor, they're dressed like Muslim-type outfits, no shoes in October, horrible pantaloons-type things that they wear and all that.  ... You wouldn't believe this was, you know, oh man, and I get up, and we're standing in this long line, and I give her this check to change, and she just laughs at me, "No," and so I thought, "What the hell am I going to do?"  ... I pulled out, it was a red passport, ... but I pulled out this official passport and I said, "See."  I said, "Official passport, not tourist, official, embassy," you know.  It did it.  ... She went, "Okay, here.  Here's your money," but it was hairy, ... adventures with the family.

SH:  I bet you were glad to see your husband come back.

PS:  Oh, yes.  I was glad to see the Greek border from the other side.

DS:  Oh, we were so thankful for that Greek border.  It was unbelievable.

PS:  In Greece, I thought it was primitive, but then coming back, I wanted to kiss the ground, when we came back into Greece, you know.

DS:  And then I took my trip alone to Bulgaria.

SH:  Again, a communist country.

DS:  Oh, yes, I mean, that was a real communist country, Stalinist, you know, really.  I found it very fascinating, because I remember, like I say, I remember the end of World War II.  I remember the way things were.  ... It sure did take me back, you know, because the stores, the furniture, everything, the old radios that you used to listen to Charlie McCarthy on, ... they were there, you know.  That's what they were selling.  ... The food was the worst I ever had in my life, and I eat everything.  It was horrible, absolutely horrible, and lines to get it, yes, and I really found out about the communist system, where you go in to one of those, you go to a restaurant there, and you'd be waiting to eat this stuff.  Some guys would come in with those ribbons, these old guys wear them.  ... I remember ... they walked in there, and boy, everybody was just all over them, and "Oh, can I help you comrade?"  ... You really got to see it right there in Bulgaria.  Now, you'd go there and have a great time, you know.

SH:  Did you go to Albania?

DS:  Albania, couldn't go there, you know, you couldn't go in to Albania.  That was just a weird place, really weird.  I'll tell you what though.  We went hunting, I was into hunting, and this is how I really got in with the Greeks, ... big into hunting, boar hunting, you know, pheasants, partridges, all of this stuff.  Well, you find out the Greeks were really into this, and then so, I had this International Scout.  Oh man, they were all over me like a fly on "doo-doo," you know.  I mean, this guy had, boy, they just loved me, you know, just loved me.  Everybody wanted to ride in the jeep, and we'd go out into the boonies and shoot partridges, you know.  It was incredible, but we went on a hunting expedition up to the Albanian border ...  for wild pigs, and we didn't get any, but I remember my son, you know, we were walking along through the fields.  My son went off in one direction, and he walked up on the hill and then around, and I remember the Greeks all told him, "You were in Albania."

SH:  Oh, my.

DS:  Yes, because there wasn't really marked there and all that.  ... Matthew, he's always been an Albanian.  [laughter] I always wanted to go back there and visit it.

SH:  You came back from there in 1973.  What do you do between 1973 and 1979?

DS:  Well, that started my royal career in intelligence, from then on--intelligence, intelligence, intelligence.  ... I really didn't know that much about it.  See, I was a transportation officer.  I've gone to the basic course, the advanced course, two tours in Vietnam, and they sent me right in there as the European Analyst for the Department of the Army, and we handled like the daily briefing for the Army generals.  We wrote this "all source intelligence" thing every day. 

SH:  This is in the Pentagon.

DS:  In the Pentagon, where you would give the generals the feed for the whole, for what the Army needed to know, you know.  You'd take all the sources from intelligence.  You were cleared for everything including a rumor, you know, and you got all the stuff, and then you distilled it for the Army.

SH:  Were you only focused on the Balkans and Greece?

DS:  No, Europe in general.  ... You reported every day to work at 4:30 in the morning.  That's the time you were due in the office, ready to do your business, 4:30.  Then, they changed it to four.  ... So, every morning, four o'clock in the morning, you had to be there, and then, you worked until like, one thing you did get out on time, you usually worked until 1:00-1:30.  ... Then, you were finished, and then you go for the next shift.  So, I did that, and I used to always, you know, I'd be in this position writing these articles, you distilled all this, you had to write them, distill them, and you had a whole bunch of, those days, you had typists.  You didn't have to be your own typing.  You had these fully cleared people and they were all typing away like crazy.  I could never.  ... Well, I told you about my background from Peddie, so I would have been dead.  I would have been finished with my career if I had to type that stuff.  [laughter] So, they'd be all there, and you'd prepare this stuff.  Well, of course, being my interest, I was always trying to get the stories on Greece, you know.  Well, you had a guy that would edit the stuff before it went, some GS "umpity-ump" that would decide what the generals.  ... "Oh, Smith, what are you doing in here with that Greek crap again?  You know, we don't need that crap.  You know, they're not interested in that."  ... So, lo and behold, this continued until July 1974, and I get called up in the middle of the night, and they say, "Do you know that the Greeks have just overthrown Makarios, and that he's holed up somewhere, and are attacking the Turks?  ... Please, Captain Smith, you need to come in here."  [laughter] ... I should have moved a bed into the Pentagon, because I was there virtually 24/7 for two months, because seriously, I was the only guy in the Pentagon that knew what was going on, and I can tell this.  ... The Secretary of the Army was gone.  I briefed the Secretary of the Army, I briefed the Chief Staff of the Army, every morning.  ... The regular chief was gone, and they had an acting chief, and I don't know, he was some Southern good old boy.  He had a clock from Jefferson Davis or something in his office, and so this was early on in the crisis, and I had a full colonel, I'm a captain, I have a full colonel holding my briefing slides, okay, and probably another couple of colonels trailing, and I'm giving the briefing, and we're going through it, and we're going through it, ... and we're explaining this and that, they're here, and they're here, and this good old boy, he explained that this clock was from Jefferson Davis or something like that, and we're going in the thing, and I said well, and this progress is made by, the Turks have landed here and all that.  He said, "Give it to me here, Captain."  He goes, he says, "This here, Makarios, this guy you're talking about, is he a Greek or a Turk?"  [Editor's Note:  Colonel Smith is speaking with a Southern accent.]  I go, "Oh, I better back up here, Dave."  I go, "There's this island in the Mediterranean.  It's big.  It's called Cyprus, see," and I mean virtually like that without being rude about it.  [laughter] So, if you've ever wondered about the knowledge of our leaders, Greek or Turk, with a name like Makarios I don't know.  ...

SH:  For two months you are there.  What did they do with you next?

DS:  Okay, so I did that for like three years ... in that place, and then it comes up for reassignment, so by this time now, I have branch transferred from transportation to military intelligence.  I actually did that when I was in ... I don't know, but by that time I had transferred to military intelligence.  ... I did it before '71, because you look at that picture, and it's '71, and I was in the war college.  I had done it before that.  Okay, but they basically, the transportation corps people, wrote me a letter, or the chief of staff, wrote a letter to these people that were in the Foreign Area Program.  It said, "Look, military intelligence is expanding.  If you need to, you know, you may be interested ... that whatever branch you're in, you may not be able to fulfill your expectations as an officer and whatever corps you're in may not be able to get that much out of you, would you consider moving to intelligence?" which seems to be more of a natural home, because at that time, the program was run by the intelligence, Army Intelligence.  Later, the proponent for the program moved to Operations, because so many of these people were involved with the military assistance commands with staffs with advisory positions that were not just intelligence by any means, so it was thought that operations, and also there was the connotation I think had something to do with it, that they didn't want Foreign Area Officers just branded as intelligence people, say as far as the positions there, you know.  This wouldn't be an intelligence position.  If you were a military assistance guy, you weren't an intelligence officer, you were doing that.  You needed to know the country and all that, ... but the military intelligence kept the travel phase of the program, like the one that I was involved in, and we have these numerous countries, where they have this phase, this "in-country phase," it's called, and intelligence kept control of that.  Why, because the embassies needed to have their hands in that, you know.  To facilitate, you needed to have that facility to deal with the embassy, you know, the MAG ... didn't want you to be under them, you know, or if there was an artillery unit or something ... they didn't want to control you, so, because it was the embassies and the attaches, they wanted Intelligence to keep a hold of it, because it's no secret, the Defense Intelligence Agency runs the attaché program.

SH:  Where is this program?  Where are you sent then?  Were you still in Washington?

DS:  What, Defense Intelligence Agency?

SH:  No, to be the attaché. 

DS:  Oh, for the attaché, well, we'll get to that.  ... I continued with this Army intelligence, this, preparing the book.  We called it the "Black Book," okay, remember I did that.  So, I did that for those years.  So now, ... this job is over, this was called the FAO [Foreign Area Officer] payback position, for all your training the Army is getting, ... if they never did anything else with you, they got their money's worth, from this, but they never got their money's worth out of me till the end, because I didn't do virtually anything else until I retired, okay, because from that position, I was looking for everything.  I said, "Oh, I better do something," and we were looking at going to Geneva and all this kind of stuff.  ... Embassies have a thing that they send the messages and all, and they have, you know, the high security clearance people run this.  ... We were looking at the things like that, you know, things like that.  So, my boss, he loved me there in current intelligence and, or in the black book outfit, and the civilians really liked me, and they said, "Well, Dave, we've found a place for you.  You got to go just right down the hall here, and you're going to run the in-country program for the Foreign Area Officers."  So, I had--I forget--I had close to thirty countries, with people, and I did that.  It was very interesting, it was very demanding, lots of staff papers and travel and all of that, but very rewarding, and the great thing about it is I never had a job in the Army where I was, including being an attaché, where I was so much on my own, because the other staff officers, they didn't know anything about this.  So, they just kind of let you do your own thing, and we loved all the people I worked for.  My immediate bosses like Colonel Joe Wilson, who was probably one of the best officers I ever worked for.  These guys said, "You know, Smith, we trust you," you know.  They let me do my thing, and it was very rewarding, because I was able to establish new training sites and all that, which was extremely rewarding, you know, like we ... needed a new sub-Saharan site which was just murder to establish, and I got it going in Malawi and things like that.

SH:  Did you physically travel to these places?

DS:  Some, like we had, one of our biggest things as Foreign Area Officers, we had in Garmisch, Germany, and it still exists, but it's called, like the Marshall School now, and now it's broader, but at that time it was called the United States Army Russian Institute, and the Russian program was huge, and everybody had to go to be a bona fide Foreign Area Russian specialist, you had to graduate from this school and a coveted position was to be the commandant of this school.  So, I was very good friends with the commandant there, he got to be a general and all, and went over there, and we had, you know, other bigger schools, like the school for the Middle East was in Lebanon, and then we had that tremendous trouble in the '70s in Lebanon, so we had to close that down, and then we moved to Tunisia.  ... I was the guy that did all this stuff, so it was a very good position, and probably, you know, if I didn't have some things interfere, I probably would have made full colonel or beyond.  It's like this guy that was the commander of the Russian [Institute] he was like me, you know, more or less, but he got the right position at the right time.  It's just a matter of cut of the draw whether you did or not, you know, so loved the job, and then, worked there, and then, I went to Norfolk, Virginia to the ... Joint Staff College in Norfolk, and that was a hassle, because that's where I wanted to go.  ... During this period, after Vietnam, and they had what they called ... "reduction in force," okay, and I sized things up after some of the buzz saws ... and I said, "I need to do this.  I need to do that.  I am not going to get caught up in this kind of thing."  ... The one thing is I found out, you didn't have a college degree, you were done.  You were done as a result.  ... Reserve officers, they said, "Thank you, but bye-bye," and I remember the guy out there at Defense Language Institute, ... "If you don't have a college degree ... you're going to get that pink slip," and he got it, you know, and the other thing is you had to do Command and General Staff School, which is a major and above level school, majors and lieutenant colonels, maybe a few senior captains, maybe, might of have been, mostly majors and lieutenant colonels, and at that time like forty percent was the selection rate to attend the school.  What if you didn't make the forty percent?  You were gone, okay.  So, I said long before I was a major, I said, "I'm going to go take this with the reserves."  So, I'd go every week, you know, to wherever it was, down to Fort Belvoir or whatever, Mclean High School where they had this reserve unit that taught the school.  So, I graduated from that sucker.  Just before I got my diploma, I get notification, "You've been selected to go to Command and General Staff School in Fort Leavenworth."  So, I don't have to go through this crap again, because it meant going, every summer, and we had all these exercises and all this stuff, mostly which was just tedious stuff, but that I thought so, anyhow, certainly not intellectual, and so, I said, "I don't want to go to Fort Leavenworth, again," I told them.  "Oh, that policy of having choice where you want to go, sorry about that."  Well, meanwhile, they already have selected somebody for attaché over in Greece.  He fell through, and then somebody else fell through, and I knew this because you know all the foreign specialists.  ... They said, "Surprise, surprise, you're going to Greece."  "Well, I'm going to Command and General Staff School.  You want me over there on such and such a date.  I can't do that if you send me to Kansas.  Why don't you send me to Norfolk.  Norfolk is five and a half months, Kansas is twelve months."  "Well, I guess we're going to have to do that."  [laughter] So that's how I ended up going to Norfolk and going to the Joint Staff School down there, which is multi-service, and all that.  So, then off we go to Greece.

SH:  Did you live on base when you were in Norfolk?

DS:  Yes, my wife and two young sons lived on base in Norfolk.  We rented out our home in Vienna, Virginia for the six months we were in Norfolk.

SH:  You go back to Greece for another tour.

DS:  That would have been my second tour in Greece, but my first tour as an attaché.  I was the assistant Army attaché.

SH:  Where was the schooling for attachés located?

DS:  Schooling for attachés is in Washington run by the Defense Intelligence Agency, ... the Defense Intelligence College, okay, and at that time, the huge building they have now for the Defense Intelligence Agency wasn't built, and we were up in the Washington Navy Yard, and that's when they started giving Peggy training.  However for the assistant attaché course, she was so occupied as a mother of a young baby, child, that you weren't able to attend as much as you would have liked to.  You went to a lot, but not as much. 

SH:  You have two children at this point.

PS:  We had two by that time.

DS:  Yes, we had two children.  Matthew G. was born in 1971, and Mark was born in 1974.  I want to add here that both my sons have served or are serving in the military.  Younger son Mark enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves.  Taking Basic and Advanced Training, he served with Delta Company, 4th LAR Dragoons based in Quantico, Virginia.  A highlight of his service was participation in Operation "Tandem Thrust" in Australia in 2001.  Older son Matthew continues to serve as a Major with the Pennsylvania National Guard.  His National Guard unit was activated and sent to Iraq where Matthew was the Intelligence Officer or S-2 for his unit which was located near Baiji, a hotbed of hostile activity.  I went over there as the assistant Army attaché, and this colonel that I said was the fanatic Greek enthusiast is still there.  ... He was still there, yes, this colonel, who if he liked you, loved you, and so, he loved me, and, but if he didn't like you, watch out, you were gone, and there were certain guys he didn't like, and that's how I ended up there as the assistant Army attaché.

That's how I ended up there, because he was going to have me.  He wasn't going to have any of these other guys.

SH:  Was it guaranteed that you would get a third tour there?

DS:  No, no, that was really something.

SH:  Was he still there?

DS:  ... Actually, yes, but he stayed as a civilian.  ... He tried to get a head of the American community schools in Greece, but he didn't make it, but he stayed for a while in some other capacity, I don't know what, I can't remember, but he found very quickly, even though he was very respected and had all sorts of influence, that if you weren't a Greek and were a foreigner there in Greece, doors did not open for you like they did when you were in the embassy, right, and it wasn't the same.  Yes, ex-pat community is not, you know, you just found that.  ...

SH:  What were your duties as the assistant attaché?

DS:  Well, you know, I talk about attachés and all of that, and they're under the Defense Intelligence Agency, and I think maybe one way I can get around your duties and talk about it is, ... did you ever read The Killer Angels (1974) about Gettysburg?  Do you remember the attachés are present at Gettysburg, the French attaché, and the German, and all that?  ... Why are they there?  They're there to tell people what's going on, back in Germany, back in France, back in England, back wherever.  That's the way things are now.  ... That's the easiest way to explain it, right, and let's look at a whole embassy.  You know, you're agriculture attaché, you're commercial, you're economic, but really what are you doing?  You're doing things for the United States, which we're doing, you know, military sales, you're helping them out them where you can, but you want to let us know what's going on over there, you know, and as we well know, we don't have enough real bona fide people telling us what's going on, and we always need more, and so, that's what you do.  Is that enough?

SH:  I got you.

DS:  ... A big thing about that is building a rapport with the foreign military, and the Army had the ideal situation for that, other services know, we got our money's worth and get our money's worth out of this Foreign Area Officer Program, because I was in there in that Greek War College.  Those officers that were in there with me as captains, majors, and lieutenant colonels, became Chiefs of the Army and Chiefs of ... Defense.  They know me on a first name basis.  I went hunting with these guys.  So, you don't think that's good?  That is very good from the standpoint of the United States of America, very good, because the Greeks, if you graduate from the Greek Military Academy, you're going to be a general, it's a totally different system that we have.  ... Now, they have colonels doing things that we might have a sergeant doing, okay.  I mean, seriously, I don't care if this is recorded, and they say that, because they can say what they want.  That's the honest to goodness truth.  There's a structure there.  I mean, I would say the German structure probably and the French are closest to what we think, and the Brits, of what we are in the military, but ... the Italians, the Spanish, the Portuguese, don't know that much about them, but enough, certainly Italians, and the Greeks, you know, they have this officer structure that is just completely foreign to ... the way we deal in our military.

SH:  In the time frame that you are there, is the military still running the country?

DS:  Only during that period where I was there as a student.  Remember '74, the junta was deposed, and they sentenced these guys to death, but it was commuted to life imprisonment, because they don't even have the death penalty now.  ... By '79, and then we were faced with a totally different situation where not only the civilians ran the country but the military that were associated with that period of the military dictatorship in any way, shape, or form were persona non grata, and the ones that rose were the guys that kept neutral as best they could.  You could only go so far on that, but, you know, they know who's who.  They are a "political" military, no bones about it.  ... We were there in the era of, I don't know how much, Andreas Papandreou, who was an anti-American, and a Marxist wife, and didn't like us from the word "Go."  ... It was a bit hairy.  [Editor's Note:  Andreas Papandreou served two terms as Prime Minister of Greece from 1981-1989 and 1993-1996.]

SH:  Were you restricted in where you could go?

DS:  Well, I mean, I can say this.  ... I knew so many of these people from the war college, and unless I hadn't known all these people, and they were my personal friends, and I knew them well back.  I knew them, and in some cases, we knew their families, because we as attachés especially, we got to know the families well, a lot about the families.  I did well as the attaché there, but you had instances where these left-wing people, like the left-wing, and you'd have instances where, of course, we knew kind of like who was a left-wing general, who was really sucking up to Papandreou, where you'd run into their problem and say you were traveling in their area, you know, they'd be on top of you all the time, and we have interesting stories about that even to the point of ridiculousness.  ... They'd follow you and all of that stuff, you know, to a ridiculous degree.  ... So, it was a very, very interesting time.  ...

SH:  Did you travel through Europe on the second attaché tour?

PS:  Yes, we went to Spain and Austria.  We went to a lot of places.

DS:  Don't forget that was ... when I was Army attaché, not when I was assistant.  Remember, we decided, when I went over as Army attaché, we're not going to just stick to Greece so much.  We went to Germany to visit friends.  We decided that when we went over as Army attaché, by darn we're going to see the Middle East, we're going to see Egypt, we're going to go to Austria, Hungary, and Italy.

SH:  From 1985 to 1989, you are the principal Army attaché.

DS:  That's right, Army, the principal Army attaché. 

SH:  What does the principal Army attaché do?

DS:  Same thing as the Assistant Army attaché, but you are the principal.  Now, the bad thing about that was, is I was a lieutenant colonel, and it calls for a colonel, but I mean, ... I was the guy that knew more than any of them put together.  I'm just being honest about it.  ... I knew more, so, and the Navy, you know, the Navy attaché offices, worldwide, are divided on who is the defense attaché, what service, and for Greece, it's the Navy.  Now, the Navy, they had this saying, "Unless you're steel gray and underway, you're nobody."  So, obviously, the guys that are going to the attaché job are not "steel gray and underway," and they are not the cream of the crop.  I don't care if they record this, but we used to have expression, "Who's the Navy going to send us now?"  ... These were guys that were not going to make admiral, no way Jose.  Is that fair?  I don't have to excise that one, right?  [laughter] ... We were really "the guys," you know, the Army office, you know, from the military attaché to the assistant, we knew what was going on.  We really knew what was going on, because we always had this background, and they depended on us.  ... I was there the last tour, I was there four years.  I should have been there three years, but Mathew, my oldest son, had one more year to go in high school, and I didn't want him to leave that American community school where he was doing very well and had a very good educational system to come back here to a high school ... and be a fish out of water.  So, we stayed.  Now, that was a very traumatic year.  Why?  June of 1988, I am traveling with, in a different car, different route with the naval attaché, who is also the defense attaché and though he wasn't a Foreign Area Officer, ... he was a good guy, and he was a friend of mine, and we're traveling one road, ... he on the other road, and he was killed by terrorists.  It first came over the radio that the military attaché has been killed.  In Greek, military attaché translates into defense attaché but people thought military attaché, they're thinking Army attaché, because Army attaché and the words ... translate to Army attaché.  ... They first thought I was the guy killed.

SH:  The two attachés are in different cars.

DS:  Different cars, ... coming from home.

PS:  They were both going to work.

DS:  ... Both of us going to work, and I get into the embassy, and there's white faces, ashen faces, and they say, you know, "Captain Nordeen has been killed."  ...

SH:  Was it a bomb?

DS:  ... Yes, car bomb, and so, they sent the Air Force guy, they set up to look at the scene, and I had to hold the phone and answer Washington, and even Reagan called, okay.  It was big time and bad.  So, we'd already extended, and I remember the day they shipped his body back to the States, was the day we were supposed to rotate back and things were very, very hairy terrorism-wise.  We traveled armed, bullet-proof vests, armored cars.  We had the threat from this terrible 17 November Organization, and we had it from the Middle East, all at the same time.  ... [Editor's Note:  On June 28, 1988, Captain William Nordeen was killed by car bomb.  Revolutionary Organization 17 claimed the blast.]  17 November was the name of the Greek terrorist organization.  They killed ... American people from 1975 on, and they killed numerous foreigners, Turks, military people, the people from the Military Assistance Group, people from the base at Hellenikon, the British brigadier--they have a general as their attaché--killed him.  Like I said, numerous Turks and more than any, many, many Greeks, police officers, industrialists, doctors--brutal murders--and we were, of course, it was a real saga.

SH:  Were you living in a compound?

DS:  We were living, at that time, in embassy housing, ... which means just a house on the street.  We had a guard, it had been an embassy house forever, and we had a guard, you know, machinegun at our door, asleep a good part of the time, and all that.  The big thing was getting to work.  So, you tried to vary your times and your routes and all that and be very observant, of which I am extremely observant, you know, and so I credit that kind of thing with saving my life, because boy would they have liked to get me, Greek War College, there with the junta when it was there, all of that.  They would have loved to get me, yes, so it was very critical. 

SH:  Were you worried about your children?

DS:  Of course, of course, because just by chance, Captain Nordeen didn't have his daughter in the car at the time, just by chance.  ... I went with my son, so if they would have got me, they would got him too, and they didn't care.

SH:  What was the other threat you mentioned?

DS:  I said the Middle East terrorists at the same time, lots of that at the time.  ... They threw the guy out of the plane, off the ship, all of that, and a lot of that was Greek, either from Greece or Greek connected in some way.  The sailor they threw out of the plane was stationed there in Greece, you know.  So, we were really something.  I mean, it's one thing to be in Vietnam where everybody was [a target in general], but when you're actually targeted yourself, it's a different world, and when you have your whole family involved in the thing.  So, it was hairy, really was.

SH:  Did you ever think about changing your mind or leaving your post?

DS:  Oh, there was no changing your mind.  I was there.

SH:  Did you ever think about sending your family home?

DS:  Oh, no, I don't think so, no.  I never thought about that.

SH:  I know that you cannot talk about specific things, but what other problems did you have to deal with at the time?

DS:  ... Part of our program, and it took a lot of our efforts, was we had to entertain a lot.  ... We entertained at least twice a month, and I mean really entertain, and it was, you couldn't just keep entertaining the British attaché or something like that, and other officers in the military attaché program had problems getting people to come because the Greeks didn't want to come to your house and so forth ... under especially under the Papandreou regime, but somehow they would, "Hey, I know Smith, ... he's good guy, you know.  He likes us.  I can tell you about Dave," you know.  They would tell whoever.  ... I got along extremely well with the guy that was the intelligence head of the Army and with his guy that handled attaches.  ... We were very close, with he and his wife.  ... They weren't going to snub me, but other guys, man, some of those other attachés had a terrible time getting anybody.  Yes, so they'd just entertain, you know, the Brit and the French guy and all that, but we got extremely close with them, extremely close with the attachés.  It was a great assignment in many ways.  The Chinese attaché lived right down the street from us and we got so close to that guy.  ... We'd go there, and they'd have these fabulous meals, as you can well imagine, oh man, oh wow.  ...

SH:  What kind of staff did you have when you had to entertain guests? 

DS:  ... You got support for a maid and you were given compensation for your expenses.  You had to very carefully tabulate them and all before your meal, as it would be for embassy person or whatever, you know.  Now, I can say too that this created, because they didn't understand, but this created, since we had an American military community there in Greece, this created animosity between our office and the Military Assistance Command Office.  For example, from the general on down, because we had a car, ... and we got these stipends to help us out, all had to be supported, but there was no understanding on the part of those folks, the people from the base or from the MAG group or whatever, that we had to do that.  We weren't getting any great pleasure out of this or anything else.  They went to an office, and they worked with the American military, military sales or whatever, or they were at the base with the Air Force or whatever, but they didn't have these obligations, but we had a lot.  ... It went on, and I bet it still goes on, just incredible friction from them, not from us.  We never said anything.  We just tried to get along.  ... "Can't we all get along?"  ... We'd go to a taverna or something, I guess, you know, a Greek restaurant, and you'd run into one of these MAG guys, and he'd come, "Hey, there's one of these attaché buggers," you know.  He might have had a couple of Greek HELLAS beers or whatever or Retsina wine too much, and he'd really take off, and I don't know how many times we had that experience, and it was quite annoying, and it was unjustified, you know, but that just shows the kind of thing that goes on that doesn't need to go on.  ...

SH:  From 1989, where were you assigned?

DS:  In '89, I come back, and I am assigned as I requested to the Defense Intelligence College to teach attaches in this course, and that's where I said, I was there four and a half years, and as far as duty wise, it was the easiest position I had in the military, from the day I was a second lieutenant on.

SH:  Where was this being taught?

DS:  At Bolling Airbase, Washington, DC.  ... It was just very good, and, you know, there were occasional problems, but by and large, it was good.

SH:  Is this where you finished your career?

DS:  That is where I finished my career.  That is where I retired in 1993.

SH:  What keeps you busy now?

DS:  Well, one thing, many things keep me busy.  ... It seems like when you retire, you have more than ever.  When I retired, I taught in the Fairfax County Public Schools, in their alternative schools program, from occasionally to very frequently.  Alternative schools are the bad guys that they have these, I did some, just like I did some regular substitute teaching, there was a lady in my church and she taught at this alternative school.  "Oh, don't get me involved with that, you know."  She said, "Hey, substituting is a piece of cake," and it is, because these kids know the next step is juvenile detention, see.  So, they're not going to get on, if you have one get out of line, but when they get out of line, at that stage, they really get out of line, you know.  So, I had one occasion where I had to call the police, and they restrained and all of that stuff, because somebody like this is uncontrollable, but other than that, it was good.  The program, I don't know if they have anything like this in New Jersey, but you actually, they were at houses, and these kids for sometimes they go there as residents, and sometimes they'll come just for the day, and then, there are some schools that are former regular schools that they have problem children.  ... There's so many of these houses and they're all over.  So, I saw all kinds of issues there which I didn't say anything about at the time, but, you know, you see, you know, you start thinking about education budgets and all, and you could see where a lot of money, by the millions, is being spent on things that I'm not too sure about.  You know what I'm saying?  You know, like renting houses, what do you pay for that?  What do you pay for a full staff to cook and to administer these places, and then for a teacher or two, and then for a tutor for the courses the teacher can't teach?  You know, we kind of went off the deep end on this, ... and then, coed, you know, for these overnight places, whoa, hormones, ... a long ways from Peddie.  One of the things Peggy and I was very involved with is Lions Clubs International.  Both of us have held many positions with the local Vienna, Virginia Club, and have been to several international conventions.  I am the incoming President of the Vienna Club.

SH:  During the time that you are in military, where does the CIA fit into all of this?  Can I ask this or should I not ask?

DS:  You can ask.  [laughter] Yes, I'm not going to get into that.

SH:  Is there anything about Rutgers or going to Peddie or anything that I have not asked or we have not touched on that is near and dear to your heart, and you want to talk about, before we conclude the interview?

DS:  Ask me something specific.  ... The thing is Rutgers, and my major in geography, and those teachers that I had at Rutgers are responsible for my career, totally.  I mean, if hadn't had that, I would not have done what I did, and it was that unknown-named colonel that said, "Geography, Rutgers, master's degree.  We want you."  Otherwise, who knows?  Of course, I might be a head of the department of geography somewhere too, but I don't know.

SH:  I really do appreciate you taking time to come and talk to us, and I think that is the perfect place to end this interview.

DS:  Okay.

SH:  Thank you both again.

DS:  Sure thing.

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

Reviewed by Alexandra McKinnon 3/12/13

Reviewed by Nicholas Molnar 3/27/13

Reviewed by David B. Smith 5/21/13