Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Dr. Charles L. Little in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with Shaun Illingworth ...
Matt Lawrence: ... and Matt Lawrence.
SI: The date is May 11, 2007. Thank you very much for coming all this way to meet with us during your Reunion Weekend, your fortieth reunion. To begin, could you tell us where and when you were born?
Charles Little: I was born in Brooklyn, New York, 1945, just because it was a place that Methodist ministers' families could have babies for free. I was conceived in Otsego County in Upstate New York; greatest claim to fame is that the [National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum] is there. [laughter] Then, I lived in Upstate New York my whole life. When I was in junior and senior high school, I moved to Iran and lived in Tehran for a couple of years with my family, and I applied to Rutgers sight unseen. I was accepted at all the colleges I applied to and, to this day, I don't know how I picked Rutgers. I just came here and came, around the corner, with my cousin, who brought me, who had basically greeted me at the airport, so to speak, and we came here on a Sunday afternoon in the Fall of '63 and came up College Avenue. I lived in Livingston Dorm, ... which is now Campbell Dorm. I was in New Jersey Hall when [John F.] Kennedy got shot. I was a history major, and I loved the place. I still love Rutgers--not much else to say. [Editor's Note: President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas.]
SI: Can you tell us a little bit about your father and what his background was, what he did for a living?
CL: Yes, my dad was a Methodist minister. He just passed away.
SI: Sorry to hear that.
CL: It's okay. He and my ...
SI: Do you want to take a break?
CL: No, I'm okay. He and my mother were from New York City. They came from nothing. My mother died when she was ninety-one. She went to college, which was extremely unusual [at that time].
SH: Yes, it was unusual for women in that day and age.
CL: Yes, my mother went to college in the '30s. There was no money, there was nothing, and her mother worked in a sweat shop. She came from nothing as far as material things are concerned.
SI: Do you know which college she went to?
CL: Yes, she went to Hunter College, and then, she finished ... in the SUNY [State University of New York] system, after the war, and she was a pretty smart woman. ...
SI: Was she involved in the war in some way?
CL: No, no. My father had a heart problem, so, he didn't go in the service, and my mother--they lived in New Jersey, now that I think about it, down by Fort Dix, Jacobstown. They lived in Jacobstown after they moved out of New York. My dad, eventually, went to Drew [University], became a Methodist minister, worked in Upstate New York.
SI: Do you know what he did before he became a minister?
CL: No. ... He and his brother were the only two people who had jobs. He, eventually, went to CCNY [City College of New York], graduated. Then, he went to Drew, graduated, and then, in the '60s, he got a doctorate. So, my parents were really ...
SI: Very well-educated.
CL: Yes. My mother was a generous person, not with her means, but with her time. She helped a lot of high school kids.
SI: She was a high school teacher.
CL: Yes. I think it's because of her passing so close, but they were good people. So, anyway, when I came to Rutgers, they were pleased. They didn't take any particular interest in it. I mean, they just dropped me off, paid the bills, and, as I told someone today, I would take my five dollars on Friday--I'd write a check for five dollars--go to Winants Hall, where the cashier was, write my check for five bucks, and that would be enough money to last me to the next Friday, including, like, on Sunday night, it was a pretty common thing to go out as a study break. Do you really want to hear this Rutgers stuff? It's a pretty common thing for everybody to study on Sunday, and I would study from twelve until twelve, but the deal was to go to Patty's, which I now see is the Olive Branch. ... There would be a long line out there and you could, for about two dollars, ... get a spaghetti dinner and the people at the table would split, like, birch beer or root beer. Of course, there was no women, so, it was just kind of, like, all the guys were there. Then, the rest of the time, I spent, probably, like a buck on my laundry and you turned in your sheets every Monday night with your towels. When you lived in the fraternity, on or off campus, you didn't have to do that. Then, I would spend the rest of my money on pizza. There was a pizza truck, a Mom and Pa Khrushchev Pizza. Did anybody ever tell you guys about that? There was Ma and Pa Khrushchev--and the guy looked like [Soviet Premier Nikita] Khrushchev--and he was parked up here on College Avenue and for, I think it was, like, fifteen cents, you could buy a slice of pizza. So, I'd buy a slice on the way home, on the way either back to the fraternity house or I lived in Livingston and I lived in Frelinghuysen Hall. Then, I had an apartment. When I was in the apartment, I didn't do that, but the first three years, I always did that, and these people were really mean. They were just inhospitable sorts and we were patronizing their pizza truck. Then, some of my friends also sold sandwiches. Does anybody ever tell you about the sandwich salesmen there used to be here? There were jobs that you could get selling sandwiches. I don't know who made the sandwiches, but it was largely locked up by Zeta Psi, DU Delta Upsilon and Beta Theta Pi guys. They'd go through the dorms and they'd rattle their keys, their change thing, and that's how you knew. If you were in the dorm studying, you could come out and get a sandwich. I don't know if I didn't have the money for it, but I think it was more like I just didn't like sandwiches. I'd rather have a slice of pizza, so, I would do pizza. I didn't do that, but a lot of my friends did that and that was what consumed all the time. I mean, going over to Douglass, taking a class at Douglass, was a big deal, because there was no women in our classes. So, I used to go over there. I had a couple of good teachers. A Florence Lee was over there, a very nice lady. She actually recognized that I had some potential. I became a school superintendent. I was a superintendent for seventeen years, but she recognized that I had some interest in young people and she was a Douglass teacher that I had, a nice lady. [Editor's Note: Dr. Florence Lee, DC '29, taught in the New Jersey public school system before becoming a lecturer and associate professor at Douglass College. She eventually became the college's teacher education coordinator and chair of the Douglass Education Department from 1969 to 1974.] The basketball team was everything. ... I was lucky that--the only time in my life a name like Little ever paid off, was alphabetically, because guess who I sat next to? Think about it, come on, you guys--Bob Lloyd. There was one guy that sometimes got in-between us, but, almost all the time, I sat next to Lloyd and he was a very nice, friendly guy. [Editor's Note: Under head coach Bill Foster, star players Bob Lloyd and Jim Valvano led the Rutgers Men's Basketball Team to a string of successful seasons in the mid-1960s, culminating in the 1966-67 season, when Rutgers made the post-season for the first time ever and finished third in the National Invitation Tournament. Bob Lloyd became Rutgers' first All-American in basketball that year.] He seemed kind of quiet. That put me in contact with some other people on the basketball team and I would often ask this other fellow, Phil Robinson, another very nice guy from Long Island, to give me tickets to get to go to away games, and then, I would get someone from my fraternity to drive me there and I got to see a lot of games that way. It was a spirited time. If you were a basketball fan, it was comparable to what happened to us in football this year, because we came in third in the NIT. [Editor's Note: In 2006, the Rutgers Football Team performed better than expected in its season and was selected to play in the Texas Bowl.] ... I saw Allen Ginsberg here. Then, I did not see [Vice-President Hubert] Humphrey. I showed up at the--what was it?--convocation afterwards, but he had come here. I saw Barry Goldwater, and then, I saw, like, the Four Tops and all the great groups of the '60s. Rutgers was a happening place. I just did enough work to get "Cs" and "Bs." That's all I wanted, and I had a good time. I made lots of great friends. I still am in touch with lots of Rutgers friends. My training and the rigors of Rutgers is what got me through a master's degree and a doctorate. There were courses, like, this English comp course was a very difficult course, and they used to make you go and take these hourlies on Saturday morning; just marched the whole freshman class [in]. Did you ever hear the story before?
CL: Marched the whole freshman class down to, like, Scott Hall. You have to go by wherever you were alphabetically. They give you this test and they give you--like, "Richard Cory" [(1897) by Edwin Arlington Robinson] was one of the poems--they give it to you cold and you have to write an essay about it. That was hard to do that, ... but the rigor of the place was good.
SI: Do you feel like your high school education prepared you well for Rutgers?
CL: Yes, in some respects it did, but, see, now that I can talk a little about my parents, my father traveled all over the world, and so, I had a gigantic frame of reference when I came to college. I didn't realize it. I mean, I had no idea that I had been places that no one else had been. I'd been all over the Middle East. I'd been to refugee camps already. I've been all over Europe. My dad had been traveling since the late, the early '50s. He used to say that when he first started going to Germany, it was still smoldering five years after the war, you know. So, what I'm saying is, my dad had all that background and my parents absolutely valued education. I mean, I think that's true. If you looked at, or if you studied, if I ever wrote a book, one of the differences between the Midwest and the East Coast is that, on the East Coast, education is so rooted in the values that people have and so important to mobility and economic mobility. There's a tremendous, tremendous energy, and that's the way it's going to be about public schools. In the Midwest, it's not like that. The funding formulas are different; the whole setup is much more casual. It's almost like, ... if you don't get an education, you could still go out and work in a factory or be a farmer, or something. It is not that way in the East Coast, not even that way in Upstate New York, where I'm from. The immigrant influence is powerful on the East Coast, very powerful. I haven't lived every place--I only lived in Michigan, Indiana and New York, and I'm familiar with New Jersey--but, to me, it seems it's very powerful. ... I also had an English teacher, in tenth grade, when I was going to school in Endwell, [New York], who made us read. You had to do the vocabulary test, which was the cover story of Newsweek--any word is fair game, in context. So, we used to have to read that thing, I mean, every single word you had to read, and, if you didn't know it, you had to go back and figure out the context, and then, on Friday, he'd give you a test. He was so smart. ... He knew that we would be talking to each other--you know, the first period would talk to the third period kids--he made five different tests, and so, this was hard. So, I was prepared in that way. I was prepared. I had strong interest in history, strong interest in social studies and a good training in English, plus, parents who read. My father's library, we had ten thousand books, that we were giving them away--I mean, that's how much. That's why books were a big part of how I lived, but, in math, that's why I'm--in math and science, I somehow got it. Oh, two things happened. In the early '60s, there were some developments in science that changed the world, like the DNA molecule was discovered, in the late '50s or something. When I took biology in high school, we had to master passing the New York State Regents, which meant being able to explain how a ham sandwich was digested. When I got to Rutgers, it was the DNA molecule, and there was a guy called "The Human Typewriter," who could write on the board faster than you could take notes, and he was on the screen, so, he never stopped. He wasn't in the lecture--you had to go see him on the screen. So, I thought biology was very hard when I took it and, somehow, ... people told me that I wasn't good in math. I now believe I was probably pretty good. I'm very good in arithmetic. I can do a lot of stuff with numbers in my head, I mean, monies and estimating things. I've had big responsibilities and I have been able to keep up with everybody that I ever needed to, that have MBAs and everything. So, Rutgers was a great place. I liked it. I graduated in 1967
SI: You mentioned that you came here sight unseen. How did you choose Rutgers, basically?
CL: To this day, I don't know. I don't know why. The only time I came or I was ever around here was, my dad had to bury a friend down at the Shore, in a town that is a Methodist town, that doesn't have drinking, I think, even to this day.
SI: I know it, Ocean Grove, yes.
CL: I don't know. I was only a little kid and we went down there and, on the way back, ... to get back to Upstate New York, we drove to New Brunswick, and I distinctly remember that Johnson and Johnson building, but I don't think that had anything to do with it. Maybe subconsciously, because ... I love athletics, the '61 team, maybe that got in my head--I don't know. [Editor's Note: In 1961, the Rutgers Football Team went undefeated for the first time in the school's history.] I could have gone to a state school in New York, I could have gotten into a private school in Ohio, I could have gone to a private school in New Jersey, but I picked Rutgers and it was a good pick, very good pick. I was very happy. I've always been happy about it. I've always been proud of it.
ML: You mentioned your interest in sports. Were you active in sports growing up?
CL: Yes. In effect, I was never good enough to be a starter on any team, but I was always good enough to be on a team. I was always involved. ... You know, back in those days, I went to Little League and, in high school, I was on the basketball team. The thing that I regret--I regret two things about all that--number one, I never knew I was interested in track, which I am now and have been for twenty-five years. I never knew that, that I was interested, and the other thing was, ... if I just could have figured out that I would have been happy being a manager of a team, I would have done that. ... I'm an organized guy and I would have been a perfect person, but I didn't understand that. I just didn't know that. I remember coming to Rutgers and seeing all the kids with New Jersey high school letter jackets and all the things that they did, all the champions and all the different classes. That was unknown in New York State. So, that was a phenomenon, but I like athletics. I still like athletics, I'm still active. I still run. I started lifting weights this year. I love it. I love competition. All three of my kids--my one son was on the Rutgers track team--then went to Indiana. One son was on an Indiana State Championship track team. My daughter's on the Loyola track team. My wife is a good, is a strong, athlete. There's another example. I don't think anybody ever told her she could be an athlete. I mean, women, whoever had conversations about women athletes? I mean, that's one thing about Rutgers--if you look back at it, we were a closed system. I mean, there were no--there were a few, there were some--blacks. In fact, there's a judge who was on the track team, Elijah Miller, who I knew through this basketball guy I talked about. I could tell you the number of blacks that I knew were on campus. There was a kid on the basketball team, Tom, can't think of his last name, maybe Smith, but, anyway, there were no blacks, there were no women. All the stuff was just from outer space, some of it. I mean, when Allen Ginsberg came, he's a homosexual, he came with his boyfriend/girlfriend, whatever. I remember, I just was like, "I never thought of this," [laughter] you know what I mean? You never got your mind around the issues that are so important today. I think that it was good that Rutgers has gone coed and all that stuff has happened. I have some opinions about the military. My opinion is that women should not be in combat or bear arms. They can be support people, and my reason is that passion is more powerful than patriotism, and I have talked to feminists about this. I've had arguments. You can, in the university setting, where I work, I talk about this to people--no, not everybody agrees with that especially, but I think it's true. I don't know the Jessica Lynch story. [Editor's Note: Private First Class Jessica Lynch was captured during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and later rescued by the United States Army. She has since accused the government of fabricating the details of her detainment in order to manipulate public opinion regarding the invasion.] I mean, I don't know, I just don't know, ... but I think when you're in a unit, you have got to have the mission be the focus, the patriotism. That's one of the reasons why it is impressive to see the World War II veterans. They came out of a context where there was real agreement. Everybody knew what the mission was, everybody was involved. When I got out of the Army in '69, then, about by '78, I was a high school principal, so, I had a secretary, and the point is, I could dictate letters. I used to write to my congressman, telling him that this all-volunteer Army was about as dumb an idea as I ever heard of. The country, and I learned this at Rutgers--I learned at Rutgers that you need to have citizen-soldiers. Now, I learned that, surprisingly enough, in ROTC, which I was in for two years. I quit because I didn't like it, but I did like the military history courses you had to take the first year, and I learned a lot in that and I learned about the concept of the citizen-soldier, and that's very important. That's why this war in Iraq, and I'm opposed to it, of course, but we're never going to do anything because no one is committed. Like, three percent of the population is involved and the rest of us are driving around Indianapolis, waiting for the 500. You can't win a war like that. You've got to have a national commitment. ... Back in '78, I wrote, for several years, advocating universal conscription, which I still believe to be important. I do not think there should be--let's put it this way: if there was a draft for this war, I would go with my family to Canada. I wouldn't even think about it. I had that back in '67. Maybe to bring the story along a little bit, the weekend I got home from graduation, my dad and I talked about it. My dad was already counseling people to be conscientious objectors, and I said, basically, "I lived here for twenty-two years. I cashed in. I had the good life. I owe it to the place, so, if I get drafted, I get drafted," and, two weeks later, two weeks after graduation, I got my first letter. Then, the deal was that you had to report for a physical first, then, you got drafted. So, I got my note to go to a physical. I had taken a job in New York City, so, I wrote them a letter saying, "I can't come to the physical. I work in New York." So, I went to New York to work. They sent me a letter that said, "Go to this place in Brooklyn." I wrote them a letter, I said, "Hey, in September, I'm not going to be in New York. I'm moving to Wheeling with my company." So, then, ... in the Fall of '67, I got a letter in the mail that said, "You're getting a physical in Pittsburgh in two weeks. Get up there and don't give us anymore baloney." So, I went there before Christmas, and then, I had a week's vacation accumulated from my half a year of work. I took it off at Christmas. I got the letter in the mail, which I wish I could find--I have it someplace--but it says, "Greeting," doesn't say greetings, it says, "Greeting," and it says, "your friends and countrymen have asked you to serve. Show up at," in my case, "Syracuse." So, I went back to my company and told them I was going to get drafted. They gave me a week's--no, a month's pay. They gave me six hundred and something dollars. They gave me a month's pay before I left, which was very nice, gave me a month's pay. I came back, went out, like, two days before I was going to go, got smashed, ate pizza, had a bad headache, went up to Syracuse. They give you your final checkup. I stepped across the line and I was drafted. The month of January of '68, I was drafted along with fifty thousand guys, fifty thousand. February was the next biggest month--fifty-five thousand people were drafted. So, I got on the bus ... and went to the Syracuse airport. They put us on a plane, landed in Newark, put us on a bus, drove us down to South Jersey. Now, where are you guys from? Are you from South Jersey?
SI: My wife is from South Jersey.
CL: All right, to Fort Dix, "The Home of the Ultimate Weapon." That was the name, "The Home of the Ultimate Weapon." So, we showed up there and it was colder than heck and I was in the reception center for about a week. It's the place where they gave you your stuff and your gear to go to basic training. When I was in the reception center, it was one of the two times I got KP in nineteen months. I was in the Army shorter than anyone. You're not going to get anything shorter. I was in nineteen months and one day and the deal was, if you got out, when you came back to "the world," with 150 days ... left or less, you got out. So, in the end, I had to extend, when I was in Vietnam, to come back with 149 days and I got out, didn't have to serve those last five months. So, I was in a short time. The one time--I pulled KP twice--I actually saw a kid from my high school. He walked up to the window. I was scrapping the trays. I saw this guy. The shirt said Herman. I looked up, I said, "Peter?" He was my friend from high school and he was in the Fort Dix band. So, then, I was in basic training and, geez, I could take this--a lot of stuff is starting to come back to me.
SI: You mentioned that you talked with your father, who had been counseling COs. What did he say in response to you when you talked to him about being drafted?
CL: He just listened. He listened. My father was a balanced person. He was what Studs Terkel said this morning about being a liberal. [Editor's Note: Dr. Little is referring to a taped interview of Studs Terkel seen during the Annual Meeting of the Rutgers Living History Society.] My dad was a balanced person and he thought, if you had a point of view, you could defend it and supply the rationale for it. He was accommodating. That's all he said. I mean, he didn't say anything about it. I can remember just exactly how it was--he was in the living room, we were talking. That was that. It was a Sunday afternoon. I can remember the Times that day. There was a picture on the front page of the Times about these guys on a troop carrier, and I don't remember the incident, but I've seen the picture since. That's how we got to talking about it, but, so, yes, my dad didn't--my dad was a very even guy, very even person. My mother was not so even, but my dad was pretty even. Oh, man, the day I had to go, my mother would not come down the stairs. This is important that I tell you this. So, the net of it was, my dad took me down to the draft board. That was before I went to the service. My dad took me down there. God, I want to swear--this jackass, she was in charge of our draft board, gave us this lecture. She says, "And when you boys come back here, you all are going to be thanking me." When I came back, I terrorized that office. I scared the lady who took the paperwork. When you come back, or when you get out of the service, ... you've got to bring your paperwork in, and so, the short and the long is, this lady was a secretary there. I came in and gave her the paper. "Ah, Chucky, we're glad to see you back." I said, "Ah, Mrs. Wier, how are you doing?" I say, "Is Mrs. Snow here, Marian P. Snow?" She says, "She's in the back." I said, "Could I talk to her?" So, she comes out and I got in her face. I mean, I don't know if I pointed my finger at her or if I poked her in the chest, but I told her, I said, "Don't you ever tell anybody they're going to thank you for sending us to Vietnam," and I had expletives in it. I was really awful, [laughter] but she deserved it, because she had no freaking idea what was going on. I mean, to tell people that--boy, that pissed me off. So, anyway, I went through basic training. I met a guy, who was in basic with me, Mike Millatello, who became a bar owner, owned a bar in Buffalo during the disco age, and guess who I met at the bar one night? There was a fundraiser for the Buffalo Philharmonic--the greatest running back ever for the Buffalo Bills, come on, guys.
SI: O.J. [Simpson]?
CL: Yes. So, I met O.J. there, and you know what happened to him. So, I met him there and, oh, Lord, there were O.J. stories floating around. See, I was living in Buffalo at that time. I was principal of the school, actually, out a ways, but I went there. That's about the only guy that I saw from that unit again, I don't think--I don't even know. I mean, there are some stories I could tell you about some of the people I was in basic with--poor bastards. This one guy, I haven't thought of this in forever, he had to have all his teeth pulled out. Geez, Mayhood, his last name was Mayhood and we called him Mayhog. Everybody in the Army had a nickname practically. I didn't have one, but a lot of people got nicknames. You know how in Forrest Gump, they're talking, walking on the road, and saying, "This guy was Tex, because he's from Texas. This guy is from Cleveland, but he's really from Cincinnati?" but they stuck names on everybody. So, Mayhog got this name, but I remember that poor guy lying in his bunk, with all his frigging teeth pulled out, and he was happy, because he was going to get false teeth. He was from Norwich, New York--never saw those guys again. I think because I had a good mechanical sense, I did well on this aptitude test, well enough that I got sent to Aberdeen Proving Grounds to be a fire-control instrument repairman. Now, technology has passed that by, but, ... in a thirteen-week course, I was trained, not educated, how to take apart sights, binoculars, any scopes of any kind, and I did so well at it that I got a promotion, so that when I got done with basic, I was a private or an E-2, and because I did well enough in the [course]--I got to tell you this [laughter]--that I did well enough in the school at Aberdeen that I got made an E-4, which was a good deal. ... The thing I'm chuckling about is, the guys who didn't do too well--that when I say it's training, as opposed to education, they had to be retrained--but you know what they called it? "dud study." [laughter] Dud study, oh, man, these poor guys had to go and do it again. They would get, like, a week behind, they do it again, you know. So, anyway, I was there for thirteen weeks. ...
SI: You were a college graduate at this point.
SI: Were most of the other recruits college graduates?
CL: Oh, no, no, oh, gosh, no, I was rare. There was nobody, there was nobody. In fact, I actually--now, you remind me of something. There's a kid from my class, Larry List, from Rutgers '67, who I ran into ... in Aberdeen Proving Ground and List, Larry, invited me to come over to his bachelor's officers' quarters for dinner, or something. ... I went over there and I was stunned about how much better they had it than we did. I mean, [where] we were, it was clean and we kept that place clean as a whistle, our barracks and stuff, but there was two dozen of us sleeping in there, I don't know, a whole bunch of people, and he had a little room, and so forth. List, alphabetically, wasn't far from Little and Lloyd, so, I knew him pretty well and he was very kind to me. ... He took me to a movie, I went over to his place to eat, and that's another person I ran into, but there were no college graduates in my training company. It's called advance training and I became a [specialist] 41C. Then, I ... stayed in casual company for, like, six weeks and I left. Then, I was given a two-week leave and went to Vietnam. I had, like, a three-day pass in basic, and then, when I got in casual company, we could go home every weekend. So, I would hitchhike. I'd get a ride to the gate, and then, there was a guy who lived somewhere in South Jersey who'd give me a ride, and then, I would either come up to Rutgers or I would hitch and get over to Pennsylvania and get up to my house. Then, my dad would bring me back into Pennsylvania on this road, and there was a kid who would come by there from--I don't know where he was coming from. He'd take me pretty close. He was a soldier. There was another base--see, there's other forts near Aberdeen, but I can't think of the name of it.
SI: Detrick, Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland?
CL: Yes, there's a couple of places, but this kid was going there. So, he'd take me to the gate and I'd just get in, walk in, and then, as I say, I got two weeks off, two weeks' leave. My friends, we had clams and corn, like on a hot summer night in July. My father had gone to Europe in the summer, so, my mother took me up to the airport in Binghamton, [New York]. I got on a plane, flew to McGuire Air Force Base. They changed all your stuff for you. You had to turn in all your green, your old uniforms, and they gave you new stuff. Remember, this is--I'm in the bottom of the pile. I'm an E-4. This is nothing special, guys. Then, we stayed there maybe a day or two, got on a plane and flew from McGuire Air Force Base to Fort Lewis, no, to the municipal airport, in the State of Washington, Seattle, somewhere. We couldn't get off the plane, and then, we could. They let us off. We walked in the airport. I remember seeing lots of soldiers and stuff. We got back in the plane. Then, we flew to Yokoda Air Force Base, where we couldn't get off the plane, stayed on the plane, went to--I don't know where we landed, I think Long Binh. I don't know where it was, somewhere down there, and it was hot, and then, you just got on a bus and it took you to a replacement [depot], a huge replacement company, which reminds me of another little thing I haven't thought of in a long time. So, we're standing there in formation and ... this is the second time I got KP. They were calling names and they called this guy, Gary. They said, "Barnfather," and I said, "Holy cow, ... there's only one Gary," only one Barnfather that I ever heard of. So, I went and found my friend Gary Barnfather. He's from Endicott, [New York]. Somehow, he was in the mix, but he was going somewhere. So, anyway, I did my KP, and then, orders came and I was going to the Fourth Division. Then, I, inadvertently, because of my anal nature, did a good thing. I went out and bought a Fourth Division patch and sewed it on my shirt. You could get these--I wouldn't use the term now, but we called them "gooks"--the gooks sewed it on for me, and then, the people who had been in-country longer thought I had been in-country a long time. So, all of a sudden, I started noticing the reaction to me wasn't like I was completely green, but, anyway, we flew in a little plane up the Pleiku, to the Air Force base. I don't remember how we got over to Camp Enari and we had just got in formation and they said, "Well, you're a 41C. You're going to go to LZ whatever, Mary Lou," and so forth, and so on, and I said, "When are we going?" They said, "Oh, a couple of days. Some convoy will go out there." So, I go to formation in the morning and, like, the third or fourth day, I haven't gone any place. I mean, I've got lots of stuff I haven't thought about telling people, but, ... oh, man, the first sergeant says, "Who would like to be a clerk?" Well, as I said before, there's nobody else who had been to college. I said, "Sure, I'll be a clerk." So, I get assigned to headquarters, which was a good deal, and then, it was headquarters and A Company, and then, the rest of these guys go to the different LZs and I stayed in Camp Enari. There's a guy in my fraternity, [Thurston S.] Tim Whitson, who knew Mark Enari. He was killed at the sight of where our base camp was. That happened about a year-and-a-half before I got there, maybe two years. I'm going to see Whitson tomorrow night. So, anyway, ... the only thing I ever wanted out of the Army was to get out of the goddamn Army.
SI: Did most of the people around you have the same attitude?
CL: Well, this was like, you know ...
SI: It was post-Tet. [Editor's Note: The Tet Offensive, a series of offensives conducted from January 30, 1968, to September 30, 1968, by the Viet Cong against every major city in South Vietnam, is seen as the point when American public opinion began turning against the war.]
CL: Yes. It was after the Tet Offensive, and the Fourth had taken a pretty big hit at a place called Dak To, and so, people were pretty concerned about that. You heard about it, but there was nothing going on in our base camp. ... Just to frame this, our base camp was so far out in the boonies that I used to tell people, until just recently, that there weren't any prostitutes out there. I mean, there was just no business. ... We had a jerk for a general, a General [Charles P.] Stone, who would send people farther forward if they didn't salute in base camp, because he thought it was--I mean, everything was all nice, you know, nice dirt and painted stones and everything like that. So, ... I just did what my job was. I just did my job, which, basically, was get up in the morning. At night, we'd shut the generators off, because "Charlie" could hear things and the lights would show. So, the generators would be shut off. This is kind of odd. To start, at night, there were two groups of people--the "juice freaks" and the potheads. I was a juice freak, "There's no use without juice," and they would say, "There's no hope without dope." Half the base camp was smoking dope and the rest of us were getting smashed for ten cents for a can of beer. ... Have you heard this from other guys?
CL: We'd [periodically] have movies for free and you could express yourself. At first, when I got there, the movies were shown on the side of a building, and then, I guess they figured that somebody could see the light, or something, or the flickering, because we would get hit at night, occasionally, maybe the whole time I was there, twenty times, maybe thirty times, and that's just, I mean, incoming rounds. Sometimes, people would break through the wires. Sappers would come in with explosives and cut the wires and get past the perimeter, and that was a problem. It only happened once when I was there, but, anyway, ... people would watch the movies and you could--I mean, you think things are bad now?--you could flip them off on the screen, you could throw a rock at the screen, you could go up and urinate on the actors on the side of the building if you wanted to. I mean, that's what it was like. There's all the beer you could drink for ten cents and people were getting high and people were getting smashed. Then, about every third night, you had to have guard duty. At six o'clock, you had to be ready to go. A little before six, you went down to the perimeter. The commander of the relief was down there, who was usually a field grade officer, and I don't know exactly what they did, because, remember, I was just a peon, and they checked your gear, make sure you had enough ammo, make sure you had your mask and they would tell you whether it was going to be full alert, a third or two-thirds--I can't remember exactly. Max was stay up all night, the next thing was, up four hours, off two hours, and then, the other one was two hours on, four off, and these bunkers, by the time I got there, were dirt bunkers and they had cyclone [chain-link] fence across the front. There were claymores that you could operate from inside the bunker, and I'm having trouble remembering, I thought about telling you about this, but I can't remember if we had an M-60 in the bunker or if it was only in the towers. There was assignment by platoon to which bunker, and a string of bunkers belonged to a battalion, and the whole camp was surrounded by a cleared perimeter. You can still see it. I've seen a picture of Camp Enari, taken a year ago February. You can still see where the perimeter was. So, anyway, you go down on guard duty, spray yourself with a mosquito spray and get yourself ready, and whether you're on or off, like, I listened to Joe Namath on the field radio beat the Colts. With my flashlight and field radio, ... I was on guard duty that night, also I caught it on New Year's Eve. The most I ever had it, I think, was about twelve or thirteen times in a month, but, then, I got promoted to E-5 and that meant I could be a daytime commander of the relief. So, I got out of all that crap after I was there from July 1968 to January 1969. By February or March, I was an E-5. I was down there in the daytime, doing the guard duty, and there was a lot less people on duty, because you could see. Everything was clear out in front of the perimeter. So, then, during the day, my deal was that I became the battalion clerk and I used to--eventually, they reorganized our battalion and got a new table of, it's called table of, T-O-E ...
SI: Table of organization and equipment?
CL: Something like that. Yes, yes, that's exactly what it is. So, they got a slot for a legal clerk. So, I got that and it carried an E-5, and that's how I got to be promoted to E-5. So, what I did was, I would take the notes in court-martials and I would read all the orders that came down. In Vietnam, what was important was how much longer you had in-country and how long you'd been there, and, as I started building up, I started to be one of the more senior guys. I eventually became the guy with the most seniority. Like, well, for my case, about a month-and-a-half to go, I was the most, but I was the most in Battalion Headquarters, and so, I had access to R&Rs and things, and Bangkok was the place to go, but even I didn't have enough time in-country to go there. So, I went to Singapore, which was nice. For the record, you've got to know that there were prostitutes there and ... it was sanctioned by our, your, Army. You'd go there and you'd pay ten bucks and you'd get a girl for the day, or you could have, like, fifty. I don't remember the denomination, but it wasn't much, and you could have a girl for five days, you could buy one a day. I mean, it was pretty wild. I mean, it was pretty--it was, when you think about it, it's something. Then, there were guys who would go to Hawaii. Married guys always went to Hawaii. Single guys sometimes went to Hawaii, then, came back to the States and would go to California. I know a kid who did that. He got back to California. How he did it, I don't know, but he was there and he got to California and he came back. So, I got a lot of seniority in Battalion Headquarters and I got to know the officers a little bit, which will be kind of germane to what I'm going to tell you near the end. So, the rest of our battalion, we repaired things. We had a helicopter repair company, we had guys who did the trucks, guys who did instruments. We had an S-5 civil affairs team that went out. These were mostly people who got unhappy with their clerk jobs, or whatever, and they went out and tried to, related to indigenous people ...
SI: Like "winning the hearts and minds?"
CL: Yes, yes, and one of my friends got killed doing that, Darryl English; he was in Aberdeen with me. It was so sad, because I've got more to tell you about that in a bit, but, so, they did that, and what it did was, it took the pressure off us, because we didn't have to go out and do it anymore. If these guys, and these are just kids like me, except they didn't have any education, most of them--a lot of college dropouts, not a lot, a few college dropouts, and mostly kids who were RAs [the military serial number prefix for non-drafted volunteers], who signed up, or USs [the military serial number prefix for an enlisted draftee], who were drafted, like me--and so, they did the patrol stuff. So, my point is, in Battalion Headquarters, I got to see all these little niches of Army life. There's like E-1, E-2, E-3, I mean, S-1, S-2, S-3, 4, 5. [E]-4's like security and civil affairs and doing the mission, and so forth, I mean, do our support stuff. So, anyway, that's what I did and I could, I mean, give you a couple of highlights, like, Christmas Day of 1968, I got something like twenty-seven letters. That was great. I mean, everybody remembered old Chuck that day and wrote me letters. I was really feeling good. I got twenty-seven letters. Another highlight was when Woody Hayes came to our base camp. You guys know who Woody Hayes is, right? All right, you've got to get this down. He was the Ohio State football coach. He was kind of a "Bobby Knight" mentality, although I found him to be very warm and a very friendly guy. The USO brought him there and he came to our base camp and you could go down and talk to him for the afternoon, and he was the only person of notoriety that stayed in our base camp overnight. Now, when you picture these USO shows and everything, you know, they stayed in Bangkok. They flew them out. They didn't stay in the base camps at night. It wasn't that safe, you know what I mean? It wasn't like the Green Zone, [the International Zone of Baghdad in the current Iraq War]. I don't even know if that's safe, but Woody Hayes stayed overnight in our base camp, which I thought was pretty gutsy. So, then, every, periodically, I can't remember now, I thought about this, probably every two or three, three or four weeks, there would be a show that would come and it would be a bunch of dancing girls from the Philippines and a Philippine rock band. ... We would all go down to whichever mess hall it was in and we would all be drunker than skunks, and it would always end with the song We Gotta Get Out of This Place [by the Animals]. Usually, it ended with the MPs having to come to take away kids who were fighting with each other. It was so crazy. I mean, I think back about it, it was nuts. It was nuts. Everybody would stagger up to their hooch, go to sleep for the night, you know, get underneath your mosquito net and sleep. What we would do, compared to what other people tell you, what I did--I was a nothing--I did nothing, except go up to my little office, sort out the papers, keep everybody's orders straight, get guys going home that were going home, be sure to keep track of the sentences that were passed out to people. Smoking pot was thirty days, down in the Long Binh jail, fill up five hundred sandbags daily. You did five hundred sandbags in the morning, five hundred in the afternoon with a partner. [With] good behavior, you came back after twenty-seven days--didn't count for your days in-country, so, you had to stay longer. So, that was a bad thing and that, see, that would have interfered with my goal of getting out of the Army, because, I mean, you may not believe it, I never smoked pot. I never have, but everybody else in my unit did, all the way up to [and] including officers, not the high ones, but the lieutenants and the second lieutenants, first lieutenants. So, anyway, it kind of passed. I came home. I got out of Camp Enari on, like, a Monday, took me a whole bunch of days to get through, down in Long Binh, like, Wednesday or Thursday. Somehow, I missed one of the stations and they wanted to make me stay. Oh, there's another Rutgers story. They want to make me stay an extra day, for the next flight, and the captain, or the lieutenant who was in charge of this getting out place, told me--I went to talk to him. I said, "Look, I'm not a jerk, you know. The guy wasn't there when I was supposed to get my paper checked off and I'm going home. You can't be screwing around with me like this," and he said, "Well..." I said, "Look, I'm a college graduate. I went to Rutgers," and he said, "Well, I went to Davidson." So, I said to him, "Do you know John Little?" He said, "Yes. How did you know him?" I said, "His sister went to Douglass." It was a kid from New Orleans whose sister went to Douglass, who I knew, and he was ... the quarterback of the Davidson Football Team, and this guy let me out of there, checked me off. I got on the goddamn plane, and it's true what they say, when you're in Vietnam, when we were going in the back, the new guys were coming out the front, FNGs ["fucking new guys"], just like they say. The FNGs would come out the front and we were screaming at them. We were awful. I mean, we were. I guess they screamed at us, too, but, I mean, we were saying, "We're going to do your girlfriend when we get home," and, you know, "You sorry--Ho Chi Minh is going to get out of here before you get out of here," and, I mean, we were awful. It was terrible, but, anyway, we got on the plane, came home, got to Fort Lewis, called my parents, couldn't talk for fifteen minutes, and then, those creeps made me get a haircut. My father, who was very mild-mannered, when he came home and saw that my hair was cut, he was angry. My father never got angry. He was angry, because you didn't have to get your hair cut the day you're getting out the Army. So, anyway, I got out of the Army, like, on a Friday. When I came home, ... like, I had a lot of money for that time, because I only took fifteen dollars out. My pay was 215 [dollars] a month when I got to an E-5. I sent the two hundred home and, with beer at ten cents a can, fifteen dollars lasted me a long time. In fact, I even saved up extra money, so, I bought a TV off a guy. When I had first gotten there, he was losing his shirt in a card game. That TV is still running in my bathroom. I got it up on the wall. It's still got the dirt in it and I've still got it, and I paid him, like, ten bucks for it or, actually, I think I might have paid him a little bit more, but not a lot, because, ... at the time, I didn't understand you could have your money directly deposited, basically. So, I had a little bit. I still have that TV. So, I got home and I could remember standing out [in] front of my home. There were two events on the first day. I got home, I had a piece of skin growing on my lip and I had to have it burned off. Dr. Rutherford put on his helmet--this is my family doctor, I'd been going to him all my life--put on his helmet and he has this torch. He says, "Chuck, where is it?" and so, I stood still and he could see it and he burns it off. Then, at night, his son was getting married the next day, on Saturday. So, I went, that Friday night, ... to the rehearsal dinner, and then, I went to see my girlfriend. She wasn't my girlfriend, but she's nice. She treated me very nicely and I was over there. We were leaning against the car and a flying object went by, an airplane, and so, I said to her, I said, "Jesus, that's strange. Why aren't the tracers going to the ground?" Do you realize how you watch? For a whole year, you see firefights at night, outside the perimeter, choppers going after "Charlie," and you get [to] where you start thinking that's supposed to happen, but it didn't. So, anyway, that was it. I did not have much to do with the Vietnam veterans, Vietnam, the Army. I just ... went to work. Two superintendents who hired me treated me great. Because I was the vet, I was a vet, they gave me two years of credit on the salary schedule, and so forth. So, that's the story, which I would have said, until a year ago, was inconsequential. ... So, that was that. Now, the other part, I've got to tie this kind of together for you, I've always liked athletics. I've always kept myself in shape, and I'm a runner and I've run some marathons. One district that I left, when I left, they put my picture next to the refrigerator instead of out in the hallway with the other past superintendents, because I used to bust people's chops about, you know, "Live fat-free or die," and so forth. So, a year ago, I went to the doctor and I got cancer. I couldn't believe it. My parents are both alive [at that point]. No one in my family ever dies--I mean, they get old and die, you know. I got cancer. I got prostate cancer, and it was kind of a shock and you can talk to cancer survivors about what it's like, but, so, anyway, I found out I got it. I said, "I've got to do something about it." My wife was working out of town. My kids are in their twenties. They're older. So, I was going home. My wife was working down in Cincinnati and she wasn't going to be home. So, I stopped, on a Friday night, after they told me I had this, and I bought a book, by Patrick Walsh, called A Survivor's Guide to Prostate Cancer [Dr. Patrick Walsh's Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer], and I'm reading it and I'm reading about the subgroups that get cancer. African-Americans are more vulnerable, people who don't get enough sunlight are more vulnerable, people with family history of it are vulnerable, and then, there's two lines, "In 1996, the VA [Veterans Administration] made prostate cancer one of the diseases connected to Agent Orange." I said, "Oh, my God, that's what happened," and then, within a month or so, a whole group of things that happened to me started to make sense. Remember the piece of skin on my lip that got burned off? You guys are young--can you imagine your high school principal showing up to work, two successive springs, with white spots on his hands and face? I mean, you can imagine what that would be like. Then, I had a prostate infection that was inexplicable, and Dr. Rutherford says to me--the same guy who burned the skin--he says, "Chuck, did you have a strange piece of ass?" I said, "No, Doc, I didn't do that." So, he couldn't figure out. It went away--the spots went away. I went to the Guthrie Clinic and I've reconstructed a timeline. I've gotten the documents. The guy says I had vitiligo. You can't see it on my face anymore, but there's still a line here. You can see it more when my beard's in, but I had these spots/streaks. You know what they were? Spray the mosquito spray on you, rub it in--the can was out on the parapet all the time and all that dirt down there in the bunker, and I just rubbed it in. In the morning, when you came back from guard duty, or if you didn't--some mornings, you could get a shower and, some mornings, you couldn't. If you'd stayed up all night and there was no threat, you could sleep in, but there might not be water, so that the stuff stays on you. I mean, you could go a couple days without a shower. Some folks went a lot longer. So, anyway, this all makes sense to me now that I had this, how it all happened. So, fortunately, I have had some good doctors and I've recovered and I'm fit again. I can run. I've lost some of my functions and I am mad as hell about it, because they knew before we went to Vietnam. The stuff was tested all over the place. It was tested in dozens of states in the '50s. It was tested in the '60s. They've sprayed nineteen to twenty-one million gallons of undiluted Agent Orange, commonly known as ... 2,4,5-T, on the jungle. That's not how I got it. I got it from our perimeter, and then, I mean, this took me like months to remember this. It took me two months. I remember the choppers doing it and I remember people's reaction. I sort of think I remember thinking, "It's to kill the mosquitoes," because I faithfully took my mosquito pills and all that stuff, but I've learned so much now about cancer and about Agent Orange and the effects. It's frightening to go online to read the diseases you can get from this. It's frightening. I've had to have some other of my body parts checked, but, fortunately, I'm okay. They did this to us on purpose. They knowingly did this to us and you guys ought to read about it--I mean, as far as your history project. Before there was a settlement on this, the manufacturers and the government denied it. [Editor's Note: Agent Orange, an equal mix of the chemicals 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D, was used extensively in Vietnam as a defoliant between 1962 and 1971. Under Operation RANCH HAND, US Air Force C-123s dispersed the majority of Agent Orange deployed in-country.] You should read a book called Waiting for an Army to Die, written by a professor who is still at Ithaca College, Fred A. Wilcox. I talked to him, quite a nice person. To make a long story short, it's a compilation of stories about Vietnam veterans. So, I asked him, I said, "Well, how did you get that title?" He said, "Well, I would talk to the veterans and, when I got done with my interviews, I would say," and this is before there had been a settlement, before the VA recognized it, he said to these GIs from Genoa, [New York], "What do you think is going to happen?" and you know what their answer was? "They're waiting for us to die." ... You know how many claims there have been? three hundred thousand claims about Agent Orange since, through, oh, September of '05, three hundred thousand. That's a government office, Office of Government Accounting, figure. When I went to the VA last July--you have heard about how long it takes to get classified and it took me four months and I'm a hundred percent disabled--I've got to go, I go every six months. The medicals, I had my operation done outside of the VA, mostly because I was already in the pipeline before I even knew there was a connection. The VA doctors are good. They're very good, and I've been treated very fine so far. I think I've got a fight coming up with the people who assign disability, because I understand from other GIs that you get drastically reduced down to nothing. Now, I've had loss of function and I think I can document that I had this for a long time and it just didn't show up in my soft tissue like it did in others. There is a society called The Order of the Silver Rose, I think it is. It's on a website. If you want to scare yourself to death, read some of the accounts of people like me, what's happened to them. When they come home, they get one form of cancer and get another kind. There is no acknowledgement on the part of the government that they did anything wrong. People who were gassed in World War I were recognized--we weren't. I'm involved in a lawsuit now to try to get the manufacturer, to sue [them]. When the last settlement was made, they'd sued the five companies, but there's since been laws passed that you can't go back. If you manufactured it, sell to him and he poisons me with it, I can't get you now. So, there's a lawsuit going on, that I'm involved in that thing. I just hope I am healthy. For a final tale of woe, I tried to find ten people in my company. It's very difficult, because these guys weren't the kind of people to leave, or have left, trails. I found six so far and three are all right. One has hearing loss, and I didn't tell you that he and I used to have to maintain the machine-guns on our perimeter. He's another guy, Headquarters Company. My friend, Jerry, used to fire them, I used to just oil them, and that's why his hearing isn't as good as it should be. Another person is dead, the battalion commander, from leukemia, which is another cause [result] of Agent Orange, died at fifty-six. So far, I've found two who've had some kinds of cancer, out of six. One's got a hearing-impaired situation. I'm going to keep trying; it's hard to find these guys. My goal is to find ten people who were in the same unit, at about the same time I was, because I'm ... sort of an aggressive guy about dealing with people. I've got to know a lot of people and, what happens is, you think about something, it's just kind of on your mind, and then, you think of, "Oh, that person went to a particular college," or started there, and I got one hit that way, found a guy who'd finished, gone back and finished his college, and, within an hour, I was talking to him, but that's what's going on. That's my tale of Vietnam. One of the reasons why I think I was able to survive--and to bring this full circle and not be too whacked out about it, although I think I am a little bit--is, when I was here at Rutgers, I know I talked to a lot of girls at Douglass and boys here at Rutgers who knew the war was mistaken. I can remember my metamorphosis, in the Summer of, like, '65 and through the '66 year, when I was a junior and a senior. I can remember talking to enough people that convinced me that there was nothing to win there, that it was a civil war. I've seen, read, tons of books about it. I'm glad to see you have Stanley Karnow's book [Vietnam: A History]. That's the most comprehensive book I've read of Vietnam, but there's lots of good books. A Bright, Shining Lie, ... have you ever read that? The guy in that went to Rutgers, was at Rutgers ROTC. [Editor's Note: Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann earned his undergraduate degree at Rutgers while serving as an ROTC instructor at Rutgers University in the mid-1950s. He served as a military advisor in South Vietnam before retiring from the US Army in 1963, but later returned to Vietnam as a civilian advisor. In the early 1970s, he became the commander of II Corps (usually a major general's position) and the first civilian to lead US regular forces in combat operations. He was killed in a helicopter crash in 1972 while serving in this capacity. A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam (1988), written by New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan, covers Vann's experiences in the Vietnam War and his criticism of how the war was being waged by the United States.] Yes, so, there's a lot of good books, but Rutgers gave me the intellectual insulation, so that I did not feel that it was anything worth winning. I knew there wasn't, and that lasted me and that helped me not get too crazy about all this until last year, and then, I feel that we were absolutely taken advantage of, in a knowing way. Oh, I've got to tell you this. ... One of the people I caught up with was the lieutenant, Ed Storlazzi, a Boston College graduate, who I knew through Headquarters Company. Short of the long, he and I were in an ambush together. It's funny, though he has a vivid memory of this, I can almost not even picture it. He remembers where I was sitting on the truck and all the stuff. He's one of the guys I called, because I tried to find him. So, I told him, I said, "Hey," and so, I said, "Ed, I'm calling you because I got cancer and I want to be sure that other people know to get checked." I mean, every man should go to the doctor, regardless of whether you were in Vietnam or not. So, I told him how I thought I got it. He said, based on his discussions, and he was in the inner circle with Colonel Duard D. Ball, who's dead, and these other guys--they would do whatever they did in their little meetings every week--he said that it was very important that the perimeter be kept clear. See, we were in charge of the aircraft company repair place and that's why the perimeter was kept clear, so that planes could come in and out. Because we were up in the Central Highlands, like I said, there was nothing going on up there except when the big push came through. That's when they came there. They just came pouring out of our area, but that's my story. I appreciate Rutgers listening to it and I'm sorry I'm such a sop about it, but I'm mad. I'm really angry. I'm really angry. Thank God, I've had good doctors. Thank God, I took care of myself. My wife loves me, my kids love me, and it's been tough on them. It's just been tough on them. I'm not a sit-down guy. I mean, I've been active all my life, and then, to find out your dad has cancer, your husband has cancer, when you're doing all kinds of stuff, and then, how I got it, that's the part that just drives you nuts, how I got it, but, anyway, so be it, and "Upstream, Red Team."
SI: Do you mind if we go back and ask you some questions?
CL: Sure, go ahead, go ahead.
SI: Do you want to be out of here at a certain time?
CL: No. I don't want to talk too long; I talked too much already.
SI: Let us talk a little bit about Rutgers first. What were your first days at Rutgers like? What do you remember about that?
CL: My first days at Rutgers, ... we had to wear a dink and a tie. I still have my name badge. I was going to bring it down to this reunion. ... My first days were kind of like--I remember going to class and these guys were telling me, they did this and that and they had all this stuff, and so, I was kind of intimidated. I thought, "Jesus, I went to a little school overseas, I went to a little school in Upstate New York--I can't compete with these guys." There was the "old line" left over from World War II--there were still a lot of World War II influences at Rutgers in the '60s, a lot of it--you looked to the man to your left and to your right, "And, if they're both here, you're not going to be here." You heard that plenty of times. Those English hourlies were hard, and then, I remembered, I was making some progress, I can remember feeling that I was [doing well], started getting some "Cs" and papers and things. ... I had Dr. [Peter] Charanis, who was super. Frau (Raddich?), my German teacher, just would look at me and shake her head, "Herr Little." [laughter] She used to shake her head, and I got a "C-," the whole year, on everything I did. We always had a test on Monday. She'd shake her head and I'd say, "I study, Frau (Raddich?)," and she'd shake her head. I'd had Kraiser in my class. Herr Kraiser was the valedictorian of the senior class and he could speak Yiddish and he's in my German 101 class with me. There's no competition. His buddy was Herr Jones, who was a junior, who was just about as smart. Then, of course, I was here when Kennedy was killed. The deal was, on Friday afternoon, everybody congregated outside New Jersey Hall. Richie Novak was a quarterback of the football team and he kind of held court out there with some other guys. ... I had German and, when I would come out, they would still be out there, and I was just a little freshman, I'd get in on that. The day I came out, when Kennedy was shot, there was no one around and I walked all the way up to Ford Hall and there was a kid listening on his transistor radio. ... I said to him, "Where is everybody? What's going on?" He said, "Kennedy's been shot." Then, I walked all the way back from Ford to Livingston, which is now Campbell. I didn't see another person. [When] I got there, everyone was just walking around in a daze--not everybody, but a lot of people walking around in a daze--saying, "They've killed the President, they killed the President," and I couldn't make it register in my mind. "They killed the President?" you know what I mean? Then, another thing in my early days at Rutgers that ought to go down on the record is, there used to be freshman assembly. You had to go. Has anybody ever talked to you about that? You used to have to go every Friday. Well, my day was Friday--I don't know if everybody went [that day]. There was assigned seats in the chapel. You had to go, and they gave you some information about Rutgers, or about a course or about professions. It was very good now that I think about it, but, just for the record, Dr. [Richard P.] McCormick was our speaker one day and after, a little freshman, Chuck Little, goes up to him and says, "Dr. McCormick, what's it mean in the song, 'Since the time of the flood?'" So, he kind of said, "Oh, it's just, I think, ... a general biblical reference." My son gets here in the Fall of '99. You know what happened, right? gigantic flood. So, I'm not so sure that it was just the biblical time of the flood. The song was written by a Glee Club guy and he may have had knowledge of that happening previously. [Editor's Note: On the Banks of the Old Raritan, the Rutgers University alma mater, was written by Howard N. Fuller, Rutgers College Class of 1874, in 1873.] So, it was a great time for me. I went to the football games. I used to love that. I used to love to go to basketball games. Then, when you're a freshman boy, back in those days, Friday night, there was nothing to do except go to the gym. We'd go to the gym and play basketball, and then, we'd go over to "the Ledge," which somebody might have told you about. Is the Ledge still there?
SI: It is where the Student Activities Center is now.
CL: Yes, it's between Frelinghuysen and ...
SI: By Campbell.
CL: Yes, in there. It was called the Ledge and that was in the fading days of hoedowns, or whatever it was called. A hoedown, it's like country music.
SI: Square dances?
CL: No, there was a whole TV run of, like, the Kingston Trio kind of music that was going down. ...
CL: Yes, folk music, right. That was going down and rock-and-roll was really taking hold and another thing--oh, here's another thing that I really noticed. This might be interesting to somebody. When I came to Rutgers, when I left the States in the ... Fall of '61, people, when they danced together, still held hands and they--it's like jitterbugging. It was like a carryover from jitterbugging. When I came to Rutgers in '63, in the fall, I went to a smoker, over [in] one of the girls' dorms at Douglass, and people were not touching when they were dancing. We had "the twist" in the middle there, but I said, I honestly remember thinking, I said, "Jesus, something's going on that I don't know about." I mean, that's when Twist and Shout and the Isley Brothers were coming on and all that stuff. I really remember saying, "Holy cow, this is different." I can remember that clearly, and then ...
SI: Was a "smoker" just a party?
CL: Yes, yes, it was a smoker. I think that that is, again, a throwback to something that existed in the '20s or '30s. It survived through World War II language and, when I was rushing, there were smokers that you can be invited to, or be invited to dinner--a smoker came afterwards. You got dinner or you could go to a smoker. Well, I got invited to the smoker at Douglass. That was how that kind of worked, but it was fading then. I don't think anybody knew how much it was fading, but it was fading, and that's kind of how freshman year went. I mean, I remember doing my work, being at Livingston Dorm.
SI: Did you pledge to Zeta Psi in your freshman year?
CL: No, no. I did in my ...
SI: Could you not do that?
CL: Yes, you could. There were a lot of differences. There were freshman teams, first of all. How is it now? At Rutgers, you couldn't pledge until second semester, and I pledged a couple of other houses and ended up quitting because I didn't like it. I realize now, looking back, why I did that and it was because I'm awfully social. So, I couldn't really decide who I wanted to be with, but, also, a couple of houses had a real--now, we would call it a social justice appeal--but there was one house that I pledged, and I was only there for a couple of weeks, that really was good. I mean, the guys were really nice people, but, then, I wanted more social, so, I didn't know what to do. I ended up quitting all of it, everything, and I just did it again when I was a sophomore. That's pretty much it. Then, in the summers, the first two summers at Rutgers, I had night jobs. Before I came to Rutgers, I worked at a newspaper, and I stayed with another minister in a really isolated small town in Upstate New York, but, then, after my freshman year and after my sophomore year, I had a job at IBM at night, 5:48 to 4:36 in the morning, but the money was good and you got paid. If you worked ten hours, they gave you money for a meal, and everybody brought their lunch. ... They gave you money for safety shoes and you only had to buy one pair, and they gave you money every two months, so, you got two pairs--I mean, the money [for two]. So, I earned a lot of money, and so, when I came back to Rutgers, I just had a lot of money. I mean, I had my five dollars I may be saved up--I had a lot of money. I mean, comparatively speaking, I didn't have to worry. My mother and father paid for my room and board; I paid for my books and my socializing. Back in those days, when people went to football games, they put on a jacket and tie and, when I was a sophomore, I started to meet some "Coopies," Douglass girls, and we started to go to football games, and then, I got hooked up with Zeta Psi. When I was a junior, we were going full blast by that point, and we drank a lot and smoked rum crook cigars and carried on and cheered for Rutgers and spelled, "D-O-T," for, "Rutgers. The State University," after they get done spelling Rutgers, and we had a good time and I learned all the songs. Oh, that's another thing you did at freshman chapel. ... It wasn't called chapel--freshman orientation, or whatever it was--not convocation, because we used to have convocations. Do they still have convocations? yes, but this wasn't convocation. This was this thing, and that's how you learned the songs, and I almost want to say the Glee Club must have come, and I liked to sing. I liked music and I liked to sing. I could pick it up. One of my favorite timewasters was to go to the library and read the old yearbooks. I mean, I knew a lot of stuff. I mean, do you guys even know who Garret Hobart was? Come on, oh, my gosh, I'm going to check your degrees. [laughter]
SI: Was he on the football team, or a football coach?
CL: No, he might have been a football coach, but he's not known for that. He was that close to becoming President.
SI: Yes, he was the Vice-President before Teddy Roosevelt, under William McKinley.
CL: Under McKinley, right, Garret Hobart. [Editor's Note: Garret Hobart served as the 24th Vice-President of the United States from 1897 to 1899 when he died in office.] So, I knew all that stuff from reading the old yearbooks. I mean, I just read them. I mean, there was nobody else to do that kind of stuff. You know who was at the thing today that I wanted to talk to? the archivist from the library. Was he there today?
SI: Tom Frusciano.
CL: Was he there?
SI: Yes, he was there.
CL: Ah, I talked to him by phone about a year ago, trying to find somebody, and, shucks, I meant to do that, except I got in so late [that] I didn't get my papers out this morning. I had it written down on a piece of paper. Well, if you see him, tell him Chuck Little came, the guy that was asking about the 150-pound football team. See, that was around--do you know how that worked? Schiano has removed that from the program and everything. I'm not really happy about that. [Editor's Note: The Rutgers 150-Pound Football Team engaged in intercollegiate competition from 1932 to 1989 when the program was discontinued. Current Rutgers Football coach Greg Schiano came to Rutgers in 2001.]
SI: I think that was done a long time before Schiano.
CL: Was it? but, see, there's a lot of history there. That was a cool thing. You know how it worked? Thursday night, you had to weigh 154, honor system weigh in, by your own coach. Then, you could play. Usually, the games were Friday night or Saturday, and there was six teams--Army, Navy, Princeton, Columbia, Cornell, Rutgers and Penn were the six. For guys [like me], who [were smaller]--I was really skinny then. If I would have known how to play football, but I never did in high school, so, I didn't know how to play. A lot of guys in my house were on the team, but I would have liked to have been in there, but I thought, "That's good history. That's something somebody ought to take some interest in," but that was another activity. I went to that, and I used to go to lacrosse games. There's a lot of stuff that happened here. I mean, I can remember going home to my Upstate New York town and [seeing] a girl I was dating and I talked about hippies, and the girl I was dating said, "What's a hippie?" She was in college, but they hadn't [heard the term]. The word hadn't gotten to Syracuse by then, or maybe not Syracuse, but some other place. So, you learned fast at Rutgers.
SI: You mentioned that people would, for example, go to the football games in jacket and tie. By the end of your college career, in 1967, had that started to fall by the wayside, that kind of formality?
CL: Yes, it was dying, but, no, it wasn't, because I went to the Rutgers-Yale game up in New Haven, Connecticut, a game that Rutgers won. ... Another lesson in athletics [at] Rutgers--they [Yale] had Brian Dowling and Calvin Hill. Do you recognize Calvin Hill? You recognize [NBA player] Grant Hill?
CL: Okay. His father was a running back for Yale. Yale was powerful. Brian Dowling was a quarterback. Rutgers mopped them up. You know what the reason was? Rain is. Mud and rain are the great equalizer in football and Rutgers scored quick and held them off. Now, the reason I remember that is because I had a beautiful, green, herring-bone suit that got destroyed in the rain. [laughter] So, in the Fall of '66, for away games, people were still dressing up. That's another piece of baloney that you might want to know, that was [during] the time when I went to Rutgers. I did something for Rutgers and I should have done something else. In the Fall of '66, A.C. Gilbert, an Olympian and manufacturer of toys, was going out of business in New Haven, Connecticut, and they were selling prototype toys and everything. I didn't even know I was interested in toy trains, and I collect toy trains now. I wasn't interested then. I had no idea this was going on. I just thought the world--see, the world, as you guys, I'm sure you noticed, too, it's accelerating, the speed of change and everything--I didn't know that toy trains are going out the window, but that guy was already out of business. If I had gone there and spent my forty bucks that I spent at Yale on some toy trains, I'd have some valuable prototype trains now. I don't know what I would have done with it, but I should have done that. So, that's a related story.
ML: Why did you pick Zeta Psi?
CL: Because of the social life. The social life there was superior. I absolutely believe it was. I mean, that's a stupid thing to say, but I believe that it was, and there was always a lot of girls. I like women. I mean, it's just interesting. When you think about coming back for a Reunion Weekend, you wonder what people would remember about you, but I kept telling my wife in the car last night, "They were as bad as I was." [laughter] So, we did a lot of things that now would never be tolerated, that I never would have tolerated eight or nine years after I graduated, but it was--you know the movie Animal House? It's just like Animal House and Platoon are compilations of a war or college life compressed into time. There were odd things--and funny things and crazy things and disgusting things--that happened to Zeta Psi that, for better or for worse, happened. Another interesting thing, you know, there was only one campus cop at that time, because he used to come down to Zeta Psi. He got an assistant when I was a senior. I can't remember the man's name, but there was only one campus cop. I said it to my wife last night--we got in real late and we saw two New Brunswick policemen downtown. I said, "That would have been seen like a show of force when I was in college," but there was, can't think of the guy's name--Ochs, Mr. Ochs.
SI: Bob Ochs.
CL: Yes, Ochs.
SI: Yes, he was interviewed for this project.
CL: Yes, Ochs was the campus cop, and he got an assistant when I was a senior. [laughter] Mr. Ochs, oh, man, they used to--oh, geez, he used to come around and ...
SI: Even as an older man, he comes off as a tough guy you would not want to mess with. Did he seem that way then?
CL: Yes, ... I was fearful of the guy. I didn't want to deal with him. A couple of guys in our house got in trouble for different things and Ochs, I can remember, it's somewhere in my system, I can remember him coming up the stairs for somebody. It was at night. We used to throw water balloons at cars and do all sorts of nasty stuff and somebody got in trouble. I don't remember who, but Ochs, I remember Ochs, yes, he was the only guy, but you remember things like that. That's at a time when age was important. I was talking to Carl [Burns, RC '64, a Zeta Psi member and Rutgers Oral History Archives interviewee], this morning; when I was a freshman, yes, he was a senior. I mean, that was a big thing back then. Now, my world, since I've been thirty-five, you deal with people on an even footing, even footing by race, by gender, by age, but, back then, you didn't. It was still that World War II mentality. I mean, there's a lot of people that stuck it to you that way, and I think, today, there's residual of that, in the way kids are treated. When I go to the mall and public places, I see kids not being treated well by clerks, things like that. Maybe not as much as before, maybe you can say it's my imagination, but I think that age thing still lingers, and Ochs certainly leveraged it. He enforced that on us.
SI: Did you still have a housemother?
CL: Yes, Mrs. Bagley was the housemother and she was a nice lady who put up with our baloney. I don't know much about her. I know that when we used to have parties, you had to get chaperones, and Jim Riley's parents used to come and a fellow, John Norton, from Plainfield, his dad was an attorney, his mom raised her boys, and they used to come, and Mrs. Bagley. The Nortons used to play euchre, pinochle. It was very popular. My dad played pinochle. It must have been something about the New York area. My dad couldn't play any other kind of cards, but pinochle, he loved it, but he ... didn't even know euchre, you know what I mean? So, it must have been something around here back in the '20s, or something, but she was the housemother. She never did anything. We had Marcel, who was our maid, nice lady. Clarence was our houseboy, house cleaner. He took a lot of crap from people. I like to think I didn't, but I probably did, but he loved us and we loved him, which was not an excuse for bad behavior, but he was taken care of by the guys in the house. I mean, he never got stuck for anything. We used to stick up for him. ...
SI: When you say houseboy, was he a younger guy or older guy?
CL: No, no. He was a black man who was handicapped, not mentally handicapped. Oh, gosh, I just remembered something--we got up the money to get him an operation. His hand was somehow--I don't know if it was a birth problem or an accident, but his hand was ...
SI: Was it a palsy?
CL: Yes, I guess. It was like this, and I remember looking at his scars when he came back and he could move his hand again. He was so happy about that, but, I mean, we didn't treat him good. I mean, we treated him good, but we didn't treat him good, you know what I mean? We'd bust his chops too much. It's what goes on now between kids in college, from what I can see. It goes on, I can see, with my boys. I don't see it with my daughter so much, but my sons, when they had people over, I mean, that kind of verbal harassment, that's what it is. That's what it was, but he was well-liked. There was a man, Duncan Matthews, who faithfully came to the house for the alumni. Carl Burns is the Dunc Matthews of this era. Dunc was a nice man and he would come on Thursday. We had to dress up for dinner and the deal was, then, wear Levis and a shirt and tie. We used to get our shirts cleaned. I used to get my shirts laundered for ten cents a shirt. Can you believe that? I'd wear them two days. So, I could wear it and do three in a week, you know, from a guy, a Chinese laundryman, down the hill there, George, I think his name was. Oh, here's another thing--Terrible Tony is still alive. You know who Terrible Tony is, "Ptomaine Tony," at the corner of Easton and the street down in front of the old Rutgers Prep? You know where the Corner Tavern is? It's across the street there. Terrible Tony used to have a deli there, like, but it only sold, like, cheesesteaks and subs. It was a sub shop. Tony always had an old Cadillac out in front of his place. That was his favorite car, a convertible. When Bob Dylan came to Rutgers, he went to Tony's to eat. My son was in a track meet out in Arizona, and you know Tony's out there now? [Editor's Note: Greasy Tony's, a hangout for Rutgers students from the 1960s through the early 1990s, was owned by Tony Giorgianni, who relocated his restaurant to Arizona after his New Brunswick location closed.]
CL: Tony's out there. My son has a picture of [him], my son, Jon, and another kid from IU, with Terrible Tony. Can you imagine that? Tony is still around. He still has old Cadillacs. Yes, Tony's out there. We used to wind up on Saturday night at Tony's, pretty drunk, and we would go in and get stuff to eat. Then, it was like, always, there was a certain amount of fear that the Betas would come down there and take over the corner. So, we used to eat and run. I can remember--I don't know if I even remember this anymore--there just seemed like there was a lot of commotion and action there and it was like at two-thirty in the morning. Have others ever told you about that?
CL: Ask some Betas about that, or Phi Gams, or something. They would tell you that there was a lot of action at Tony's on Saturday night. Oh, man, I remember Tony. I used to like those cheesesteaks, too. Something I would never [eat now]--I don't eat them anymore, but they were good.
SI: They had an article when they had the Insight Bowl out of Phoenix where a lot of Rutgers alumni rediscovered Tony. [Editor's Note: The article appeared in the Star-Ledger preceding the Insight Bowl in 2005, in which the Rutgers Football Team played Arizona State University in Phoenix.]
CL: Rediscovered Tony out there? yes. Schiano's done a good job with the team. He's done a good job with the team. Brian Leonard is an exceptional person, from Upstate New York, and the girls' basketball team is exceptional. Vivian Stringer is an exceptional person. I mean, I'm just judging this from the Indiana media, especially Vivian Stringer. She is good, she is good. One of those kids is from a school I represent. You know, I'm a lobbyist, too. She's from East Chicago and I can't think of her last name right now, freshman this year, I think, on the team, basketball team, but I was very proud of them. So, what else do you want to know about anything?
SI: It was interesting to me that you came from the household of a Methodist minister, and then, you come to Rutgers and you were in a fraternity, and then, everything that happened to you in Vietnam. It must have been such a change from your upbringing.
CL: Yes. I was on the front edge of the social change. Have you ever read the book, very old book now, called something like The Crucial Decade: America, 1945–1955 [(1982) by Eric F. Goldman], tells about the time between '45 and '55? It's really about the emergence of the suburbs, and my little town that I lived in went from being a little town of six hundred people to a town of, like, fourteen thousand people, in about twelve years. My dad was a minister in a little church that became a big church and, oh, man, I could tell you guys stories about my town, but I was always very social. I always was; I was always social. I used to greet the people when church was over and I made my living greeting people, and, as a lobbyist, I greet people. I'm a professor--I'm a clinical professor, not a tenure track--I have students who I greet and try to relate to. The most important thing in your life is health, second most important thing is time and the use of time, which I believe should be devoted to relationships. The rest of it, ... I've had a lot of things, or people have many more things than I do and many have less things than I do, but I have good relationships. I try to, anyway. I haven't had all good relationships, but I kind of learned that at Rutgers. You know, that's something I want to tell you that was interesting, and that's my first year. Let me run it through my head--in my poli. sci. class with Dr. Brooks, there was a kid. We were talking about Fascism and this kid told us that his parents had been in the concentration camp and they had the numbering on their arms. I remember being chilled to the bone in hearing that story. I remember being scared. Holy Jesus, that scared the daylights out of me. I always knew about the Holocaust and about what had happened--I mean, I kind of knew. I had some very good social studies and history teachers, but that kid telling me that story--I often wondered who that kid was. I don't remember. I don't remember him. I think I might only have been in one class with him, but I remember the class and I remember him telling us that. I said, "Oh, my Lord." I mean, I just thought I knew, but I didn't know, you know what I mean? I just didn't know. I guess one thing about being at Rutgers, I had some real eye-openers here. Things like that really were eye-openers to me. The dancing apart was an eye-opener for me, quaint as it may seem, but it was, really. I learned a lot at Rutgers; going to New York City on the art trips. [laughter] If you want to hear true confessions, I've got a good memory. Do they still do Art 101 and 102? They put the slides up, or the pictures up--you've got to memorize them, you've got to go in and write. So, it's sad that they haven't changed that, by the way, because there's better ways to do that. However, I got a "B" first semester and I took it second semester, looking forward to another "B," relying on my good memory. Unfortunately, I either had a girlfriend or whatever it was--I didn't make it to the Guggenheim. I may have even made it to New York, but I didn't get to the Guggenheim. So, on the final, they show this slide of the Guggenheim, which I didn't know was the Guggenheim. I thought it was a trick. So, I put down, "This is a highly styled parking garage, because you can see the ramps and the flow and it's pleasant." That hourly, I got like an "F." He said, "You didn't go to the Guggenheim," and so, I ended up getting a "C." That was disappointing, because I really liked art history. It was a very good course, but that's another story. My parents had been from New York, but I never went there much at all, except to see my grandmas, but, when I went to Rutgers, having to go on the bus to go to the museums and stuff, the bus coming back was called, "The Vomit Comet." Get that one? because people were always sick on the bus, those orange-and-black Suburban busses. They still around?
SI: Yes. They are not orange-and-black anymore, but the Suburban Line.
CL: Yes. The most loaded people would sleep in the luggage racks up on top, and there were guys from Princeton on it. It was awful, and we were part of it, though, you know. My kids have asked me, they said, "Why'd you choose the bad behavior, Dad, that you had? Was it because you knew you were going to go in the Army?" I don't think so. I mean, it would be nice to push that off on that, but I don't think so. I consciously remember, between my junior and senior year, one night in the summer, up in Endicott, New York, driving around. My girlfriend was busy, my two friends were somewhere else, my other friend wasn't home. I remember driving around, thinking, "Holy Christmas, you're going to get drafted next year." I mean, I consciously remember thinking that and, in my draft board, everybody got drafted. My friend who went to Princeton got drafted. I heard from a friend of mine, who you ought to get in here, Roger Daley, the judge. He was drafted, too. He was an MP, but he told me that Donna Shalala, [Secretary of Health and Human Services from 1993 to 2001], said that, "The best and brightest didn't go to Vietnam." I mean, where does that leave me, chop meat, you know? but I think I understand what she was saying, because there was widespread belief that everybody wasn't going to get drafted, that if you got some connections, you could get out of it. You heard for years afterwards, I heard, the people from the heartland, where I was from, or the hearthland industrial centers got drafted--others didn't. That was not true in Endicott. Mrs. Snow was a snot to everybody, I guess. I mean, I knew a guy, who's dead, who's on the [Vietnam Veterans Memorial] Wall now, who was the best basketball player in our county; guy bled to death. It's funny how you hear these stories. I've gone to my own high school reunions and the reunions of the high school next to mine, because we were pretty good friends, and it's surprising the stories that I heard. There's a guy who was in the Fourth Division same time I was, the toughest kid in our whole area, in western Broome County, I think. ... I never talked to him, mostly because I was afraid of him when I was young, and I talked to him at this reunion. We've become friends now. I don't know how he did what he had to do. I would be dead if I had to do that, because I--honest to God, guys--I was a nothing. I mean, I was just a person who was a clerk, who could read and write, and I did my guard duty and I just did some other stuff, but some guys who were my peers, by location and everything, they had some horrendous experiences, just frightening beyond belief. ... I didn't realize how frightened I was, because I think I know I was frightened. I've been thinking about going back to the VA; I just don't want to. I mean, I don't want their money and I just don't want to be labeled a kook or anything, but I've got some issues about it and it's because it was frightening. It is frightening to have to know that you're going to have to confront somebody and, at a distance, I saw the enemy. I did not see anybody up close. Like that guy today, who shot the guy in the foxhole, holy crow, good for him--I'm glad he got it off. If you ever watch the History Channel, that Stanley Karnow thing, they have it on the History Channel, it was, like, twenty installations--it takes a lot to watch it--there's some NVA [North Vietnamese Army] on there who says he used to like to get Americans and pull them close and cut their guts out. If I'd have met that guy back when I was twenty-two, he'd have killed me, because I didn't understand, and, for years, I didn't really understand. I don't think I understood what I was doing when I was there even. See, some people got it put on them right away, up close and personal--not me. I got to watch it from Camp Enari, inside the perimeter. We went out on sweeps and stuff--nothing ever happened. I can't believe that they let us do that. That is so incompetent.
SI: When you say you were going out on sweeps ...
CL: Oh, they would wake the base camp up at four in the morning and say, "You guys are going out on a sweep." The whole base camp would wake up. Now, don't tell me this didn't wake up "Charlie," too, who's probably watching us outside the perimeter, but they did it, so that they did. See, we used to have indigenous people come into the camp every day and, if it was known to anybody, ... they would have tipped everybody off. We could have gotten ambushed or something. Anyway, they'd get everybody up, "Get your shit together and we're going on a sweep." They put you in trucks and drive you out, like, ten miles into the bush. I don't even know if it was ten miles. It must have been shorter than that, five miles, eight miles, something like that, and then, we would all get in a gigantic line--this is several thousand guys--and march back to base camp. That was a sweep. We did that quite a bit, and then, another thing that was worrisome, and I remember being worried about this, when the trucks didn't come to pick us up one time, we were out in the boonies on a tank trail, where a tank had gone by. ... There was ruts; we were sitting in the rut. Man, if they, "Charlie," would have been out there, he could have killed all of us, a whole bunch of us, but the trucks came, we got back in. Another thing I've got to tell you, that I used to not be able to talk about it--I can talk about it now pretty good--people think that when you're in the Army, you see scary things and all that stuff. I didn't see anything particularly scary. I did see one thing that was another bone-chiller. One day, I was walking, because I had these papers, I had to take stuff over to the adjutant general, and I used to have to walk past this chopper pad in our base camp where the medivacs were. In our base camp, there were no medivacs there, just bodies. So, I'm walking along, a nice summer day, and I should say that when you're in Vietnam, if you look up at the sky, it's blue and you could pretend you're back in New York. So, I'm walking along, minding my own business, with my stuff under my arm, and there's two deuce-and-a-halfs, two big dump trucks, piled high with these green bags. ... It took me around half a millisecond to say, "Holy Christmas," and I had heard that LZ Oasis had been hit the night before. That was the bags, the bodies coming back. Now, Riley can probably tell you much more graphically about that sort of thing, but I saw two truckloads of guys, my age--my word, I remember, right. [Editor's Note: James J. Riley, RC '67, one of Dr. Little's Zeta Psi brothers, served in Vietnam as a US Army mortician.] We're cleaning up my parents' estate and things now. I've got to find the letters I sent to my parents. I'd like to find them. My brothers and sisters have given me back my letters, but I've got to get them. My mother, I'm sure, has kept them and I have to find them, because I want to see what I said about that, but that was the worst thing I ever saw. Another thing that happened, I meant to tell you, you know, I got out of rotation by my DEROS [date of departure]. Remember, I told you I had to extend? So, I didn't come home with anybody I went with. So, I got off the plane, when we get to Fort Lewis, and there's all these guys who basically went through the whole thing together. They got back to the world the same time I did. We get off the plane, all these guys are meeting. It was in the Seattle airport, at Fort Lewis. Somehow, we're all, eighty people, standing around, and so, someone says, "Oh, Sean, how did Barry make out?" and he said, "Oh, no, he's dead." Then, this guy Sean says to Chuck, "How did Fred make out?" "He went to Japan, died," and I remember listening to this conversation. Holy Christmas, I was lucky. There were some weeks in Vietnam that I think there were two or three hundred casualties, dead, maybe more. There was a lot of casualties. I don't know the statistics. In Iraq, it's something like only one-in-eight or ten wounded die, but in World War II was one-out-of-two or one-out-of-three. In Vietnam, it was already up in the one-out-of-four range kind of thing. I mean, if you guys are history enthusiasts, one of the most horrific wars that this country ever had was the Civil War--unbelievable butchery, tactics hadn't kept up with armaments and no medical attention. You've heard, I think it was General [William T.] Sherman who said, "War is hell," but do you know where he said it and what came before that?
SI: I think he said it in Atlanta.
CL: No. He might have said it about that, but it was after the Civil War. He was at a veterans hospital in Michigan and he said something to the effect, "If you have heard the screaming of the wounded and smelled the flesh and the metal, then, you know that war is hell." It is. It's horrible. It's horrible. The one ambush I was in, the thing that I remember the most is the smell.
SI: What do you remember about the smell?
CL: Hot and powder smelling, and I can remember the truck. It got shot in the side and I can remember--I don't know what I remember, I just remember I can see the holes--but I just remember the smell, hot, and then, Lieutenant Storlazzi has a graphic memory of this, if you can believe that. He remembers where I was sitting, and I don't remember that. Whoever said that war is hell is right. It's awful. How come? For my final story, you know, one of the greatest commercials I ever saw was when I got back in '69. I enrolled in a master of teaching program ... in January and started teaching, and I became a social studies teacher. I had an excellent lady, who is still alive, Fran Crandall, ninety-three years old. She took me under her wing, told me lots of stuff that takes a lifetime to figure out, at least so she told me. So, I had a chance, but, at that time, there was an anti-war commercial that showed two lines of old men walking to the top of a hill. They had on vests, three-piece suits and vests and a watch, and so on. They get to the top of the hill. They form a circle. Two of the men, two of the oldest guys, come out and have a wrestling match in the most awkward way that you would see at that age. I mean, you guys are more flexible, physically, than I am--well, add on, make it eighty and see where some of those old guys would be. Then, the commercial would come on and say, "Don't you wish all wars were fought this way?" I thought that was so poignant, to see that. War is a waste of time, and I'm not against it. I'm not against it. If I would have been President on September 12th, I would have gone into Afghanistan. I would have gone into Pakistan. I would have torn the place apart looking for Osama Bin Laden. There was no doubt about it. I would never have gone to Iraq. I would have put tremendous pressure on Saudi Arabia, as the source of all this problem, problems, and be prepared to attack. That sounds crazy--I don't even listen to this--but I'm not against the war, but the Vietnam War was a waste of everybody's time and I, fortunately, knew about that before I left Rutgers.
SI: You mentioned that you were talking to people that kind of influenced your thinking. Were those fellows students or were they faculty?
CL: Yes. No, it was two things. It was really a couple of things. Geez, I forgot about this. It was certainly students--Douglass students and Rutgers students--who I view today, I know they were smarter than I was and they understood the notion of civil war. They had a better grasp of the history of the country than I did. See, when I lived overseas, I had debated. Do you remember Gary Powers and the "America, Right or Wrong" debate? [Editor's Note: On May 1, 1960, Francis Gary Powers' US Air Force U-2 aircraft was shot down over the Soviet Union, causing an international incident.] I had always debated "America, Right or Wrong," and then, when I came to Rutgers, some of these people whom I respected were saying, "Chuck, you know, it doesn't always work that way," and I learned from them. Then, the other thing that happened to me was, my adviser, who I can't think of now, who's become a born-again Christian, but, at that time, he was a leftist, Marxist ...
CL: Yes, Eugene Genovese.
SI: He was your adviser.
CL: Yes, he was my adviser. So, when I went down, you had to go see your adviser. You had to pick your major. I think you had to pick your major in the middle of your sophomore year, but I only met with the guy twice, and he was nice to me and friendly and he said, "What do you want to do?" and I said, "Oh, I don't know, maybe I want to be a teacher, maybe I want to be in sales. I like working with people." I said, "I want to be a history major," and he said, "Well, this looks okay," and he signed off, but I respected him just because he was a professor, and then, he spoke out against the war when I was on campus. He said he would welcome a North Vietnamese victory. He said it on the state's dollar, here in New Brunswick, and, of course, everybody went crazy, and I thought the guy was pretty sane, because I knew him. ... Then, he went to the University of Rochester. Well, this is interesting. He went to the University of Rochester. You know who he brought up there? Herr Kraiser, from my German class. Herr Kraiser is still up there, and then, Genovese's now down in South Carolina somewhere and he's become a born-again, I understand, which, in my frame of reference, I'm always skeptical of people who make radical changes. [Editor's Note: On April 23, 1965, at a teach-in at Rutgers University's Scott Hall, Professor of History Eugene D. Genovese declared, "...I do not fear or regret the impending Viet Cong victory in Vietnam. I welcome it." A firestorm of controversy ensued and his comments became a focal point in the 1965 New Jersey gubernatorial race, but Rutgers University President Mason W. Gross, with the support of the faculty, resisted public pressure to dismiss Genovese, on the principle of academic freedom.] Put that where you want it, but ... people make radical changes in their lifestyle. When I was principal in my first district, small, small district, as superintendent, I would not only read everybody's file, I'd look at the 1970 yearbook, because that's the first year I did it, taught, and I'd look and see what they looked like in 1970, and then, I'd look and see how they look in 1983 and 1990. ... If I saw a person who had changed a great deal, I'd say, "I've got to be careful. This person is subject to vast changes," I mean, you know, from liberal to ideologue, maybe. So, that's just something that I watched. Yes, Genovese was my adviser.
SI: We started talking about him, but you were telling me about politics on campus.
CL: Yes. There were these teach-ins at Rutgers, here, and I would go to the teach-ins and I'd just listen. I mean, when Barry Goldwater came, everybody said, "You're crazy." Oh, another thing that happened to me is, I lived in Endicott, right near SUNY Binghamton, now Binghamton University, and I went there--I was like the only guy in the audience, there was maybe a hundred people--who heard, I want to say Wayne Morse, Wayne Morse, the guy who voted against the Gulf of Tonkin [Resolution], from Oregon or Washington. He came to speak, and that seemed to me to be so clear. He said it was all on flimsy evidence and there wasn't any evidence. He was right. He voted against the Gulf of Tonkin. [Editor's Note: Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon was one of two Senators who opposed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.] Oh, someone's calling me.
CL: All right, what else do you want to ask me? So, that's how I got persuaded. That's how I got persuaded. I never thought we were doing the right thing, so, I didn't have to go too far. I'd run into guys in the Army who swear that this is the right thing, "And, if we don't, they're going to follow us home." I heard that one before Iraq, although I think world terrorism is a genuine threat now. We need to have a whole new way of responding to it. Some of the ways that we were coming up with are good, but we're not nearly where we should be, but that's why I think when some people came home--see, did you ever hear the stories of, in the airports, guys who'd take off their uniforms and just leave them on the floor? I saw that, but I kept mine on. No one ever spit on me, but here's another thing about being a veteran--you know, I never talked about it. I wore one of my medals today; I seldom do that. I was at the statehouse in Indiana sometime between '99 and '04 and the lieutenant governor, governor, was a guy named Joe Kernan, and he's a Vietnam veteran and he was a POW. So, I go to this free luncheon, you know, to get a free sandwich and soda. So, I go in, I say, "Governor Kernan, I'm Chuck Little, Fourth Infantry Division, glad to know you." He said to me, "Welcome home." Do you realize how long that was? No one ever welcomed us home. I don't know if we would have accepted it, to tell you the truth. I just don't know if we would have accepted it. I wanted to get my hair to grow back. I wanted to disappear into civilian life. When I was teaching, at first, I used to have a little slideshow, and I still used it into the '90s. If there was a teacher I knew well enough, I'd be talking to him and they'd say, "Well, Dr. Little, why don't you come tell our class about it?" I still have some slides of Vietnam that are roughly interesting. I mean, I can make it interesting and I used to show that, but I never really talked about it or advertised it. My wife says, in the last year, I've talked more about Vietnam than I did in the first twenty-eight years we were married. So, I've got to say that I am bitter, bitter, bitter. What they did to us, it was not right. There was no need for that, and to know that there's guys who have died from Agent Orange and never knew what they died from--they thought they had cancer and they didn't know--no one even made the connection until, legally, twenty years ago, and people who died before that, it was too late. There was no connection. People didn't know. That's unconscionable and the leadership, in most cases, has been insensitive to this--maybe give some lip service, but not [real action]. ... In Lincoln's second inaugural--you familiar with that? powerful, powerful speech--he says, "Take care of the veterans, their children, their wives." It's just not right, and I've got plenty--I don't need it for me. You should go to the VA hospital and see the people who are waiting for this service. There are people who really need it and the system is so complicated. I mean, I'm kind of an expert at paperwork. I did it my whole life. I created it and put the hurdles there, but I could get through it. If you're not a trained person, it's a lot of obstacles. They send you letters all the time, asking you to do things. I mean, I've got notebooks to sort out all my issues, but these other poor guys over there, I see them over there, I say, "God, Jesus, how are they going to get through this stuff?" and it's their principal source of medical assistance. So, maybe that's what I'm going to do, down the road a little bit. I've still got some good energy left. I want to do something like that. I've been talking to my dean about it; so, anyway, go ahead.
SI: Most of the Vietnam veterans--all veterans, but I am thinking of the Vietnam veterans particularly--talk about how the doctors and nurses are good, but the administration is just ...
CL: It's a lot to get through. They don't have any idea what it's like. I mean, let me put it this way--when I was a school leader, superintendent, principal, I must have had a dozen people, maybe more, who got cancer. I never understood how they felt. In fact, I was talking to Carl Burns on the phone last March or February, or something. One of the feelings that I have, that I think is a result of being in the Army, is, I do not like being alone. I do not like being alone and part of it may be my nature, but I do not like being by myself anymore. I don't like it. It's hard when I have to drive a long way. I don't like it. I just don't like it and I don't know what that's from, but you feel alone; have you noticed? You know another thing I did? A month ago, I joined the Vietnam Veterans of America and one of the things I want, on the stickers I picked up, was marching along together again. I think a lot of us came home and we're detached and felt isolated. Do other people talk about that? felt isolated, and alone, yes, and I really did. When I got sick last summer, I was pretty close to crazy. I think I was crazy. I don't know, but I wondered, "Am I the only person this has happened to?" Until I started to get some data, I thought I was the only one, and, now, I found out there's thousands of people. When I tell people what happened to me, my associates, and I have got to stop doing this, but, I mean, people ask me--people in Indiana are pretty friendly--"How you doing?" and I've started telling them, "I'm doing better than I was two months ago," and then, he says, "How do you know that happened?" and I tell him. They're incredulous that something like that would happen, unless they know, and the reason I found out about 2,4,5-T is from an Indiana farmer. He said, "Oh, my dad, when we used to use that when I was a kid, my dad made me carry a gallon of water on the tractor. If I ever got it on me, I was supposed to pour the whole gallon on me." ... He used to say--I mean, if you talk to him, he's kind of a funny guy--he would say, "We used to think you could take down the fence posts, that stuff was so powerful," but they did it to us on purpose. I'm just starting to know the Vietnam veterans. I'm going to be active in it. I live really close to Fort Benjamin Harrison. They have a little meeting building down there, but there's buttons down there, "Sprayed and Betrayed." That says it all, "Sprayed and Betrayed." Colonel Ball died at fifty-six of leukemia and I found that on the web. I Google a lot of things and he popped right up, like that. I called the museum where he had gotten an honor. I said, "He's listed as deceased, 1986," and the curator told me, he said, "He died of leukemia," and I didn't ask any further, "Did they ever track it to something?" ... The guy slept in a hooch--he slept in a trailer--ten yards from me, but he had a helicopter and I've heard stories now that flying around in that stuff, you know, you'd be flying through places that had just been defoliated. Oh, I could go on, but never mind. It's just awful that that was done. They should pay to make every veteran come in and get a free, extensive physical. You should have to do that. I mean, I've had checks of my kidneys. They're okay, but the urologist was worried because I was passing blood, and he thought maybe I had something there, but nothing is going on yet. So, your own government did that to you, knowingly, is awful, it's just awful. The guys I talked to, a guy in the statehouse, in the end of April, who had a friend who used to be in Operation RANCH HAND, I stupidly said to him, "How's he doing now?" He just shook his head. He's gone. He's gone after ten years. Anyway, is that it? I'll answer more questions; keep asking. I don't have anything else to say.
ML: I just wanted to ask you one question about the camp dynamic, racially.
CL: Oh, hey, hey, the "brothers," the "gray dudes" and the "black dudes." We were the gray dudes, they were the black dudes, but there were people--oh, that's another thing. Did I tell you how they turned the generators off at night?
SI: Do you want me to turn the temperature down? Are you cold?
CL: Yes, I'm a little cold, but that's okay. Now, the brothers used to listen to their two favorite songs, which were The Horse Song [The Horse by Cliff Nobles and Company]--you know that song? [Dr. Little hums the tune]--and then, the other one was, [singing], "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," [by Marvin Gaye]. Okay, so, at night, they made you shut the generators off. Then, people would get bombed or loaded. Then, in the morning, the generators would come back on, but the generators came back on at exactly the spot they got left off. Do you know the movie Good Morning, Vietnam? That guy was really there. [Editor's Note: The 1987 film Good Morning, Vietnam was based on Adrian Cronauer's experiences as an American Forces Vietnam Network disc jockey in Vietnam.] Pat Sajak, [host of the television game show Wheel of Fortune], I think, is one of the voices of AFVN, but, in the morning, at six o'clock, it would come on, "Good morning, Vietnam," but Camp Enari would get up, at quarter to six, by someone coming around and starting the generators, and the generators would have those two songs on it, where it ended. So, you get to know the words, you know. It's kind of easy. Now, here's another story. So, anyway, when I was a principal out in Western New York, we had a teacher come, a professor come, from the University of Buffalo, who says, and we had a lot of migrant kids in our school, ... he starts his presentation off by saying, "Who knows what 'the hawk' is?" No one raises their hand. I raised my hand. "You know what the hawk is?" "It's the black word for 'Mr. Hawkins,' the cold weather." He says, "How many know what the word 'booty' means?" You guys know that now; I was the only one in 1974 who knew what it meant, that was white, and so, what happened was, being in the Army with all the black guys, I learned a lot. Everybody learned a lot of real tough, gutter talk, lots of "MFs" ["motherfuckers"] and just all the language and, "Laying up in your crib," and, "Giving the guy a pound." I've been trying to find this guy, David Adams, in Detroit. He's a white guy, but he acted like he's a black guy, always giving people a pound and all that sort of stuff. Yes, we were pretty friendly, as we were the "lowlifes," and we had "Brother Golden," Brother Tyrone Cash. I never got in a fight in my life except one. This is complicated. You know, when you are in base camp, you got to drink--and I never drank it, because I hated this--milk, this reconstituted milk, but it was loaded with coconut oil. I'm glad I didn't do it. I'd probably be dead now from cholesterol, but lots of people drank it. Brother Cash drank it. Brother Cash was kind of on the outs with everybody, because he had a Combat Infantryman's Badge that we thought he didn't earn. He somehow got it. ... There's a real pecking order. I mean, the people that had a CIB, whatever it was called, they were a notch up above guys like me, even in the lower ranks. Guys who had been injured would come back into our company to fill in and those guys had a little more status with us, but Brother Cash was never thought to be in good favor. So, the short and long of it is, one day, Brother Cash, I come back to the hooch in the middle of the afternoon and Brother Cash is laying up in his crib, drinking some coconut milk and throws the--I was going to say "the freaking container"--over on my side of the hooch. I take it, I kick it back over to Brother Cash's side of the hooch. Brother Cash leaps out of his bed and drills me in the side of the head. [laughter] I don't know what happened after that. I got up and left and never did anything about it, but I think it was okay. I mean, a lot of the sergeants were black guys. They were cool. This guy I had in basic training, Sergeant Brown, I would like to find him, because he was more than a trainer, he was a teacher, but Sergeant Brown, we'd be out in Fort Dix, freezing our tails off in the middle of winter. We'd get done with our day's work and stuff and, before he'd pass out the mail, he'd say, "Trainee, come here." You'd get really close to him, "Trainee, come here, come here." When you get over there, "Silence is golden, silence is golden, trainee." He says, "Don't make a noise. Silence is golden." That record was out--Silence Is Golden [(1967), as covered by the Tremeloes] had been out about that time. He used to tell us at least once a week in basic, maybe three times a week, he'd get us around and say, "Silence is golden, trainee," and I know what he was talking about now. I mean, people that would have to go out, outside the perimeter, had to be quiet. I mean, you couldn't make noise at night, but Sergeant Brown knew that. He was good, he was really good. He treated us [well], just by the fact that he drew us around him. I mean, I remember that feeling, "This guy kind of likes us." I mean, he may bust our chops, you know, all day long, but he kind of likes us, and he used to say that. ... You know, now, I realize that he was probably only twenty-five or twenty-six, but I came from a part of the country where there was no minorities, where I lived up in Upstate New York. So, he, to me, I don't know what I thought he was, but I didn't think he was [that young]. I bet you he was only twenty-six, thirty, at most, at the outside. I'd love to find that guy again, but how many Sergeant Browns were there in the Army? but he knew. That guy knew--he knew what it took. He knew what it took. He knew how to establish relationships, but he knew what it was going to take to survive. If half my company, I think, went in the infantry, I never saw them again, except for that guy, Mike Millatello, owned a disco in Buffalo. That was something, and you know when I went to see him? He was in the backroom of his disco, the first time I ever went there, after I knew that he owned it, and the bartender was another guy from my company, a guy named Mike. I don't even know who he was, and I said, "Is Mr. Millatello here?" The guy says, "Who wants to see him?" I said, "Chuck Little." He says, "Who are you?" I said, "Just tell him, ALOF." "ALOF?" I said, "Yes, you remember that, 'Alpha Leads, Others Follow.'" He kind of laughed. He went back, and then, Millatello came out. I got drinks for the whole night. So, the officers were all white guys. The high-ranking NCOs [non-commissioned officers] were intelligent people who found themselves in the Army. First Sergeant Turner, we called him "The Cyclops." He was cross-eyed. I mean, that's the kind of stuff that went on in the Army, called him Cyclops. Every day, he'd call, in the morning, ... the whole company in the Headquarters A Company to attention, and, before he'd start, before he said, "Attention," he'd go, [Dr. Little imitates him spitting], "Ten hut." You know what that spit was about? chewing tobacco. So, because I was the delivery guy, he said to bring things down for him, for kids who'd screwed up in his company. I'd go down there and he'd say, "What have you got, Specialist Little?" pull up his drawer, put a big gob of chewing tobacco in there. He's from West Virginia. I haven't thought of that in years. So, being from Rutgers and being a smart ass, I said, "First Sergeant, how long have you been chewing?" and he says since he was three. [laughter] Since he was three, and I said, "When do you start in the morning?" He says, "Before I put my feet on the floor." I ran back up the hill. You can see what effect it has--I haven't thought of that in years. I mean, he used to go, [Dr. Little imitates him spitting], and here I come down, a little punk spec-five from Rutgers and from Upstate New York, asking this guy, the Cyclops, who I feared--that's a guy I feared. You did not want to get tangled up with him. Oh, man, I would never. I wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley. He was something else, but he was nice, and he said since he was three. Can you imagine that, chewing since you were three? He is something else, oh, man. He was from West Virginia, too, but, every morning before he'd start formation, he'd spit on the ground. I guess that's part of my Methodist background. No one in my family smoked or did any of that sort of stuff, so, to encounter a guy like [the] First Sergeant, oh, man, First Sergeant Turner from West Virginia, the Cyclops. There was another guy, Sergeant Major Harris, who wanted to go to Canada after the war was over, or after he got home, and he was really disappointed, just about everything. He was one of the first people that, I now recognize, I think, knew that, that the country was getting morally corrupt, or would have been judged morally corrupt, because he was a guy of pretty high standards. Oh, one more thing to tell you--the one place that I found that was comforting, I can't believe I didn't think of this, was church. So, I went to church every Sunday and it was just a chaplain. We had a little chaplain and I went over there. Chaplain Bell, his name was. So, when I left, he gave me a certificate that said I was a good kid, that I had gone to church, or something like that. So, when I went to the VA, I put that in my package and the guy just looked at it, just, I don't know, just so [that] I can tell you. Then, when I was superintendent, across from West Point, in Garrison, New York, I ate with the commandant at his house, once a year, and my wife and I went over there and I ran into the chaplain from West Point, who I saw had a Fourth Infantry Division patch on. This is going back to the period '82 to '85, and I said, "Do you know Chaplain Bell?" He said, "Oh, yes, yes, he's retired now," and so forth, and so on, and the guy continued to march. He was nice to me and the reason I liked going to church, and I am not a religious person, the reason I liked it was because it was something familiar. You could sing a hymn or take Communion and it was something familiar with what home was like. At least for forty-five minutes, you didn't have all that Army stuff going on, because everybody was always busting everybody over there. I mean, it was just everybody would criticize everybody else. It was crazy and that was the one respite from that during the week, was to go there, and Chaplain Bell, he was a nice man, and that's when we had English's service. That isn't a Rutgers story, but I talked to this lieutenant, who is carrying on a lot of guilt that he's the reason that English got killed and everything. It isn't, but that's what he says. It's funny how you don't talk to these guys for years. I didn't talk to that guy since 1969 and I found him in the white pages and I called him up, started talking. Yes, that was a long time ago, that was a long time ago. Okay, what else you got? You got anything else, I don't know, have anything else I need to say? I think I'm done. I'll think of something when I walk back to the hotel. You got any more questions? You've got good questions.
ML: I think that might be all I have.
CL: You know what's happening to the blacks in the Army now? The number of African-Americans is declining rapidly. Do you know that? Yes, it is, it's declining rapidly, and I think the reason is, you've got the retirement of the senior African-American people leaving the service and the African-American community says, "You're not running this war on our back," and so, they're not signing up. That's what's going on. Something like that is going on.
SI: Did you have much interaction with the Vietnamese?
CL: Nope. I can tell you, I did not even have sex in-country. I'm not kidding you. Coming out of Pleiku, it is about ten miles, I don't know, a long ride, seemed like a long ride, there's a road that there used to be laundries or "steam-and-cream" places [massage parlors]. When I got there, they were all torn down. They were gone. That happened before I was there. So, the only people that came in the base camp were just people who worked around [the camp] doing different things, collecting laundry, but we did have Montagnards--I forgot to tell you that--and they were in base camp and we would go out to their village. That's how I got in this little ambush deal. We went out and delivered some hoes and rakes to them and [were attacked] coming back, but they were out there, out in the jungle--not the jungle, kind of in the grass, elephant grass, tall grass. They have bananas and things. I saw one Buddhist priest in a yellow robe once. They said to drive this lieutenant over to the Air Force base, where I used to marvel at the fact that they (Air Force personnel) were eating off of plates. We had these tin things to eat off. Colonel Ball (commanding officer of my battalion, became a brigadier general) was a decent guy. One night, there wasn't enough food and I went over to him and I said, "We (enlisted people) don't have anything to eat." So, he made the cook give all the stuff from the officers over to us. That's what's so criminal about what's going on in Iraq, that they don't have equipment, you know. That's wrong. That is wrong, wrong, wrong, absolutely dead wrong, but Colonel Ball took care of us that night. He went over and he made the cook give us the food from the officers' side, which I thought was pretty nice. That was near the end of my tour, too, because, by that time, I figured, "What are they going to do to me? nothing, except I'm just going to go home." So, okay, anything else? Has this been useful? I hope it's useful.
SI: Absolutely, yes. We can ask questions all day--it is a matter of if you want to stay or go.
CL: Give me a couple more, and then, I'll leave you alone. You got some more questions? If you don't, don't force yourself to ask.
SI: Were you aware of the protest movements at home?
CL: Yes, when I came home, I marched. Heck, that's another thing. I had a job in New York, when I graduated from Rutgers, and I went to the job in New York with Wheeling Steel. I remember coming back with the Newsweek Magazine from July of '67, when the ten-thousandth guy had been killed in Vietnam, sitting there and saying, "This is awful," and the two clerks who worked in there with me, and I was a trainee, "Oh, Chuck, when you come back from the Army, you will know that this is worth it. You'll understand better," and, like a jerk, I thought, "Ah, maybe I will. I mean, maybe these guys are right. They're older than I am." I came back, went to work for the same company--not only did those two schmos not loosen up at all, but I went to, I was working in Pittsburgh in October of '69. You know what that was? the Moratorium, and I went to the Moratorium and I made a little thing for my suit jacket that I put in the pocket. I cut it out of a cardboard from a shirt and I cut it out. It said, "Vietnam Veteran Against the War--Ask Me," and the only people that asked me were young people, what it was like. I told them, I said, "It's a piece of crap." I was at, what's it called? Gateway Park for the Moratorium. [Editor's Note: The Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam was a demonstration that took place across the United States on October 15, 1969, calling for the end of the war.] Then, when I started teaching, I was in demonstrations in Binghamton and I was getting a master's degree. So, I was still tied into the campus a little bit, and I remember marching in one in the spring of--I don't know what year it was--and we marched from the campus down to the courthouse in Binghamton. The next day, I went to teach at my school and this teacher, the football coach, says, "I would have liked to shoot all those guys." I said, "Dick, I was one of those guys there yesterday." He looked at me with disdain, and continued to lead the men, you know what I mean? the football team and all that stuff. I wanted to tap his lights out. You know, sometimes, I regret that I haven't spoken up more about things. I mean, I called my congresswoman and told her, "Don't vote for this Iraq vote," and she didn't, but most people did. I mean, I knew that that was wrong just from my travels and studies and stuff, but I protested. It did not bother me a bit. Like I said, nobody spit on me, no one treated me shabby. I wore my uniform home and most people never knew I was in the Army, to tell you the truth. After a couple of years, I don't think anybody knew or gave two bits about it, but that's what it was. You know, I've not thought about First Sergeant Turner since 1969. I got there ahead of him, but he got to go home ahead of me because, [after] I got there, I had to extend. I can still see him. He had a can in the bottom drawer. ... Do you ever see someone who chewed tobacco? It's gross, and he had a whole can of that shit in there. [laughter] Anyway, so, no, that never bothered me. I was never affected by that at all.
SI: When you were in Vietnam, did you and your fellow men talk about the protest movement? What did you think of it?
CL: No. We didn't talk about it. Mostly, we talked about how stupid some people were to sign up and have to spend an extra year. We talked about girls all the time. We talked about coming to visit each other. I remember this one guy who I was on guard duty with, Bruce Owen. We talked about the female anatomy in unbelievable detail and could conclude that we ... cannot come up with any improvements that we would make. [laughter] Can you imagine that? I mean, that's the kind of junk you do, it goes through your head. I had a locker and I had Playboy pin-ups on it, which now probably wouldn't even be considered very risqué, but, then, that was really--you're a stud if you had that, or if you had a Playboy subscription or something. I remember, oh, my brother told me--he was a Rutgers graduate, by the way--my brother told me that, when I came home, because I'm anal, I had my subscription changed to home, and my brother says, when it came to our house, it strangely disappeared in my parents' bedroom. He was only a little kid. See, that's another thing my brother said to me--he's a lawyer here in this area--my brother said to me, when I was getting better last summer, he said, "Chuck, you know, I always wondered, when you came home from Vietnam, why everything was dirty and you were telling us you were out in a big field." It's because the whole place is defoliated. If you go online now, you can see my base camp and you can see it. It's where they dry coffee now. You can see the difference between the perimeter, where it was defoliated, and the jungle about two hundred yards out. It's a different color. If you've got an email, I can send it to you. Yes, give me it, I can send it to you. I still bookmark that. I wrote to the guys (unknown Vietnam Vets online) and asked them. I don't know how I got on that website. Oh, it was when I was checking on the Fourth Division. I did a lot of checking on all this last, like, September, August, September, October. I was really going crazy, because, see, at least when you get sick, ... I think you try to find out what made this happen. ... So, now, I'm satisfied I know what happened, if that's what happens, but, anyway, "Upstream, Red Team." Rutgers is a good place; Rutgers is a great place. It's a great place. Yes, even Brian [Leonard] wanted us to look good by winning that [National Football Foundation Draddy Trophy] award, was it?
SI: Is that the academic award? yes.
CL: Yes, he made us look good.
SI: Vietnam was really the first war where--your case is a perfect example--you were in Vietnam Monday and, Friday, you were back here. What impact do you think that had on you?
CL: Well, I had a good support system. My parents were there, my friends were there. I wasn't married, and ended up not getting married for a long time. I didn't get married until I was almost thirty-four. So, there was nobody who--my mother used to say that I've got a hair-trigger temper now, which I do. Certain things set me off big time, but she said I didn't have that before, but, aside from that, I don't think it had too much of an effect, because, as I said, I was insulated by, when I went there, I knew it was a mistake, and it was because of Rutgers. Rutgers people taught me that, and so, I can't say that I was too goofed up. I have, now, looking back over my life, knowing that I was, I remember being interviewed for jobs, people always, inevitably, say, "We see you were in the Army. Oh, you were in Vietnam. Where were you?" and I would just go, "I don't want to talk about it," and it's because, I think, I was so scared. I was scared. Even at the bar I used to hang out, they had the "Chuck Little Memorial Fund," and I came back, we all locked the doors and got smashed, [laughter] because we had, like, fifty bucks in it, but, I mean, that's how you kind of thought, that you might not come back. The sad part is, thousands of people gave their life for nothing. It could have been avoided. The Best and the Brightest [(1972)], you guys have read that, David Halberstam's book. I read that at Rutgers. We knew all the answers then. [Editor's Note: Dr. Little may be thinking of David Halberstam's 1965 book The Making of a Quagmire: America and Vietnam during the Kennedy Era.] We knew it was wrong and [Secretary of Defense Robert] McNamara kept going. I mean, half the time, I want to write to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, telling them to get after McNamara's estate. He's still alive. He lives in Ann Arbor. They were wrong, wrong, wrong, a hundred percent wrong, and they didn't fess up to it. Nixon and Kissinger were smart. The reason we don't have a draft is because they ... never wanted to have the college kids coming home again, like this summer, telling their parents, "This is a load of baloney." If we had that in '03, '04, '05, the Iraq War would be over, because kids were going to get drafted. They would have come home and told their parents, "This is a bunch of baloney. Get rid of these guys," or tell somebody, and it would have been over, but, no, we don't have that loop anymore. We don't have that loop. It's not good.
ML: Did you have career aspirations before you were drafted? Did you know what you were going to do?
CL: Yes, I did, but I denied it. I wanted to either be an archeologist or a high school principal, but there wasn't a niche for that at Rutgers, and I would have to go off campus to do student teaching, so, I decided that I wouldn't student teach. I would just get my degree, and I took a job with a steel company. Soon as I came back, though, I became a teacher. I got into a program. I knew I wanted to do that. It was clear to me that I wanted to be a teacher and, now, I think I should have been an archeologist, but I still like both things. I love teaching. I have three classes a year at the university and I do my lobbying. So, I still teach, and I'm trying to think about how I can go on a dig somewhere. Yes, Rutgers was helpful. It was easy back then, though, men, it was easy. The rules were largely still clear. Now, it's not clear. My kids, you know, you know how you can tell, you know how your parents can tell whether you're grownup or not, you know what the test is? "Do you have benefits?" That's the test. My son has finished law school, hasn't grownup yet, but my son who's got a four-year degree is grownup yet. Do you know what the difference is? One has got benefits, the other one doesn't. That's the test. So, Rutgers was a help.
ML: Did the GI Bill help as well?
CL: Yes, it did, but, when I first started getting it, it was 135 [dollars] a month. It went up to about 210 or so, 215. You had, like, ... a ten-year limit and so much, so many semesters or something. I used mine all up down to the end. That's how I got so many degrees, but it was not the same as what other veterans got. Korean War veterans and World War II veterans could take their life insurance policy--we weren't allowed to do that. It's because we were supposed to be a "lean, mean, fighting machine" country. That's the start of this, "Do it on the cheap." When you deal with people, you can't do it on the cheap, but we've got too much of that now.
SI: Before we end this session, we want to know about your teenage years, your high school years, when you were traveling around the Middle East. You were in high school for a few years in Iran.
CL: Well, my dad--I wish I could have said this in the beginning, I feel better now--my dad was a real internationalist. When I heard the thing this morning about the house for Christians, Jews, and Muslims [Rutgers' Coexistence House], my dad would have bought into that in an instant. He realized after the war (World War II) that there'd have to be some healing, so, he started traveling. He and a bunch of other ministers set up a thing called Christian Friendship Caravans and, eventually, my dad got to be the guy who went to the Middle East. So, in 1954, he went to the Middle East for the first time. So, I'm a little kid growing up and he's coming back every summer with pictures and slides and, I mean, I learned who Victor Emmanuel is and I learned what the Champs-Élysées is--I mean, things that little kids don't ever know--and I learned all that stuff. So, my dad eventually decided he wanted to take a job with the World Council of Churches, and he took a job in Iran, which, at that time, was run by the Shah, and so, when I was in the middle of my junior year in high school, I moved over there and I went to the American School. That little school became the biggest overseas American installation, until the Shah was overthrown, but it was small then, run by the State of Indiana, which is how I ended up working in Indiana University, because they accredited the school and the superintendent became a big deal and, basically, said to me, "If you ever really want to be a principal, come out to Indiana and get an advanced degree." So, I went out there, and with my GI Bill money and this guy getting my tuition waived, I had it made. I went out there, but, when I lived there, my friend and I, because I look a little bit Persian--I mean, you guys, I don't know if you could recognize a Persian, but I look, sort of look, that way, and my friend looked like I did, too, and he could speak Farsi--and so, we would go down to the bazaar a lot. I mean, you can imagine, high school boys, we would go down there and Burgi could speak Persian and I would listen and we would bargain, and I learned a few Persian words, and that was our fun. We'd go down there on Friday. See, you have off. We went to school Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Then, we went to school Saturday and we had Friday off. So, we'd go down to the bazaar and our parents would, like, take us to the bazaar, like on Thursday night or Friday night or Saturday night, and buy things, rugs and stuff. So, we would just hang out. I don't think you'd call it hanging out now. We'd just go to different shops and Burgi would say, he'd say, "That guy over there pretends he's blind. He's not blind," and stuff like that, and we'd drink tea and eat kebab. My dad and the school superintendent chartered a bus for a bunch of Americans, and so, for Christmas one year, I went to Isfahan and Shiraz. Did you ever hear of those places? I've been in Xerxes' tomb, I've been in Darius' tomb. I mean, I climbed up the ladder that was a stick, like this, with other sticks tied across it. I climbed it. I wouldn't even think of doing it now, but my friend and I--my friend is a doctor in Bloomington, Indiana--we did that. Then, when I was fifteen, it was before I went to Teheran, I saved my money from my paper route. My dad [and] I went on one of his trips. I was in Europe for twelve weeks, but we were in the Middle East most of the time and I went to the Pyramids and I went inside one of the Pyramids. Those things are big. It looks like you could climb up the side of them--you can't climb up the side. I mean, you'd have to be seven foot tall. You'd have to be [NBA player] Greg Oden to climb up the side of that. I went there and I went to--at that time, you could go to Jordan, and then, walk through the Mandelbaum Gate into Israel. You can't do that anymore, see, because there was the '67 War and all that stuff, but I went there and you could talk to people who were in refugee camps, still, ten years after the British, basically, they would say, tricked them into leaving, and there was a lot of resentment. You could tell they were angry, then. Now, it's--I don't even know. I can't [imagine]. I mean, you know what it's like--we've got Hamas and everything else now. So, I knew about all that and it was just interesting. Then, my dad, because [of] all these contacts he had, the summer I got out of high school, I came back through Europe by myself, which, even today, would probably be considered unusual. Can you believe I didn't even think twice about it? My parents didn't think about it. My dad just said, "You're going to stay at the Y in Rome, and then, meet So-and-So," and I took a plane to the next place and got met up by some other people. They took me in their house. See, this is all the goodwill of World War II spilling over. These people were my parents' age and they had been in the war, and, I remember, I stayed with a family in Copenhagen, that I don't know whether they were in the Resistance, but they knew a lot about it. They took me to a museum there and I saw that and I remember thinking, "God, this is really amazing. You can't go against a tank in a little thing like this," that they had. So, I was lucky to get that. My father did a lot of work overseas and he, eventually, went to Thailand, after I got married and all. He went to Thailand for a couple of years and ran an international church there. The reason he was in Iran was because there was a treaty that forbid proselytizing of Muslims and a chaplain would have been seen as a proselytizing force. So, my dad was a contractor for the Army. He was a Protestant chaplain, and Father Williams was the Catholic chaplain. So, that's how I got there. It was interesting. I met lots of people. We had people in our home all the time, from all over the world--not all over the world, I shouldn't say that, Middle East, Europe, Southern Europe, Northern Europe. I don't remember any Africans, I don't remember any Egyptians, people from India. You guys know who Edward R. Murrow is? My dad gave him Communion. He was sick one time in the hospital, came to Teheran. My dad gave him Communion there. My dad knew Mrs. Gandhi--I mean, my dad had an audience with her. You know that Frommer's book, Europe on Five Dollars a Day--my dad was one of the guys Frommer used to call to find out where the cheapest spots were in Europe. My dad was a cheap guy, but my dad knew all that stuff, and he used to call and ask, "Sam, what do you think of this? Have you ever stayed there?" or, "When you're going there, I want you to walk over here--and I'll give you a couple of bucks if you do it--walk over there and tell me what you think it is." So, my dad did all that. My mother was a dedicated schoolteacher. She ended up being a librarian, but she would help kids. I mean, if people had as much help as my mother gave other kids, or she gave me--she used to type my papers at night and we used to have terrible fights about it, but she used to really help. She was really a big, big help, and she stayed home and my dad did all the stuff, which I don't think was fair. I mean, I would never do it to my wife, but that's the way it was. I've got to tell you, there was this kid in my town--he's my age--thinks my dad was a CIA operative. So, in the obituary, I put a little thing in there, "Worked;" I put in something, I don't remember what I said, "Had a government contract in Iran from 1961 to '64," and this kid calls me up. I don't see him very often, only when I go up there. He said, "What did that mean in the obituary?" I said, "Tom, he wasn't a CIA operative," but this kid thinks that. I mean, that's just how people are, even when they get old. See, I was at the first edge of the wave of people, like you guys. I was the first edge of people who are still pliable. See, you guys now are very pliable and you've got to roll with things and you've got to figure out what this all means and move ahead.
SI: Dealing with change?
CL: Yes, and I was at the front end of that. I was at the front end of that. I'll tell you one more thing. There was huge difference in the class that came to Rutgers in '63 and the class that came to Rutgers in '65, and it had been going on. I noticed it back in the States when I was in high school. The Class of '65 at Rutgers was different than the Class of '63. That's just pretty subjective, but I think it's true. I think that was a big watershed year in America. ... That was the first big wave of baby boomers. It would be interesting to look at the data on that, you know. I mean, if you went back and looked at what the grade point average is, or course taken or drop-out rates or whatever it was, that group was different. When I came back from Vietnam, I tell you, I knew that was different. I mean, I knew it was different. Those people were different than I was, thought about things differently. Now, they're "aging out," as they say. With that, gentlemen, I will leave. I appreciate all the time you spent with me. God, you made me feel, like, great. I didn't think you'd be this interested. I love Rutgers. God, I used to love it here. I think a lot about it still. I think about it a lot. Oh, you want to hear another story? So, one of my things was, I used to study in the church. Back when I went to college, [at] Rutgers, Christmas vacation was not the end of the semester. Christmas vacation came, then, there were two weeks of class, and then, there was, like, a reading period of a few short days. So, old Chuck, I would be way behind by Christmas. So, I'd go over to the church and study, you know, just go down to the fellowship hall and put my books on the table and I'd read and do whatever. Then, I would get up and play the piano sometimes. I just know a little bit, so, I'd play. So, one day, I'm flipping through this little hymnal. I'm playing, "Da-da-da, da-da-da, da-dum," and the song was Let the Lower Lights Be Burning, but guess what? It was really Loyal Sons of Rutgers. You guys know that song? Yes, it's Loyal Sons. It was really an old hymn called Let the Lower Lights Be Burning. So, that's what I did one year, one Christmas. I learned how to play it on the piano. Then, interestingly enough, when I was living in Geneseo, New York, we sang it in church one Sunday, and, after church, I go up to the minister and said, "You know, Reverend Pascal, that song is really a Rutgers hymn, a Rutgers song." He says, "Yes, that's why I picked it. I went to Rutgers." A guy named Bob Pascal, graduated in '65 as an engineer, became a minister.
SI: His name sounds familiar to me.
CL: I don't think he was ever in the service. He might have been. I knew him a little bit, but ... Let the Lower Lights, that's how I used to catch up, in a church basement at Christmas time. I'd just go over there, study all day. My mother'd call me, come home, get some sandwiches, eat, go back--that's what I did. I remember reading Don Quixote down there. Did you ever read Don Quixote? good story, good story. That's when I had Dr. Dauster, Dauster? I don't know. It was Spanish lit and translation.
SI: Professor Frank Dauster?
CL: No, Dauster. I don't know. It was Spanish lit and translation.
SI: I think it was Dauster.
CL: Yes, I guess. Is he still around?
SI: Yes, he was interviewed for the project. I think he graduated from here in 1950.
CL: Well, Dauster was my Spanish and translation teacher. I must admit, the material we read was good. I'm surprised he's still around. That's about it. I'll think of some more stuff, but you can get it from somebody else, from Riley, my lab partner.
SI: If you think of anything else, you can always email us.
CL: Okay, give me your card. Thank you, again.
SI: Thank you very much. This was pretty emotional, but we appreciate the fact that you shared it with us and got it on tape.
CL: Thanks. I don't mean to be emotional, but I feel better now. I actually feel better.
SI: For a lot of the people who come in to give interviews, it is emotional, but I think it is worthwhile.
CL: So do I, so do I. I'm just glad it's down on record. Like, mark mine, "Agent Orange," or something, so [that] if somebody gets on the site and wants to find out more about it, they can call me up. I'll tell them everything I know, because a lot of guys need to get to the doctor, if they haven't been there already; okay, thanks, men.
SI: Thank you very much.
ML: Thank you very much.
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Reviewed by Matthew Lawrence 11/20/07
Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 4/29/08
Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 8/22/11
Reviewed by Charles Little 1/17/12