Nicholas Trajano Molnar: This begins the second interview with Colonel Dennis Dougherty in Westfield, New Jersey at the Westfield Armory. Today is January 22, 2013. Thank you Dennis again for having me. Where we last left off you had gone through your first year in Europe. Please continue.
Dennis Dougherty: Sure, that was the first year in Berlin. I was actually in Europe for like eight months prior to that in Heidelberg. But, yes, the second year in Berlin, very interesting. Usually at that time you averaged, stayed a platoon leader for about a year, and then you found other jobs within the organization, within the brigade. ... My next job was to be assigned ... in headquarters company, executive officer for the Berlin Brigade, which was in a different kaserne. ... The infantry units and the artillery units were stationed in McNair Kaserne and the special troops battalion of which the headquarters and headquarters company was part of was over in Andrews Kaserne. Andrews Kaserne had a storied history, because it was actually the home of the SS prior to the Americans at the end of World War II and it's where the Night of the Long Knives (1934) took place amongst other things. Also, there was a training ground for the 1936 Olympics, and there was an Olympic sized pool there. It was originally the (Lichenfelder?) Cadet Academy. I guess that's my best English translation of the German. ... Many of the troops who served in Berlin were headquartered there, the special troops battalion, and all the soldiers who belonged to the Army Security Agency, which was an electronic warfare unit that did a lot of listening during the Cold War, was stationed there. Also, a small detachment of special forces were there which wasn't common knowledge--it is now--and it always was amongst Berlin soldiers, but it wasn't, you know, there weren't supposed to be any elite troops. I guess we thought all of our troops were elite at the time, but the special forces folks were there and it was a detachment size, it was called (Dead A Berlin Brigade?).
NM: You talked about your duties previously. Please talk about your duties in this new location and position.
DD: Okay, completely different as an executive officer of a headquarters unit. I want to say, maybe 200 plus soldiers. They were all of the administrative soldiers who worked in the Headquarters United States Army Berlin, and every section, logistics, intelligence, personnel, all had a colonel in charge of them, because the United States Command Berlin was a Major General's job, and with that came all of the people that support the general, and the Berlin Brigade was part of the United States Forces Berlin, the primary part of it, but there was also, as I talked before, an Army Security Agency organization that was there and military intelligence folks because, you know, we're right in the middle of East Germany. So, it was a hot, I won't say it's a hotspot in the Cold War, but it was definitely warm sometimes. ... They had intelligence functions which I don't really know a whole lot about, but again they had all of the management of the brigade and the US Forces Berlin was headquartered there and all the folks assigned to the headquarters company worked in the brigade.
NM: In your position, what were some of the duties that you are tasked with?
DD: The headquarters company itself only had two officers, a company commander and the executive officer. ... Anything the company commander didn't want to do, I did. There was also a headquarters commandant, who actually was the housekeeper and the administrator for the Berlin Brigade, for the United States Forces Berlin. ... We weren't under his command but we were certainly keeping him in the information loop. The headquarters company, like I said, fed the soldiers, paid the soldiers, housed the soldiers, and all their staff were senior staff officers who obviously didn't live in the headquarters company building themselves but in, you know, military housing in Berlin. They also came through there. I guess the biggest function was making sure they got paid, making sure their personal records were taken care of, PT tests, rifle qualifications, soldierly duties that had to be done, because obviously when you're a soldier you have your administrative function, your job, but then have to keep a certain amount of military occupational specialty skills that every soldier keeps up--physical training, security training, rifle qualification once a year, that sort of duties.
NM: I was trying to do a little research in preparation for the interview and was reading that there were new training initiatives that took place while you were in Berlin. Were you aware of this?
DD: New equipment, you mean?
NM: New equipment, new types of training to keep the men in peak physical condition, stuff like that.
DD: I know what you're talking about. Okay, every brigade gets equipment issued to it. ... I only realized this as I became a senior member of the Guard because we had the same type of things happen. They get new rifles, they might get new equipment and different types of vehicles. They get new communications equipment, new personnel systems, and when this happens, the Army sends out a new equipment training team, and the new equipment training team fields the unit with its equipment and then trains the soldiers on how to use it. Really, they probably train the trainers, they don't really train every unit. They cannot train 5000 people in the brigade but they might train a cadre of people to do that. One piece of equipment we received while I was in Berlin, even though we didn't get any in the headquarters company but the line units got, it was called a Gama Goat and this was an articulated vehicle that the middle of it bent and it allowed you to go over rough terrain. Questionable in its reliability [laughter] and it worked for, it was meant to transport troops and equipment over the battlefield. Now, the battlefield of Berlin is streets, so we didn't get a whole lot of Gama Goats because they were over the ground, you know, rough terrain vehicles, but I remember they came in into the unit at that particular time. I don't really remember any other equipment besides that being fielded. ... Because it was the Berlin Brigade everything we had was brand new. All of our tactical equipment was first rate, all of our non-tactical equipment was actually, because we were Berlin, it was off the German economy. ... The civilian sedans, the bedding, the quarters for the senior enlisted and officers were all furnished by ... reparation funds from World War II, and the Germans I believe picked up the cost of the entire brigade so everything that wasn't ... TOE, ... meaning table of equipment and organization for the Army, everything that wasn't TOE was German manufactured. All the kitchen equipment, not the tactical mess pans when you went to the field to cook ... but all the kitchen equipment, all the furnishings, and as a result we lived pretty good when we're in the barracks and the facilities.
NM: While you were in the Berlin Brigade, were there any issues with race relations? When speaking with other officers in Korea and Vietnam, they mentioned that it was an issue.
DD: Yes it was, and as a matter of fact, during that particular time the Army became very aware of the situation, and I'm talking about 1971 and 1972. They actually sent, remember we were talking about train the trainer in training equipment? They actually sent NCOs and officers back to Patrick Air Force Base in Florida to a race relations school and they trained everyone on sensitivity issues. ... Talking about it here in the 21st century it seems crazy. However the Army was probably the best melting pot of anything because everything was equal opportunity based on where you were and what you did and, you know, it was colorblind. However, that being said, there were still issues and we tried to, we worked on overcoming those issues and making it more, I guess education is the key word, and we actually sent people to Patrick Air Force Base. They were all trained by Department of Defense race relations specialists and then they came back to Berlin and we actually had a roster of senior leaders who went to the race relations school. ... We actually, all sorts of history, interaction, role-play, all that sort of stuff that ... we do for common for granted these days in a lot of colleges and universities depending on what the school was, we started that and we did that and I actually have a certificate from a race relations course that I took in Berlin. ... I remember it was at the Wannsee Recreation Center which I think today is the sailing club in Berlin that uses the building. It was a beautiful building that the Army again requisitioned as a part of World War II reparations and it was a recreation center and educational center that they used for recreation on the weekends and educational opportunities and in-service training during the week. So I guess we were ahead of the time in 1972 on race relations, at least in Berlin.
NM: If something did develop, you mentioned people would be transferred out of the unit.
DD: Well, you know what, maybe that's an over, I thought about that, and the Army justice system is fairly well colorblind. It sets standards and sometimes you have more rights than you have in a civilian court at that particular time, non-judicial punishment to soldiers who made a mistake or lapse in judgment. It happened and that could be anywhere from losing one stripe, or a fine, or extra duty. ... However, if you did something seriously wrong, yes, you are usually transferred out of the unit. But again, you know, justice administration at the local level, I was at the local level, and it depended on the company commander who was the first line of enforcing discipline, and I have to tell you I think we had some of the best as far as first sergeants and company commanders because it was very, always a system. I guess if you're not within the military system, and don't understand it, only the best people become company commanders and first sergeants at that particular level of command and I'm talking about junior leaders, captains and first sergeants, and it goes right through to the mid-level management of the battalion commanders and then the mid-management of the brigade itself.
NM: What sort of extra duties did people receive as punishment?
DD: Well, there's all sorts of extra duties, and extra duty could be being assigned as an investigating officer. You could do an investigation just for the simplest things. If there's unanswered questions about a decision that was made, if there was a loss of property which was usually the most common one, ... it was called a report or survey. You had to do a small investigation to find out why the property was lost and the chain of accountability for it. I served on one court-martial board, and it was a summary court-martial, excuse me, I'm trying to think of the levels, ... it was a mid-level court-martial. ... I served as a witness and it was to an event that happened within the brigade. ... Again, being a lieutenant at that particular time, I think it was a summary court. There are three types of court martials, ... you would have to look it up but anyway it was a mid-level one and it was just being a witness to an event that happened, or was alleged to have happened and in fact I don't even know the result. ... It was like being a witness in a trial, a civilian trial, same thing. ... Soldiers, if they get to this level, there's what's called an Article 32, which is basically like a grand jury type hearing where they decide whether to go forward. ... They're always advised of their rights. ... Actually, this happened before Miranda [warnings] I think, but you are advised of your rights, again, I think under Article 32 and the same thing happened, but mostly at the level I was at, as a lieutenant, if you had any discipline problems they were at the company level and they were handled by the company commander.
NM: For the record, how long were you in this position?
DD: A year. ... Basically from August 1972 to August 1973.
NM: At this point, had you considered a career in the Army?
DD: You know, it was still up in the air. We talked about my communicating with my employer and in 1973, ... the military was downsizing and I never considered the ... military a career and I made a decision to go back to my teaching job. ... I had a great time, I saw the world from a whole completely different perspective. When I returned to my teaching job, I think it probably helped me become a much better educator just because of what I had seen and where I had been especially for a history teacher which I was. The best part of my second year was probably my interaction with the Germans. I had a very good, we had a sister battalion in the German Police Department because there was no German Army. ... You had the regular police department that any other big city would have but in Berlin they also had a paramilitary organization called the (Bridenshaft Poliza?). The (Bridenshaft Poliza?) were a quasi-military organization and before you became a Berlin policeman, a street policeman, you had the serve some time in the (Bridenshaft Poliza?) but there were officers who made a career serving, a good portion of their career serving in that organization. It was fairly large I think and I made some friends. ... The special troops battalion which the headquarters company was part of had a sister battalion in the German police and we had social gatherings together and I made a couple, one friend in particular who is still my friend, and his name was Peter (Barnicle?). Peter was a captain in the (Bridenshaft Poliza?) when I was a lieutenant and we just became friends. He liked to play golf, I like to play golf, did a lot of things in common, he particularly liked to shoot because he was fascinated with American weapons and he hadn't seen a lot of them before, same thing. ... I was very fortunate, spent some family holidays with his family, Christmas of 1972, spent with his family and his daughters and it was quite memorable and he and I kept contact and still are in contact and I visited him several times in Berlin since then, and we've kept in touch over the years, and it's been a pretty good friendship.
NM: During your year at headquarters company, it sounds like you saw more of Berlin that you had previously.
DD: Oh, yes, when you're an infantry platoon leader, you do your infantry skills which keeps you, it keeps you very busy, trips to West Germany to the training facilities because the maneuver facilities aren't as available in Berlin, used to go to a place, Hohenfels and Wildflecken and Grafenwoehr depending on what unit you're in. When you moved into the headquarters unit, the other different challenges, you know, like I said, the administrative challenges and being a company executive officer, same thing. You're not where the rubber hits the road as much, there was still the constant alert proceedings that we went through once a month, unannounced alerts, but it was more administrative because I was the junior ranking officer. I ran the rifle range, I did the PT tests with the soldiers, I went every month and paid them and the Army used to get paid in cash then. So, you would get thousands and thousands of dollars, and every payday from the general to the private you went to their house and you counted it out in $20 bills to them. [laughter] It amazed me, I never lost any money [laughter] over all those years but it was, you got used to it after the first or second time. It was an extra duty that you did and since I was the only one to do that--in the infantry companies, we split it up because there were four lieutenants, five lieutenants--in my company, there was me. So I was the payroll officer all the time and I met the people in finance who worked in finance, a lot of them were German nationals. I met the people, anyone, it was a tactical job, a military job. Usually the jobs in Berlin were German civilians. ... The German civilians were very competent in their jobs. Many of them had been there for multiple years and they knew exactly what to do and they knew to help us junior officers along the way to make sure we didn't make any mistakes. I guess that was part of it. So, yes, I did have more free time, like I said, interacted with the civilian police, interacted with the headquarters. Now, the headquarters of the Berlin Brigade was not on Andrews Kaserne, it was another Kaserne, maybe four or five miles away on (Clayalay?) which was named after General Clay, one of the first commanders, the commander during the Berlin Wall confrontation and that's where the soldiers every day from the headquarters reported, got on the bus and rode to work or took their bicycle or drove their car. ... It was like working in a business and I was I guess a middle-management person and that was some of the responsibilities we had, but again, working, saw lots of Germans, interacted, just because of where I was. ... You did have free time. Berlin is a cosmopolitan city and it has a very good U-Bahn and S-Bahn system and buses and if you didn't have a car you could get around the city. I had a car, so it was even easier to get around the city and it was a big city. It's still the biggest landmass capital in Europe, and ... the boundaries of the city haven't changed. ... We just couldn't drive to the east on a regular basis, you had to get permission to drive to East Berlin but you could go to the French, the British, the American sector, lots of, you know, a third of the city is water, lakes and rivers, a third of the city is woods, the Grunewald and the rest is, and where we lived in Zehlendorf, the American sector, much like where I live now in Westfield, it wasn't much [different]. Obviously, there weren't military kasernes and barracks buildings and things like this but trees, lined trees with sidewalks that had not seen a lot of damage during World War II. If you wanted to go to downtown Berlin you took the U-Bahn and you were downtown in half an hour. ... Where I live in Westfield, New Jersey, if the trains are running okay you can get to New York City in half an hour. So, I didn't realize that until I went back to visit Berlin in 2006 and I looked around--maybe I was a little smarter when I was older--I looked around and I said, "How did I pick this town," it was very much where I was living. Just an observation.
NM: Before we get to your return to the United States, is there anything I may have missed about your time in Germany?
DD: Well, like I said, I was not in Berlin to begin with, I think we covered that already, I was in Heidelberg for awhile. No, I saw a lot of Europe, everywhere, all of France, Spain, the Netherlands. It was a great opportunity for travel, even though it was a little restricted because you had to get out of the city, you know, it was 110 miles from Berlin to West Germany but I had a great time, I mean I really did, and my last 30 days I took basically almost a 30 day leave in August and we went from Berlin to the French Riviera to Pamplona to Normandy to Bastille Day to the Netherlands and back to Berlin, myself and three other lieutenants who were getting out about the same time. ... I was very fortunate considering where I was stationed and what I had to do. I guess I took advantage of those opportunities. That was a great trip [laughter] especially Pamplona. Do you know where Pamplona is, the running of the bulls? Ernest Hemingway?
NM: Oh, wow.
DD: Yes, [laughter] anyway that was a good trip. We got to see a whole part of Europe we never saw before because really when you're in Berlin you just can't escape. I did take, we did go to Greece, again, on an Air Force flight, to Crete, it was very nice.
NM: Just out of curiosity, you said that these places were interesting and different. Could you give us some observations about why you thought that?
DD: Well, just living in Germany, I mean the Germans were very, I guess living in West Germany was basically almost like living in the United States except people spoke German, and they're very fastidious at that particular time in the '70s. The German stores closed on Saturday afternoon which I was not used to. I guess it's almost like in Bergen County with the "Blue Laws." I mean, you could not go shopping after Saturday, and you know, they did stay open at Christmas time for the month of Christmas for sales but again, I never really lived in an urban environment, you know, in a big city, and everything that a big city has as far as museums, as far as social, as far as everything. ... Even though it really wasn't the capital of Germany it was still a capital, at that time, it is the capital again now, just amazing. I mean it really was a good deal, very eye-opening for a 25-year-old guy from New Jersey at that particular time.
NM: I want to get into returning to the United States. You talked about the situation with your employer.
NM: Could you just get back into how you got back into teaching?
DD: Sure, absolutely. You know now, when soldiers come back from deployments from Afghanistan or from Iraq, they don't necessarily go back to work right away. ... Reservists actually have, within the law it says you have 90 days to go back if you were gone for more than a year. Now, I was gone for almost three years, thirty-three months. My employer treated me very well while I was gone. Again, I only sent them a letter, I didn't communicate with them very well, but I worked for them and at the end of August I received a letter, and there were four high schools. I had taught at one of them, Governor Livingston Regional High School in Berkeley Heights and when I returned, I went to David Brearley Regional High School in Kenilworth. August, I want to say the third week in August I left Berlin. The first week in August, or the last week in August ... I met my new principal and vice principal and you know what, there was no lag time, no decompression time, and in that respect, it was a little difficult, and I didn't think it would be difficult, and maybe I didn't even realize it would be difficult because going back to being a high school teacher when you just finished being an infantry officer, it's a completely different set. Now, I didn't notice my transformation from 1969 to 1973, because it was, you know, the discipline, the motivation, the living in the military community with all the ethos that goes along with it. ... I just thought it was normal because I just became part of the system, but when I got off the airplane at Kennedy Airport at the end of August and I walked in, you know, it was completely different. I wasn't wearing a uniform, we weren't allowed to fly from Berlin in uniform like they did in other places in Europe or in the United States. ... I hear all my fellow Vietnam Era veterans talk to me about how mistreated they were, and how people gave them sneers and called them all sorts of names and expletives when they got off the airplane and, you know, that probably did happen in a lot of places. When I got out and walked through the gate at Kennedy Airport I just walked back into civilian life. ... My family was there to greet me but that was it, and I was demobilized, I was gone. It all happened right in Berlin, and I walked right back into civilian life. It took a while for my bags to catch up with me and my car, but I mean that happened, by September I had them. I guess the biggest adjustment was going back to live with my mother [laughter] after having been ... on my own for a number of years till I got an apartment but that was just a hiccup. Going back to teaching school, and being responsible for five or six classes of history students, and dealing with thirteen to fourteen-year-olds, high school kids, and before that dealing with grown men, a little bit of a culture change for me, and it was a little rough, I mean getting back into the swing of things and, you know what, ... I guess I was an "A + +" type personality and I had to learn to step back a little, not that I relaxed my discipline in the classroom or anything else like that but it was just a different type of discipline in dealing with people, and I tell you I'm sure it helped me grow up a lot. My first year of teaching is always very difficult for first-year educators. I know you've probably gone through that yourself, and it helped me set goals. It helped me organize myself. I was much better at what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do and, you know what, and I was very fortunate my first sergeant in Berlin, he said, "Lieutenant, when you go back to being a civilian," he says, "every teacher needs a second job," and they do, and even today they still need to, isn't that sad? Most teachers still have second jobs. How about you Nick, do you have a second job? Do you work someplace else?
DD: You're lucky.
NM: My wife works as a schoolteacher, that is our second job.
DD: Well, anyway, I thought about joining the Army National Guard, all right, and just because I had a set of skills that were unique for employment, you know, and I had done my homework and I realized that if I stayed with the Army National Guard long enough there would be long-term benefits besides the camaraderie and the military life that I got used to and liked. Obviously the pay, the travel benefits that would come my way sooner or later, you know, I'd even think about that then. You know my big thing was actually getting, at that particular time, looking for an armored unit because I always wanted to be a tanker and finding a tank to drive and finally becoming a cavalry officer. ... I was very lucky because in Westfield here where I lived, and I lived in Clark at that time the next town over, there was a cavalry squadron and a cavalry squadron is a reconnaissance unit for the military, and it was something I wanted to do and I was very fortunate. I finally convinced the people in the Westfield Armory, at that time the 5th Squadron, 117th Cavalry, that they should let me enlist and become a platoon leader and I did, but I'm still trying to be an educator first and that was my number one goal to be an educator, and at the same particular time I was now the benefit of the G.I. Bill. That was very beneficial and I didn't know how good it was until I went and applied to go to graduate school. The first place I walked in was Kean University, I walked in the door, [laughter] and it was very much a bureaucracy. It wasn't real welcoming. I didn't think they were very organized at that particular time, so I went and had an interview with some of the admissions folks in the programs. I said I wanted to be a history major and get a master's degree in history. ... However, they explained to me that the courses were three times a week, I think, at that particular time and they were maybe two hours a day, and I'd have to wait and go through the process of the paperwork and, you know, it seemed to me that even though in later years I've had lots of success with dealing with Kean University, at this time I didn't, so I walked out the door and I went to Seton Hall University and their veterans' administrator at that time was very welcoming, and they said, "Sure, we'll be glad to sign you up, we'll be glad to take your G.I. Bill, and we'll take your money, when it comes you can start paying us," because it was automatic really and there was even a state G.I. Bill that I got a few more bucks for at that particular time, enough to pay for my books. ... I started in what turned out to be a very long time in graduate school, because you're a history major, history at that particular time required a lot of research, a lot of reading besides my regular job and I enrolled in 1974, and in 1979 I had a history degree from Seton Hall which is a great school. There weren't a whole lot of people in the history department. I think the master's of history program has since gone away. When I graduated, there were three people who got history degrees in 1979 but that's another story, we'll talk about that later. Being a classroom teacher, I had to readjust to what I was teaching, the curriculum had changed. Obviously, the students had changed in the four years since I had been gone, a lot of changes in American culture between 1969 and 1973, at least they were noticeable to me, maybe because I was away from the United States for those many years and I only came back once during that particular time period. I had no desire to come back to the United States. ... I did miss my family, my immediate family, my mother and my sister and my brother. However, you know, the opportunity to live in Europe and travel in Europe at that particular time was different, you know, who knows if it was going to happen again. Communications was not like it is today. The only communications I had were an occasional phone call, and lots of letter writing, no TV to speak of other than German television, at least where I was, and so I developed, I used to read a lot, and now I still read a lot. That's a habit I never picked up before, I guess that's a hidden value, and I guess it helped me because ... being a history teacher you read a lot, and developed a love of history even more than, and in particular US history, that's what I got my master's degree in, in US history, and it worked out well for me. Like I said going back to school readjusting, it's like helping kids along the way. It's funny because even though I taught it at four different high schools, you know, one of the benefits of being an educator today is I still run into my students. As a matter of fact, just last week; ... one of things I volunteer for, the Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, I met one of my students at Fort Hood, Texas, (Danny Cortes?). Dan had joined the New Jersey National Guard and we went down to visit and bring some civic leaders and employers down to visit the 117th Core Sustainment Support Battalion and there was (Dan Cortes?) and I didn't recognize him, and I'm walking by, and he goes, "Mr. Dougherty, Mr. Dougherty," and we had a nice talk. It was good to see Dan, I hadn't seen him in a number of years and you know what, I guess that's one of the hidden benefits of being a teacher because since I've retired, I run into people who are my students all over Union County, I mean, maybe because I worked in four high schools for 39 years, just there's a lot of kids around, a lot of now young men and ladies who I've taught, and I guess that's one of the unseen benefits because you get to see the people you worked with across the generations.
NM: You had mentioned your sergeant had said that if you are going to be a teacher you need a second job.
DD: Yes, he mentioned that. Yes, he had been an advisor to a National Guard unit in Staten Island before he was the first sergeant. The first sergeant is the chief enlisted man of the unit and he's in charge of all the things that go on with the management of the unit and he, you know, I think his name was (Lawton?), First Sergeant (Lawton?), was actually very helpful in that respect. ... During my career, I told all my young officers that they should listen to their NCOs, and this is probably one of the first things. ... I listened to First Sergeant (Lawton?), he said, "You should try this lieutenant and if you don't like it, you don't have to do it, but it's voluntary" and it stuck, and it was good advice because I got to do things and see things--I guess we'll talk about it later in the interview--that just don't happen to the normal individual, and probably made me a better teacher because of it.
NM: Just for the record, how soon did you join the National Guard after returning to teaching?
DD: You know what, I had my first interview in September, I was sworn in in early November after they got my resume. You have to understand, that's pretty fast because ... all your records have to be transferred. ... You have to find a unit, so I made a key point to go looking, I really did, and that was less than ninety days, hardly a break in any service, so it worked out very well.
NM: Was it a problem to find a unit?
DD: Yes, it was because think about this, if you're interviewing me, and someone just comes [makes knocking noise] knocking on your door and says, "I want to join your unit," and you have no history of this person, and you don't know who it is and what it is and who are you and why are you joining, what are your qualifications, and, you know, I didn't have my personal records with me because they were being sent. When you get out of the Army, they send them to a major holding area in St. Louis which was the headquarters of the Army Reserve at that particular time, and anyone else, veterans. ... So, I had to acquire those. ... I had certain records but I didn't have a full resume like my efficiency reports and things like this so yes, I was very fortunate. I was lucky because the fellow who was the administrator of the unit of the cavalry squadron had been a friend of my family's for years and he was a young guy like myself and his name was Earl Harper and Earl and I served together, wound up serving together for a number of years here in the New Jersey National Guard before we both retired at different times.
NM: I just want to get a sense of what the job market was like when you returned to the United States.
DD: You know what, to me it was, I was very lucky and I'll tell you why because I walked right to a job because of the veterans' laws, you know, that protect you while you're gone. I actually came back with four years of raises, I came back, they paid into my pension for four years. It was really funny because the district payroll clerk that I made a friend of four years earlier, you know, when you get in-processed as a new teacher, Janet Mumford, was really very nice to me, and ... she was that way with everything, but I didn't know how nice she was because when I get back and I see Mrs. Mumford, Janet, again, I see her and I wind up--this is probably another story completely--but I wound up marrying her daughter, and we're still married, and I guess that's an accomplishment too in the military, to keep the same wife for thirty plus years. ... Nancy and I, and I was very fortunate, she was coming back to school also. She had taught in the district and she had been away getting a master's degree and we were both assigned to the same school and after about a year we wound up getting married, great story--great story for me anyway--and I hope for her to.
NM: I noticed that in your two careers you led or participated in many training initiatives. Can you speak about these things?
DD: Sure, absolutely. New training is just like education, like teaching right, and here I am a teacher and was an ordinary teacher, nothing special. If you look at my grades, and I'm going to confess to you right now I wasn't a great student. I barely got out of college, maybe 2.2 average, I mean, that would not even qualify me to be a teacher. Today, you have to have a 2.25 I think to even get into an education program. [laughter] I didn't really take it seriously and I was just living my life and as an educator ... in my first year in education, I knew I was going into the military, I didn't take that too seriously either. ... When I came back in 1973 I had a whole new set of goals and I changed a lot and I guess if I would've survived those four years if I had been a teacher, I'd probably be a different person too, but I was a completely different person because of my military service. Like I said, new goals, new direction, the idea to get things done, being able to plan your life, I'm sure that would've happened, and I was student teacher supervisor for a number of years, and I used to, one of the reasons I did it, not for the honorarium, they gave you 100 bucks, [laughter] but to help new teachers get adjusted, and it's very difficult your first year as a teacher, and now they do it a completely different way. ... Now, it's much more guarded and you have to survive your first or five years and you'll probably stay in the profession, but a lot of people leave during the first year, and I wanted to help them along. But teaching was, you know, it just worked out very well. Yes, I did a lot of things with curriculum, and I did a lot of things with helping ... students become teachers, student-teachers. ... I got very involved in Holocaust education and taking care of a whole another class of students who weren't the best students, just trying to help them realize some of the issues that are involved in equality and some of the issues involved in treating people well, and just the fact that, I guess your fellow man should be treated with respect and one of the big things and now, I talk about it, I used to talk to my students when I taught my Holocaust education classes, I said, "You're the last generation of students to see a survivor," and they are still here. ... New Jersey is only one of five states that has mandatory Holocaust education. ... There might be more since I've left teaching and that was one of Governor Kean's initiatives and Governor Whitman also. ... I would tell them, you know, that you need to remember that in 2045, which is not that far away, ... because I used the end of World War II, in 1945, you have seen Holocaust survivors, and you need to remember to tell people because there are still many people in the world that will tell you the Holocaust never existed, and you need to say, "No, that's not really a fact," I've seen these men and women who survived the terror that was the European Holocaust, only one of a couple, you know. There were other holocausts besides the European Holocaust, but you need to be able to tell people that you met these people and you saw them, and it did in fact exist, and no one can deny it, but you know you look at it at the end of my career, you look at it and compare it to the attack on the World [Trade] towers. ... I was in my classroom the day it happened and I was still in the National Guard--well really I had just retired from the National Guard in 2001--and I walked out of my classroom and went right to, because there was no one, the leadership of the state I had known was not in the state at that particular time, the adjutant general who was my friend, Paul Glazar at that particular time needed some help and he and I talked and I said, "No problem, I'll be right there," because of my relationship with my employer, he said, "No problem," and you know what, when you serve in the Guard or the Reserves of any type you have to be a professional in both places because you cannot get any positions of increased responsibility if you're mediocre in the Guard, and you can't get any positions of increased responsibility if you're an educator and the same thing. So, really, both jobs complement each other and because they complement each other and the trust that my employer had with me and he had visited me in my military training sites and a few other things, he knew what was happening and obviously we saw the airplanes fly into the towers, so by that afternoon I was at Liberty State Park across the river from New York running the command post for the New Jersey Army National Guard providing aid, what we could at that particular time, not knowing what was going to happen the same day the towers were flown into by the people who attacked our nation, and killed all those, you know, three thousand plus people. So that's where I was, but I guess we need to talk about things before then too.
NM: Yes, yes.
DD: I just jumped to the end of my career instead of the beginning of my career. [laughter]
NM: One of the things that you developed as an educator was a peer leadership program. Can you talk about that?
DD: Yes, that was, again, that was an outgrowth of my Holocaust education program and things run better and people work better when it comes from someone at your level, your peer level, and it took us a while to figure that out in education. ... I didn't get involved in that until the late 1990s, and it was an outgrowth of bullying, it was an outgrowth of intolerance, an outgrowth of people not understanding other people. ... What we did in our school, at Arthur L. Johnson High School is we had the seniors, used to welcome the freshman, and the big thing was hazing, all right, and we developed students who were peer leaders, who were seniors, who had been through it all before and they would meet and greet the freshman students, and they had a program laid out for them, and helped them adjust to high school life, and that was the peer leadership program. Now, I did that for a while and then I, and you can only do something like this for a certain amount of years, and then it's time for someone else to do it, because you age out of it, and I hopefully trained a couple of replacements for me right when I was getting ready to retire, and hopefully they're doing a good job. ...
NM: As an outsider, it looks like there is some overlap between your two careers. The peer training program sounds like something that would come out of your experience in the military.
DD: Well, it did, you know, part of it did, but you know what, the biggest thing is learning time management. ... I'll give you a good example. I talked about graduate school a little bit at Seton Hall, but at the same time I was going to graduate school at Seton Hall, I was young captain, I was newly married, just had two sons born, two twin boys, Sean and Tim, going to Command and General Staff College, like I said, I was already in graduate school and commanding a cavalry troop all the same time. So, you're juggling a lot of things and time management really works out and my wife obviously, we had twins, and she was a college and national level gymnastics official, so sometimes we just passed in the dark, going by, so it took a lot of sacrifices on both our points, you know, just to raise our family, ... and just go through the whole steps of being responsible for all your grades and being responsible in administration obviously, and teaching of the school, and being responsible for the other military obligations which were secondary. I have to tell you, they were secondary; your family came first, and then your job came next, and then obviously your second job which for me was the Guard, and you have to be a professional in both places if you're going to succeed in any one place, and sure the curriculum changed over the years. I took 25 years at David Brearley great place to work, we de-regionalized and now ... we're regionalizing it again, we de-regionalized, I went to Jonathan Dayton which was five miles in another direction in Springfield, and then eventually four years later when the Union County Regional District dissolved I went to Arthur L. Johnson in Clark. ... I guess I was lucky, you know, my teaching a course in urban studies made me understand this, because we used to teach a course in urban studies. ... We looked at core business districts, and where to live and what made it a good town, et cetera, et cetera. I actually moved into Westfield, which was in the middle of the six schools, six communities that had the Union County Regional District. So, you know, I was very fortunate in that respect that I didn't have to spend a lot of time driving to work because the schools, all around Westfield was Kenilworth, Berkeley Heights, Mountainside, Garwood, Clark, and Kenilworth, the six towns that made up the district, and I lived in the middle of them. So, if he told me I was going to another school, okay, and some semesters I actually traveled between schools based on what I was teaching. But most of the time, like I said, 25 years at one, four years at another, and ten years at the final school. All the kids are the same, kids are kids, you know, they're not any different Nick. ... People like to say, "Oh, it's different, but it's not really different. ... Maybe they approach it a different way, but kids are still kids and you know what, there wasn't a whole lot of difference between kids in 1968 when I actually started teaching in the fall of 1968 to when I left in the spring of 2007. I mean they still have the same goals, they still wanted to do well, no one goes to school not wanting to do well. They still want, they still had the same challenges, sometimes it happened a little bit faster because obviously we went to the "Information Age" and, you know, cell phones weren't there when I started teaching, and computers weren't there when I started teaching, and all of, everything that goes along with it and all the challenges, but different challenges. ... Kids still wanted to learn history, what I taught was still there, I mean it just got larger and larger, right? [laughter] Those experiences that cross my mind, and you know what, very few of the people I dealt with had any military experience. The senior administrators had all served in World War II or Korea. My contemporaries, where there was faculty in a district of three hundred plus, if there were a dozen people that served in the military during the Vietnam era, it was a lot. I think I was the only teacher in my school that got drafted. I know another fellow, Bill Gorski, in another school got drafted, but that was it. So you brought that back, you brought that military, you brought that experience, military experience, bad or good, different or, you know, and Bill had served as a medic as an enlisted guy. I had served as a young officer, we had different experiences obviously. So, you bring that back to the students and they want to ask and they ask you questions and they say what was going on and they ask you where you served and you have to explain to them the whole process and it works out very good in a history class because you talk history. So, it really does, and some of the things I experienced, when I was in the military I didn't realize they really had an effect on me until twenty years later, the biggest one was again, like I bring up the fact of being a Holocaust educator, because here I was in Germany and this is where it happened. ... You know what, the furthest thing for my mind in ... 1969 was World War II even though I'm sitting in the capital of Nazi, you know, I guess I shouldn't say that because I did guard Rudolf Hess for two weeks. ... That was always a topic of conversation, we talked about the World War II era, but the horrors of the Holocaust were the furthest thing from my mind and I didn't even realize it until I went back as a guest of the city of Berlin in 2010, it's called, they had a welcome, the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation, sponsored Berlin Brigade veterans back there, and one of the places we went to was the Wannsee U-Bahn Station. ... The Wannsee U-Bahn Station is where all the Jews from Berlin were sent to the camps. You know, I never used the Wannsee U-Bahn Station when I lived in Berlin. It was about half a mile from my house but there was another one closer so I never went to it. ... The Germans hadn't faced that part of their history at that particular time either. When I came back, there was a monument there called Track Fifty-Four, and Track Fifty-Four is where all the Jews ...
NM: Do you want me to pause the tape?
DD: Yes, please.
DD: Anyway, okay, we'll start again. ... This monument at the Wannsee Station, Track Fifty-Four, there was a modern art sculpture there, and there were lots of flowers there from the German people and on the track itself, which is no longer used, I don't believe it's used anymore, they had actually on the railroad siding, like you see on a train, they had the dates and the years and the places people want to. It was very moving, and one of the things when you visit, you brought with the Checkpoint Charlie Stiftung is you brought them something from your home city so they can remember it. ... I actually brought them a Holocaust curriculum and I gave it to (Dr. Andrea Merlander?) who was our host that runs the program. ... They liked that a lot because New Jersey actually has, like I said, you probably know this already, they have the curriculum for elementary schools and for high schools. It just helps teach man's, how to deal with man's intolerance of his fellow man, and what they did and what happened in the Holocaust, and it was one of things I gave them, amongst, that was the heavy-duty one. We also brought saltwater taffy and a few other things, things that were specific to New Jersey. ... I didn't realize that, you know, I was there in 1973 is when I left, and I come back in 2010 and look at that and like I said my surroundings, I didn't realize how close I was living the same life but only in a different city, the same type of community. So I thought that was pretty observant, one of the few things I guess I observed. ...
NM: I wanted to ask because you had talked about various points in your career in education and I wanted to give you time to talk but your career in the National Guard. How long were you in the National Guard?
DD: ... Okay, sure. I served in the New Jersey National Guard for 27 years. I was very fortunate to work with a great bunch of people, people who became friends for life, still are friends. I still volunteer in a lot of different respects with the Guard and Reserve. However, like I said, we've spent ten years, almost ten years here in the Westfield, New Jersey Armory. I was their logistics officer when I left. I had been a commander for four years. In the military, being a commander is the best life there is, ... because you're in charge, and the commander's responsible for everything he does and everything he fails to do, that's one of the sayings they have, ... but left to become a logistics officer at the 50th Armored Division. From there I was assigned to become, I was very fortunate to be the executive officer of the 50th Maintenance Battalion which was again logistics. So, when you think about it, you know, I went from being an infantry platoon leader back in Berlin to being a logistics officer at the Berlin Brigade in the headquarters company, and that took a direct pointing in my career. Now, I was lucky enough just to serve in a combat unit and a ground unit to understand what my customers are, and that made me a very good logistics commander, at least made me aware I should say, I shouldn't say very good, made me aware of what soldiers, where the rubber meets the road, what they need for support and from there developed a whole bunch of friends and after that, I became the executive officer of the maintenance battalion which was a major's job, which is like something you work for very hard and long, and here's where education becomes a point and I mentioned before that I was going to Command General Staff College, and normally you spend about seven years in each rank, give or take a year, sometimes five if you're very good, sometimes seven was it though usually, you couldn't stay much longer than seven. So, I was the executive officer of the largest unit in the State, the maintenance battalion, a thousand people. ... I told you about being an executive officer for a company? Well imagine, where a company is two hundred, imagine that times five, and units as far north as Lodi in New Jersey and as far south as Bordentown. It's a couple, you know, maybe 60 or 70 miles the span of control, not so bad, you know, and I'll get onto that a little bit later, but the education came in to me, and I was very fortunate because I was the only one qualified both with the right positions and the right education to become the plans and operations officer for our next higher headquarters, the division support command. So, I only spent three years as a major, and that's very unusual, and then I became a lieutenant colonel, and from there I went on to, because remember I told you command was very important, and was already coveted. I was very fortunate to be selected to be the commander of the 57th Troop Command and I live in Westfield. 57th Troop Command is headquartered in Atlantic City, only 100 miles away. [laughter] Most of the units it supported were in the southern part of the state, but the culture at that time was you had administrative nights three out of four nights a week, and then at least one weekend drill, so here I was going to Atlantic City every Wednesday night, and then South Jersey for my weekend drills and then home. Now, like I said, I used to tell [people], "Lucky you're in the New Jersey National Guard where New Jersey is only hundred 125, 150 miles long, you know, you could be in the Texas National Guard, or you could be in the Pennsylvania National Guard or the California National Guard or even in the New York National Guard," very much large distances, and really that doesn't come ... into play because if you want the job you have to go to the place where the job is at. I commanded the 57th Troop Command, commanded it for eighteen months and after that I was lucky enough to be selected, ... I guess my supervisors thought I was doing an okay job to be the, now I'd been the commander of the unit in the 42nd DISCOM, ... excuse me, we changed divisions then, went from the 42nd to the 50th Division, they just reflagged them, downsizing the big army, and I'd been a commander in the 50th DISCOM and was very fortunate, and I was again selected to be the commander of the 42nd Division Support Command; well I'm jumping ahead here, excuse me, I've confused things here. I went from being the support command operations officer to commanding the 250th Support Battalion. The 250th Support Battalion was headquartered in Sea Girt at that particular time and again units in and around Trenton, units in and around West Orange, units in and around Lodi, most of the units were in South Jersey though, it was a thousand man organization. The dynamics, they're just not that many people that join the Guard in and around Sea Girt, and I made a recommendation that we move the unit to Lodi which had been the headquarters of the maintenance battalion which was reorganized into the, what I call, a maintenance support battalion. ... When we moved the unit there we changed the name, changed the designation from the 250th to the 50th, but the unit remained the same. ... We immediately grew in strength to 1000 people and all the issues that come with a thousand man organization as opposed to having a six hundred man organization. ... It was very busy and very challenging, everything that went on at that particular time, that was the time period of the first desert war, Desert Storm. [Editor's Note: Operation Desert Storm, conducted during January 1991-February 1991, was a military operation directed against Iraq during the First Gulf War.] We were almost mobilized then but the war ended too soon, thank goodness, but we had ... everything to get ready for a mobilization, we just never had the mobilization. There was a pre-mobilization, and that was four years. Then, after being the commander of the 250th and the 50th, then I took over the 57th Troop Command which was again a South Jersey unit, stayed there for eighteen months. It was composed primarily of logistical units. ... People thought I was a logistical specialist at that particular time, logistics and admin, and again after eighteen months, ... the troop command is a small organization, 800 people, the battalion I commanded was 1000 people. I used to joke with Bob Preston, the troop command commander, that we should switch ranks, he didn't particularly like that, who knows, anyway, people thought, they saw that, and obviously I got promoted and then went from the 57th Troop Command ... to the 42nd Support Command which was just the 50th Support Command renamed. However, I had a greater field of responsibility. Now, I had units in New York and Vermont as well as New Jersey. In fact, the New York unit was in Yonkers closer to my Sea Girt battalion because the headquarters had moved also, moved to Somerset, and spent four years total command of both colonel organizations, so I was very fortunate. ... And then it was time for me, ... in every unit you have to train your successors, and train who was going to take your place, and I wound up becoming a special assistant to the adjutant general and eventually his Chief of Staff of the Army National Guard and then it was time to retire, and it went so fast, faster than this interview even it felt like in the mind that it was over and I left behind lots of friends. I was lucky enough that the people who worked for me, you know, it was just a pleasure working with them. I was very fortunate to have a very good crew who knew what they were doing and I didn't know how good they were until they were mobilized in 2003 to go to Iraq. [Editor's Note: In 2003, the United States and its allies invaded Iraq and toppled the government led by Saddam Hussein.] The unit performed exceptional and received a meritorious unit citation from the Department of the Army. So, you know, it's sort of feedback to what you did, and all those young guys who were your lieutenants and captains were now the majors and the colonels. ... They took care of their soldiers, and they did a very good job at it. So, I guess that's my legacy in that respect, they did, you know, there was nothing I did by myself really, it was something we all did together, and from going back to, you know I used to talk to the senior NCOs, I said, "You have a lieutenant that's working for you and you need to make sure you educate him and make sure he doesn't get in trouble because I'm coming after you if the lieutenant screws up because you know better, because you're the senior NCOs," and I basically said the same when I was a little higher in responsibility to the captains and the majors. ... "You have 100 people, or 200 people that work with you and you need to make sure they do the right thing," and I guess it worked. ... We should go back to my civilian career a little bit more before we talk about this. Do you have any other questions?
NM: Yes. I do not know if this is the appropriate time to talk about some of things that stand out during your career in the National Guard. You had mentioned previously that 9/11 happened after you had retired.
DD: Yes, I had retired and the leadership of the state was actually out of the state, all the military leaders, the mid-level and senior-level managers, they were out of state at Leavenworth, Kansas, had what's called a war fighter exercise and that's just a simulation exercise to prepare you to be deployed and basically, I went back and you can do this, be put on state active-duty, because you realize ... the militia laws in the New Jersey, everyone's a member of the unorganized militia until your 45. You didn't know that, did you? ... But there is an organized militia, and that's the National Guard, and you can be recalled, like the Army can recall people to active-duty, and if you volunteer you can be recalled to state active-duty. ... The adjutant general at that particular time, Paul Glazer asked me to help him and how could you say no, and I wouldn't have said no anyway, I probably would've been there, or calling someone to find out what's going on. So I was there, and I eventually for about, because it took time to get everyone back if you remember the airlines were closed down, flying space for a couple days was closed, it took some time for everyone to get back from Kansas, to get back and take command of their organizations, and at the senior leadership level that was critical because there were many soldiers called to guard the bridges and the tunnels in New Jersey and also key assets, key asset protection, different places, power plants, et cetera, particularly the nuclear power plants, and the bridges and tunnels that went into and out of New York City, as well as providing a place for emergency medical relief and screening of what went on in Staten Island. So we actually crossed into New York, went to the landfill in Staten Island, the Fresh Kills Landfill and established a base there where they were actually bringing debris from the World Trade Towers to be sifted and looked through you know for people and for important evidence and there was a whole crew of people at Fresh Kills that came from New Jersey to Staten Island, basically the units that I used to command, the logistics people, who set up on top of the landfill, and there was a whole, they were there for months, and you know they stayed there and they provided support for the people working in the Fresh Kills Landfill and that's food, supply, chaplains for counseling, and that was very important. Now, I organized the volunteerism, and we had people who wanted to give everything, you know, to help us, our nation at that particular time. There was actually a conference going on of surgeons who all wanted to go help people who they thought would be in need of help in the World Trade Towers. Little did we know that if you didn't survive that first day, you didn't survive, and there was no one that really needed to be treated. Communications equipment, both cell phone and TV that was put at Liberty State Park for teleconferencing, the folks from AT&T, Mr. Zeglis who was the, I think he was the CEO, John Zeglis, gave everyone in the National Guard at that particular time a cell phone and remember, it's 2001, cell phones are relatively new, and that helped us overcome communications challenges. The Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, all wanted to help in the relief effort and feed soldiers ... and people who needed it, just like you see now going on with Hurricane Sandy but only not quite at that level, but they were still aces, especially the Salvation Army did a fantastic job. [Editor's Note: In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey and much of the surrounding region.] People who wanted to donate clothing and donate food like, you know, there might have been a couple dozen dogs, search dogs who were working there, so they said, "Oh, we need dog food," so people donated a warehouse full of dog food to us. We never used it all, but we set up warehousing and receiving of goods and services and you know what, that was 2001. In 2004, those same people set up the warehouses and receiving in goods and services, were in Iraq doing the same thing, so they actually, little did they know that they would be actually doing the same thing at a place called Camp Spiker in Iraq, but their first taste of that and there was a lot of moving pieces. Now, I only stayed for ten days but then I went back to my classroom and you talk to people about this and you look at people like and you can say what was there. ... I was, again, civic leaders wanted to see 9/11 where it happened. We actually at that particular time had a naval militia and the naval militia was invaluable for 9/11 because it was an immediate way to get back and forth from New Jersey to New York. It's only a ten minute boat ride, five minute boat ride across the Hudson River to Lower Manhattan. They actually had boats guarding the George Washington Bridge, Earle Ammunition Depot, and ferry service, back and forth, and it was quite helpful, plus they had a bunch of chaplains. ... The militia were unpaid, they were volunteers, I mean they got paid while they were on active duty, but there was no long-term commitment, I mean they were just people who volunteered, and some states have what's called a state guard, not a National Guard, but a state guard, and they were part of this New Jersey state guard at that particular time. They were older fellas for the most part and they worked in command posts and they did things that weren't physical. New York's actually has a state guard they still use today, and the same type of organization only much more used. In fact, they still use them to some extent but that's what I did during 9/11, and you think about it, ... walking around the first day of 9/11, I think about what happened at Pearl Harbor, it was like walking around Pearl Harbor. You saw people going all different directions. It looked unorganized but they were very organized, and by the third or fourth day it was completely professionalized with the police and the fire and the rescue and the organization, people walking on and off the pile and doing their jobs, et cetera, you never, but it was a terrible tragedy but ... it did not look like it was organized but it was very organized and very explicit and by then all the people who had volunteered ... had been replaced by professionals, firemen, policemen, rescue workers, all working.
NM: You mentioned that during the Gulf War your unit was about to be mobilized but the war ended. Could you talk more about that?
DD: ... A little bit, sure. The 50th Maintenance Battalion at that particular time, they were, excuse me, at that time the 50th Maintenance Support Battalion, I got the name wrong, too many 50s. The 50th Maintenance Support Battalion was the chief logistic unit for the 50th Armored Division and that means ammunition, vehicle maintenance, aircraft maintenance, medical supplies, medical care, doctors, transportation, quartermaster skills, everything that's needed to move a division by train, the wood to put in the block and the tackle to put a tank on a rail car, all that stuff has to be organized, that was all done by the 50th Maintenance Support Battalion. We had a certain amount of full-time employees who worked at the New Jersey equipment site at Fort Drum which was also our mobilization site. They were starting to be mobilized. There were elements of other units in the New Jersey National Guard that were mobilized. One truck company in particular, they didn't have enough truck drivers so some of our truck drivers were mobilized so you needed to take care of all of those people. Now, it was only several ... days of combat and the war was over, but there was months getting ready for it. ... The process was rather slow at that particular time, but are you familiar with, have you ever heard of Goldwater-Nichols? Basically it says, it was started by General Creighton Abrams at the end of Vietnam, said that you cannot be mobilized, it really assigned a certain number of tasks to the Guard and Reserve that made them, the Army depend on them. So, therefore, the Army couldn't go anywhere anymore without the Guard and Reserve, particularly its logistical units, and even today, almost fifty percent of the Army is made up of the Guard and Reserve and you know that because ... guys and gals in the Guard and Reserve serve everywhere. In fact, we just had a unit come back as I said from Afghanistan. So, with that being said, this is the first time we tested the system, and as we're getting ready to get mobilized and preparing. ... Now, remember, this is in January and December, and November at Fort Drum. ... It's cold, it's windy up there--two seasons up there, winter and the Fourth of July. So you had to get all the equipment that was up there starting to get it ready; and then it was over. So, it never stopped so that was the extent. Now, that being said, the following year and there were two units from New Jersey that were mobilized, the heavy supply company and a transportation company, those units needed to be replaced, and since I had commanded the headquarters, the 57th Troop Command of those units before, you know, I knew what they needed and those military occupational specialties existed in ... the 50th Maintenance Support Battalion so we just filled them up again and some of those folks came home, and the second echelon of leadership went over because even though the war only lasted a couple months, really a couple days, the peace, the withdrawing of all that equipment had to be taken back, so those people served also and many of those people came from our division support command.
NM: I wanted to give you an opportunity to speak about the moments that stand out in your career as an educator.
DD: Sure, let me look at my bio just to make sure I'm mentioning everything. Really, the best, some of things that stood out the most, you know, I told you I was a US History, Master's degree, ... it seems really small at the time, being selected the history educator of the year award, I think that was like in 1989. That was important to me because it sort of verifies that you're doing a good job, you know, I made a conscious decision not to become a school administrator even though I had all my principal certificate and my supervisor certificate which I again got on the G.I. Bill because even though I got my Master's degree in 1979, I didn't stop going to school till my G.I. Bill ran out in 1984 and it was only a logical progression to go get those certificates. Seton Hall was a great place to go and it was getting renewed because you talk to students and you talk to people, and you get different ideas, and different ways to run, you know, classroom management, administrative skills, so I kept on doing that. That being said, I had more than my hands full being an administrator in the National Guard, and like I said I made a conscious decision to be a classroom teacher and not go any further in that. ... I guess my need to be in charge of something came with the military, not with educators and, you know what, in the long run, when you put both pensions together I guess I did better than my superintendent of schools. ... It wasn't done for monetary reasons but it just happened to be that way. That being said, that was important, getting involved in Holocaust Education was very important, and, you know, I was very lucky to work with a whole bunch of people who helped me. The folks at Kean University in their Holocaust Resource Center were very good. The folks at United MetroWest for professional training in Holocaust education, they were very good, made some good connections there. The New Jersey Commission for the Holocaust, great resources, Dr. Winkler is still there. ... That worked out very well, and they were very much supportive and like I said I was able to have at least one semester of Holocaust Education classes every semester and sometimes two and I think this is an elective. ... So, kids wanted to know about this stuff, they wanted to learn and you know what, like I said the European Holocaust, the European Jews were only part of it, and we talked all the way back from Native Americans through other examples in Europe, and other examples and everything, even today with the skinhead movement and the white separatists in this country, you know all these sort of things. ... It's not just Holocaust and genocide education, it's helping people live their lives correctly, and lots of hate in this world, and that's what it's about, teaching people to behave properly, and teaching them what it means to behave and not to be an observer, but to be a participant, and not just to be a bystander, because there's a lot of bystanders. If you don't make the right decisions well then that's the most important thing, that's where things go wrong, and to make people, you know, just be able to get along better with each other, and not to be, I'm trying to think of the right term to use, but it's basically don't be a bystander, make a decision, act one way or the other and I guess I was very lucky that I got selected for the Axelrod Award because working with groups of kids who, try to make them not be bystanders, and I don't think I got the award just for teaching Holocaust history, because anyone can teach Holocaust history, it's just like teaching any part of history, was helping people develop better ways to live the lives, and that was very important to me, because I got to actually talk to a whole bunch of school administrators about what we did and it worked out well, it really did. ... It wasn't like any different than talking to a group of troops [laughter] ... in some respect. ... That's the part I liked the best, and also we worked on programs especially at MetroWest, they always have in the springtime groups of Israeli students that come to our country, and they sponsor schools over there and they bring the kids back to talk, almost like a report to the consumers because they bring the schools back to talk to the Jewish day schools and other Jewish community groups to raise money for the schools but that being said, kids are kids, and these Israeli kids weren't any different than the kids from Clark, New Jersey. We actually developed a program where they would spend a day in a regular American high school with my students and they'd go out and one-to-one with their fellow sponsors and they'd walk around, and they'd go to class, and they'd spend the day with us, which they liked, because ... it was a secular high school they went to in Israel, and it was a secular high school they came to visit but yet they went to all the Jewish day schools which was not like where they went to high school, but they came to the United States just like our kids go other places and we'd spend the day together and then we'd get together at the end of the day to talk about the similarities from the schools, which was pretty good and then, also, the thing we talked about which our kids have no concept about is that, you know, I tell them, "Tell them where you're going when you're done with high school," and they say, "We're going into the military," and no one in America in 2006 or 2005 was going, you know, very few kids were choosing military service, but for them it was part of their life, and when they get back from the military, they usually take a year off, and then they go to the university and the same thing, so it was different. ... It must have caught on with some of my students, you know, because some of them you know, obviously, some kids joined the military. ... A lot of my students, former students, have, you know, have served in the military and I don't know if it's because of, I'd be very full of myself if I said they did because they saw me making a career out of it and they all knew I was in the military, because I would leave school at certain times during the year to go to annual training, which, and obviously I left during the floods in Bound Brook in 1999, I was gone for two weeks, the same type of thing as 9/11. ... I had student teachers both of those times in 9/11 and Bound Brook and I was very fortunate because there are both great guys. In fact, they're still working in the school I worked at, as teachers. They're senior members of the faculty now, I mean, that was a long time ago. ... I can remember having my, if it happened at the end of the year, and I didn't go out of my way looking for annual training but if you go to an annual training period, most people call it summer camp, but it's annual training because it doesn't happen in the summer all the time, I'd have them send all my work to me, and this is before the Internet so [they were] "UPS-ing" exams and term papers to correct, and bringing them back and it worked out okay. That's a deal I made with my employer so that he wouldn't feel my loss too much. ... I tried as best as I could, I did not take any annual training during the school year if I could, obviously, if I didn't have to, but you have to do it sometimes. That being said, you know, the saddest thing I can remember, you know, back to the military again, is veterans awareness to the students, because they're weren't a whole generation of veterans. ... Most of the faculty members, very liberal in their outlook. I guess, I'm probably one of the few conservative guys who even talked about service and they, you know, and their opinions sometimes come from lack of knowledge about the military and, you know, I won't say it discouraged people, some the former students from military careers, but maybe they did, maybe they didn't, and maybe I was the one place where there was a counterweight so they could see the advantages of service to the community. On the other hand, you know, this ongoing conflict in Southwest Asia has taken the lives of some of my former students too, which it really touched me, because you think about this, you know, you don't know, no one knows anyone in the military today unless they have a direct relationship to them, less than one percent serve in the military today, of the whole nation. They're carrying the weight for everyone, and there's arguments pro and against a professional military as opposed to a drafted force, and that we would also, you know, probably the best thing I like at the end of my career in the last ten years when I was at Johnson, we were lucky enough to recognize the service of the veterans among us in the community, the veterans among us in the faculty, and the veterans among us who were the students, and unfortunately two of my students were casualties. One young man, Michael Bennish was killed in Iraq, and two years ago, another young guy, you know and I had them when they were sophomores so they didn't have any idea, but Jimmy Harvey was a Sergeant in Afghanistan and there's monuments, I know to Michael, I don't know if there's one for Jimmy at the school today, but just, you just think about it, another young guy, who joined the Marines, (Bill Butrell?) he was very fortunate, only because of ... modern battlefield medicine is he alive because he got shrapnel right to the heart and obviously he served his time in the Marine Corps but he's out now and he was a lucky guy and I'm sure there are more of my formal students who served in the military too because I've run into bunches of them, like I said, in the Guard I run into a bunch of them all the time, but it's always a surprise, and I always thank them for their service, but when you go back to it, you look at the people, you know, people just don't know. ... No one has done a good job on telling America what the service of their Guardsmen and Reservists, and active-duty guys, because there are no active duty posts in New Jersey where there's large numbers of soldiers, what they're doing, and they don't see them. So you have no idea, and they don't know the sacrifices that these people are making for their community.
NM: Thank you for sharing some of these experiences of your educational career. You had talked about some of the mobilizations of the National Guard in terms of natural disasters in New Jersey.
DD: Yes, absolutely.
NM: Could you talk about that?
DD: Sure, oh, absolutely.
NM: Some of the problems you may have faced.
DD: Well, they're challenges, you know, they're not problems, you don't look at these as problems, and obviously if you're in the Guard and most people don't realize there's a difference between the National Guard and the Reserve. The National Guard can be called for service to the state they live in. Until recently, federal troops which are Army Reservists and regular army, military people, cannot be called. They've just changed the rules a little bit to allow, because they have resources that can be used obviously, and snowstorms, small, you know, in New Jersey we've been very fortunate, up until the last couple years, we haven't had any, however, 1999, tremendous, Hurricane Floyd flooded Bound Brook, and Bound Brook went under twenty feet of water, downtown Bound Brook, and I was then out of command, and I was an advisor to the adjutant general, and I was the guy on the ground in charge of ... northern New Jersey for a time period of what was going on. ... At that time, we were just getting into major emergency management and organizing it better and we had between Bound Brook and up in Maywood in Bergen County, severe flooding. We organized goodly amounts of the National Guard for flood relief, not too many shelters because there was none needed. ... There was some sheltering but not much, more for the soldiers who lived in the area when they were mobilized, and mostly medical and transportation and helping with the restoration of services. That's what we did in 1999. Now, you've seen what happened just recently with Sandy, that's the next really big time since this has happened and a whole large share in New Jersey, from Atlantic City north, tremendous damage, tremendous damage, and here, even in Union County tremendous damage. I mean, in Westfield, twelve days I didn't have power, I've since resolved the situation, went out and bought a generator, but I mean that's not the story. ... We were very fortunate that the young men and women and the leadership is so professional today that they were able to resolve and help restore services and the way it works, if you have an issue, and most people don't understand this, the counties run emergency management, the county OEM, if it gets a request from the city for help, will then forward that to the state OEM. The state OEM will then resolve the issue where the aid should come from, and sometimes it's police, sometimes it's fire, mutual support agreements, and sometimes it's the National Guard and there were large amounts of National Guardsmen, the largest ever. I think Governor Christie was very upfront with his leadership, and he recognized the fact days ahead and put people on while Hurricane Sandy was approaching. Security after the storm went through, medical relief sheltering, all that sort of jobs, transportation for emergency responders, providing security for local police departments. In fact, there are still some people even today down in Ocean County still doing some security missions on state active-duty, that's what they do. ... People, and the Guard can never get above its strength when they just tried to sell you to join the Guard for the educational benefits, and it worked to some extent, however, about five years ago maybe, six years, even sooner, they really in 2001 after the attack on our nation by Al Qaeda, they started selling the idea of service to the state and nation and since then, both service overseas, and the Guard went from a strategic reserve to an operational force and then they had no problems recruiting anyone since then. Now, do you still have the education benefits, yes. Do you still have obviously the salary and benefits that you get paid extra, yes, sure you do, but people, just like people join rescue squads and volunteer police forces, they want to join and be part of their community and I think that's the success that both the Guard and the Reserve are using now to maintain their strength, plus their deployments. I mean I think that's the big success, selling the service to the community as opposed to, you know, the mercenary type thing of, "Well, we're going to give you a free education," because that gets people to join for a free education, and you teach at Rutgers, not everyone at Rutgers is going to school for free, but in New Jersey, if you're a member of the Guard, you can go school for free, not the Reserve, just the National Guard because it's the state militia and it's a state university. That's any state university, and I've had young men and women that I know who have gotten everything from the Bachelor's degree right up to law degrees and PhDs because you can go for free. It's a great thing, ... Governor Whitman did this, finalized it all. It's gotten only better since then.
NM: I understand that you serve various roles in a volunteer capacity. Could you speak about that?
DD: Yes, I continue to volunteer. ... We met through the Association of the United States Army, that's how we came across. However, you know what, first of all, when you retire at a young age, and I was 62 when I retired, I still think it's pretty young, I had to find something to do with my time, and I do like to play golf, and I do love my grandchildren and my family, however, needed a little bit more, I guess, so a couple things. Remember, I had mentioned earlier about how my employer helped me during my career ... while I was gone initially and that was unusual, and I have to say, you know, there were some hiccups with some bosses too, but for the most part my employer was very supportive of my career and allowed me to have both careers, because some employers won't do that, you know, it will be a glass ceiling if you're a member of the Guard and Reserve, even today, even more today because they're being used much more. I wouldn't know what my career as an educator would be if every five years I went away for a year. Now I was gone for four years over thirty years so it's about the same, only I did it all in one chunk but in my last couple years in the Guard really from when I was a major on I got involved with the New Jersey Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve which is a voluntary agency of the Department of Defense. ... My career with the New Jersey Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, I did military outreach because that's what I wanted to do and I still do military outreach today and what does that mean. That means that I work with a group of great volunteers, there are about 150 of us in New Jersey who belong to the state committee, and I'm the military outreach director, lord knows why they chose me, anyway, I'm the military outreach director, and we have a representative supposedly, and it varies, it tunes up and it tunes down, like you turn the volume up on the radio and you turn the volume down on the radio depending on what the units you are supporting are doing. ... These volunteers reach out to the units and inform them about USERRA Law and USERRA Law is Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. Basically, it tells you, it governs you on what you have to do with the Guard and Reserve, and it gives you, you know, recognition, information, ombudsman service, mediation services, those are all part of, it's your rights and requirements as a member of the Guard and Reserve. ... You have requirements too, you have to tell your boss where you're going, you've got to tell them in a timely manner when you're going, but he can't hold promotions back from you while you are gone, they need to treat you whole, harmless when you come back. If there were promotions while you were gone, you need to get those promotions, if there's retraining while you were gone you need to get retrained, all of that. ... It's like juggling a lot of balls at different times. There are also employer outreach volunteers in New Jersey who deal with the employers and ask them to sign statements in support of the Guard and Reserve and there are ombudsmen who mediate these cases, mediation between bosses ... and employees to try to get them to understand what's going on. ... Also, now there's a ... reintegration program which helps people come back into their civilian jobs. That's what our volunteers do, that's what the ... New Jersey Committee for the Guard and Reserve does. Now, that being said, I also am a member of the Association of the United States Army, we're the professional organization of the Army, their lobbyists basically but, you know, our whole idea is to take care of soldiers and take care of soldiers' families. There are about 2000 members of the Association of the United States Army in New Jersey, there are four chapters; one at Picatinny Arsenal, one chapter is the Northern New Jersey chapter, there's a Dix chapter and a Monmouth chapter. Each chapter has its own little blend. The chapter I lead is the Northern New Jersey chapter, since there are no soldiers other than Guardsmen and Reservists which we do support, we help with the Rutgers ROTC program. I also volunteer as the state president and coordinate the efforts of all four chapters, and it's been very fulfilling and it's my giveback to being a member of the armed forces and I guess I can't completely let it go. ... I guess once you're in, you're for life, and this is exactly how, my payback is to those soldiers, young kids who really if they need help with the ESGR or for AUSA--I have to admit sometimes I get the initials mixed up in what they do--because I am older, sixty-six now, but they cross paths, but both careers are very complementary, and obviously we're meeting here in the Westfield Armory, which I still take part in the Westfield Armory's organizations and their regimental association, and I'm in charge of that too. So I guess it's tough to slowly but surely leave some of these organizations, and I am planning to leave some of them, turn over the leadership to newer, younger guys, but for the longest time the young kids have been involved in mobilizations, so they haven't had the chance to do that, but now there seems some stability and hopefully we'll going to find a new group of leaders for our cavalry association. Did I answer the question?
NM: Yes. You continue to volunteer.
DD: I continue to serve part of the community, yes, I absolutely do, since 1969 really up till now, 2013.
NM: We are coming towards the end of the interview and I want to give you the opportunity to add anything to the record we have missed.
DD: Well, this is, just to tie it all together. ... I've been very lucky, I've chosen two careers that deal of people at different ages, either a little after the formal education and I guess the military informal education, continuing their formal education, and one of things that I have been very lucky with is working with all the young people that go with it and you know I could've been a success as an educator if it hadn't been for the folks who picked up the slack for me when I was gone, or my students who didn't hang or do away with any substitute teachers they had while I was gone. ... I've been lucky, I still have a lot of faith in what's going on with today's kids, and I don't think it's changed a whole lot, and we're very fortunate to have the volunteers who continue to serve in the Guard and Reserve. ... In my career, like I said I was very fortunate and my career was basically the success of all the people I worked for, because I'm only served with them, I wasn't foolish enough to think that I was completely in charge of them, and I think it's an organization where you have to have the compliance and they want to be part of the team and I was lucky enough to be part of the team for all those years both as an educator and as my military service, you know, and it's what you make it, and if you, you know, it's out there for you to make that choice, and I would obviously if someone wanted to pursue a career in education or career in public service like the military, ... it's worthwhile for both of them, and I was lucky enough to put them both together. So when you look at it, hopefully it won't be too convoluted, the final product that you're going to produce, but again I was lucky to serve in both.
NM: You gave me the trajectory of your career in the National Guard. Could you give me the trajectory of your career as an educator in terms of where you taught at over the years?
DD: Sure, I started off teaching at Governor Livingston, now remember ... I didn't live in Union County when I started teaching, I lived over in Somerset County, but I taught my first year at Governor Livingston Regional High School in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, and you put this in your mind's eye. I went in the military for four years. I guess I was a teacher there too, always teaching different subjects as opposed to history. I came back out of the military, I went to David Brearley Regional High School in Kenilworth. Now, I was living in Westfield and David Burley in Kenilworth taught the students of Garwood and Kenilworth. I spent twenty-five years there when I taught at Governor Livingston there was the kids who lived in Berkeley Heights and Mountainside, to go back. When David Brearley Regional High School closed in the early '90s, I went to Jonathan Dayton Regional High School in Springfield and the student base was primarily from Springfield and Mountainside at that particular time, and when we de-regionalized I went to Arthur L. Johnson Regional High School in Clark and the students who I taught were primarily from Clark and Garwood. So, if you look at that, and the kids from Garwood also went to Jonathan Dayton so for the longest I guess Garwood was the constant, the other two schools, always having kids from Garwood, not a big community, don't have their own schools, but that's the flow. Like I said I was a classroom teacher, however, I was active in other administrative-type things with the teaching career. I just didn't spend my whole time in Room 205 or Room 216. I mean I was out about with the peer leadership program and with the Holocaust Education program and obviously with my Guard career. ... It kept me busy, so it's a different viewpoint I guess than a normal person spending, I don't know if I could've spent thirty-nine years in Room 216 without doing something else. [laughter]
NM: Thank you for having me and for sharing your time today and in the previous interview session. This concludes the second interview.
DD: Hey, thank you very much Nick for taking the time to listen to my story. I hope we got it all. Thank you.
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Reviewed by Nicholas Trajano Molnar 06/04/2014
Reviewed by Dennis Dougherty 7/23/14
Reviewed by Molly Graham 7/30/2014