George Palmer joined the Navy in 1967 to “see the world” and because he “didn’t like walking in the jungle.” He served as a Fireman E-3 at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida, Vietnam and Seattle, Wash. While in Vietnam, he repaired small boats, including PVR, or “swift” boats.
This interview was recorded at the Bedford VA Medical Center.
In summer 1943, Richard Somersall had just entered MIT to study aeronautical engineering when the Marines called him into service. Somersall would become a machine gunner for the 21st and 1st Marine regiments, and serve in Guam and northern China.
James Nicholl Jr. joined the Navy in 1944 to honor his father and history teacher. He would serve on several vessels, including an armed cargo vessel and mine sweeper, in Scotland, Russia and the North Atlantic. Nicholl would also serve during the Korean War.
Arnold Bopp joined some friends and enlisted into the Army in 1954. He served for 20 years in the Army’s Security Agency as a teletype operator and teletype interceptor. He served twice in Alaska, as well as Berlin, Fort Devens and Vietnam.
“Fred” Lucontoni was drafted into the Army in 1943, and served in General George Patton’s 3rd Army, 733 Field Artillery Service Battery, as a machine gunner. He remembered seeing “thousands of planes” flying overhead en route to a bombing mission at St. Lo in France; Lucontoni also took part in the Battle of the Bulge.
This interview was recorded at the Bedford VA Medical Center by James Ramsey.
Vince MacDonald joined the Air Force ROTC while still a student at Brown University, earning his second lieutenant’s commission upon graduation in 1960. Over the next 30 years, MacDonald would work in personnel and career management at several bases in the U.S. and in Bermuda. While stationed at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware in 1978, he oversaw the receipt, processing and disposition of the victims of the tragedy in Jonestown, Guyana.
Jacob Darnel enlisted in the Marines shortly after graduating from high school in Kentucky. He learned cryptography, and was assigned to Paris to help establish the Defense Command Agency. He would also be assigned to Vietnam to help run a message center near Da Nang Harbor.
This interview was recorded at the Bedford VA Medical Center; interview conducted by volunteer Jim Ramsey.
In 1965, Richard Diaz was not doing well in high school, so he decided to join the Navy. First trained to handle codes, he soon transferred to the “black shoe” Navy; he served on board the USS Northampton and the USS Eaton as a fire control technician. Diaz took part in several operations in Vietnam, from bombing targets in North Vietnam to searching junks and sampans for weapons.
This interview was recorded at the Bedford VA Medical Center; interview by volunteer Jim Ramsey.
David Wall joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1967. After OCS training and a session at a Vietnamese language school in California, he was sent to Vietnam, where he served as a forward observer with I Corps.
This interview was recorded by students at UMass-Lowell.