Born and raised in South Boston, Bill Martin was drafted into the Navy in 1966 despite poor eyesight. Because he was a college graduate, he was sent to Officer Candidates School in Newport, R.I. Trained as a supply officer, Martin would serve in active duty and the Reserves for 30 years; he would see action off the coast of Vietnam and take part in Desert Storm. He retired from the Navy in 1997 with the rank of captain. As of this interview in 2019, Martin is the Veterans Services Officer for Kingston, Mass.
Andre Proulx joined the Navy shortly after the start of WWII. He was first assigned to a cruiser, the USS Flint, then transferred to the USS Douglas H. Fox, a destroyer. Proulx was assigned to one of the vessel’s 5-inch gun mounts; he survived a kamikaze attack during the Battle of Okinawa. In 2013, he was among several veterans who received overdue medals.
Arthur Robert was a second lieutenant with the 403rd Civil Affairs Company when his unit was deployed to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Storm. Robert would end up in Kuwait City organizing the transport of supplies. Robert would later serve with the Mass. National Guard, retiring in 2005 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Albert Souza remembers the end of World War II, growing up in the 1950s, the Camelot years of John F. Kennedy, when the Beatles performed in Boston, and the turmoil during Vietnam and Watergate. In 1961, Souza was married with a child on the way when he came close to being drafted into the Army during the Berlin crisis.
This interview was recorded by students at UMass-Lowell.
U.S. Army, 1943-45
Walter Gilbert was born and raised in Cambridge. While a student at Northeastern University, he enlisted in the Army Reserve Corps, and was called up in 1943. Gilbert served in the 104th Infantry, 26th (Yankee) Division as a platoon sergeant. He would see action in France, Luxembourg and Belgium, and would earn a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and the French Legion of Honor for his service.
U.S. Army, 1954-57
David Gaulin entered the U.S. Army in 1954 as a way to stay out of jail. He trained as a tank driver, and was stationed in Furth in West Germany. When he was sent to the border at Czechoslovakia, he helped several civilians fleeing the Soviets. While he was heading back to the United States, Gaulin witnessed the sinking of the Andrea Doria.