Roger Woodbury was a teacher in Rhode Island when he realized that some of his students would soon be eligible for the draft. Asking himself “Why am I exempt,” Woodbury entered the Air Force in 1968. He would become a squadron weapons controller in Massachusetts and in Thailand. After leaving active service in 1973, Woodbury would eventually join the U.S. Air National Guard in Worcester, leaving in 1989 with the rank of major.
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.
Bob Wright was born and raised in Natick. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1966 to see the world and have some adventure. He became a “plane captain” working the flight decks on the USS Yorktown, USS Constellation and the USS Ranger during the height of the Vietnam War and the Cold War.
Chuck Tiberio enlisted in the Army in 1968 to avoid being drafted. A brand-new college graduate who majored in mathematics, Tiberio went into artillery because that’s where he believed he could put his math skills to good use. He would spend most of 1969 in South Vietnam with Alpha Battery, 7th Battalion, 8th Field Artillery, 54th Artillery Group. Although never in direct contact with the enemy, Tiberio talked about his unit being hit with mortar rounds.
This interview covers Mr. Thompson’s service as an electrician and shore patrol officer with the 21st Naval Construction Regiment, Mobile Construction Battalion, stateside and in the Panama Canal Zone.
Sadie Stepner was born in Boston in 1914; her father operated the stables in Franklin Park. She remembered Boston Mayor James Michael Curley, as well as life during the Depression and World War II. After the war, she and her family moved to West Natick, and became one of the first families to join Temple Israel.
Byron Prescott joined the U.S. Air Force in 1963 on the advice of his older brother. Trained as a radio operator, Prescott would be stationed in the U.S. and overseas, including a tour of duty in Vietnam that had him in the middle of the Tet Offensive in 1968. After finishing his active duty, Prescott would join the Mass. Air National Guard, where he would serve until his retirement in 1994 with the rank of master sergeant.
Ken Pitts grew up as an “Army brat,” moving every three years to new postings, including Panama and West Germany. Shortly after he joined the Army in 1989, Pitts would return to Panama, this time as part of “Operation Just Cause,” the campaign to oust Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. As a member of the Massachusetts National Guard, Pitts would take part in missions to Kosovo and Afghanistan, in addition to Counterdrug Support Operations. He retired from the Army in 2012 as a master sergeant.
Kari Otto joined the Army in the 1980s as a way to help pay for college. From ROTC at Colorado State University to garrison commander at Natick Labs, Otto tells of her experiences as a combat engineer helping to build base camps in Belize, Cuba, Bosnia, Egypt and Afghanistan. She also describes her reaction to 9/11 and what it was like to be transferred from Afghanistan to Natick in 2008.
Ron Michael grew up in East Natick; several of his neighbors had served with the U.S. Marine Corps, and that’s where he enlisted in 1956, right out of high school. He would serve three years as an amphibian tractor repairman, serving in the United States and in Lebanon.