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.
James Martin had just become a teacher in the Boston Public Schools when he joined the Marines in early 1967. He would be sent to Officers Candidates School in Quantico, Va.; he would receive further training in infantry and communications before he was sent to Vietnam. He would serve with the 11th Marines in a variety of duties, from signal officer to bartender.
“Pat” Flynn joined the Army in 1943, wanting to join the 10th Mountain Division as a skier. Instead, he was trained for combat infantry. He served with the 157th Infantry Regiment, and saw action in Italy and France. After the war, he stayed a civilian for about a year before rejoining the Army for another 20 years. Flynn would see action in Korea with the 9th Infantry Regiment, and in Vietnam as part of the Special Forces.
Interview conducted by James Ramsey
Kevin Strel left a halfway house in New York City at the age of 17 to join the Army. Trained as a medic, Strel would be sent to Korea as part of the 9th Infantry Regiment. For the next year, he would rotate between patrolling the DMZ and being on base treating personnel and Korean civilians. He would finish his three-year enlistment at Fort Dix and Fort Devens.
Arthur Kovacs had finished two years’ study in civics engineering at the University of Buffalo, as well as some time in Haiti as a medical missionary, when he was drafted into the Army in 1970. He started out being trained to handle mortars, but soon transferred to clerk school. After basic, he was sent to West Germany, where he worked as a legal clerk in Frankfort. He was discharged in 1972.
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.
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.
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.
Philip Hureau enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1968. He was assigned to the Army Security Agency, 330th R.R. Co., and served at Fort Bragg in North Carolina at in Pleiku, Vietnam, as a cryptic analyst.
This interview was recorded by students at UMass-Lowell.