War Stories: Glimpses from the Foxhole

My dad told me the story of his life in snippets, often late nights at the kitchen table, over a period of thirty years. I’ve patched his many vignettes together, covering the time he was a teenager growing up during WWII through thirty years in the military, and then ordered these disparate stories into a comprehensive memoir of his life.

My father was born in 1928 and grew up in rural Massachusetts during a time so vastly different than today. His youth was quite difficult and a unique experience, yet for him it was his own and didn’t seem odd at all. What’s more remarkable to me are the differences between his youth and my own. The world back then is hardly recognizable from today’s.

My father knew from his early years he wanted to join the Army. The military leaders had saved the country. Youth today aspire to be the next Steph Curry, Tom Brady, or Albert Pujols, but McArthur, Eisenhower, and Patton were the icons of his day. He went to West Point in 1946; he talked often about his first summer in “Beast Barracks”, the place where they weeded out cadets not so committed. West Point in his day highlighted an era that will never return. Another thirty years in the military took him to Germany, Korea, Italy, Viet Nam (twice), and places all around the US, like Indian Town Gap, Pa. among others.

He spent three years in Germany during the time President Truman integrated the Army followed by another three years in Georgia at the height of the Jim Crowe era; he was shocked and forever changed by these experiences, especially the latter. While in Ranger school in Georgia, he also drank swamp water (or so he told me) and did the most frightening thing of his life: went down the jump tower.

However, Viet Nam was the place he talked about the most. It was his war and he talked freely about the war experiences. Many veterans are silent about it all, but my dad wanted others to know what war was really like. He wanted everyone know too what Viet Nam should have been and why the war ended as it did. Italy, where the family also lived for three years was another place he talked incessantly about. The Neapolitan world of the 1960’s was a mystery to him, but still a place to remember fondly.

My father died in 2003. He had survived two Viet Nam tours, cancer, and a heart attack: I thought nothing could kill him after all that. Throughout his life, my dad taught me so much, and his stories helped me better understand him as well as his advice and guidance. The stories defined who he was, and in many ways, defined the way the world as it was back then. They weren’t all halcyon days. I don’t say we should return to them, but there is much we can learn from those days if we would only take the time to study them. I hope you will take the time to read and enjoy the unique experience of his life and the world of that time.


Chapter 1: Hired Killer

Chapter 2: Beast Barracks

Chapter 3: Rambo

Chapter 4, O Sole Mio

Chapter 5: Winning the War

Chapter 6: Reunion


Career Assignments

July 1946 – June 1950, West Point NY

U.S. Military Academy

August 1950 – August 1953, Aschaffenburg, Germany

18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division

  • E Company
  • H Company
  • Regimental HQ Company

September 1953 – August 1956, Fort Benning, Ga.

  • Infantry Course
  • Airborne School
  • Staff Department Intelligence Division, Infantry School
  • Infantry Advance Officer Training
  • Ranger School

August 1956 – December 1957, South Korea

32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, 1st Battle Group

  • Company Commander, E Company/B Company

December 1957 – September 1959, Fort Campbell, Ky.

101st Airborne Division

  • Mortar Battery, Company Commander, C Company
  • 1st Battle Group, 501 Parachute Infantry Regiment, Assistant S3

September 1959 – August 1962, Penn State University, Ogontz Campus

  • ROTC Instructor

August 1962 – June 1963, Fort Leavenworth, Ks.

  • Command and General Staff College

August 1963 – August 1966, Naples, Italy

HQ AFSouth

  • Operations Officer, Headquarters Command

September 1966 – December 1966, Fort Riley, Ks.

3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry Division

  • Executive Officer

December 1966 – September 1967, Vietnam (An Loc Province, Bien Phuc)

3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry Division

  • Executive Officer
  • Battalion Commander, 5th Battalion, 60th Infantry

October 1967 – September 1969, Washington D.C.

  • Office of the Chief of Staff

September 1969 – June 1970, Newport, RI

  • Naval War College Senior Course

Masters Degree, 1970, Military History, George Washington University

June 1970 – September 1972, Fort Monroe, Va.

HQ U.S. Army Continental Command

  • Operations Division

September 1972 – April 1973, Saigon, Vietnam


  • Operations Officer
  • Negotiator (with Viet Cong, North Viet Nam Army, Republic of Viet Nam for release of U.S. POW’s)

May 1973 – September 1978, Fort Bragg, NC

18th Airborne Corps, Headquarters

  • Commander, HQ Command
  • Corps G-4
  • Deputy Chief of Staff

September 1978 – December 2003, Retired to Mt. Pleasant, SC

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: