Korean War Legacy Project

Rudolph Valentine Archer


Rudolph Valentine Archer’s military career began in 1945 when he enlisted in the United States Army. Due to his exposure to aviation through radio serials like Buck Rogers, he chose to specialize in aviation. He trained to work on P-38s as an instrument specialist and served with the Tuskegee Airmen. In 1950, he received orders to go to Korea. In route to Korea, he was assigned to a group in the Marshall Islands that conducted nuclear tests. In the Marshall Islands he worked as an instrument specialists on drones that flew into the nuclear clouds after the explosions. During the tests, he recalls experiencing the brightest light he had ever seen as well as felt that the Island was shaking. He continued his military career after the Korean War, and he saw the military transition from segregation to integration, as well as the formation of the United States Air Force from the U.S. Army. He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland and pursued a PhD while studying at Syracuse University.

Video Clips

Enlisting and Choosing Aviation

Rudolph Valentine Archer discusses the influence of Buck Rogers and comic books in his decision to pursue aviation when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. As a child in Chicago, he recalls watching planes fly overhead and dreaming of being a part of aviation. He recounts deciding between marching and carrying a rifle or flying in an airplane. He easily chose the latter option.

Tags: Basic training,Home front,Weapons

Share this Clip +

Share YouTube:

Share from this page:


Integration of the U.S. Military

Rudolph Valentine Archer reflects on the segregation of the United States military in 1948. He recollects being a part of an all-Black unit before the integration of the armed forces. He remembers that the African American officers he served under after integration were highly skilled individuals and excellent mentors. He narrates his experience of arriving at his first job assignment and being informed that he was not allowed to supervise white troops, even though the military had been integrated.

Tags: Basic training,Civilians,Home front,Living conditions,Message to Students,Pride

Share this Clip +

Share YouTube:

Share from this page:


Traveling Aboard Ship to Korea

Rudolph Valentine Archer discusses receiving his orders to go to Korea. He recounts the experience of traveling on the General Aultman, a transport ship, and being sea sick. He shares that the trip took longer than thirty days because they took a long circuitous route to avoid submarines. Instead of making it to Korea, he reveals that he was dropped off on Wake Island and eventually found his way to the Marshall Islands archipelago.

Tags: Fear,Living conditions,Weapons

Share this Clip +

Share YouTube:

Share from this page:


Special Taskforce 3.14.1 and Nuclear Testing

Rudolph Valentine Archer discusses finding out that he and seven other soldiers were being left in the Marshall Islands archipelago. He explains that he was assigned to Special Task Force 3.14.1 which was responsible conducting nuclear testing. He describes working as one of two instrument specialists involved in the development of drones designed to fly through the atomic cloud after the detonation of a nuclear weapon. He shares that there was not much to do on the island other than working and reading.

Tags: Living conditions,Pride,Rest and Relaxation (R&R),Weapons

Share this Clip +

Share YouTube:

Share from this page:


Witnessing a Nuclear Test

Rudolph Valentine Archer discusses witnessing nuclear testing. He describes laying on the ground with special eye protection. He recalls that the explosion produced the most brilliant light he had ever seen, and it seemed to penetrate through his body. He recalls the ground shaking and feeling like the island was moving back and forth from the pressure of the blast. He mentions that they felt the effects of the explosion that occurred at 2:00 am until dawn.

Tags: Physical destruction,Pride,Weapons

Share this Clip +

Share YouTube:

Share from this page:


Video Transcript

[Beginning of Transcribed Material]


I:          I’m Malcolm Roseman in Atlanta, Georgia on September 25, 2003.  I have the honor with speaking with Val Archer, also from Atlanta.  Val, let’s begin by just telling me where you were born and when and a little bit about your early years.

V:        Okay.  Uh, I’m Val Archer.  And I was born in Chicago, Illinois on my grandmother’s birthday



in 1929, April 13.  I attended elementary school uh, at Betsy Ross.  And I recently heard on the news it’s still around and having probably more difficulties today than they were having then.  Um, eventually as my family moved from one neighborhood to another, um,



I transferred to different schools.  Eventually I graduated uh, from summer school at a school called Charles Koziminski which was over on the far east side of Chicago I believe, from the eighth grade.  I didn’t go to high school.  I sort of dropped out then. My mother passed when I was 12, and I guess uh,



I didn’t have the type of supervision that was necessary to compete with my peers at that time, my environment.  I joined the service in 1945.  Because I was out of school, I associated with some fellows who were a few years older than I.  And uh, I sort of followed them when they went into the service.  And it was my plan to follow them and so on.



I:          You were quite young when you went in.

V:        Yes, I was.  But um, I was sort of caught up as I think many people were with the uh, what we know as propaganda now, uh, the way the um, the War was described through the mass media and uh, t throughout the community and every kind of institution.  We were sort of bombarded with uh, information about the enemy and the Axis and so on.



And the uh, Uncle Sam Needs You and the USO and um, the newsreels and so on.  And in my young mind, I was caught up very much in that.  And I figured that uh, I think I estimated that since I wasn’t very productive at that time in any case, being in the military service would probably not be a bad thing for me.  So, I tended to follow in the footsteps of some of the older guys.



And I tried to enlist, I think, first in the Marine Corps and then the Navy, then the uh, the Maritime Service.  And uh, that went on, in fact, for a couple years.  And one day another, a friend of mine and I were passing a recruiting station and decided we’ll just go in and heckle these guys cause they’re not gonna take us anyway.  As it turned out, I think on that particular day, um,



I have since deducted that probably that recruiting Sargeant didn’t have his quota at that time because uh, Freddy West and I both wound up, uh, being processed straight through and finally loaded onto the back of a 6 x 6 and shipped off to Fort Sheridan, Illinois where we were inducted and sworn in and so on into the service.  From there,



it was a short trip, a short time before moving on into basic training in Wichita Falls, Texas and so on.  My early years in Chicago, um, I think as I look back, everything seems to be sort of normal in my own terms, uh.  Perhaps it would not be normal, uh, for someone else who was observing that as I observe young people today, uh.



Some of their experiences are extraordinary.  And I think probably some of mine were as well.  I had two brothers and one sister.  One of my brothers recently passed a couple of years ago.  Both my brothers sort of followed me into the service.  Of course, they went to high school and graduated.

I:          Were you the oldest?



V:        I was the oldest, yeah.  And um, let’s see.

I:          Let’s go back to your military.  You’re now in Texas in basic.

V:        Yeah.

I:          Okay.

V:        As I recall, that was quite an experience.  And as I look back at it, some of it, um, I find some humor in it.  Growing up in Chicago as I did,



and uh, I did my time with gangs and so on.  And as I came into the service, uh, I sort of brought my uh, myself into that picture.  And I obviously came into conflict with people from other backgrounds.  I recall, uh, an incident with a wrestler from Oklahoma



who was uh, I think uh, I guess he was probably about 200 pounds.  And I think I was probably about 130 pounds.  And one day uh, he had decided that since our organization, at the time, was very close to his home.  From Texas to Oklahoma was just a short trip for him.  He had figured out that if he



managed to get our training set back, that he would have an additional amount of time near home and so on.  But I thought that was kind of silly and kind of selfish on his part.  And so did another kid from Detroit who was probably about my size who said something to this guy and got smacked.  And I thought well, if he can get away with that, smack this kid and get us to go back and do that,



you know, then I’d have to try my luck with him.  So, now we were on the second floor of this barracks.  And so, almost immediately we were tumbling down, coming down the stairs.  And that lasted for, I think about 20 minutes or so, maybe longer than that.  But I rather enjoyed it.  And looking back at it, to be



Bloody or have that kind of physical engagement uh, was not unusual for me.  And uh, and I think fortunately for me it was because it was not for the wrestler.  And so, we both wound up going to the hospital.  And I just always have some, find some humor in that, in recalling that experience.  But



I:          I have to stop you and ask you a question that I think is germane.  You went into a segregated Army.

V:        Yes.
I:          Um, my knowledge of the segregated Army at the time was mostly officers, maybe all the officers that were around tended to be white.

V:        Yeah, um hm.

I:          How did you feel about all that?
V:        Uh, I guess I had some feelings about it.  But, as I was



incorporating all of this new experience, I didn’t know anything about uh, anything about the military, about the officer corps, the enlisted corps, or any of that.  That was something that I had to learn.  But I very quickly learned that uh, that some of our white officers were quite racist in their outlook and their expectations.  And uh, with my attitude as I was describing with the altercation with this wrestler,



I would have had the same compensity to deal with them in the same way.  Um, I guess I was fortunate in a way that I received a few reprimands and that and had a lot of extra duty.  But I never punched one of them.  So, I therefore managed to stay out of serious problems with them.  But uh, I fairly quickly became aware of the fact.  And it was not,



It was kind of a group learning experience.  It wasn’t just that I was learning this myself.  But I was learning it from the other guys who were in the organization and their attitudes, some of which I had opted, some of which I rejected, uh, and so on.  But um, I managed to keep a perspective over my feelings of individuals that I was involved with.



And I met some pretty rotten white officers.  And I met some very good officers that I later learned uh, what a good officer was and how he performed.  And I quickly learned the difference, I think.

I:          So, you did the six weeks of basic?
V:        Oh, yes.  It seems to have been longer than that.  But it may have been six weeks.

I:          Then what?



V:        Well, from that, I went to an aviation, an aviation squadron.  That’s what they were called at that time because when I enlisted, I had an opportunity to indicate which organization I wanted to belong to.  And I checked the Air Corps, not knowing much about it other than what some people had told me.



And uh, I didn’t have any expectations one way or the other at that time.  It didn’t matter which branch you were in.  You were still a soldier.  All of the, uh, for all appearances and uh, for the uniform and the attitudes and the values and so on were still that of a soldier.  So, which was Army.  I later on learned that being part of this aviation outfit, though, um,



I didn’t know at the time that there was an effort to develop this all-black outfit which was still going on since 1941 or 1942.

I:          Before you go further, you put down to join an air group, okay.

V:        Um hm.
I:          Was there something that triggered that thought in your mind?  I mean, I recognize that they were all part of the Army, and they were all soldiers.  But still, I mean,



Going up in a plane, that whole thought, from somebody who grew up in a Chicago neighborhood, that’s pretty extreme.  I mean, what, were you a risk taker?  Were you

V:        Oh, big time.

I:          Okay.

V:        Yeah.  I would take any risk at that time.
I:          Okay.
V:        Although I did not perceive that as a risk.  What I knew about uh, airplanes at that time was uh, now that I know there were DC3’s



that used to fly very low over Chicago.  And you would hear them coming for days.  And uh, and of course, they were by any stretch of the imagination, they were slow because you could see them if you were not, uh, in an area where the buildings were very tall.  You could see, actually see these DC3’s flying over on its way, and I thought boy, that would be great, uh, to do that.



Um, my exposure to anything to do with aviation uh, was kind of fantasy stuff that I read in comic books.  And I think there was a radio serial at that time, I think, Buck Rogers I think, 25th Century or something to that effect, uh.  And that was sort of um, I read a lot.  And uh, that was one of the things that I knew just a little bit about.



So, when I had a choice of being in the Army, I thought okay, marching, carrying a weapon on my shoulder uh, or flying in an airplane, whatever they did in the airplane.  I didn’t know anything about uh, you know, fighters and bombers and stuff like that at that time.  But I thought it was a pretty good choice.  And I really didn’t expect to get it. I just thought okay.  I’m going through this stuff.  And I was psychologically here to uh,



kind of a racist culture, uh, cause I could not articulate at that time.  But my expectations were that you’re gonna get the short end of the stick anyway.  So, just put down whatever you think you can get away with and then go for it.

I:          Alright.  So, you moved into this, to where at this point?
V:        Uh, my first stop after basic training



at Wichita Falls, Texas was a place called Geiger Field up in Spokane, Washington.  And I went there.  That was a fairly pleasant experience, you know, being out of the city and out of the, uh, out of Texas, which is another world by itself, to go up into the mountains.  And it was cold and pristine and a new experience.  And I was excited about it.



And uh, I went to a, I think it was a demolition school.  I went to learn how to blow up stuff which was not inconsistent with my character at the time.  But when I completed the training, I was very quickly put on a train with orders going to join this 332nd fighter group in Columbus, Ohio.


And uh, that’s where I went to spend uh, the next little more than three years until the integration occurred.

I:          Okay.  So, you were in Columbus, Ohio for three years at that point?
V:        That was my base.  Of course, I left there for training at different places, Shinoot and Scott and Keesler, Mississippi and, so it was short training.



I:          At least to the World War II piece, you were always, you were Stateside.

V:        Yeah.

I:          Okay.  What were you trained for in Columbus?
V:        Well, when I got to Columbus, one of the first assignments that I had was as, I went to work on a P47 as an assistant crew chief.  And initially, I was a gopher.  But that was called on-the-job training or OJT which I became involved in,



first in aircraft engine mechanics and then I sort of gravitated to instrument specialist for work with the instruments and the related component parts like, and instrument doesn’t operate just by itself. It operates on some principle that’s related to something else like speed indicator for example.



In those days, we had what was known as a pedostatic tube where it would register the pressure and the forward motion something, and that would be registered into this air speed indicator that would do that.  And then there were, um, engine instruments uh, manifold pressure gauges and tachometers and indicators and so on.



I:          I mean at this point, you were 17, 18, 19 years old.

V:        Sixteen.

I:          Even younger, 16, uh, when you first went in.  You never went to high school.  Here you are getting a whole education. How did you feel about all that?
V:        Uh, I thought it was a real challenge.  And it was a hoot.  I enjoyed every minute of it including all the other uh, altercations that I got involved in.  The thing that I did not enjoy was uh,



I did an awful lot of KP, washing pots and pans and uh, be reporting to that at like 3:00 in the morning and working on that for, until 7, 8:00 the night before, um, you know, getting up.

I:          It taught you discipline.
V:        Yeah.  I can tell you some stories about that.  I had some pretty creative uh, first sergeants.



Yeah.  But I managed to, and I spent a lot of time in the guard house.  And I did get to know most of the guards over there on a first-name basis.

I:          I’m not sure we need to go into all the details about that.

V:        No.

I:          Tell me um, so, you were in Columbus for the most part until about 1948?

V:        Forty-eight, forty-nine.

I:          Forty-nine.  Now, I believe Truman integrated the services

V:        Forty-eight.


I:          In ’48.

V:        Um hm.
I:          How did that affect you?  What

V:        That um, in terms of uh, of segregation, that really brought that home to me.  I, you know, my growing up part in the civilian community was in Chicago.  And it was not like growing up in Georgia or Mississippi or someplace like that.



So, I have a whole different kind of learning thing to get a grip on.  It occurred to me when I left this all-black outfit, that was the only kind of military experience that I was aware of.  In fact, um, one distinction we briefly mentioned earlier about the white officer corps, when I finished my training, and I went to Lockbourne



that was the end of my white officer experience.  Our officers were all black.  And uh, in my estimation far more professional and qualified in every way than those white officers that I had met prior to that time.  Um, and they were good mentors.  Some of those guys I met back in those days who um,



decided that they would take an interest and teach me some lessons which they did, a lot of them.  I still know those guys, those who are still surviving.  And we can recall some interesting experiences from those days.  Uh, but as far as the integration was concerned, that was my first experience with segregation from a different sense because I was moving from an all-black community



that had its own social and political and other kinds of dimensions into an all-white installation where uh, there may have been 2,000 white troops there and three black troops.  The black troops who were all ready serving on those installations were



in the um, in Food Service jobs and Motor Pool and were considered unskilled jobs at the time.  When I hit, my first assignment was at Bolling Field Headquarters USAF.  And when I reported in there, although I’m sure it was well publicized that you’re gonna get some black troops coming in here,



and probably that they’re skilled and qualified people.  When I went to, first reported to the flight line, I was told well, I was a sergeant at that time, and I was told that um, well, you can’t supervise anybody here.  We can’t have you supervising any white troops.  So, we will have to find something else for you to do



until we get a white person who will come in and be over this shop or this position.  So, I wound up now being sent off to uh, tech school. I spent more time in tech school.  And then I decided that I would try and play football there.  I didn’t weigh very much, but I was fast, and I liked the game.  So, I did that for a season.  In fact, I did that until



uh, the Korean War.  My first experience initially with that was um, I had orders to go to a Korean assignment.  And I was shipped out to a base um, port of debarkation I think it was called in the San Francisco area.  It was an Army base.  And uh,



when I got there, uh, I stayed around with a bunch of other guys who had come in from different places.  And we were going to be on this joint assignment, I guess, leaving together anyway.

I:          The War in Korea had already begun?

V:        Oh yeah.
I:          Okay.

V:        And so um, while I was there, um, waiting for my direct orders, you know.  I just had orders saying okay, you report to this base. I can’t think of the name of it now.



Uh, and then with further travel to um, K6 and K9 or something like that.  In any case, um, when we finally got our orders to move out and board the ship, I remember the name of that ship was the General Aultman, which was a troop carrier.



I wound up on this thing for, I think for about 30 days we were on that boat, just weaving in and out of the Pacific.  And I was sick as a dog.  But we were told that, you know, that that was necessary.  And the reason that you’re going in this group is because of submarines and, you know, the whole kind of scary stuff.  In fact, what happened was



I wound up being dropped off on an island after we left Wake Island, and we went to Kwajalein and then from Kwaj, about another few days after that uh, wound up at Enewetak which is another island in the Marshall Atoll.

I:          This is the first time you’d ever left the country.

V:        Uh, yeah.  As a matter of fact, it was.



And uh, I was glad not to have to go in that mode of transportation again.  That troop ship, I think we were stacked up about 13 high in this place.  And you know, as long as you get on top, you get sick first.  And then trying to find a place where you can breathe, you know, you’d get up on deck was uh, that was a whole routine, you know, getting permission and so on.

I:          Were you part of a unit at that point or you were unassigned?
V:        I was uh, I was assigned to a unit and didn’t know it.



I was assigned to Special Task Force.  I remember that.  It was called uh, Task Force number 324.1 was our designation.  And I think there were um, there were um, how many of us got off the plane?  I think there were seven of us who got off, been dropped off on this island at that time.


The ship had gone and went to its next destination which may or may not have been Korea.  But um, anyway, I wound up there.  And this project turned out to be a nuclear project to test an atomic device.  And uh, which was a whole other kind of experience.  And some of the training that I received there was interesting as well.  That whole experience was interesting.



I:          When you say training, what were you trained for?
V:        Well, uh, we were, our mission was to uh, to fly these drones through uh, an atomic cloud after the weapon was detonated.  And then the drones would come back and um, to be examined or



All checking that was done by, I think, Atomic Energy Commission guys were there.  We had Navy and Air Force over there in this joint operation.

I:          Your role in all this?
V:        My role, I was assigned there as an instrument specialist.  And there were two of us assigned to that mission.



I’ll never forget this guy, a guy named Dolan.  A white guy who was kind of a senior instrument guy.  He had, I think Dolan had his 20 years in at that time.  And uh, he taught me a lot.  The two of us, we, you know, when you’re on an island that size and practically nothing to do except work and read and so on, which we all did a lot of I think.  The other thing was to booze and fight.



I did a little bit of that.  Um, but Dolan uh, taught me a lot about instruments, instrumentation and so on.  And we had, through our briefings uh, we had a pretty good idea about uh, testing devices which were going on at that time mostly out in the, uh, we heard about what was happening in New Mexico



and other places in the States at the time.
I:          So, when one of these devices were tested, were you able to at least see the

V:        Yeah.  Well, you could understand that the uh, the devices detonated I think either on or near an island called um, I think it was in [INAUDIBLE].  I think it was 35 miles from where we were, Enewetak.



That was what the report was.  But yeah.  We experienced the whole thing, yeah, the detonation, uh, from that distance.  As I recall, our instructions were to lay on the ground.  And we had some special eye protection and other stuff.  And we laid on the ground and covered our face facing the opposite direction of the blast.



I’m not sure that that made a lot of difference because when it went off, it was the most brilliant light.  It was almost like you could see it going through your body and through the ground into everything else.  And I’m trying to recall which was uh, if we felt, the island was sort of moving back and forth like that, and they said it was the sensation.
I:          You think you felt the pressure



from the blast yourself.

V:        Yeah.  And uh, and of course the sound was, I think the sound may have been first.  I don’t know whether the sound was first or the flash was first, um, in the distance.  But they were separated by a distinct period of time.  And it lasted for quite a while.  The detonation was uh,



Early in the morning, maybe 2 or 3:00 in the morning and so on.  And uh, and we were still sort of experiencing that way after dawn the next day.  And then of course, we were busy again with our separate operations.

I:          How long were you on the island doing this?
V:        I think for uh,



it was less than a year, maybe 11 months or so.  I can recall that it was less than a year.  You know, um, maybe 11 months.

I:          What was next?
V:        Next, um, I came back intact with that organization, uh, for the most part.  And I was assigned to Eglin Field



to a proof test wing.  And when I got back there, I sort of picked up right where I left of with the base in Washington was with, we don’t have a spot for you on the flight line, um.  And I’m sure I was offered would you like to work somewhere else?  Would you like another job somewhere?  And I can recall uh,



going off to some more tech schools at the time.

I:          So, you’re getting a heck of an education at this point.
V:        Well, I got some technical training.  But it was not really an education.  I knew what was going on, you know.  It was pretty obvious.  No one tried to conceal the purpose and reason for me [INAUDIBLE] at that time.  Um, what I had,



I had been to Eglin Field before because while I was stationed at Lockbourne, we had our gunnery training there in one of their axillary fields where we went every year.  We went to, I think there were several axillary fields there.  And different years, we went to different ones to do uh, to do training you know, for the fellows to go out and get their gunnery stuff.



And of course, we had to support that with operations.  So, I was sort of familiar with that.  Um, what really went on, uh, at that time was some more uh, that was my first sort of exposure to the South and what all that meant in terms of being a black soldier.  The segregation, the kind of places that we were allowed to go, when we were committed to go.



I remember going to a movie once in Pensacola and being told that blacks had to go, I think, into the balcony.  But you had to go up the back stairs, like a fire escape.  That was the entrance to go out.  And there was a little place, a section of seats that we were allowed to sit in.



I think that was the only time I ever went to a movie off base.  Uh, there were

I:          Now, what year, about ’52, ’53?

V:        No, this was back in the ‘40’s.

I:          Okay.
V:        Yeah, um hm.  So, when I came to Eglin after the nuclear assignment, uh, I was somewhat familiar with that installation.


So, I sort of knew what to expect there.  Uh, I did have friends, young friends who were married, that I knew in Washington who were assigned there.  And uh, they were living in an area called Skunk Hollow which was at the bottom end of the swamp, swampy end of the base.  They, in segregated housing.



On base, uh.

I:          Let me make sure I understand this.

V:        Um hm.

I:          The Army was integrated, but the housing was not?
V:        Well, um, yeah.  They hadn’t caught up with integration.  Well, the integration was going on.  And what was happening, we had black troops on the same



As white troops, you know.  That was the first step of the integration.

I:          Okay.
V:        How it unfolded from there, uh, was pretty slow.  And in fact, uh, that’s where the real abuse came, uh, in such subtle and unsubtle ways, like the kind of housing, again, that my friends lived in.

I:          Um hm.

V:        Uh, just because they were married,



They were allowed to have their family accompany them, uh, lived in this area called Skunk Hollow, uh.  And there were um, I’m not sure what uh, what kind of housing that was exactly. It was like shacks.

I:          Um hm.

V:        But uh, it was like a community of shacks on this installation.  And uh, I remember, um,



One family in particular had an infant child, uh.  And they would uh, the deer would walk up and, you know, they were very uh, sort of domesticated almost.

I:          Um hm.
V:        And uh, and the baby was crawling around on the ground among these fawns that were out there, um.



But it was, you know, it was so basic and so crude uh.  There was no, I don’t recall what it was like there in the winter. I don’t recall visiting them, uh, during the winter months which could be quite, uh, cold and damp.

I:          What were you doing at this point?  What was your role?
V:        Uh, at that point, I was, most of my time was um, waiting for school assignments.



So, I had some time on my hands, uh.

I:          I have to ask this question because you’re now, it looks like you’re making it a career.  I mean, at some point in your head, did you ask that question of yourself?  Do I wanna make the Army a career?
V:        No, I don’t think that was ever, uh, a really, uh, that came later, much later.  Um,



I had um, you know, we got, in 1950, unless you were um, at the point of completing your tour, at some point you got an additional year on it.  It’s called a Truman year.

I:          Um hm.

V:        Uh, and that was I think because of the Korean War.  And so, uh, actually by that time, I think,



in 1953, I think it was 1953, uh, 1954, um, and I had an opportunity to get out uh. I took it, um.  I separated.   That was my

I:          Nineteen fifty-four.

V:        Yeah.  I think it was 1954.  Um, I think it was after I had gone, I went to, um, yeah.  I went to MacDill in Tampa



Uh, Florida, uh, to B47 school.  After I had just, prior to that, I’d gone to a an engine analyzer course uh.  That was crazy stuff.  Back in, uh, at Shinook.  And then I went to another course at Scottview.  I don’t know what that was about.  I don’t remember that.  But I came back and was kind of excited about this uh, B47 which was a whole new system.



And uh, death bombers and uh, really it was a neat system at that time.  And uh, but I knew after I finished that, uh, it was gonna be some other thing.  So, I just decided okay, I’ll take my marbles and go home, uh.  And that’s how I got involved, I think, with the Reserves unknowingly.  I was carried on their roles for the Reserves, although I



was given an honorable discharge.  And uh, it was uh, I think uh, I think I’d been out for six or eight months or so, and I got this letter saying that uh, to report to some base. I don’t recall the details of it, uh.  But you’ve been recalled to active duty.  And I thought well,



I’d been discharged.

I:          And the Korean War’s over at this point.
V:        Well uh, yeah.

I:          Before, it had been.

V:        Before, yeah, it was over.

I:          Cause Eisenhower became President in ’52.

V:        That’s right, yeah.  So uh, so I said well you know, it’s gotta be some mistake.  You got the wrong, maybe somebody else, um, with the same screwed up name or something.  And uh, I think I contacted, uh, whoever the authorities were at that time, and they said you know, uh,



um, you know, you’ve been recalled.  And they didn’t explain very much as, you know, often times uh, bureaucrats don’t do, uh.  And they didn’t feel uh, any concoction about uh, in other words, uh, you know, you’re AWOL if you’re not here.  So uh, you don’t deserve an explanation.  So, uh, my attitude was you know, come get me.  So, I moved uh, from then,


I moved to uh, to New York, uh, to Brooklyn and worked on the docks for I think, I don’t know, a matter of months before.  I don’t know how they tracked me.  But uh, I got a letter again saying report to some place.  And I left again.  And uh, I went to Chicago.  And I think I was there for six months or so, and I got another one of those, and so I left and went to, I don’t think I wasn’t really running from them.



But in one sense, uh, I didn’t feel that I owed them any explanation the same way they didn’t feel they owed me on.  So, we were having a little standoff there, uh.  Anyway um, finally uh, some really official guys who came, I think, in black suits and stuff.  And they said you’re uh, we’re escorting you to uh, to your new assignment.  And uh, they gave me



uh, two hours or something like that.  And then one of them stayed, and the others left.  And then they came back and so went out to Mitchell Field in Milwaukee.

I:          Before you go, what year?
V:        This was, I think this was in ’55.

I:          Okay.
V:        Yeah.

I:          So, you’d been out for little over a year.
V:        Oh yeah.  Well, it’s more than that.  It must have been ’53.



I:          That you went out.
V:        Yeah.

I:          Okay.
V:        Because uh, it was, no, it was more than a year because I was bouncing from, As a matter of fact, Eisenhower was President, I think, then.

I:          Um hm.
V:        And I remember how interesting it was that uh, that every time you turned on the news or something, all you would get is how popular uh, this guy is.  And



at the same time, you couldn’t buy a job uh.  There were people in soup lines, you know.  And I thought what the hell’s going on with this, you know, people starving and they’re talking about how popular and what a good job uh, that I didn’t, I was not political at all at the time, didn’t have any interest, no knowledge of it and so on.  But I did think that was pretty strange stuff.

I:          Okay.  So, now you’re in



Mitchell Field in Milwaukee.
V:        Yeah.  And uh, I think I was there for a few hours.  And I met this Colonel who also had an attitude at that time, I don’t know if somebody had done something to him.  But in any case, he had this attitude like we don’t owe you any explanation, uh.  Here are your orders.  You go next door and get your orders or something.



And I wound up, uh, at Geneva, NY.  I forget the name of it, the name of the base there, in the dead of winter.  And uh, I stayed there for uh, I was there for I think a couple of months.  And there was some question about whether or not uh, they were gonna give me a grade adjustment or if I was gonna have to be a private which was ultimately the case.  They never gave me



A rate adjustment.

I:          Cause you left as a sergeant.
V:        Yeah, um hm.
I:          And then they got you back as a private.

V:        Yeah, um hm.  So, uh, I was told that uh, that the authority for that whole operation was something called a Universal Military Training Act.  And uh, the fact that uh, that I was not old enough to be out of that uh, that category.  This is what I was told.



And I never got a straight answer about it after.  So, it really didn’t matter all that much.  There was no way I could get out of it without going to jail.  And uh, they made that clear.  So, uh, I sort of started off all over again, uh. I didn’t have to go through basic training or anything like that.  But I did uh, I was, I think I was offered a,



a chance to go, excuse me, to be a flight engineer but without the pay.  I would be a private on that.  And so, I thought well that’s not, you know, we can do better than that.  So, I said, you know, give me a, send me somewhere else then.  So, they sent me to a different school again.  So, I spent a lot of time in school, in tech schools, yeah.



Um, eventually, well let’s see.  Um, I was assigned, after that, I was assigned to go overseas again.  I did a tour on Guam.  And from Guam, I did a consecutive tour, uh, in Japan and had some assignments in Korea in great TUI periods.  And then back to Japan.



And uh, I got married in Japan at that time.  That was a whole other story.  It would take two hours to describe that to you.

I:          You met your wife in Japan?
V:        Yeah.  And uh, then I was assigned from Japan to



a missile squadron, ICBMs, 395th Missile Squadron at um, Vandenberg Air Base in California.

I:          Um hm.

V:        That was another interesting place where there were no, there was no housing at that time.  I think that was a new base, new facility and new program and so on.  I was assigned to a Titan.  Also on that base, we had [ATLOS] and uh,

I:          When you say you’re assigned,



what was your job with respect to that?
V:        Uh, by this time, I was in training.  My job, I was instructor, and I did mostly management training and some technical stuff from time to time.  But mostly, um, I had an opportunity to work with some of the contractors like [INAUDIBLE] general



dynamics and so on.  At night, uh, learning to write uh, technical data.  And so, that was a good experience.  I had an opportunity to do that for a couple of years, um.

I:          And what years are we?
V:        Now we’re 1958 to 1960, almost 1961, November 1960.

I:          Okay.



V:        When I got another overseas assignment.

I:          But at this point, you’re in the Army.  You’ve kind of made the decision to stay?
V:        Yeah.  Well, um by this time, it was dawning on me that I was past the halfway mark for uh, for some retirement.  And I was still thinking that at some point, I think I had given up on the grade adjustment thing.

I:          Um hm.



And you’re still very young. I mean, you’re 30, 31 years old in 1961.

V:        Yeah.  Well, I think I felt pretty old at that time.  But um, anyway, I had some good experiences.

I:          Um hm.
V:        Some good training um, military training, uh.  I think I was probably one of the most trained people in the military.  And I had opportunity to



Move into different career areas.  And uh, at some point, I wised up enough uh, to go to night school, and I continued attending night school uh, throughout um, the period when I was in California and then overseas.  And I got my undergraduate degree, my education with the University



Of Maryland.

I:          So, you finished, you got your high school diploma.

V:        Yeah.
I:          Equivalent.  And then you went on to college and got your undergraduate degree.

V:        Uh, well, yeah.  I didn’t do it in that order.  I normally didn’t do things in the proper sequence, uh.  I was, I think I was on the Dean’s List for two years.  And someone decided that okay. You have, before you go onto the next category, whatever that is, uh,



you have to have uh, proof of your high school stuff.  So, uh, I faked it.  No one had ever challenged me on that before, and I said well, I went to the school that my brother went to, uh, in Chicago.  And uh, it took them about another semester or two to catch up with that.  And they said we don’t have any record of your attending uh, there.



So, then I was given the option of taking the GED which I did.

I:          So, you’d been on the Dean’s List in college, and now you’re taking a GED in high school just to get that piece of paper that says you did it.

V:        Yeah, uh huh.  And I think after I left there, that was a long story, too.

I:          Before you go on, what was your degree in at Maryland?
V:        In Maryland, Economics and Psychology.



And that was primarily because uh, at my last uh, last year and a half there, uh, because of other people rotating out, um, and my having the most time remaining there, uh, I became the Education Officer and uh, so, I hired the faculty to teach the off-duty courses for University of Maryland.


And the two best instructors that I had uh, was a young guy, Dr. Lou Everstein who is at Oxford, I think he was doing a degree in Philosophy there and an Economics professor from London School of Economics.  And these were the two best guys that I had.  And then I had another Economics professor, uh, who had been at West Point,



and he was back at Oxford getting his Masters.  And so, I had these guys consistently over.

I:          But you still weren’t an officer.

V:        Oh no.

I:          Doing all this, and you’re not an officer.

V:        No, no.  Well uh, that didn’t bother me as much as just not having enough money to support my family.  But then there were, there were occasions when I had an opportunity to working part-time job in the Officers Club



or the NCO Club or something like that.

I:          But with all this knowledge and background, there was no way of you going into an officer candidate situation?
V:        No, no way.
I:          Was that in part because of the racial issues at the time or

V:        Yeah.  I think so because

I:          Even in the ‘60’s

V:        Oh yeah.  Uh, because I had, I did apply for a program knows as Blue Script, to go away to get your final semester



to get your degree.  And that was put off. In fact, when I got my undergraduate degree, I had, uh, I had, I was already taking graduate courses.  And uh, because I had more than enough to graduate except that you had to do uh, one year, your final year had to be at an institution that you got your degree from.



I:          So, after that, where did you go next?
V:        Well, I came back uh, back to the States and went to uh, I was assigned to Syracuse, New York, um, where again I was the Education Officer.  I didn’t have the grade, but I was the only person that they had, uh, to do that.  And uh, I did uh, part of my graduate stuff I did, uh, at



night again at uh, Syracuse.  And then I had a fellowship uh, to finish up on my master’s and another one to begin my PhD studies.  And I was moving.  And I changed my field from Education to Political Science and Public Administration. And um, I wound up with my Doctoral Studies in



Interdisciplinary Social Sciences.  Uh, certainly after, and I retired there.  I put in for retirement.

I:          In 1960?

V:        In 1968, yeah.  And uh, at that time, I was offered an opportunity uh, the way it was put to me was something like if you’ll sign on for uh, for 10 more years as this officer program that’s



in place now, but it was something the way I understood it, uh, was that it was like a 10-year enlistment.  You sign up for this program and possibly you can get uh, come out of it with an 05, uh, at the end of, by the end of that 10 years.  And uh, the sales pitch was well, you know, look at what you’d be earning 10 years from now compared to what you’re doing now.



And um, I had, fortunately I had some good counsel at the University and they said that would be peanuts compared to what you might earn if that’s the only consideration.
I:          Now in ’68, Viet Nam’s obviously going on.

V:        Yeah.
I:          Your involvement at all?

V:        Uh,

I:          You never went over there.

V:        Just TDY.  But not

I:          TDY?

V:        Temporary [INAUDIBLE].  I’d gone over for,



I went over for um, for uh, classified thing, just for a month, less than 30 days.  But uh, in fact, I did sign up uh, to go there, to put in a tour.  And uh, there was no opening for my career field at that time. And I wasn’t serious enough.  I wasn’t worried about it enough to, you know, to really pursue it.



I:          Plus, the War really heated up ’68 when you were really getting out.

V:        Yeah, um hm.  Yeah.

I:          Kind of tie together the whole Tuskegee Airmen as it affected you.  And if you could explain the relationship um, that you had with it and the benefits and a little bit about the organization or the, I guess the

V:        I’m glad uh, to have that opportunity.



To share some of that.  Uh, my experience with the um, the organizations that were eventually know, became known as the Tuskegee Airmen, uh, had uh, that experience was pretty profound, the impact on me, uh.  When I first joined the 332nd and the 477 Composite Group, uh, at Lockbourne in Columbus, Ohio,



uh, I was uh, just briefly removed from uh, from the whole different perspective and the direction that my life was taking, um.  I think that uh, my experience at that installation was probably the most profound in my life because it has influenced, uh, the direction that I’ve taken since that time.



And uh to share a little bit of the background on that organization, it’s important to know where they came from, uh, to know where I come from with them.  Uh, at that time, um, I quickly learned that this was a unique organization.  It was the only uh, black organization in all the military services at that time, uh, that were engaged in actual uh, military um, aviation.



Flying airplanes, uh, and everything that goes with that.  The entire operation, the entire support functions, ground support, uh, operation support, everything.  It was like a black city, uh.  It had all of its own resources and all of its own uh, specialists who performed all of their activities, uh.  It was, in my brief experience in the military at that time,



that was the organization that had all black officers.  Now, we didn’t have a single white officer uh, at that installation. I think perhaps there was an occasional TUI person there, but not assigned.  Um, what some of those guys when through, uh, they shared with me uh, but in a very positive way, uh.  They uh, the experiences that they had, the frustrations that they had uh,



being uh, trained um, to maintain the airplanes uh, and then to fly them.  And then the other, uh, for the fighter pilots, that was the first group that began, uh.  The Tuskegee Airmen started off as a, as one uh, as one squadron, the 99th Pursuit Squadron which later on became a fighter squadron, uh.  It was the first uh,



Black organization, flying organization to go overseas.  That was a real, they faced real challenges, uh, just accomplishing that.  This was an organization that wanted to get into the fight, uh.  They were skilled, qualified.  They had met, uh, all of the uh, all of the demands and requirements uh, to be engaged in combat.  And they wanted to go and contribute their performance to that.



Uh, it started off, I think there were five graduates uh, in the first class.  And uh, it was headed, at that time, by Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., Captain, West Point graduate.  A guy that spent four years at West Point, his complete tour there, uh, receiving the silent treatment without anyone speaking to him outside of uh, official duties,



a guy who had to go and ask permission as a cadet, uh, if he could have a meal at the table uh, of other cadets and would have to get permission to sit down. And often as I understand the story was not given permission until the meal was over.  And then it was back into the drill and so on.  So, some of the kind of harassment, the kind of ugly, unnecessary



uh, experiences that this guy had there, uh, was the kind, created the kind of discipline in him that, as he became uh, the first commander of this all-black squadron, uh, as a Captain, and eventually uh, his promotions came quite rapidly, uh, to catch up with his classmates from West Point.  He graduated, uh,



in the top numbers in uh, at West Point in his class despite uh, all of the difficulties that he had there.

I:          Was he the first black soldier at West Point?
V:        No.  He was not the first.  There were uh, I can’t give you the names right off.  But there were several.  His father uh, was the first black general



uh, in the Army.  And uh, but that did not ease his path at all, uh, at the Academy.  Anyway, when he came out of that, uh, that kind of discipline that he had to develop, the kind of self-discipline that he had, uh, to move through that experience, uh, made him the kind of commanding officer uh, to take over this first black flying organization,



to get his training along with four other guys who graduated from that, I think there were more than that. I don’t have the numbers at my fingertips.  So, um, anyway, uh, going into taking this organization overseas into combat, and at first the numbers of uh, cadets who washed out uh, at Tuskegee were uh,



where this training was uh, was established. It was the only training station uh, for black pilots at the time.  Uh, subsequently a few years later, uh, when we were given the opportunity to fly bombers, B25s, we received training from several other different locations at that time, different bases, uh, where we went for navigation training, um,



places for gunnery and bombardiers and all the crew places uh, the different kinds of armament, uh, training that was required.  And we had people to do that as well, um.  Unfortunately, what happened at different times, we didn’t have a home, for home base after returning from overseas, um.  We had people who were assigned at Selfridge Field in Michigan.



It was part of the organization, uh.  And then the reason for these uh, different uh, locations uh.  You had personnel at Walterboro, South Carolina, Godman Field, Kentucky, Selfridge Field in Michigan, and I think there may have been a couple of others until we all finally wound up with a paid base, a home base, uh, at Columbus, Ohio which was Lockbourne.

I:          Okay.



V:        And that’s when all the components from different places were pulled together, um.  Freeman Field, Indiana, there was a very famous incident there where the uh, the base commander, in order to prevent the blacks from using the Officers’ Club, uh, designated all the black officers as trainees and then established uh, the order that



trainees were not permitted to use the Officers’ Club.  Uh, that was like, sort of a mutiny.  What happened was 101 of these guys uh, decided that they would not uh, comply with that order.  They went into the Officers’ Club.  And they were threatened with a court martial if they did not uh, comply with that order.  Uh, the last guy, he was finally exonerated from



that.  And at great personal sacrifice to his career, both in and out of the service.  I received, I forget the word for it now, but um, President Clinton forgave his uh, his court martial.

I:          So, were the 101 actually court martialed?



V:        Not all of them, um.

I:          They’d been selected.
V:        Yeah.  But some uh, some as a result of that, though, many of them decided that okay, I will not remain uh, in the service, uh, because this is already on my record.  I’m not gonna go anywhere, uh.  Every opportunity I’ve had with a crew will be put down by this uh, court martial thing that was considered to be uh,



like a mutiny.  We still have at least one of those guys right here in Atlanta, in the Atlanta Chapter, um.  But the kind of discipline that we had to develop and my relationship uh, as I came along uh, and joined this organization, uh, at the time that I did, and with the experience and everything that was going on, uh,



in their environment, in their lives at that time, was a kind of a conditioning process.  And for those of us, the black troops that were brought into that organization, we were just sort of sucked into it.  And fortunately for us, for the most part, uh, these guys were uh, were smart enough and dedicated enough uh, so that they said now, uh, the training that they passed on to us is that you



better not fail at anything uh.  If you fail, we’re gonna take care of you.  And it’s gonna be worse [INAUDIBLE].  And uh, and I think we go the picture, uh.  But uh, it was that kind of commitment, that kind of uh, dedication and sacrifice, uh, that uh, that gave us the strength, I think, to prepare us to go and integrate this Air Force,



this Army Air Corps. Um, the kind of racism that um, that I personally encountered, and I know that other people encountered, uh, the same way, uh, was uh, mostly kind of humiliating experiences for the most part, at being abused, uh, mostly, well all entirely verbally of course.



In fact, there were some uh, some stereotyped stuff about uh, black guys being like Joe Lewis who was, in fact, uh, a role model in many ways because he was a champion.  And we had him to sort of respect and that kind of thing to look up to, uh.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, I think we had a reputation of uh, every black guy is a prize fighter.


And you don’t wanna engage them in physical combat.  But you screw them every other way that you can.  And there are thousands of ways to express that kind of racism, um.  Most prominently, it had to do with uh, promotions on any number of occasions, I did, and I experienced it with other people where we would actually train, uh, some white troops to come in,



and in a very short time, they would replace us, uh, with promotions at all.  So uh, that kind of humiliation uh, and not only the humiliation of it but the actual uh, loss of money uh, which was important in trying to maintain a family.  And after being uh, involved as long as some of us were,



you reach a point where um, you know, you have to, you’ve got to finish off the job.  And that could be anywhere from wherever you make that decision. And depending on what your circumstances were at that time, anywhere from say 10 years to, between 10 and 20 years.  And that was a time that you had to suck that stuff up.  And that’s a long time.  And it creates a, um,



some very, very powerful feelings I think, that kind of deprivation and that kind of uh, vicious, ugly, uh, ugly stuff.

I:          So, the Tuskegee Airmen organization really becomes your support group.

V:        We were our own support group, yeah.  And uh, as important as it was, uh, to go out, to move out and turn the entire military around, uh, and that’s happened



to a very large extent right now, uh.  As important as that was, uh, it was done at great sacrifice, at that great expense, uh, to many people.  And I feel abused by that myself to a certain extent.  But I think, uh, not enough to stop me from where I want to go.  My direction has changed.

I:          This organization, you are President of the Atlanta Chapter.

V:        Right, um hm.



I:          So, this is an ongoing organization?
V:        Yeah, established in 1972, uh, in Detroit, uh.  Some guys got together, uh.  Colon Young was one of our pilots at that time, uh, who got out of the service and um, developed a political career, uh.  It was under uh, under his watch, uh, as mayor at that time in Detroit,



where the organization started uh, not that Colon was the leader, or the spark plug for it.  There were many people who came together.  And in fact, uh, as in the case of, I think, with a lot of military organizations where there are friendships that go beyond, uh, beyond the active-duty part.  And together they make uh, contributions to their communities.



I:          Is it only veterans, or active service belong?
V:        No.  Membership in the Tuskegee Airmen has always been open uh.  Race, gender, uh, it’s open to anyone who um, agrees to work with the uh, directions and the goals and objectives of the organization which is uh, to a large extent, uh,



To uh, help young people, especially minority kids, uh, get through some of the barriers and meet some of the challenges that they have to meet that uh, that many of us have gone through, uh, and are no longer intimidated by.

I:          So, there are active servicemen part of the organization.

V:        Oh yeh.

I:          It’s ongoing.

V:        Yeah.
I:          How many members are in Atlanta?
V:        Atlanta at the moment, uh, has



uh, about 50 members.

I:          Okay.

V:        Uh, which is uh, a very low count uh, compared to other metropolitan areas of similar stature, uh.  We should probably have at least 200 members.

I:          Um hm.

V:        Uh, that will be my primary responsibility.

I:          How long have you been President?

V:        Uh, three months, just recent.

I:          Okay. I’m gonna take you back a little bit where, going back to 1968 when you left the Army.



V:        Okay.

I:          Okay.  Let’s talk about the rest of the sequence.

V:        Okay.  Well, you probably recall in 1968 was uh, was um, nearing the end of a very violent uh, racial uh, situation in the country uh.  At that particular time, I was in graduate school.



And uh, I think I was in, I was teaching some classes while I worked on my doctorate.  Uh,

I:          This was in Maryland?
V:        No, this is at Syracuse.

I:          Oh, at Syracuse, okay, sorry.

V:        And uh, typically on I think most campuses in the country, particularly large, predominately white campuses, uh, our numbers, I think there were two other black guys



In my um, graduate school, at the Maxwell school at that time.  And uh, um, I think we didn’t face kind of discrimination stuff uh, after getting in and being accepted and that.  We had the same challenges as anyone else I think, um.  But what was going on on the campus at that time was there were,



there were [LOST AUDIO till 1:17:45] we um, did not have uh, I think the black cycle [LOST AUDIO at 1:17:53 till 1:18:27] city uh,



actually, for the mayors and the uh, Human Rights Commission.  And so, I was sort of exposed to a lot of that.  In fact, my uh, my physical condition at that time, I think uh, I was going to school full time, and I was working full time.  And I was working with the police on one hand and the uh,



Several other organizations and also trying to keep the community uh, focused instead of, you know, the actual combat and burning the place down.  So, I didn’t get a lot of sleep.  And I didn’t get a lot of uh, taking care of myself, uh, at that time.  And as a result of that, uh, I wound up having a heart attack.

I:          Um. You were young at this point.



V:        I consider it now, I felt young.  I feel now I was young.  But at that time, I didn’t feel young.  I felt pretty old.

I:          You were 40.

V:        Yeah, somewhere about that.

I:          In ’69, you would have been 40 years old.

V:        Yeah.  That’s right.  Well uh,

I:          The good news is you survived.

V:        Yeah, I survived, uh.  Unfortunately, I had uh, I didn’t complete my dissertation.



Which was a real uh, it seemed like I’ve had two major blocks in my life uh.  I didn’t get a commission, uh, from the service, and I didn’t finish my doctoral.  Those are my two huge uh, disappointments in my career.  But it’s not over.  I might,

I:          Well, okay.  So, you convalesced.  You got better. Then what did you do?



V:        Well, uh, then uh, I was offered uh, another kind of a challenge, uh, to work for the government again.  And I took a job with the, as a training officer with the Civil Service Commission, uh.  After about a year, uh of teaching again kind of a normal continuation of my management and leadership studies



That I taught.

I:          Now, where was this?
V:        Uh, this was in Syracuse.  It started off in Syracuse.  And then uh, then it moved to New York.  Uh, I uh, I was offered an opportunity to work with the Carter Administration um, in Civil Service Reform Act, uh, Special Task Force again which I did in uh,



Nineteen sixty-seven,

I:          Seventy-seven.

V:        Yeah, ’77, yeah.
I:          Carter was President from ’76 to ’80.

V:        Right.  I didn’t

I:          That’s alright.

V:        Um, when I completed that, then I was given an assignment to teach at the Executive Seminar at King’s Point uh, in New York.
I:          Um hm.
V:        And uh, I did that for a while.  And then I was recruited by one of my students uh, to be the



Director of Training for the Defense Logistics Command Agency.  So, I did that.  And uh, I subsequently have a friend who uh, was at, uh, who did his mid-career training at Syracuse uh, as an O6, as a Colonel, uh.  At that time, he got his second star here at Fort McPherson.



And I had been out of touch with him for uh, for a while.  And anyway, I was offered a chance uh, to come down and work with him uh, on a special uh, kind of an efficiency review study that was going on, uh, that turned into another major uh, major project designing a new kind of uh, a military light infantry division, uh, which was um,



In fact, it’s been operational now in uh, not Viet Nam but uh,

I:          Iraq?
V:        Iraq, yeah.  Um, at the time, it was designed to uh, to do um, combat kinds of operations at Fort Drum and Alaska and other places.  But the concept was uh, the one that I worked on.  And uh,



that was with uh, Forcecom.  And uh, I had another offer from there after completing that assignment.  And I got some big awards and stuff for that.  And uh, I was offered a chance to uh, to work with an organization that John Lewis uh, had established.  And it was called, it wasn’t a Peace Corps.  It was, the Peace Corps was part of it at the time he did it.



But it was called Action, was the name of the organization.  And uh,

I:          He wasn’t in the government at this point.

V:        Uh,

I:          Was he a congressman?
V:        No.

I:          It was before

V:        You know, I’m not sure what John was doing at that time.  I think it was before, it was before he um, he went into Congress though.

I:          Okay.

V:        Um, I think he was doing something else.  In fact, uh, John had been the



First uh, director, national director for this agency, I think.  Um, in any case, uh, I think he was in some political jeopardy by the time I got there.  And uh, I think since it’s been converted over to another uh, another kind of operation.  But it had, it was an all-volunteer agency working with young children and with seniors and communities and



And so on.  It was directing volunteers.

I:          And where was this?
V:        Southeast uh, Southeast region.  The headquarters was here in Atlanta.

I:          Is that how you wound up coming to Atlanta?
V:        Uh, no.  I came to Atlanta uh, to work with uh, with Mike Brown uh, on the Forces Command.

I:          Okay.

V:        And then uh, after completing that assignment, uh, Mike was shipped off to Germany again, and I worked for the Chief of Staff for a while.



And then we shipped out uh, to Europe.  And I decided okay, there’s nothing else for me to do here.  So, I took the other assignment.  And I retired from that.   That’s when I decided I’ve had enough.

I:          And you retired when?

V:        In uh, ’89 or ’90.

I:          Fourteen years ago.

V:        Yeah.

I:          Okay.

V:        It was about that, yeah.

I:          I know you have two children.

V:        Yeah.

I:          Their names are



V:        Alicia and Portia.

I:          And they have children, grandchildren?
V:        Uh, Alicia has two boys, uh, Sam and Zack, uh, who are teenagers.  Sam is 17 and uh, a fairly brilliant kid like his mom but who decided that he’s not interested in higher education, at least not at this time.  Uh, his younger brother uh,



Zach uh, who is very much like Alicia’s younger sister, uh, Portia, uh, who sort of decided that he does want an education.  And uh, he’s preparing uh, his goal is Yale.  And he’s in his uh, sophomore year in high school now.  He’s an A student and an athlete and a scholar and so on.



I:          Do they all live in Atlanta?
V:        Oh no.  They live in uh, Brighton.
I:          Brighton.

V:        In Massachusetts right off from Boston.

I:          Val, is there anything else you want to add?
V:        Well, I have a granddaughter who’s four years old who’s taken over the family, uh.  This is Portia’s daughter, uh.  And they’re in Rochester, back in New York.

I:          Okay.

V:        Since, one last thing.

I:          Please.



V:        Since I was divorced and married again and I have a wife here, Victoria, uh.  And I’ll say 12 years to be on the safe side in case she’s watching this.

I:          Okay.  Val, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you.  Thank you very much.

V:        Thank you.