Oral History Project - Vietnam

Roberts Memorial Library, on what was then Middle Georgia College in Cochran, began a Vietnam Veterans Oral History Project in conjunction with the College’s Big Read Program in the spring of 2012. This Big Read initiative encouraged the campus residents and surrounding community to read Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, the story of an Army platoon in Vietnam.

The goal of the oral history project was to provide a means for the local Vietnam War veterans to tell their stories. To that end, an advertisement was placed in several local newspapers asking Vietnam veterans to participate in the project.

Sixteen veterans volunteered and have been interviewed. Robert’s Library will continue to work on this project as long as a veteran wants to talk about his or her experience. The interviews have been recorded and transcribed, and both versions of the interviews are available to the public via the Library’s homepage by clicking on the Archives link.

These interviews provide insight into the Vietnam soldier’s daily life, which was in turn boring, frightening, humorous, and heartbreaking. In addition to describing their experiences in Vietnam, many of the veterans brought pictures and memorabilia with them. These items were scanned so that the Library would have a copy, and in some instances, the items were donated to the Library. The veteran’s stories, with accompanying pictures and memorabilia, will be archived in the Special Collections room at Roberts Memorial Library in order to preserve them for future generations.

The interviews were conducted by librarian Paul Robards. The project was executed and interviews transcribed by librarian Judy Ellis.

Any Vietnam veteran from the state of Georgia is welcome to participate in this project. For more information, call 478.934.3149.

Interviews with Vietnam Veterans of Middle Georgia

Click a veteran's picture to listen to their interview or view the YouTube Playlist.

Russell Davidson

Russell Davidson

U.S. Navy

"The Vietnamese people...didn't care what was causing [the war]. They just wanted to live and wished it would go away." Full Transcript

Silhouette of a soldier.

Julian Alexander

U.S. Army

"I don't think my understanding of [politics and diplomacy] affected [how I did] my job as much as the fact that I wanted to survive...." Full Transcript

John Blanks

John Blanks Jr.

U.S. Army Infantry

"I ate an awful lot of stuff in Vietnam, but I draw the line at eating chicken heads." Full Transcript

G.W. Crabb

G.W. Crabb

U.S. Army

"I think I went over with a pretty level head and, for the most part, came back with a level head." Full Transcript

James Horne

James Horne

U.S. Army

"That night we killed a bunch of them [North Vietnamese soldiers] and one of them... had a piece of paper sticking out of his belt. I reached down and pulled it out. It was his wife and child. So, I realized they were just like we were." Full Transcript

Pete Booth

Pete Booth

U.S. Army

"The media ran around with their pants on fire talking about how we failed and got beat in Vietnam, but we didn't fail, and we didn't get beat. Congress beat us." Full Transcript

Greg Rivers

Greg Rivers

U.S. Army

"...There was metal flying everywhere. All of a sudden we started hearing all types of praying in several different languages: Spanish, Guam, and English." Full Transcript

Vivian Yeisley

Vivian Yeisley

U.S. Army

"The biggest thing I can remember about flying in a helicopter is watching the bullets come at you. They looked like little green balls." Full Transcript

Jimmie L. Reeze, Jr.

Jimmie L. Reeze, Jr

U.S. Army

"Can you think about going 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year with your heart racing like that? Just racing, around the clock for a whole year?" Full Transcript

Mike Chaloult

Mike Chaloult

U.S. Air Force

"I was told that when we got back to California that we should change into civilian clothes before we went down to the San Francisco Airport, because if we were there in uniform, we would be subject to harassment." Full Transcript

Benjamin Spivey

Benjamin Spivey

U.S. Army

"I was having to leave at a critical stage in my children's lives. That is one of the reasons I did not volunteer, but since I had accepted the commission and the obligation, when they said "go," I went. And we adjusted accordingly." Full Transcript

Dwight Gatlin

Dwight Gatlin

U.S. Army

"Just imagine MASH and put radar guys instead of medical guys. That's how we were. We ran that radar at night." Full Transcript

Navy Cross

John Roland

U.S. Navy

Full Transcript

Art Howard

Arthur Howard

U.S. Air Force

"I was really fortunate; more [so] than many people who went through [the war], and the prisoners of war." Full Transcript

Ted Robinson

Ted Robinson

Marine Corp Reserve

"I was just stunned at having seen beauty and water and sea, and then have somebody get his leg blown off. I think it was a moment when I probably aged about ten years in one minute." - Full Transcript

Bill Logan

William Logan

U.S. Air Force

“It was surreal; sometimes you’d be going along on this beautiful sunshiny day, and you’d talk to this guy on the radio, and he’d tell you where to go and then he’d say, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1 drop,” and you’d do that [drop the bomb], and then start a turn. He’d say, ‘Thank you very much. See you tomorrow or the next day.’ Strange.” - Full Transcript

Martin Avsec

Martin Avsec

U.S. Air Force

Music that reminds Mr. Avsec of his Vietnam experience: “We Gotta Get Out of This Place—If It’s The Last Thing We Ever Do.” - Full Transcript