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tv   Oral Histories Susan Rothmann West Point Interview  CSPAN  March 18, 2018 8:57pm-9:58pm EDT

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knowledge, there were no cookbooks in his library either. , martha washington had a manuscript cook book her collections. she had a great manuscript cookbook that had come down from her family. i do not know anything about the liquor books. [laughter] washingtonioned that did recommend some books to some of his junior officers. i am curious if you could tell us which books he recommended or recommended in other letters he may have written. oh, i do not remember any of them. oh, i do not remember any of them. i mean, i suppose i could say -- just read my book and find out. [laughter] , i cannot recall the titles offhand. >> and my question is similar, what books were in that travel library that you mentioned a few minutes ago? dr. hayes: i think they were all
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of his military manuals. now, at the end of the war, he wrote back to mount vernon to his cousin who was managing the mount vernon estate and asked him to make a list of books that he had at mount vernon. he was lying a lot of other books after the war and he did not want to duplicate any titles. so the cousin sent back a list and there were no military books on that. ofknow he had dozens military books and they were all with him after the war. if you look -- i mean, there are a couple of surviving inventories from his library and you can see all of the military manuals that were part of it. it was mainly about practical -- it was mainly a practical soldier's library. there were not many novels or pleasure reading he was doing at that time. >> i am going to throw in that
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we are actually -- on the library's website, we will have a feature on the military books that washington recommended in that letter. the shirt to check the website in the months to come. any more questions? will be available out back to assign the book. so i think, one final round of applause for our speaker. [applause] >> you're watching american history tv all weekend, every 3.kend on c-span
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to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history. >> next, susan rothmann talks about her experience as an army spouse dealing with antiwar sentiment while her husband fought in vietnam. leading the fort campbell readiness group and taking care of families during the 1985 gender tragedy where 248 american soldiers, most of them from the same division, died at a plane crash at gander, newfoundland. this is run by the west point history. it runs about an hour. is the afternoon, this 24th of february 2016, i am here ith the west point center for oral history with mrs. susan rothmann. how are you? susan: fine, thank you. >> would you please spy your
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-- please spell your last name last name.your susan: rothmann. susan. >> thanks very much. tell mail a bit about yourself, where you were born, where you grew up and what your life was like when you were a child. susan: i was born in the state of new jersey, grew up in new jersey. part of the time down at the part of the time down at the jersey shore and then monitor clarify, new jersey, is where i school. high >> what did your folks do when you are growing up? susan: my father was a for pringle beer. my mother, during world war ii, legal secretary in new york city. but once she started having children, she was a stay-at-home mom. >> how did you meet your husband? susan: i met harry on a blind
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date a mutual friend who was harry's o one of classmates. >> did you start dating when he was still at the debt? -- still a cadet? susan: yes. >> what was that like? susan: i didn't really know much about the military. my father was in world war ii but i was born after the war. so it was a unique experience because i had never been to west point. it was beautiful. the cadets in their uniforms -- everybody who i met, a lot of harry's friends were already engaged or dating for a while. we did not meet until his first year. september of his first year. so a lot of them had been dating for two or three years, but they were all very friendly and welcoming. it was a unique experience.
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we got married at west point too in the catholic chapel. >> so when you are dating him, did you come up for football games? susan: yes. >> did you get to see him play? susan: yes. >> how was that? susan: that was fun. i first met harry talking about, i met him down at the field by the water. ok, he paid 150-pound football, and my friend was with me. i met harry while he was practicing. she is pointing to all these guys and going, there he is. i was saying, they all look the same. when i met harry, he came up, took off his helmet, there he was with the black underneath his eyes, all sweaty and everything. that is when i saw him. what did you think? i thought, ok. he told me later all the guys
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were saying, harry, she is a dog. want to date her, just time. giving him a hard but obviously i stayed the whole weekend, and from there we were together until we got married. >> do they play baseball in the strengthen? susan: yes, but harry did not baseball in his first year. for all of the dancing? susan: no. >> ok and when you got married in the catholic church, how was that? susan: it was beautiful. the chapel is small. it was wonderful because all his relatives lived -- harry is from white plains, new york. maybe new jersey, nobody had to travel far away.
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so that made it really nice. >> you remember who officiated? no, i do not. >> i ask because we interviewed senior mccormick and he would have been there at that time. after your graduation and wedding -- when was your wedding? susan: june 10, 1967. >> your first assignment was germany? susan: no. we went to fort benning, georgia, for our first harry went here through iobc, ranger, and airborne school. you live on post or were you off post? i lived off post and a lot of the wives left when to ranger nds went school. i stayed because i worked at the local hospital and some of the other wives did too, and i moved in with a classmate's wife. we got an apartment together.
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she substitute taught, so i just stayed there while harry was rapinger school. when he came back, we did the airborne training. >> what did you think of fort benning? susan: very hot, ok, very humid. lots of cockroaches. [laughter] susan: not used to that, coming from where i came from. so the post itself was fine, but you got to remember that was basically my first post ever. so that was an experience. in those days when you went to the commissary, you could not wear shorts. you could not wear pants. you had to have a dress on or a skirt. >> wow. that is a little unusual. susan: that was back in 1967. it was still sort of, i don't
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know, formal, still sort of old-school a little bit. so that was hard to get used to when it was so hot. >> and what are some of your other recollections of fort benning? susan: i mean, since we lived off post, and when harry was away in ranger school, you know, i worked. you know, columbus, georgia was fine, ok. it was fine. i have no complaint. >> when he was going through airborne school, did you get a to go out and watch the tower week and that sort of thing? susan: not that i can remember. >> ok. susan: i was still working then, but not that i remember. >> and then germany came after that, right? susan: yes. >> what was it like packing up to go to germany and what were you thinking to go so far away?
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susan: we did not have a lot to pack because we got married in june, so mostly it was just our wedding gifts. we had no furniture or anything. when we got there, i mean, i had never been out of the united states, ok. so that going to europe was like a big deal. thing was i had never ever left my family, i mean, so it when i first got there, that was hard. i was a little homesick but the only thing was, is we had quite a few of harry's classmates that were stationed with us there. and we got together a lot. but as one thing being an army wife is the camaraderie of the other wives. you become like a family because everybody like you is away from home.
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and harry was gone a lot. we did a lot together but not traveling or things, just getting together and doing things because basically we did not have enough money to go traveling. >> what was it like interacting with the german citizens? susan: we didn't interact a lot with the german citizens. we would walk downtown sometimes, and you know, they would say hi and they would be friendly, but i didn't speak any german. i had my little german dictionary book. but they were friendly. you know, they would come to you and say oh, american, american, you know. they were fine but i really didn't interact a lot with the german people. >> and so you said you didn't really have enough money to travel. who stands out in your mind at
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some of the best friends from that time? susan: pam and george stiles who were there. classmate of harry's, who i knew before we went over there. they got married the day before we did, and harry was in their wedding and then george was in our wedding the next day. jack and eileen kelly, ok. we became very close friends with them. barbara, joe and barbara terry. that is all i can really think of that you know, that i would see all the time. >> when you were over there, did the battalion have any formal events or anything like that, battalion balls? susan: yes. >> and what was that like?
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susan: very formal, like i said. back in those days we got there at the end of december 1967. it was 1968. when you went to a formal, you were in your formal gown, but back in those days you wore the long formal gloves. >> wow. susan: those were expected, wearing the long gloves. if the wives, officers' wives had a luncheon, usually once a month, you had to wear short gloves and a hat which was required. my friend eileen kelly and i to save money, we went out and shopped. we bought a brown hat and a black hat, brown gloves and black gloves, and we would interchange every month. one month i wear brown, one month she would wear black because neither one of us were goff fans or hat fans, ok.
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that is what we did. >> your first child was born in germany, correct? susan: yes. october 1968. >> what was that experience like giving birth in a german hospital i assume or was it -- susan: at that time all of us who were stationed, it was the wiesbaden hospital that we had our babies. that was a heck of an experience because my baby was almost a month late. back in those days they didn't do the ultrasound, or after a week or two, induce you. and harry was supposed to have been on maneuvers. after about 10 days, they back ou need to come out, out to the field.
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so harry went back out into the field, but they told harry that when your wife goes into labor, she knows who to call. we would get the hospital and get you there at the hospital. well, when i went into labor, ok, and friends took me to the hospital, and my son scott was born at 10:00 a.m., and harry got there at noon. >> wow. susan: so i had my first baby all by myself. >> in a foreign country. susan: in a foreign country, in a hospital, yeah, with nobody there. >> was your friend able to stay with you? susan: no, no. back in those days, nobody was allowed, even the husbands back then. ok, they could have been in the labor room but not the delivery room. very strict rules. and usually back then, you
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didn't have a private room. when you went into labor, it was like rowhouses. there could be for five or six of us all in labor. >> wow. susan: that is a little bit different, isn't it? >> definitely. you all return from germany? susan: we returned in february of 1969. scott was four months old. >> that must have been something traveling. susan: he was a good baby, not bad coming back to the states with him at all actually. he was really good on the airplane and everything. >> when you returned from germany, you knew your husband was going to be deployed to vietnam. where did you live? susan: i went back to montclair, new jersey. my mother started to look for an apartment for me you know, in
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our hometown. every place she went, as soon as they find out i would be living there with the baby, they said no, they didn't want a single woman and a baby living in the apartment. and my mother would say to him, but my husband in the military is going over to vietnam. she is not single. she is married with the child, and they wouldn't give her the apartment. my mother was very outraged. so finally my mother found -- my mother was working, and a lady found out that my mom was looking for an apartment, and a three-family home. the first floor was a family, second floor and the third floor and the third floor was available. my mother went, saw it, and that is where i lived on the third floor apartment about less than three miles from my mom and my
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sister. so you know, yeah. >> wow. so you did not go back to benning with your husband when he went back for his refresher course? susan: that two weeks that he went, no. most wives didn't. >> did you get a chance to see him after he was done? susan: yes, he came back home. he came back home and by that time i got the apartment, ok, come usehold goods hadn't back from germany yet. that usually took eight to 10 weeks but being around family, everybody between harry's family in new york, my family in jersey, we got all the stuff that was out of their basements or attics ok for furniture. so that part it worked out well. >> ok.
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so when you came home, you had to live in montclair because of the army policy. tell me about what that army policy was. susan: i can't really answer directly what the army policy is, but most wives went home to or their lies they d's families while were gone for that year in nam. but i have to tell you though, people, it was an awful time because they called all of the in vietnam baby this or that. i could be walking in my hometown, you know, and people would say, oh, people that i knew. and they would know that harry was in vietnam. how do you feel? don't you feel like he has deserted you?
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why did he go there? i could never understand that. i would look at these people and think, my husband is over fighting in vietnam, and you have a great time here. that we are fine and safe in the united states. >> oh. must have been difficult to deal with. susan: it was, it was. >> so what was your support then, your family and friends? parents only s lived 50 minutes away. so i had my family right there i monitor clarify and then went every weekend basically up valhalla, which is right outside of white plains and pent the weekend with my in-laws because dad wasn't
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working on the weekends. this was the first grandchild on both sides. and so then i would go up on friday and come back on monday. so i had a lot of family, but also i got together with some of the wives. pam dials who i mentioned lived area.n the philadelphia eileen kelly lived down in washington, d.c. -- they would come up to visit me or i would down to visit them. you didn't have cell phones, so you didn't talk a lot on the phone because it cost money. long-distance phone calls cost money and they were not cheap. >> so you had people you could rely on and people you could communicate to stay in touch with folks. what was your daily routine like? did you work? no, i didn't work. since i had the baby i did not work. i stayed home. i had worked on to we left for
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germany, but then i did not work when you came back. he was only four months old. he was a baby. i was a stay-at-home mom that year, just taking care of my child, ok, being close to my family. >> now, did you hear from your husband regularly when he was overseas? susan: harry would write letters when he could especially being in the infantry, out in the field a lot. but if i did get letters, sometimes i would get three, four, five letters at a time. sometimes i didn't get a letter for 10 days or 12 days. it depended when they came out to harry to get the letters. or sometimes i would get a letter once a week. i wrote harry every single day he was in vietnam.
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every time i put the baby down at night, i would -- i did not have a whole lot to say but i would write a letter every day when he was gone. >> that is outstanding. do you still have those letters? not save rry could those letters from where he was being out in the field, but i still have all of his vietnam.from >> that is wonderful. did he ever call? susan: i think harry called once or twice on that. once or twice and it was really hard. it was hard. >> now, did you follow the news with the war? susan: yes. >> and how was that? susan: i mean, everybody was against the war in vietnam including the news. you know, i would watch it, and
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you know, they would show the things. it would scare you, and for a while i wouldn't watch it because it just wasn't worth it. >> ok. and did you hear of any casualties overseas? did any of your friends suffer? susan: the worst one was jack classmate of harry's. when they came back from germany, they came and stood with me for about 2.5 days in my apartment. and their daughter colleen is our goddaughter. and she was a baby. and then they went and they got
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their car where the cars came in. they went down to d.c., and that is where eileen lived. but six weeks after jack got there, he was killed in action, and harry had already been over there since april. when eileen called and told me, my mother took care of scott for a week, and i drove down to d.c. to be with eileen to make the funeral arrangements. it was buried at arlington cemetery. that was a bad time. >> how was she notified? do you know? susan: i really can't say. i don't know. jack's father was a three-star general stationed at the naval war college at the time. i don't know if general kelly heard first and told eye leap, i
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can't remember. i don't remember. >> it is good you were able to go to dc and be with her than. susan: yes. >> it must've been a stressful drive down there for you. susan: the whole week was stressful. making the arrangements, you have to wait for the body to come back. it was stressful because she was getting letters from jack. like i said, letters are still coming in because jack is in the infantry too. so we were getting letters that week from jack you know when he -- that was really hard. it was hard for me because harry was there. then it hits you like, oh my goodness. even though other classmates had been killed, this one was the closest. ok, because we were very close friends. >> that must've been a terrible
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thing to deal with. good you could be there for eileen. susan: yes. >> when did your husband vietnam?om susan: he returned in april of 1970. >> now, did he go on leave while he was in vietnam? susan: yes, he did r and r. he left in april, i went over in october. he was there almost seven months when i went over, and we decided i would not take scott with me. scott was just turned a year old. my in-laws took scott for the five or six days that i was gone. >> ok, and where did you go? susan: we went to hawaii, and actually harry was actually only really there like three nights
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and four days. it wasn't long. like when i got there, i got there the night before harry. you went -- i don't where all center, ok, the military wives whose husbands were going to be there know, ose few days, you they status down like in a hall. when they told us the buses came, there could have been two or three buses. and then you wait for your husband to come out or boyfriend. and you get to hug for a second, and then of course you have to go back inside in the hall, and they give you a briefing. >> sounds like the army system. susan: a briefing. you are sitting there like holding hands. you haven't seen each other in seven months, and you have to listen to this briefing. so we had the briefing, then
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from there we went back to our hotel. >> and how did he look when you first saw him? did he look the same? susan: no, harry had lost -- he was very thin, very thin. looked very haggard. you know, and the one thing i did notice those few days was if he heard any kind of loud noise, he would jump a little bit. that was understandable from being in the infantry. >> do you remember some of the while he was on leave? susan: we enjoyed the beach, we did some sightseeing. i had never been to hawaii. harry had been there as a cadet. places to go the to. i had never been there. new some of ice he
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the places to go to. mostlyid sightseeing and stayed at the beach. e both loved the beach and getting good food. [laughter] especially for my husband. >> sure, try to fatten him up a little bit before he went back. so when he went back, he only had five more months? susan: yes. october, november, december, march.y, february, yeah, he came back i think it was like the first week in april. >> what was it like when he came home? what did he come home to? susan: he flew into i think kennedy airport, and we all went. a lot of family members went. you have to remember he hadn't seen his son in a year. left, his son was six months old. hen he came home, his son was
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now 18 months old. >> so now walking. learning to talk. susan: a little bit. so it was hard. that was hard because scott wouldn't go near him. even though i had a picture of know, i would talk about -- he is only 18 months, but i would talk about daddy and we would kiss and 's picture every night everything. that was different than seeing daddy in person. she just looked at harry like, who the heck are you? [laughter] susan: it was, you know, it took remember.can't even it took him a little while to somebodyto him, having else around. it was just mommy and him. our apartment for a year together. >> now was there a readjustment >> was there a readjustment
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period? when soldiers return from overseas, there is intensive reintegration. was there a readjustment period? >> they did not have that kind of stuff back then. we stayed home. harry had a 30 day leave. we stayed for a couple weeks with family and we were going. after that, we drove down to fort benning. and found some place to live before harry started working again. they did not have that kind of readjustment. harry came back and had to readjust himself, trying to get back to a normal life again. >> you noticed he would jump at certain sounds. how was it when he came back to vietnam?
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>> he was a little jumpy. he would have nightmares. did not talk a lot about it. he would have nightmares. i would wake him up. >> how is the advanced course? how is it being back in benning? had it changed any? >> it really hadn't changed that much. we got to live in a nicer apartment than the first time. before harry started the advanced course, he became a ranger instructor. i remember what it was like for two months, three months. he was a ranger instructor before the advanced course started. he would be five or six days as a ranger instructor away and then come home five or six days
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and go back. we did that for the first 23 -- two or three months. >> after the advanced course, is this about the time when he was picked up for graduate school? >> no. we went up to fort lewis washington. >> how was for lewis? >> i loved it. our second son was born. >> that was a different experience than in germany? >> harry, then they will let the husbands come in to labor -- in the labor room. not the delivery room, but the labor room. so you took classes that teach us how to breathe. harry went to all of those classes. my second son was born within two hours after he went into labor, so the time we got to the
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hospital, they rest me right up to the delivery room. all those classes harry had taken to be in the labor room did not work because i went to -- directly to the delivery room. at least he was there when i was in the recovery, harry came in and he was there but he did not get to do everything he had learned. >> what was it like living in fort lewis? >> fort lewis was a -- we had small quarters but that was ok. everybody, like you said -- washington state. how far away can i go from home? everybody was friendly. the one thing about military, it is a camaraderie.
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that's your family. most of us are away from our family so you do things together . you do things together on the holidays if people did not have their families come out. harry and i both, parents did not have enough money to fly out. it wasn't like our family had a lot of money, so we spent holidays with friends and your children and helped take care of each other's children. i loved it there. washington state was gorgeous. the pacific northwest is a gorgeous place. >> this is still the time when the vietnam war is going on. what were the social or political atmosphere? >> the war ended in 72? 73? >> 75. >> ok.
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most of the people that we were with had already had their tors -- tours in vietnam. what was different was harry was a captain and he had a company, but anybody could join the army then. that was a lot different. >> how so? >> i do not know how to explain that. >> this was a time when the army was trying to fill ranks. it was hard to recruit at this time, right? we're not at the volunteer army yet, or are we? we are just beginning to get to the volunteer army? >> yeah. harry had to deal with a lot of
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things. getting calls in the middle of the night. >> after his command time, that is when you went to grad school, right? what was it like? >> that was, beautiful campus. we just have the two boys. we lived about 10 miles outside, sort of like out in the farm country and they built these townhomes out there and it was all families that were going to law school or residencies for doctors. there was 10 or 12 families who had small children. it was nice. we had a few classmates that were going to unc or some are going to duke, see you would get together.
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it was a more relaxing time. harry studied a lot. he would stay at school all day because having two small boys, you cannot study at home. then he would come home and i would make dinner. once we got them to bed, harry would be in their studying. it was a nice two years. knowing we were coming back to west point to teach was wonderful for him and i because we were coming back home. we had never been close to home in those years, so that we were looking forward to. to be back with family. >> was there any, how did your neighbors, you are a military family this was the mid-70's. no issues at all? >> none at all. >> what was west point like?
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coming back each year in the history department? >> that was wonderful because we had so many classmates teaching in all different departments. close friends. , thisoint to harry and i is where we met. this is where we got married. this is home to us. it was wonderful to be back in the atmosphere and going to football games and i do not know if they do it today, but you sat with your class of 67. i do not even know if they do that today. that was fun. just being back with all your old friends you might not have seen. my two boys, even though they were four and seven when we came here, and we were here for three years, they remember living here and we looked up at stony lonesome and they loved it.
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went to elementary school here and our third son was born here in 1977. he was born at west point. >> it is a great family post. >> great family post. >> after west point, you ended up at the pentagon. how was it different between west and the pentagon? >> i had gone back to work after my boys got to a certain age, i went back to work full-time. i always worked and doctors offices, so we lived in alexandria, virginia.
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we had friends were stationed at the pentagon but it is different because everybody lives in all different places. it is not like you are on a military post and by that time, most wives are working. kids are older so you are more and the children's activities. we had military functions to go to, but it was not like when you were on post. it was like, he went to work, i went to work, we came home. >> you lift your lives. >> we still had friends. we would get together with military friends, but it was different than living on a post. >> your next assignment after that was fort campbell. about 1985, you arrived. his first job was on staff. what you think? >> i liked it.
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we had really nice quarters. we have the three boys, that they could actually have -- it was the first time, we have the three boys they could actually have their own rooms. that was a big deal for them. in the rules back when we had only two boys, you were only our -- allowed to bedroom quarters. -- two bedroom quarters. it was like an individual house. that was nice. we knew people that had been stationed there but we met a lot of other people and we had a son in high school at fort campbell high, a son in middle school, and a son in elementary school. all different levels. you got to meet a lot more
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people because you had children and all the schools. it was not a whole lot to do outside of fort campbell, but we used to go up to nashville and these to have opryland. the boys loved it there. hopkinsville. i loved hopkinsville. that was in the place. i liked it. >> unfortunately, there was a tragedy that happened not at fort campbell but a plane bringing multinational observers from the sinai crashed in gander, newfoundland and your husband was not in command yet, but this accelerated the process of command. tell me about the events surrounding that tragedy. >> oh boy. >> or your role in it. >> it was hard.
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when we first heard, i had a good friend who lived a couple blocks down the housing area. harry have gotten a call and told me there was a plane crash. he had to leave. i do not really know everything and a friend of mine called, and said i have wives out here in the courtyard whose husbands -- close they are all expecting everybody to come home? >> that's right. it was christmas time. she said they are yelling and screaming there was a plane wreck. they did not know whether their husbands were in it. i got a call from harry and he told me what happened. before i knew it, our brigade commander's wife came over and the general's wife, mrs. patrick came to my house.
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they set down and talking about telling us what we have to do. the only thing i remember was, we went to some of the wife's homes to see how they were and the one that stuck out to me the most was the chaplain's wife. we went to her home. i had never met her. she just could not believe it. we were talking and aussie kept saying, was, but i just talked to him. when they stopped at gander, they had all called. can't wait to see you in a couple hours. we will be home. that is all she kept saying. i just talked to him. he is not gone. that was hard.
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that is the one wife i really, really remember. it was a nightmare. it was a total nightmare. >> you are now the battalion manager's wife. you are having to deal with a family readiness group or family support group and trying to figure out how to deal with helping all of these families best you can. how did that go? >> it was hard, because your husband gets up -- battalion and it is supposed to be a happy experience having a ceremony that he is going to take over of it is supposed to be a big thing.
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it wasn't like that. i am trying to take care of widows, and you are trying to take care of new wives coming in , their husbands replacing the ones that passed away. you had some that were still part of the battalion who did make it home, so you had this conglomeration of all these different women. it was very hard. thank goodness we had the family support group. general patrick went up to washington to make sure these widows could stay in housing for six months because at that time it was not like it -- like that. you had to be out of housing within 30 days.
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thank goodness they let the families stay there for six months. so, we had the first six months, we had quite a few widows still there, and it was hard. it was very hard. >> i know the scale is completely different, but how did this experience compared with the experience with mrs. eileen kelly? back during the vietnam era when you are helping her deal with her loss? now you are helping other families deal with their loss? were there any similarities? >> it was totally different. with eileen and jack's passing, they were close friends. we always stayed close to eileen. this was different. this was like, i cannot even
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explain it. it -- there was so much sadness. it was just really hard. it was even harder on my husband. >> now you have two more years of being in battalion command and how did the battalion grow or change after this experience? >> it got a lot better. it was a great experience. i had some wonderful wives. the battalion -- being the battalion commander's wife was a whole different spectrum for me.
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i just married somebody who happened to be in the military --his rank group -- group grew, i get thinking i just i come this man, and so along for the ride, and all of a sudden, being a commander's wife was a different experience. i am not the type of person that likes to stand out in a crowd or having 10 or 12 or 15 women looking at you while i am talking. that was hard for me in the beginning. i tried to make it a relaxed atmosphere. i am just here doing a job, but it got better. we enjoyed -- it was just in the beginning. probably the first year was hard, but things settle down and it got better.
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>> after battalion command, you went to a naval war college. was that a different environment? >> newport, rhode island? we were up in the north again, again.loser to family newport is gorgeous. lived at fort adams, which was wonderful. it was navy wives, army wives, yeah. it was a lot of fun to two years we were there. i was working again. our oldest son was in college in new york and our middle son had his jr. and senior year of high school there. that was great.
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our little one was in sixth and seventh grade there. they had a teen center up at fort adams that our youngest one could go to and troy having his last two years of high school was great for him. it was great for him in this sense because, the kids who grew up in newport, were used to fort adams every year or two years of military children coming to their schools. they were friendly to the military kids. which made it easier for your children to adapt. the one thing i have to say is, i grew up in one state with all family around. my children were army brats and i give them all the credit in the world for these children to go traveling around with their parents and having to drag them everywhere.
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i think it is a great experience for them, but i give them credit for doing that. >> then come your final assignment was backed up to gone again. -- back to the pentagon again. >> our last six years. >> how was that? >> it was fine. when we first got there, it was the gulf war. harry's hours were unbelievable. >> he was planning the operations, wasn't he? >> yes. i was working. we only had one son at home, because troy had gone off to college.
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the hardest adjustment was for my youngest son. he was entering eighth grade and we lived in a civilian community in alexandria and they were not used to military kids. all these kids had gone through elementary school together, so he was like an outcast and probably the first two years of my son's, it was hard on him. he had no friends. he played soccer, was into sports, but nobody would invite him over. it was very hard. after that, it got better. i felt really bad. that is an awful age for children to begin with, and so was hardest on him. otherwise, i have always loved the d.c. area. it is a wonderful place to be stationed. >> as her husband was planning desert storm, what were all the other military spouses -- how did that affect your lives because of the long hours?
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>> i can't answer that because we do not have a lot of social events at the time. i did not even know a lot of the wives or even the men because they were so busy. we had friends stationed in d.c. that was one thing nice. we would see them, but again i was working full-time. we had children. it is different, totally different. >> what has it been like since your husband has been retired from the military? >> when he retired and 96 -- in 96, harry got a job in orlando, florida.
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we moved to orlando. and became civilians. >> was it a big adjustment? >> not particularly for me, but i think it was a big adjustment for harry. he had been in the military a long time. i think it was hard at first to be in retirement, but he worked at a place where there was a lot of military people. he finally adjusted. it took him longer. >> now you are back living in new york. you have come home. >> yes. >> what is it like being so close to west? >> we love it. one of the reasons we come back is our children are scattered.
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we have one that lives and works in boston. my youngest son lives in the d.c. area. works in d.c. and lives in maryland. and my oldest son lives in long island. coming back here, we can drive to see the children and grandchildren instead of having to fly and them flying down and if their families grew to fly down to us is expensive when you have 4, 5 people flying down. they enjoyed it at the time when the children were younger because we were 35 minutes from disney world. it was like coming back home. harry had the brother who still lives in new york.
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i have a sister who lives in jersey. my other sister who lives in boston is 15 minutes from my son so we feel like we're back home. it is a great place, and even though we are retired, we can use the facilities being close. i do like being back in new york. even the cold weather. everyone asks us why would you go from the warm weather to new york? but it has been fine. >> you kind of said what west means to you -- west print means -- west point means to you, but anything that i haven't said you would like to talk about? >> not really. west point is meaningful, as i told you

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