The Whole World Was Watching
an oral history of 1968

Lt. Col. William Babcock
Interviewed by Stephanie Wyss
March 17, 1998
At South Kingstown High School

Stephanie Wyss: Where and when were you born, and where did you grow up?

William Babcock: I was born on October seventh 1946, in, actually South County Hospital and I grew up in Narragansett.

SW: Could you please briefly describe your family and your neighborhood?

WB: I have one brother who is four years older and a sister who's a year older. I lived with my mother and father, and my grandmother, in Narragansett, right on South Pier Road. Kind of a small town.

SW: What were your parents' political views and affiliations, and did you get your views about politics from your family?

WB: Yeah, I guess my father always considered himself an Independent, but I think he was more of a Democrat than a Republican. My mother basically agreed with him, I guess I pretty much got my values from them.

SW: What did you think you wanted to do when you grew up'and did it ever change along the way?

WB: While I was growing up? Probably didn't. I think I always wanted to be in the Army. I wanted to be a soldier.

SW: Were you ever aware of discrimination against people in your family or in your neighborhood?

WB: No, not really, no.

SW: Where did you attend primary school?

WB: Narragansett, yeah.

SW: Did you ever feel there was a generation gap?

WB: I don't know. Not really, I guess, soemwhat in the sense that my paretns lived through the Depression and World War II and all that. And we really didn't have any of that pressure or anything to worry about growing up.

SW: Obviously you were in the army, but did you enlist or were you drafted?

WB: No, I took ROTC when I was in college, Reserve Officer Training Corps. So, basically I enlisted.

SW: So, you really knew what you wanted to do?

WB: Well, I thought I did.

SW: So, you didn't want to after?

WB: Well, after I was in active duty for two years, I got out of the Army and was out for fifteen years before I joined the National Guard. So, I guess it's really always what I wanted, but I kind of had a period there where I was not really happy with the first choice.

SW: Why weren't you happy with it?

WB: I guess basically because of my experiences in Vietnam with the Army, at the time.

SW: Did you have a lot of negative experiences?

WB: Yeah, I think I had a lot in Vietnam.

SW: Do you recall how it felt when you had to leave home to go to Vietnam?

WB: Yeah I guess I was, I was, probably pretty scared because of not knowing what was going to happen.

SW: How did your family react?

WB: I think that they were scared for me, and worried about me. I think my father felt kind of responsible because he was kind of my role model, you know he had been in the service and probably felt a little guilty, you know, when I went to Vietnam, that he thought because of him I molded myself kinda after him.

SW: Where did you serve?

WB: The whole time? I was at, I went to Officer Basic School in Fort Benning, Georgia for nine weeks. Then, I went to Fort Carson, Colorado, and I was there about four months. And then I went to Vietnam for a year, and when I got back I served about three months down in Fort Brading, North Carolina.

SW: Where in Vietnam were you located?

WB: I was in a place called the Central Highlands which is the mountains in Vietnam.

SW: How long where you there?

WB: I was there a year.

SW: What was the most difficult adjustment you had to make while you were there?

WB: Other than the natural things like the weather and that kind, I think it was being responsible for the people in my platoon, and baving to make those important decisions.

SW: Did you understand the purpose of the American military presence in Southeast Asia?

WB: I guess I thought I did, but we didn't really talk a lot of politics. Once you were there it was basically just kind of surviving to get home. And I guess I agreed initially with why we were there, and the purpose of being supposedly to defeat the communists and protect the South Vietnamese.

SW: Were you engaged in combat and if so, can you describe what it was like?

WB: Yeah, I was in combat. I spent probably eight and a half to nine months actually in the field, in the jungle, and probably maybe a couple of dozen times, I was in what you would consider combat. Which was mainly small fire fights, with snipers shooting at us. No big battles but, you know, enough to.

SW: Scare you?

WB: Yeah. I told people that if they asked me if I was scared, and I said I was scared all the time

and every once in a while I was terrified, so.

SW: Are there any situations that really stuck out in your mind, your experiences?

WB: Yeah, I guess there were the two worse things that ever happened, if that's what you mean? I don't know whether you saw the slide show? The time about the motar round, when wewere firing friendly fire and one of the rounds landed the wrong way and landed in the middle of my platoon and killed four people and wounded thirteen others, that was pretty devastating.

The other time was in Cambodia during a Cambodian invasion, when my Company Commander basically screwed up and walked into an ambush and was taken prisoner, and I became Company Commander for three days because I was the Senior Lieutenant. It took us three days to get into this complex where he had been captured and when we finally got in we found he and the other two men that were with him had been executed by the enemy. Probably during those three days was probably the most scariest times cause there were times when the first time we had been in contact, I was out with about six guys and I sent every one else back in and it got dark, and we really didn't know which way back in, so I was kind of stuck out there with them.

[Intercom interrupts ]

When the Company Commander walked into an ambush and I became the Company Commander, we had to attack this complex where he had ambusbed and it took us three days to get into the complex. And when we got there they had left and they left him and two other men that they had shot in the back of the head and executed. But during those three days, there was probably two or three times where I probably should have been killed. I found out later because of where I had been and that kind of thing. Different events that went on during that whole time that was probably the worst.

SW: Could you describe your relationship with your fellow soldiers?

WB: Yeah, well, I was the leader so I had to keep my distance as far as emotionally and that kind of thing because I had to order them to do things and a lot of times it was something you really didn't want to have them to do but you had to do it. I guess I was friends with the other lieutenants in the company, we got to be friends, but as far as the men that worked under me, you kind of had to keep your distance so you could stay in command.

SW: What kind of conflicts arose between people?

WB: Really just minor things, it really wasn't a big problem. There were other soldiers who had been in my platoon were in different units when wewent into Cambodia, a lot of black soldiers who, you know, refused to go. They tried to make a racial thing out of it and refused to go. They were court-martialed for refusing to go,that kind of thing.

SW: What was yourpersonal view ofthe War, and how did it change over time?

WB: I guess, after I got back after seeing a lot of the futility during the conflict, people dying for no apparent reason, people dying or getting hurt trying to make someone look good, I guess I really got turned off against the Army and everything. I actually joined the peace movement when I got back, after I got out of the Army.

SW: So, you were in rallies after you got back?

WB: Yeah, I marched in parades and that kind of thing, protested, when I was at URI then as a graduate student. So I did that.

SW Did you ever notice the problems at other rallies, what was happening to people?

WB: Yeah. I guess I did, but my protests were on a local level and we didn't see any problems.

SW: How were your living conditions in Vietnam?

WB: Basically pretty primitive. I lived in two ponchos put together to make a little tent, the whole time I was in the jungle. We had an air mattress to lay on and a little thing called a poncholayno, which is kinda like a blanket. You got hot during the dry season, and you were Wet all the time during the rainy season, so it's pretty uncomfortable. In the rainy season you get what they call jungle rot which was when your skin would start to peel off from being wet all the time. Pretty nasty.

SW Did you approve or disapprove of the military tactics that were being used during the War?

WB: I'd say I'd have to disapprove. A lot of the time they would use tactics from World War II which didn't work. They had us on missions where they would put the whole battalon, which is like five or six hundred guys, in a single line moving through thejungle, which is impossible to do `cause the jungle is so thick you had to use a machete to cut your way through. Then the enemy would get behind us and shoot at ts. It was just not a good way to fight.

SW:Not very organized?

WB: No, and other times we would just go out on patrol, about thirty guys, just walk around in the jungle and we would just wait for them to shoot at us. Then we would shoot back, wewere kind of like human bait.

SW: Did they ever change the way they did things, the tactics that they used?

WB: Every time you ended up with a new Battalion Commander, they had a new idea on how to win his part of the War. So it changed a lot, but it didn't seem to make too much of a difference.

SW: Can you describe your homecoming, what it felt like?

WB: Yeah, that was pretty, pretty emotional I guess. But I didn't let it get emotional. I came into the airport at Green Airport and my parents were waiting for me. I just kinda brushed by them and got my bags becse I knew if I stopped I would start to cry and that wasn't the thing you did then. But it was very emotional.

SW: Were you happy to he home, did you just want to come home to see your family?

WB: Oh yeah, I was really happy to be home.

SW: Were you aware of any kind of hostility towards people that were in the War?

WB: Yeah I think so. I never personally had anyone spit at me or anything, but I do know other soldiers that came who it happened to. They were called "Baby Killer" and that kind of thing. Personally I don't remember that happening to me. I know that when I came back from Vietnam, we flew into Sea-Tac in Seattle, at the comrnercial airport there and I had my jungle fatigues on that I wore right from Vietnam and I immediately went into the bathroom and changed into another uniform so people wouldn't know I had just come back from Vietnam' cause wehad heard a lot of stories like that.

SW: Are still in contact with people that you were in Vietnam with?

WB: No, not really.

SW: Looking back, how do you feel about your military service, and do you think that it affected the rest ofyour life?

WB: Well, I'm not ashamed of what I did in Vietnam, because I look at it on a personal level, and hope that I was able to keep people from being killed or hurt, people under my command. So, that's kind of the way I look at it, not in the sense that we won or lost a war. A friend of mine who was a Vietnam Veteran too, we got talking one day and he said "What's this about we lost the War?" He said, "Did you lose?" I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Well, did you lose?" I said, "No. I didn't lose the War." And he said, "Well, neither did I." So we didn't lose the War, if anyone lost the War it was the politicians, not the soldiers. That's the way I kinda feel, and I guess it has had an impact on me because ever since then, whever things got bad, I lost a job once, if

anything goes wrong I can look back at Vietnam and say nothing will ever be as bad as it was then, to put things in prospective.

In the National Guard when I first got in, each year people complain about little things going wrong and that kind of thing. One day I said, "Wait a minute." And he was complaining about something that I consider a minor thing, and I said, "Wait a minute, did anybody die?" He said, "What do you mean?" And I said, "Well, did anyone die from what you messed up?" And he said, "No." And I said, "Well, you can fix it then." So that's kind of my philosophy, ifyou screwed something up, but nobody died then you can fix it.

SW: It can't be as bad as Vietnam?

WB: Yeah, and there is nothing that you do wrong that you can't fix, unless somebody dies.

SW: Can you describe how it felt to be in a rally?

WB: I guess it was frustrating if anything because this was after I got back in 1970 and the War went on really for three more years for American troops, three to five more years for the South Vietnamese. So, it was kind of frustrating that noting was being done. You would listen to Nixon on television and when Nixon got elected, he said that he was going to end the War, he had a secret plan to end the War. It still just kept going on.

SW: Did the assassination ofMartin Luther King affect you?

WB: Yeah I guess it did, I think to some extent, just like the assassination of the Kennedy

brothers. They were great leaders, and it was kind of disheartening to see the turmoil and

evervthing it caused too.

SW: Did the announcement that Lyndon Johnson wouldn't be running affect you in any way or were you really not into politics at the time?

WB: Yeah, I guess it probably did at the time. I was probably surprised like a lot of people were.

SW: Were you for or against the election of Richard Nixon?

WB: I was against Nixon. I voted for McGovern. Actually, I was a Gene McCarthy supporter.

SW: How did you feel about the Space Program?

WB: I thought it was great, you know, very exciting and worthwhile.

SW: Overall, how would you say the Sixties effect you and the US in general?

WB: Boy, that's a tough one. I think it made a lot of people, because of Vietnam and the

politics of that era, made a lot of people skeptical of the government, and not really willing to believing everything they said, at face value. They wanted to get to know a little bit more about it instead ofjust taking their [the government's] word about it.

SW: What were the most important changes in the 1960's?

WB: I guess the sexual revolution was big in the Sixties although I was not a partaker. Unfortunately, I was busy at the time. That and I think just more awareness of the people and as I said before, people not trusting everything they were told.

SW: What were the most positive and negative changes, did you notice a lot of drug use?

WB: Yeah, there was a lot of drug use I guess. I guess, having seen some of that in Vietnam, that was some of the bad part of it I was never really into that culture, probably because I was in Vietnam. I think the way was brought up was fairly conservative, and I basically again did not want to get involved with that because it was against the law.

SW: Do you attribute any kind ofpolitical problems or strengths in the United States due to discussions that were made in the 1960's?

WB: I think the government now is a little more careful before they get involved in what is conceived as something like Vietnam. For a long time they called it the Vietnam Syndrome, where people were really afraid, I think the government was really afraid to get involved in certain things. I think that's sort of swinging back the other way now. It depends on what's involved, whether it is in the interest of the United States as a whole or not. A lot of things we get involved in are based on public opinions, like the famines in Somalia and places like that, and Ethiopia. The thing, the public is persuaded a lot by the news media. It then puts pressure on the government and sometimes weget involved in things which wewouldn't normally do based on national interest.

SW: How would you compare the presidencies of Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon?

WB: Kennedy wasn't there all that long, and I thought Kennedy had a lot of potential and did a lot of good things. Johnson, I think, was basically frustrated by the War in Vietnam that he inherited kind of influenced the way his presidency went. Nixon, I think, had some good points like opening up China but, again he had the legacy of the Vietnam War too, so I think that war impacted on a lot of presidents, from Eisenhower all the way up.

SW: Have you ever been to the Vietnam Memorial, what was the purpose of it and what was your response?

WB: Yeah, I've been there. I was there when they dedicated the Memorial and have been there about a dozen times since. Probably the first half a dozen times I was there, it was very emotional, and I wouldn't go there alone, I needed my wife or another vet to go with me. It's very emotional, I cried, just like a lot of veterans did. I think I can go there now, I've been there enough where it still impacts me but I can handle it better. After having looked up all my friends and all my men that died over there, found them on the wall, it's not the same as doing it the first time.

SW: Did you have any family members or people that you were friends with that were killed in the War?

WB: I didn't have any family members, but again, I had five people who served under me get killed, and plus a guy I went to college with was killed over there. Plus, other people I met while I was over there. There was probably a dozen or so or more people down on the wall there that I knew personally.

SW: How do you feel about young people like us still striving to answer questions about American involvement in theVietnam War and the whole decade of the 1960's?

WB: Well, I guess it is probably healthy for people to try to understand what went on. I think a lot of people who lived through the 60's are still trying to understand what went on. So, they say you learn from your past, that is important for them because, well, and for people of my generation. I think that's why you still hear about Vietnam, even thirty years after it has ended. I think there is still a lot of things that aren't resolved.

The other day there was something on about My Lai, the mnassacre at My Lai. That was thirty years ago yesterday, a lot of people can't understand why Americans would act that way. And I don't think that you will ever be able to explain that.

SW: Wait, what happened there?

WB: My Lai is when an American company went into a Vietnamese village that they thought was sympathetic to the communist, the Vietcong. They basically massacred them. I forget the number, I think it was five or six hundred people. Not just the men, even the women and children, little babies, they herded them into ditches and just killed them all. They just lost control, and the lieutenant, just like the job I did, who was in charge of them and was just letting them do that.

I can understand how people can be frustrated because they were going through a series of events where a lot of the people were getting shot and wounded, hurt by booby traps and they were getting frustrated that couldn't find the enemy, `cause you couldn't always find the enemy. I went through that too. I was never placed in the same situation where they had the opportunity to do something like that, fortunately, because it is difficult to imagine how you would control something like that, that got out of hand.

SW: What advice would you give to us?

WB: What advice would I give? I guess to not be too judgmental, on some of the negative stuff you hear, because I think it is difficult for anyone who wasn't there to fully comprehend and to put yourself in the place of the people that were there. And there is still a lot of people who still have problems with Vietnam and others who don't, but I think that it is just part of the American past that was just not part of our better dreams. I think the intentions were originally good, but then I think that welost site of why we were there.

SW: When the war finally ended, what were your feelings?

WB: I guess I felt kind of. kind of, not frustrated but sad. But, ugh, empty alittle because ofall the people that had died. You know 58,000. And they died and you kind wondered, what was the purpose, you know.

SW: Are you still concerned about the POW issue?

WB: Yeah, I have my POW bracelet on. I think, not that are any still alive, but I think that they could still account for more. I think they will eventually account for a lot of them, but there is some that they will never know about. I talked to a Navy officer down at the Memorial one day and he said that his brother was a POW or a MIA, Missing In Action, and he knows that they never find his body because he was a pilot and they know that the plane crashed into the sea, and they never recovered the plane or the body. But he is still listed as a Missing In Action, but it's not that someone got him in a prison camp over there. I think that there are other stories like that, but there are still people who we will probably never know what happened to them. I think that the Vietnamese probably know what happened to some of them, and eventually they will probably give out some more information.

SW: I was just wondering about the rallies (inaudible)?

WB: Well, it was and it wasn't, but mean I never went to Washington to one ofthose kinds of protests. It was mainly on the campus and that kind of thing, and I think I marched in a parade in Fall River once.

SW: Did you ever really want to go to Washington to do that?

WB: Well, I think that I was too busy with getting on with the rest of my life, at that time.

SW: What did you do with the rest ofyour life when you weren't in the Army?

WB: Actually, I got a masters degree in counseling, and was a college financial aid officer for about fifteen years. Then, I got back in the Guard after being out for fifteen years.

SW: What made you decide to go back into Army?

WB: I think I always missed it because that was something that I had always wanted to do. And the opportunity came up where I could work into it and I did it part time initially, and then I got a full time job and that's what I do now. I work full time for the National Guard. So I kinda missed the camaraderie, and I thought that I was pretty good at what I did. So, I just like doing it.

SW: Do you do a lot of the presentations like the one you did for our class?

WB: Yeah well I do it for a couple other high schools, but I started doing it for the University of Rhode Island, for a history teacher up there, I do it once a semester. I guess probably about fifteen years ago there were a lot of articles about Vietnam, I guess probably that was around the time the Vietnam Memorial went up, and I saw a news article in Newsweek, that a lot of colleges were having people come in to speak about Vietnam. So, I called up URI and got the history department and volunteered, and they called me, so I have been doing it ever since. For the history department up there.

SW: Do you enjoy doing it?

WB: Most people that came back from Vietnam, would run into their old friends and they'd stail to tell them about Vietnam and after a while they just weren't interested, because they didn't go, it just

wasn't interesting to them. It was like, "where did you go, Vietnam, oh okay, what are you doing now?"

Vietnam was probably the most important thing, most significant thing that happened to me in my life, and most Vietnam Vets probably feel that way.

WB: You just didn't get to talk about it?

WB: Yeah, and I think that a lot of people still haven't talked about it. I run into people when I do the classes and students will say that their father was in Vietnam but he didn't talk about it. There are different reasons why people don't talk about it, maybe it just wasn't memorable for them, not everyone was in combat. It was a very small percentage of people that went to Vietnam and were In combat. I think I read in Colin Powell's book, or one of the books that there were like 12 million people of draft age during that whole time, and 6 million were drafted, 3 million went to Vietnam, and only less than 500 thousand went into combat. So, that is, a fairly small percentage of people that could have gone to Vietnam that went into combat.

SW: How do you feel about the people dodging the draft?

WB: I had mixed feelings for a long time about that. It depends on why they did it, if they really

had a honest political or humanitarian or whatever you want to call it, reasons and did it that way

an then that is one thing. But if they were just scared, then I have different feelings for them, because

I was scared too. I think, again, it was the way you were brought up, most of the people in my

generation had a father who served in World War II or Korea. When they were called they went. So when it was our turn we really didn't question it, we just went. Again, I think if you had legitimate reasons and you could justify those, that's one thing, but if you were just afraid of dying well, we're all afraid to die. I think sometimes there are more important reasons than just personal safety.

SW: Did you ever get arrested, for drugs or that kind of thing?

WB: No not for any of that stuff. I got arrested once, for reckless driving once, but other than that no [laughing].

SW: You said that there was like, a sexual revolution, and could youjust describe about that, and what there was?

WB: I wish I could, no. It was interesting, when I went to Vietnam, when I graduated from college in 1968, ifyou wanted to go see agirl in adorm you had to go into the dorm and go up to the desk and they would buzz the girl's room and she would come down, that was in 1968. When I went back to graduate school in 1970,I went into a dorm to see a girl and there was nobody at the desk and I was standing there wondering how do I get a hold of this girl? When some of the students came by and they said what you want, and I told them, they said welljust go up and get her. Because it had changed, you know, there's coed dorms and you know, no curfews and that kind of thing. You know, when I went to college and a girl went out on a date she had to sign in and out and had to be back by midnight and that kind of thing. And two years later it was completely different. You know, it just, it was a lot more open, and people were given a lot more freedom.

SW: Woodstock was about that time right? Did you ever wish that, did you go to it, or ever wish you could have?

WB: Yeah, I think I did. Y'know, I used to go, the closest I came was like, the folk festivals in Newport.

SW: Were there any musical people that you really admired during that time?

WB: Yeah, I guess I was into, you know, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and that kind of thing. I saw all of them one night at the folk festival in Newport, so that was, that was nice, I mean I was into, you know, for a, for a soldier I was, I guess I was pretty, pretty liberal, you know, as opposed to a lot of people who are conservative and Republican. I was more of a liberal Democrat. A lot of people, you know, couldn't figure out why. But again, I think that's just my background. They still can't figure that out,

SW:(laughs) Let's see, were there any, like, movies that you rememberfrom that time that made an impact on you, or have there been films that have been made about Vietnam that sort of you've seen, that you remember?

WB:Yeah I guess, probably the first one I saw was Apocalypse Now which was really, a strange movie. Which I didn't think was, you know, very realistic. I don't think it was really supposed to, it was supposed to be Joseph Conrad's Heart ofDarkness and that kind of thing. Have you ever read that?

SW: No, (laughs).

WB: Read it sometime. But then, I saw Platoon, and Platoon was, in the beginning, there were parts of Platoon that I thought were really accurate, I think they overdid the drugs and the craziness, and the guys killing each other, but as far as the way it looked, and that kind of thing, it was very accurate. You know, and the people looked just like we looked, you know, I could expect to see myself walking down the trail in that movie. You know, it was very, very realistic in that sense.

SW: Did it bring out, like, a lot of feelings in you, when you saw it, about the War?

WB: Yeah, a little bit I guess, I mean I would take my wife to these kind of movies and she would get real upset. I remember watching Catch22, which was a World War II movie, but there's a scene, where one of the bombardiers, the plane is hit by enemy fire, and a bombardier has landed there, and he's wounded, and his whole insides kind of like, slide out. And my wife, you know, couldn't handle it, and she couldn't understand why it didn't bother me, and I said, "well, this is a movie. I saw that same thing happen, in real life, to one of my men." You know, so,I can, you know-

SW: Relate to it?

WB: Yeah, I can relate to it, and I can tell the difference. It doesn't have that much of an impact on me when I see it in a movie.

SW:Did you think about, oh wait, never mind. Was the election of John F. Kennedy an important turning point for you, in any way?

WB: Oh, I guess, probably, I don't know about turning point, but I think it was, like most of us then, everybody thought, you know, "this is a great man," and you know, the idealism that everybody had at the time, we thought things were gonna be so great, and I think we're, everybody was really kind of devastated when he was assassinated.

SW: Why did you join ROTC?

WB: Yeah, I think pretty much, yeah. Like I said, I always wanted to be an officer. I actually went to college to get a commission to join the Army. And I wasn't a real great student, I barely got by, but I, you know, my objective was to, to be Commissioner or Lieutenant, and I was, so I wasn't. You know, I did enough to get by to get commissioned, and to go in the Army, and that's what I did.

SW: Do you think that your father was proud of you because of what you did, in the War, and?

WB: Yeah, I think he probably was.

SW: Could you describe the wardrobe at the time?

WB: The wardrobe? You know, I don't think it was that much different than what kids are wearing today. You know, blue jeans, and T-shirts, and that kind of stuff But not a jot, I mean maybe the styles were different, I guess, but not a lot different. I mean, my summer wardrobe at the time was usually sandals, and sneakers, and shorts, you know.

SW: Did anyone encourage you to go into the military? Like, telling you that you should probably go into it?

WB: I don't think anybody really encouraged me other than just being the example, that my father was, you know, beset the example. You know, you grow up everyday sedng a guy wearing a uniform, so that's kinda what you think you want to do. My brother was older, he went in the Air Force for four years, he never went to Vietnam. But, so, I guess, if anything, it was just seeing this guy in a uniform everyday. Now I have to see if that rubs off on my son.

SW: Would you want your son to go into the Army?

WB: I think ifhe wants to, you know. I've encouraged him to take ROTC just to see what it's like, and if he likes it-fine, if he doesn't that's his choice, you know. But I wouldn't want him to not do it,just because I did it, you know, as a rebellious type thing. I'd like him to try it, and see what, not necessarily join the Army, but to try ROTC so he gets an idea ofwhat it's like, and if he likes it fine, if he doesn't, that's fine. My daughter certainly had no interest.

SW: How do you feel about women in the Army? You just-

WB: Yeah, I think there's no reason why women shouldn't be in the Army. They've been in the Army for years and years. They're opening up more roles to women in the Army.

SW: But actually like, on the fighting, like-

WB: Yeah, right flow women are not in any combat units, except for aviation, aviation's a combat arms, and they can be pilots. But they're not in the infantry, they're not in armor, they're not in artillery, except at the higher levels. I don't know, I think, I think there's a whole psychology in the country that, that is very protective of women still, and a lot of men wouldn't want to see women in combat roles, because they wouldn't want to see them die. So I think that's, that's probably why you're not gonna see women in combat roles for a while. I think eventually you will But again, I think it's the whole psychology of the country that doesn't wanna, that's

protective of women. I'm sure Gloria Steinem and a few people wouldn't agree with that, but.

SW: During that time did your mother work inside, outside the home, or did she just stay whh the family, sort of?

WB:My mother?

SW: Yeah, during the 1960s.

WB: I guess she worked outside. She was the, a cook in a school cafeteria. So, she worked then, had summers off and-

SW: What were your household chores and duties in your family?

WB: I guess they're like most kids, had to feed the dog, and take out the trash, and cut the grass, and all the stuff I'm trying to get my kids to do.

SW: Did you ever go to college, or did you just go straight into the ROTC?

WB: Well, that's, you take ROTC in college, yeah.

SW: Oh, oh you do, were.

WB: Maybe, I'll give you a little help. When I started college in 1964, the War had been going for a while, but it wasn't that really well known, so ROTC was a big thing on campus. It had been mandatory up until that year, but still a lot of people took ROTC, and weused to you, you know, once a week we'd parade on the quadrangle at URI. And there were hundreds of us, well, and then the, whar everybody commonly called hippies, or the counter cture, there weren't, weren't that many of them on carupus, so of course the ROTC guys would make fun of them, you know, in 1964, because they had long hair and that kind of stuff. Well, by 1968 when I graduated, there were more of them than there were of us, and they used to make fun of us, in our uniforms. And that shows you how things changed, so quickly, you know, by 1968 there was a big antiwar movement. And really, wedidn't drill, we didn't wear our uniforms as much as weused to, wejust wore them when we had class, and wenever had the big parades wehad anymore, we had them down by the ROTC department instead of up on campus, because of the protesters and that kind of thing. So, it changed quite a bit, in just that short time.

SW: I think we're done, I guess.

Linda Wood: All set?

WB: Okay.

LW: Okay could you just say your name one more time, so we're sure weget it right

WB: Me? Bill Babcock.

LW: And your to rank now is?

WB: Lieutenant Colonel.

LW: Okay, in the Coast Guard? No.

WB: No, Rhode Island Army National Guard.

LW: Alright, we're all set.

SW: And we press stop on this.

Glossary Words On This Page
Joan Baez
Bob Dylan
Dwight David Eisenhower
generation gap
Lyndon B. Johnson
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Eugene McCarthy
George McGovern
Richard M. Nixon
Viet Cong

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