Burton C. Quist  ‘68

Dartmouth College Oral History Program

Dartmouth Vietnam Project

May 1, 2018

Transcribed by Karen Navarro



CAO:                           This is Karen Cao (’19) conducting an oral history interview with Mr. Burton Quist, Dartmouth Class of 1968, for the Dartmouth Vietnam Project. Today is May 1st, 2018. I am at the Rauner Special Collections Library, and Mr. Quist is joining us from his home in Rhode Island. Mr. Quist, I want to thank you very much again for joining and participating in this interview. We very much appreciate your support and your input. And first I would like to get the interview started with some basic background information. Could you tell me when you were born and where?


QUIST:                        I was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1946.


CAO:                           And what were your parents’ names?


QUIST:                        My mother’s name was Elizabeth Martin and my father’s name was Charles Quist.


CAO:                           And what did they do for a living?


QUIST:                        My father was a self-employed carpenter and my mother kept the house.


CAO:                           And did you always grow up in Massachusetts?


QUIST:                        Yes.


CAO:                           Did you have any siblings?


QUIST:                        I have a brother three years younger.


CAO:                           All right. And were you close with him? And what was his name?


QUIST:                        His name is Steven, and I was close to him up until the time I went to go to Dartmouth, and then he went off to college and we had little contact for many years until I moved back here to Rhode Island.


CAO:                           And could you describe your childhood a little bit, what it was like growing up in your area?


QUIST:                        Oh, sure. We lived at first in the city of Worcester in a neighborhood of what was locally called three-deckers, and it was a heavily immigrant area, mostly Swedish, but a smattering of other nationalities, as well. By the time I started the fourth grade, we had moved one suburb outside the city to West Boylston. My father had spent almost two years getting the seller of the house he was building for us in and capped and organized inside so that we could live there. So we lived in the cellar for three or four years before the house upstairs was finished, and then we moved upstairs. It was… I have to say a decidedly middle-class economic situation, but both parents were very much involved in church. My mother was a singer who sang in church and community choirs, and my dad was heavily involved in Boy Scouts, community baseball league, Masons, and for a time was a selectman for the town. No one in the family had ever been to college. I was the first one.


CAO:                           Do you think your family’s rich involvement with the community influenced a lot of what you enjoyed doing growing up?


QUIST:                        Yes. Certainly, yeah. I was involved heavily in the church and Scouts. But the other thing was that we had moved into the middle of farmland. Now, my dad growing up had—his parents were both immigrants, and they had kept a vegetable garden and a cow and some chickens and things like that, so my dad was quite familiar with farming. I was not, but we had a very large farm across the street who were always most willing to have kids around. So, I spent a lot of time there, because we weren’t exactly near to any other kids my age, so it was kind of natural for me to gravitate to this farm, and that was where I learned to drive, that was my first actual job for money, and things like that.


CAO:                           Let’s take a step back real quick. You mentioned that your grandparents and your father immigrated. Where did they immigrate from and how has that affected sort of how you grew up? Has your father ever talked about that?


QUIST:                        Well, my father was born in this country. But my grandparents had immigrated from the Swedish speaking section of Finland, so they all spoke Swedish at home, and they lived in a quite rural area of the city of Worcester where almost everyone in that community were Swedes. So, my father often said that it was a good thing that his first grade teacher knew Swedish as well as English, because it made it a lot easier for him. There was quite a work ethic in that community, and I think that was quite an influence on me.


CAO:                           So you felt that you had a pretty strong connection to your community growing up?


QUIST:                        Yes.


CAO:                           And let’s shift a little bit more to your high school experience, the post-age 14 period. Did you go to high school in West Boylston or…


QUIST:                        Yes. It was, actually it was a junior-senior high school, six grades, 666 students, 333 boys, and of course the same number of girls.


CAO:                           And what was your experience like going to that high school?


QUIST:                        It was quite good. As a matter of fact, I’m still in touch with a number of my high school friends who are in the New England area here, and we get together once or twice a year. And it’s a little amazing that the school divided us up academically in tracks, academic tracks, but there was an awful lot of crossover socially between kids in all these tracks. So, the high school experience was actually quite good. Academically the high school was very good. I don’t know that it would make US News and World Report, but it certainly, if it hadn’t been for my calculus teacher in high school, I don’t think I ever would have made it through Math 3, so...


CAO:                           [laughter] So, you mention tracks in this high school. Describe sort of your experience. What track were you on?


QUIST:                        I was in the, not to sound self-serving, but in the higher of the two academic tracks. There were two academic tracks, two shall we say commercial tracks, and a, I don’t know what they called the other track. But at any rate… And I thought the education there was really quite good. We had none of the social issues that were even in those days affecting bigger high schools and city schools and so on.


CAO:                           Do you think that the smaller school setting had a positive contribution to your experience? You mentioned there were three hundred boys and three hundred girls.


QUIST:                        Yeah, absolutely. You know, as I said, everybody knew everybody else, and obviously some better than others. But, everyone knew everyone else, everyone for the most part got along with everyone else. And largely the parents knew each other, as well, which I suppose there are some people who might have thought that was a little bit overprotective, but it certainly established some amount of stability and common expectations among the parents.


CAO:                           Of course. So I guess the term for that would be, now would be helicopter parenting. Were your parents also very involved with your high school experience?


QUIST:                        Actually, no. What I’m trying to describe, and it doesn’t come close to helicopter parenting… I don’t think I ever consulted my folks on what I was going to take next year in school. That was something between me and the school, not because they weren’t interested, but just they had a lot of confidence in the fact that between the school’s guidance and me, we’d make the right choices.


CAO:                           Of course. And what sort of extracurriculars did you participate in while in high school?


QUIST:                        Well, I don’t know if you have time enough for me to list them all.


CAO:                           [laughter] Could you list a couple?


QUIST:                        I was on the Student Council for a while, I was in the senior class play, I played in the band, I played basketball for the church, I was the president of the church youth group, I was on the gymnastics team. I worked at the school as a janitor after school was over. I worked as a janitor. Put the shots for the track team.


CAO:                           All areas.


QUIST:                        Yes.


CAO:                           And did this inform what you hoped to do after you graduated high school?


QUIST:                        Well, I expected I was going to go to college. That was the expectation. My dad had only gone to the boys’ trade school high school in Worcester. But, after his sophomore year, during the Depression, he had to leave and go find work. But he was an avid reader, he was very much plugged into what was going on in the world, particularly internationally and politically, and the expectation was that I was going to go to college. That was my mother’s expectation and there wasn’t much discussion one way or another, and that suited me just fine.


CAO:                           And so I’m thinking about senior year of high school. Was there something that drew you to Dartmouth specifically? What was that application process like for you?


QUIST:                        Well…  I had thought that after college I would go into the Marine Corps. My dad had been a Marine during World War II, as had many of his friends, and these were all people that I looked up to, and this is right out of Jim [Dartmouth President James E.] Wright’s book [Enduring Vietnam: An American Generation and Its War]. And I figured that everybody kind of owed service, and that a male owed military service, and that I would spend some time, I didn’t know how long, as an officer in the Marine Corps through some officer program.


And we didn’t have money to pay for college, so I had thought I wanted to go to the Naval Academy. I got the appointment for the Naval Academy, they accepted me, but I couldn’t pass the eye test. And in those days you had to have 20/20 vision. You don’t anymore, but then you did. So, what’s the next alternative? The next alternative is to look for a naval reserve officer training program, and in those days there were only 52 colleges and universities that had them. So I got the book from the guidance counselor about NROTC program, and in the back of it is listed the NROTC schools that I thought I wanted to apply to. Some of them were too close to home, and I didn’t want to be that close, and some of them were too far away. I’d wanted to be able to get home for Thanksgiving and Christmas and so on without it costing my parents a lot of money to bring me back and forth. So, [College of the] Holy Cross [Worcester, MA] was too close. Tufts [University, MA] was, well, that was a little bit better. Then there was this school in Hanover, New Hampshire, called Dartmouth, and the only thing I knew about Dartmouth was that they would play Holy Cross.


CAO:                           They were rivals.


QUIST:                        Yeah. I didn’t know the Ivy League from Adam. So, but I had spent a lot of time camping in New Hampshire and I thought, well, it must be pretty nice. So I told the guidance counselor that I wanted to apply to Dartmouth, and he said, “Well, you’ll never get in.” I said, “Why?” He said, “Because your father’s not a Republican.” So, that gives you a little bit of an idea of what people in 1964 might have thought about Dartmouth. And I said, “Well…” I’m thinking to myself, How do you know what my father’s politics are? You don’t, even as a selectman, you don’t run as a member of a party. You run on your own. So, I said, “Well, okay, I’m gonna try it anyway.”


So, I submitted the application. And I was playing basketball for the church, and one night at dinner my dad said to me, “You know, Winn Bridge went to Dartmouth.” Now, this is Winston Bridge. He was a Class of ’58 and he was the basketball coach for the church. So, that night at the church basketball practice, I went up to him and I said, “Winn, I understand you went to Dartmouth.” He said, “Yes, I did, and I got in the mail today a letter. I’m supposed to interview you.” So, he painted a very nice picture of Dartmouth and I applied and I got in without ever having seen the place. But, shortly after I got accepted, Winn packed me up in his automobile and we drove up to Hanover and spent the day and then came back, and it was obvious to me I’d made a great choice, so…


CAO:                           And so, when he drove you up, what was your initial sort of reaction in seeing finally the place that you’d been talking about, you’d been applying for? How did you feel about it?


QUIST:                        Well, I felt great. One, it was in the woods of New Hampshire. Two, you know, I was a New Englander and it looked very New England-y, and it seemed to be very pleasant, and there were people coming and going, and a little small town, and I knew that that was a place that I would not mind living for four years.


CAO:                           Got it. And can you talk a little bit about your time at Dartmouth in terms of what did you study, what sort of extracurriculars you participated in in the past four years here?


QUIST:                        Well…  my time at Dartmouth was kind of divided into two phases, one that started when I arrived and ended around the middle of sophomore year. And during that time, I was still trying to figure it all out. There were all these guys who had gone to private schools and knew their way around, and I kind of felt left out. [His phone rang.] Hang on a minute… But then, sometime in sophomore year I figured it out and from then on in it was considerably more enjoyable. Not that I was miserable to start with, but, you know, you just get to know more people and so on. When I was originally trying to decide what I was going to major in in college, I was thinking I would be an engineer. But, I was invited to go down to Tufts and spend a day tracking around with an engineering student, and after that day I decided I was going to be a history major.


CAO:                           [laughter] I’m a history major also.


QUIST:                        Yeah. It was interesting, but it wasn’t something that was going to hold my interest for four years of study. So, I enrolled, and I was very apprehensive about whether or not I was going to be able to handle the academics. So, the first semester there, I signed up for German 1—I’d never had German—Government 7, which was… theory of international politics or something like that, and then History 1. So, I about read my eyeballs right out of my head that first semester, and didn’t come up for air very much.


I participated in NROTC program for all four years I was there. I shot on the rifle team, which was run—the coach of which was the Marine gunnery sergeant stationed at the NROTC unit, but it was only partially NROTC or ROTC students shooting. There were a number of shooters on the team who had no military affiliation whatsoever. And that was something I enjoyed and it allowed a little bit of travel.


And I also worked for DDA [Dartmouth Dining Association] in the dining hall, and that turned out to be a major extracurricular activity, because I worked there every semester. It was a case of “work there or don't eat.” And they had a system then whereby certain people could kind of move up the ranks, and I started working scraping garbage off plates in the dish room, and then pretty soon I worked my way up to running the enormous dishwashing machine that they had, and then I was the manager of all the students in the dish room. And by the time I got to be a senior, they had this system refined such that I was offered the job as the head student manager for all of the students in the program. And I not only got my meals, but I got a whopping $40 every two weeks for doing this. But it was great training. The adult supervision in the dining hall were all people who were very solid, very down to earth, and very respectful of the students, and happy to have the students there. So, there was a lot of guys who worked there who had no use for it and left as soon as they could find another job, but I thought it was great. And I did that all four years.


CAO:                           Were there any faculty or mentors that you had during your time at Dartmouth? It seems like there were definitely some pretty influential people.


QUIST:                        Well, if you were in the NROTC program, you had officers, or non-commissioned officers who were assigned to mentor you, and by and large they did a great job. On the faculty side, I found that I liked studying on the third floor of McNutt, which held the geography department, and geography was a secondary interest of mine. And there were in particular one, Robert Huke (’48) who was a fantastic instructor and he was somebody you could talk to and ask questions and so on. There was, my junior and senior year, there was a history professor, Phil Benjamin, who, he kind of grabbed onto me. And he was doing some research on immigration, and so he involved me in some of that, and because of my father’s background, that was pretty interesting.


And there was a John Adams was the dean of the history department. He taught diplomatic history, and he taught it old school. He stood there and lectured and you took notes. And he had no truck with anything that was not involved in what he was doing in class that day. And his tests were legend. I remember one test question in which the student had to recount the events of 1916 to 1917, you know, and that was just write for your life, and make sure you had the dates correct. But I couldn’t get enough of his classes because he taught them—you’re not old enough to remember a television program called You Are There. It was hosted by Walter Cronkite and it was a reenactment of various things in history. And he, Walter Cronkite, acted as though he were a television reporter giving you the information from the Battle of Gettysburg or some event in history. And that’s exactly the way Adams taught. In fact, his lecture on the events that started the First World War was always, always had people sitting in the aisles listening, whether they were taking the course or not, because it was so intriguing, so interesting. So, anyway…


CAO:                           I’d really love to have sat in, yeah.


QUIST:                        And I’ve probably gotten us way off the track here.


CAO:                           Yeah, so bringing it back, I would love to hear more about your experience with the NROTC program, what the day-to-day was like, and I know there were sometimes specific courses that you had to take as a participant. Could you describe that in more detail?


QUIST:                        Sure. The in-house, that is, the courses that you had to take within the Navy program itself, were… Well, let me make sure I don’t lead us astray here. There was, I want to say two courses a year. So, out of the three semesters, two of them you had some course given to you by Navy personnel. And, you know, at the start they were pretty simple, kind of introduction to the Navy and how things are done, and how to walk, talk, salute and chew gum. But they became more technical as you went on. For instance, if you were going into the Navy, you had to take a navigation course. If you were going into the Marine Corps, you had two history courses that were taught by the Marine officer instructor there in-house.


Then, of course, you had the weekly, every Wednesday afternoon drill. There were no classes on Wednesday afternoon for the whole campus, because there was Army, Navy and Air Force ROTC, and those went, their drill went from 2:00 to 4:00 on Wednesday afternoon. And the number of participants in that was so large that there wasn’t much left to do on campus if you weren’t doing that, other than perhaps go skiing. Then there were classes that you had to take from the college curriculum. In my case I had to take a calculus course, and a finite math course, and I had to take History 37, which was a military history course taught by Professor [Louis] Louie Morton. He was a very well-known military historian, had written a significant part of the US Army’s History of World War II, very well-known, and he was a very good lecturer and a little bit of a character, as well. So, none of that, as far as I was concerned, was very onerous, because the math courses counted against your distributive requirements, the history courses counted against my major requirements. So, what’s the big deal?


And the drills on Wednesday afternoon, it was, you know, with a bunch of guys learning how to march and how to do military things, and I figured that it’s the least that I could do for what I expected to get out of the program. Of course, it got to be more contentious as time wore on there, and we ended up having to oftentimes change where the drills were held, or had to put up with a lot of nonsense from the anti-war crowd, names, catcalls, you know, an occasional somebody trying to interrupt. We were marching to some place, and someone would just try to interrupt, walk through the middle of what we were doing. It was, in the big scheme of things, a rather minor annoyance itself. But of course it reflected what was the growing divide in the country over the war, and that was the bigger issue for most of us. And there were some guys that we lost, some guys who decided that they weren’t going to stick around, because of their anti-war feelings or whatever.


CAO:                           So, yeah, this is very interesting, and I would love to hear a little bit more about this. Were there any—could you talk about any specific experiences that happened during this time? This sort of divide, as you mentioned, in military affiliation on the campus, did that start when you first joined NROTC or was it, it sort of climaxed in the second or third years, if you could describe that in a little bit more detail?


QUIST:                        I’m not exactly sure where you’re headed here, Karen. “Divide,” describe divide?


CAO:                           The divide between those who participated in NROTC and the anti-war protests happening on campus?


QUIST:                        Oh. Yeah… There was none of it the first two years, and I don’t remember exactly when it began, but by the fourth year it was obviously very evident. We would go off to do our marching and things like that on Wednesday afternoons, and somebody decided that at the same time those people who were against the war would line up on the Green, you know, on the walkways across the Green, and just see how many people they could put out there in order to show support for the anti-war movement. And we were off doing our thing. Usually we were maybe on the football field. More often we were on the practice soccer field or some off-campus place where nobody really paid much attention to us. But as time grew on, it was more and more difficult to get away from the anti-war crowd, because they weren’t content to just line up on the Green anymore; they needed to be more active.


So, as a matter of fact, there was one time when I forget what the event was, but we were having, I think it was an awards ceremony, kind of a formal parade, to give awards to various people, and so we were marching to this, and the anti-war people were there with signs and yelling and screaming and threatening to grab the rifles that we were carrying, or take someone’s hat as they were marching by, things like that. As a matter of fact, a couple of weeks ago one of my classmates told me that in the Ken Burns piece on Vietnam, that there was a photograph of that particular event that was shown in the Ken Burns series from Dartmouth of us marching by and all these people with signs…


[phone rings] I’m going to see if I can stop this phone. I unplugged that other phone, so just remind me to plug it back in when we’re done.


CAO:                           Will do, [laughter] I’ll make a note.


QUIST:                        You know, it was all part of the debate on campus among the people who were in support of the war and those who weren’t in support of the war, and there was relatively little in the way of anything violent, but certainly no one wants to go through the name calling and the picket signs and the, you know, “How many kids have you killed today?” kind of thing. You know, no one likes to go through that. But… it was what it was, and it was no worse than some of the things that happened when various political people came to talk and they ran into people trying to tip their car over and things like that.


CAO:                           Did the officers in NROTC say anything or talk about it? How did your peers react?


QUIST:                        None of the leadership in the NROTC unit said anything about it, as far as I know. I mean, no one ever talked to me about it, and I was the midshipman battalion commander at one point, so I would assume that if there had been something that they wanted to say, they would have said it. So, it doesn’t… It was just that’s the way it was. They’ve got the right to protest, and no matter how misguided you may think they are, it’s their point of view and they can express it, then our mission in life is to ensure the fact that we have a country that allows them to do that. And that was about the size of it, Karen.


CAO:                           Okay. Can you think of specific ways that this sort of campus unrest impacted your commitment to the NROTC program? Did it strengthen or…


QUIST:                        Me personally? No. It had almost no impact on me. You know, certainly I would have preferred that we didn’t go through it, but it didn’t bother me one way or another. I participated in multiple, in the dorm discussions about the war. And there were guys who were for it, and I hate to say the term, “for it,” because being “for war” is you have to be mentally challenged to be for war. But, there were people who were in support of the policy and there were people who were dead set against it, and there were a lot of discussions. And they had their opinion and I had mine, and we went on about our business, headed to graduation.


CAO:                           So, thinking about graduation, did you know that you were at some point going to end up serving in Vietnam in some capacity? Could you kind of walk me through that timeline?


QUIST:                        Yeah. Well, we had a classmate who was one of the leaders of the anti-war movement who spoke at graduation, and I can tell you that there were a lot of my friends who would have much preferred to have had someone else talk at graduation other than him. But, in my own personal case, I ended up in Dick’s House [Dartmouth College Health Service] between Christmas and New Year’s of my senior year to have back surgery. I had a ruptured disc in my lumbar spine. And the result of that was that the Marine Corps wanted me to take a year from the time of the surgery before they would give me a physical and qualify me for active duty or decide whether I was going on active duty, and get my commission or not. While most of my NROTC mates all got commissioned at graduation, I did not.


So, I then had to figure out what I was going to do for the year, and this Phil Benjamin, this Professor Benjamin, he suggested that “well, there were a number of Master of Arts in teaching programs that are a year long, and you could certainly get into one of those.” And my thoughts were that if I could not, was going to be not physically qualified for the Marine Corps, then I would consider teaching high school. So, his suggestion was this MAT program would be a good—set me up for that. So, I applied and I got accepted at Wesleyan [University, Middletown, CT] and went there, and started 1st of July of 1968. So, while my NROTC mates were, most of them anyway, were off and headed—or commissioned officers and headed for active duty, I was still kind of in limbo.


I went back up to Hanover in March of ’69 to be commissioned, because the Marine Corps then decided that I was physically qualified, but I still had to wait until October of ’69 before I began my active duty. So that put me well behind my contemporaries, but there wasn’t much that could be done about that.


CAO:                           And so I’m thinking about that time, how did you feel about this? Were you sort of ambivalent or anxious? What was going on in your mind at this time?


QUIST:                        Well, I was… The surgeon that did the surgery said that the Marine Corps would never take me. But, I had a guidance counselor tell me I’d never get into Dartmouth, too, so…


CAO:                           [laughter] I was going to say…


QUIST:                        When the Marine Corps came back and said that I wasn’t going to be qualified, you know, everything is waiverable. You can get a waiver for anything. I went back in with a formal request for them to change their mind, and I gave them a litany of reasons why, most of which was because I had worked as a carpenter all that summer for my dad, and that put a fair amount of strain on my back. So, they decided that they would… Well, while I was waiting for that decision, you know, I was, well, what do I do if I can’t do the Marine Corps? Well, then the decision was, well, I guess I’ll try to be a high school teacher. And, you know, I’m trying to hold those two thoughts in my mind until such time as the Marine Corps made up its mind. And then my concern then became, what was gonna happen in Vietnam? Was it gonna be over before I got there? Or what? Does that answer your question, Karen?


CAO:                           Yeah, absolutely. Also during this time, were you able to see your family often? Did they know about the situation and did they have anything to say about this?


QUIST:                        Yeah. Because my folks were just outside of Worcester, and Wesleyan was in Middletown, Connecticut, I was home almost every weekend. And the folks knew what was going on and their approach to things was, “Well, whatever you want to do, we’re gonna support you.” So, you know, neither of them were particularly interested in me going to Vietnam, obviously, but my dad had, both my dad and my father-in-law, future father-in-law, had made the landings on Guadalcanal in August of 1942. And, so they knew what it was all about. And it’s a case of, one, you’ve got some kind of an obligation to the country, and two, if you’re going to do that obligation by being in the military, then you have to understand what that means. So, that was their approach. My mother’s approach was, “please be careful.”


CAO:                           Yeah. So, October of ’69 you were cleared, able to go on active duty. What were sort of the next steps here, if you could describe that timeline?


QUIST:                        All right. Well, if you’re going to be an officer in the Marine Corps, you get commissioned, and then the first thing you do is you go to Quantico, Virginia, to a place called the Basics School, and that’s where they teach you the basics that you need to know to be an officer, and it’s very heavily infantry oriented because of the Marine Corps’ theory that every Marine is a rifleman whether he’s an engineer or a jet jockey or whatever he is. So, that was from October of ’69 until March of ’70. And while you’re going through that training, they introduce you to all sorts of military occupational specialties, and then sometime around two-thirds of the way through the course, they ask you to list in order of your preference which occupational specialties you would be interested in. Well, I wanted to be in the infantry. Why? Because that’s the pointy end of the stick. And, you know, kind of like that old adage of, if you want to be a bear, be a grizzly. So, that’s what I wanted to do.


Well, and this is something that you can understand this happening only if you’ve had some time in the military. A person from headquarters of the Marine Corps came to talk to my class, and they said, “Okay, you’re gonna get your MOS [Military Occupational Specialty] assignments, and then you are going to all get a set of orders to go to Vietnam. But those orders are shortly thereafter gonna be rescinded, and you are going to get orders to go to either Camp Pendleton, California, or Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and you’ll probably be there for six months, at which time you will get orders to go to the Western Pacific, and then the decision will be made where in the Western Pacific you’re gonna be, whether you’re gonna be on Okinawa or you’re gonna be in Vietnam.” Of course, everybody’s thinking, Why are you gonna issue us these sets of orders if you already know you’re going to rescind them? Why don’t you just stop it right now? Well, you don’t ask those kinds of questions because you won’t get a satisfactory answer.


But anyway, that’s what happened. And I was trying to play the odds here of how I’m going to get to where I want to be. I was sufficiently high in the pecking order in the class that I got my first choice, which was infantry, and I also applied to go to a psychological operations course run by the Army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Since they said we were going to be in the US six months before we would get orders to the Western Pacific, this was a three month course, and I figured it wouldn’t disrupt anything with me going to Vietnam if I was going to go there at all, and oh, by the way, it might actually help, because the school was entirely oriented towards psychological operations in Vietnam. So, I was thinking that having that school, it might get me some extra credit to go to Vietnam.


Plus, the Marine Corps had gotten very good press on a program then that they were running in Vietnam called the Combined Action Program, which put a squad of Marines, nominally 13 Marines, to live in the villages with the locals, and team up with the local platoon of popular force Vietnamese militia men, so that these popular forces—these are people who were living and working in their home villages or hamlets and they would, at the same time they would go out at night and conduct patrols and so on, and the Marines would provide them a little bit of perhaps some more military training, but more importantly, could provide them access to artillery, air support, communications, things like that that they didn’t have on their own. And the program was, it was dreamed up by the Marine Corps, and the Marine Corps would have made that probably its principal program in Vietnam, but the people from the Army, [General William C.] Westmoreland in particular, weren’t interested in this. They wanted people out conducting search and destroy operations. If you want to read the book on this Combined Action Program, it’s called The Village, and it’s written by [Francis J.] Bing West.


CAO:                           Okay. I believe he wrote a couple of articles for the New York Times most recently, also in regards to this program.


QUIST:                        Yeah, he’s written a bunch of stuff. He lives here in Newport [RI].


CAO:                           Oh, he does?


QUIST:                        Yeah.


CAO:                           Very close. So you first heard about this program while in basics training. Was this something that interested you? You know, you mentioned you were very interested serving in the infantry training when this idea came around. How did you feel about this sort of…


QUIST:                        Yeah, I had read about this in the newspapers. And I wanted—my thoughts were that those units, those Combined Action units, would probably be the last ones that would be brought out of the field, and hence, if I could get into them, I had a better chance of going to Vietnam and being there for some period of time than if I weren’t in them, and I thought this psychological operations training might help me get there. And so, as it turned out, after I got through with this psychological operations course at Fort Bragg, my wife and I got married, and I had orders to Camp Pendleton, California. We went to Camp Pendleton, and got there in July, and in September I got orders to go to what they called WESTPAC ground forces to leave on the 15th of December of 1970.


So I left, and when I got to Okinawa, they had everybody in a transient facility. All of us that had gotten off the plane were all together. Almost all of us had gone through the Basics School together, and we’re in this, we’re all lined up, one behind the other, and you go up and you hand your orders to the guy at the desk, and he has two stamps, and one stamp says “3rd Marine Division, Okinawa,” and the other stamp says “3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, Vietnam.” So, when I got there, mine said Vietnam. So, I got by that hurdle.


So when I got in country, then I had to go—then the decision had to be made, what unit was I going to go to in country? By now, about half the Marines who had been in country had been taken out already. So, I went to see this personnel officer, a major, who was making assignments to various units, and I told him that I was interested in being in this Combined Action program, that I had gone to psychological operations training in hopes that that would better my chances, and he said, “Well, you’re in luck because we need somebody down at the 2nd Combined Action group, and that’s where you’re going.” So, I got sent there. So, Karen, do you want me to continue telling the story or do you want to ask questions?


CAO:                           You read my mind. I actually wanted to hear a little bit more about the psychological training that you went through, if you could describe that in a little more detail? I think that’s really interesting that they geared it towards Vietnam, and I would love to hear more about that.


QUIST:                        Well, the Army really got into psychological operations in World War II, and so what you got was a little bit of how we got there and what we did in previous wars, and then you got to apply the, shall we say the theory to Vietnam. And the whole idea behind this is that if you can do something that convinces the enemy it’s not in his best interest to fight, or if you can weaken his morale one way or another, that you are going to have more success, and success is going to come at a lower cost to you.


There was going on in tandem with us, at the same time that our psychological operations course was going on, there was a Special Forces officer course that was going on, and we had a joint final exercise where they took us out in the mountains of western North Carolina around Ashville, and they had established an insurgency there by getting help from a lot of the local people, and we were supposed to try to find ways to counter this insurgency by working with the local government, and so on. It was… interesting. I wouldn’t say it was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done in my life, but it was interesting. And I actually ended up doing some of it in Vietnam in support of the government of South Vietnam’s efforts to win over people in the villages. But, some of it was, you know, how to run a certain kind of a printing press, a mimeograph machine, how to run a certain kind of a loud speaker, which was okay, I suppose you have to know that. But I was more interested in the theory than I was the technology. Interestingly enough, we did some of it in the former Yugoslavia when I was there. I don’t know if I answered your question, Karen?


CAO:                           Yeah. I’m really interested in, you mentioned this sort of insurgency experiment that they had set up. What were some of the difficult components of it, and do you think that you guys were successful?


QUIST:                        Well, now, Karen, this was in the spring of 1970. It’s now the spring of 2018. And I hope you would understand that I don’t remember exactly everything that happened.


CAO:                           Yep, yep.


QUIST:                        But I distinctly remember thinking that, Well, this is all well and good, but we’re up against guys, the people that we’re supposedly fighting against here, we’re trying to help the local government counter these rebels. The problem is that they’ve been doing this—they do this every class, and they know what the class has pretty much been taught and what the class is pretty much gonna try to do, and the whole thing was kind of tilted in their favor. But there again, the Viet Cong had been doing this for a lot longer than the Americans when the Americans arrived in South Vietnam. So, in that respect I suppose it wasn’t that far out of the ordinary. But some of the locals who participated in this, they were having more fun at it than helping us get anything out of it, I guess I should say.


But it’s the development of themes. What’s your objective? What are you trying to do here? Are you trying to build political support or is your objective more tactical? Do you want to get the population to turn against a specific unit of the Viet Cong? A lot of it is head work. What is it that you want to do and what’s the best way to do that with any hopes of success? You know, it’s got to be something that you can do with the resources you have that’s not illegal, and, you know, how do you put all of that together? When you get down to it, a flame thrower has quite a psychological impact, but maybe that’s not exactly the kind of psychological impact you’d like to have. So, the whole theory here is that almost everything you do is going to have some sort of psychological component to it, and what you don’t want to do is have some commander say, “We’re gonna drive our tanks through this village and destroy the village, and then we’ll bring the psychological operations people in and make the villagers like it.” Now, that kind of stuff has absolute bearing on what happened, or what failed to happen in Vietnam.


CAO:                           Yeah, thank you for elaborating more. And we can definitely fast forward now. I would love to hear… So, then you went to Okinawa and you got your commission. What were the next steps after that?


QUIST:                        Well, I reported in at Da Nang. I reported in and I was assigned to this 2nd Combined Action group, the headquarters of which was in Hoi An, was about an hour’s drive south of Da Nang. Hoi An is the provincial capital of the Quang Nam province. The group itself is organized kind of along the lines of a battalion, with a lieutenant colonel in charge, and all of the normal staff sections that you find in a battalion, that is, personnel administration, intelligence operations, logistics, so on. But, because of the…


Well, let me go back. That organization oversaw the operations of, I think there were five companies and I forget how many CAPs. A cap was a Combined Action platoon. This is the combination of the Marine infantry squad and the popular force platoon. And those platoons on the American side, the man in charge was a sergeant, and he reported to a Marine captain who was co-located with the district chief, the Vietnamese district chief. And then, that Marine captain, who was the Combined Action company commander, he reported to the Combined Action group co-located at the province capital. So, our direct in with the Vietnamese was at the province level. This organization was very thin in people. You hear stories about tooth-to-tail ratios and how many people it takes behind to keep one person in the field. Well, that was certainly not the case with this organization. It was quite thin. As a matter of fact, my job when I got there, I was the assistant operations officer, the intelligence officer, the psychological operations officer, the civil military affairs officer, and the director of the Combined Action School.


CAO:                           Wow.


QUIST:                        Yeah, so a lot going on. But, it got me… Oh, and I was the training officer. So, under my hat with the training officer, I managed to on occasion get my way out of this headquarters with all of these other duties, and out into the field to see how the Combined Action platoons were actually functioning, and then I would come back and make comments, observations, recommendations to the company commander and to the group commander, as well. And that put me in the villages a lot, and had me travel around the countryside. I saw a lot more of the countryside than some of the people who were in infantry units who spent their time mucking around within the same few grid squares.


And the Vietnamese would periodically send out… I forget what the actual name of them was. I might be able to find it for you if you really need it. But, the governor would send out these teams that would go into a village, and they usually brought with them some amount of entertainment, singing and dancing, or something for the locals. And they would have little discussions about what the government was trying to do for them, and kind of motivational things. And this is where—part of my job was because of this psychological business, and the civil military affairs was to go out and spend time with these groups and make sure we knew what they were saying, and try to find out, try to assess whether or not I thought they were doing any good. It was quite interesting. I ended up meeting a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds.


And because of the time that this occurred—I got there in December of ’70 and I came home on Memorial Day weekend of ’71, so I was only there six months. And the whole organization was rapidly winding down. The Marines were leaving one right after the other, and as I had figured, we had the last people actually in the field when we deactivated there.


CAO:                           Wow. So you mentioned the Combined Action School. Were there any specific trainings for these Combined Action programs about interacting with the locals? Any language based programs? Could you speak a little bit more to that part of this?


QUIST:                        Yeah. Yes, I can. Most of that was… very grunt level, how we do business, how to take care of yourself, what to watch out for, very tactical level things. In part that was because the program had changed. When they first started this, they would take Marines who had already been in country for some period of time, usually six months, and they would then send them to be in the Combined Action platoons. So, they didn’t need this “welcome to war in Vietnam” level kind of education.


But after a while, they decided for reasons that I don’t actually know, they decided to send new people, people who had never been in Vietnam before, to be in these Combined Action platoons. So, we had to kind of give them an introduction to what war is like in Vietnam, in order to keep them alive. So there was relatively little of this psychological business or civil military relations, and there was almost no language training. I thought that all of us should have had some language training. I didn’t get any language training. The only people that were really getting language training were people who were going to be stationed as advisors within army of Vietnam organizations. And the problem with that is, if you don’t have an introduction to the language, you are probably also missing out on a major introduction to the culture. And I think the Combined Action program was a great idea. I think that we could have done more of it. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t without its faults. The Marines in the village will pick up some amount of language, but they should have arrived there having had more.


CAO:                           And you mentioned that you were able to see more of the countryside, go to different hamlets. Were you able to interact with the Vietnamese locals that were there?


QUIST:                        Not a lot, just because of the language barrier. And I remembered, they called these teams the Revolutionary Development teams, this combination of politics and entertainment that would go out. And those people usually spoke some amount of English, so I could, you know, you could talk to them, and you could kind of get the sense of what was happening by talking to them. And, of course, you could tell a little bit about– while these revved up teams are doing their business– you kind of can tell what’s in the head of the local villagers. Are they paying attention? Are they viewing this with some kind of disdain, or just, how is it being received? Now, that’s a very difficult thing to do across the cultural wavelengths. But, nonetheless, it seems to me when I was with these groups that they were pretty well received within the villages. Of course, we’re talking about villages that had Marines living in them or close by, and those people loved the Marines, loved to have the Marines there because they were providing a level of security that they wouldn’t have if the Marines weren’t there.


CAO:                           So the villagers were mostly welcome to this sort of implementation?


QUIST:                        Yes. Yes.


CAO:                           And so, you mentioned that you were there for six months from ’70 to ’71, and that, as you mentioned, the program was sort of winding down, Marines were leaving one after another. Was there any event in particular that really stood out to you during your time there that you could speak to?


QUIST:                        Well, we were—I say “we”—I don’t mean myself in particular, but the organization was every single day, day in, day out, in the villages. The Marines that went out there, generally they got—one of them every day would go back to the district headquarters where he could get a shower and maybe eat a pizza, have a day off before he went back to the village. So, we were operating, but the line units, the regular infantry units, were being pulled back into compounds and not doing anything other than just defending themselves right there from people sneaking up on them. And that created a little bit of dissonance, particularly at one point when we had some information that there was likely going to be an attack on one of our units, and there was a nearby infantry unit, and we told the nearby infantry unit that we had gotten this intel, and would they please put somebody on standby to go out and help this Combined Action platoon if they’d gotten into soup and needed to be helped or extracted or whatever. And even though it was a Marine to Marine request, “No, we’re not doing that. We’re told to stay here and not take any more casualties.” Which was most annoying, and I think, it seems to me that in his book, Jim talks about this kind of business about what happens when the units are starting to leave. Now, no one wants to be the last guy killed in Vietnam. So, that was a little bit of a problem.


But, at the same time, we were not generally having a lot of contact. And I had to write the monthly report that went back to headquarters of the Marine Corps about what we did during the month, and it got down to the point where towards the end, we were having almost no contact, hostile contact, at all. And my job took me in and out of Da Nang quite frequently, and I was absolutely amazed by the amount of buildings, and some very nice homes that were being built in Da Nang, And you would have thought that there must have been a very high level of confidence among the people that things were going in a right direction because of all of this construction and stuff that is going on. And I’ve talked to some of my buddies who had the same impression. 1970, mostly as a result of Tet [Offensive], I believe, the local Viet Cong organizations were pretty much decimated.


CAO:                           And so there was this turnaround, in a sense, by 1970?


QUIST:                        Yeah. And, of course, the later attacks, the Easter Offensive in ’72 and the final attack, those were not popular uprisings; those were essentially conventional force attacks from the North Vietnamese Army with tanks and all that kind of stuff.


CAO:                           So, you mentioned Da Nang, and I meant to ask this earlier on, but could you describe sort of the environments that you were able to see in where you were stationed, just kind of like the physical, the natural descriptions of them?


QUIST:                        Right. Well, the first thing is that I flew in on a C-130 cargo plane, and as we’re coming into Da Nang, we’re all looking out the windows of the plane, and we comment on what we see, what we thought were bomb craters all over the place. And, as it turned out, they were graves, and this is the way the Vietnamese buried their people. Because of the low lying ground and the rice paddy kind of area that it was, they built mounds, grave mounds, built it up. And there were so many of them, not so much because of how many people were being killed in the war—I mean, some of it was that, obviously—but they’d been doing this for centuries, so they had all of these grave mounds.


Da Nang was a big hectic city. The guy who picked me up in a Jeep to take me to Hoi An to our headquarters told me that a friend of his had bought a new watch in the PX and he was driving, and he had to stop and wait for traffic, and kids came by on bicycles and one of them just grabbed the watch and tore it right off his arm. So, that was the first story. So, you’re kind of sitting around, paying a little more attention to what’s going on around you.


But, and I had to go in and out of Da Nang fairly frequently. But the most worrisome one was that because of my civil affairs, the psychological op and all these kinds of things, I was given a check, and this check was to be cashed at the bank in downtown Da Nang, and to get I don’t know how many piasters, the local currency, you know, millions. Because of the inflation rate, just it was a lot of them. So I brought with me an ammo can, a big metal box that had a tight fitting lid to put the money in. So, and I pick up the check at the Marine headquarters in Da Nang, and then I take the check and I go to the bank. Now, I don’t know if you’re ever been in a Vietnamese bank. I’d never been in a Vietnamese bank until that time. And you walk in and, of course, the signs, but you can’t read them, and what’s going on? Well, you know, you can tell that these people are standing in line to do business with what we would call a teller. So, I stand in line, and I finally get up there, and I hand the man my check, and he hands me so much money I can barely get it in the box that I brought to carry it. And it’s me and my box of money and my .45 on my hip, and now I wouldn’t be able to count the money anyway, because I wouldn’t understand the denominations, and nobody in that line that I’d stood in for 15 or 20 minutes behind me would want me to take the time to count all that money. But I’m responsible for this money. So, what do you do now, you know? Well, you just hope everything is okay, and you get in the Jeep and you put the box of money between you and the driver, because someone would have to have terribly long arms to reach all that way in and get the box. And you keep your other hand on the .45, and the driver drives you back. No, it was, shall we say, that was an interesting experience.


You drive down Route 1 to Hoi An, you’re driving through rice paddy areas. It’s all rice paddies either side of the road. And the road is paved, it’s blacktop, and some of the sites are kind of interesting. Kids going to school. The Koreans had an artillery battalion stationed not too far from where we were stationed, and the Koreans would run their convoys in and out of Da Nang for supplies and so on at breakneck speed, all these big trucks headed in one direction with the pedal to the metal and people scurrying to get out of the way, and lo be the person who gets somehow or other inserted somewhere in between the vehicles in that convoy, because he was taking his life in his own hands being there. The operative word, driving, I heard the colonel tell his driver one day was “cautious, but not polite.” It could be very dangerous, but if you were too polite, you weren’t going to get anywhere because no one else was driving with any sort of politeness.


As you get down to Hoi An, Hoi An is close to the coast and at the conjunction of a number of rivers, so we had just on the other side of the road from our compound there was a river, and as a matter of fact, we had CAPs in villages, some of which were on islands in the river, and we had a continuing problem of how to keep those people supplied. And generally what we did was just hired a local boatman to carry supplies out. And that went along for a while until one night, the CAP sprang an ambush, and who was caught in the ambush, but the guy they had been hiring to carry supplies to them. So, from that point on, we got our own boats and we carried our own supplies.


But, I was intrigued by the houses. Most of the houses were thatch, made out of thatch– roofs, walls and everything. And there were some that were very creatively made out of C-ration cartons. You know, if you throw it away, somebody else is going to use it. And one of these houses that was made out of C-ration boxes, just outside the gate somebody fired a 122 mm rocket that we don’t know whether they actually were firing at us or whether they were firing at the Korean artillery battalion. More likely, the latter. But, these are notoriously inaccurate. Well, the thing landed just outside our compound and knocked this house down, one made out of C-ration boxes, and there was an elderly Vietnamese woman who was injured. So, we called in a medivac helicopter to land on the helipad we had within our compound, and we medivaced the woman so she could get treatment, and then some of the troops went out and helped to rebuild the house the next day.


So, I don’t know what else I can tell you about the countryside. I did on one of my trips in and out go to China Beach. It was the most gorgeous beach I’d ever seen. And frankly, I have not been back to Vietnam, but I would really like to do that, because I thought the whole time I was there, This is really pretty countryside and pretty beaches, and you know, Vietnam could have quite a tourist industry after the war.


CAO:                           Were any elements—you mentioned that you had an interest in geography while at Dartmouth—did any of your studies here sort of carry over to your experience while in Vietnam?


QUIST:                        Well, not specifically. I don’t think specifically. You know, I took geography courses and I took geology courses, and I loved that stuff, and I was always attuned to what I was seeing here, you know, how did we come to this? But I don’t know that there’s anything in particular that was a carryover.


CAO:                           And so, in thinking about 1971, sort of the final days, what were the thoughts that were going through your head? Did you know the exact date that you were leaving? Could you walk me through that timeline?


QUIST:                        This Combined Action program was something designed by the Marine Corps just for Vietnam. So we have these Combined Action groups in Vietnam that were created in Vietnam and they were disbanded in Vietnam, and never to be seen again. Most of the guys that were in Vietnam in regular units, they left with the unit. But we didn’t. And we were deactivating piecemeal. For instance, we would shut down one of these Combined Action companies, and a good bit of the equipment that we had would be turned over to the Vietnamese. And then the guys would leave and they’d go get on an airplane and leave and go home. And it was the headquarters where I was working that was the last thing to be disbanded. But there were some logistical things and administrative things that had to be taken care of. So, there were two of us 1st lieutenants, myself and a guy came from Hamtramck [MI]. He was the logistics officer, the supply officer, the Motor T [Transport] officer and the maintenance manager. And I told you what I was.


So we, neither of us knew what date we were leaving. So, we were the ones that were given the job of taking care of all of the final little ankle biting details that had to be taken care of. For instance, we had a small truck, like a pickup truck, that was supposed to be retrograded. It was supposed to go on a ship and go back to the US. Well, we had to clean all of these things. The troops were cleaning them. But, this was the last one, and we took that over to get the agricultural inspection, which you had to have before it could go on a US ship, and lo and behold the troops had neglected to clean the little cubby where the tools go, so it had some mud and stuff in there. So, it failed the agricultural inspection. So these two 1st lieutenants had the job of cleaning the truck and getting it turned in.


And, then we had about 10 days of hang around in Da Nang before our flights were scheduled, before we were scheduled to leave on flights. Well, one day or two days is fine. After 10 days it gets to what do you do? You get up in the morning, you have breakfast, you go out for a run or do some physical fitness of some kind, you have lunch, you go to the PX, and at 4:30 in the afternoon when the officers’ club opens, you go to the officers’ club, and you stay there until you leave to go home and go to bed, and the next day is suspiciously like the previous day. So, it wasn’t a lot of fun.


But, the son of a guy who had been in my father’s outfit on Guadalcanal was the air officer for the Marine headquarters there, and they periodically ran flights to Udorn, Thailand, and just for kind of recreational things. So he fixed me and my buddy, John Pietrzak, up with a flight to Udorn, Thailand, where there was an air base, because there was an air base there and there was a small town that had about probably 150 meters of tarred street, and the rest were all dirt roads. So, we went over there and we hung around there for two days. What did you do there? About the same thing you did when you were in Da Nang, although they did have a, they had a jewelry store and some other things in case you wanted to buy souvenirs to take home. But it was, there was a quite nice temple there, and it was a chance to go see something else that was going on, but it was pretty boring.


So I came home on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, and that was in 1971, and I landed at Travis Air Force Base in California. Now, there were all sorts of stories about people who landed at Travis Air Force Base who ran afoul of anti-war protestors in San Francisco at the airport and so on. I didn’t see any of that. I don’t know whether it was because it was so late in the war, or maybe it was so late at night, I don’t know, but I didn’t see any of that.


My biggest problem was that I couldn’t find my wife. She had gone home. She was pregnant—no, she wasn’t. That was the next time I was overseas. She had gone home to live with her mother, and so I called her mother’s house expecting to find her. And I had bought a ticket to go to Philadelphia, which is where she lived. “No, Kathy’s not here. She’s up seeing your folks in Massachusetts.” “Okay, I will change the ticket and fly to Boston.” Okay. Call my folks’ house, no answer. Call my folks, no answer. So I started calling around people. I think I got a hold of a minister maybe or somebody who told me that my folks were spending the weekend on Martha’s Vineyard with some friends from the church who went down there to open up their summer place, and that Kathy had gone with them. Well, I knew who these people were. I had graduated from high school with their daughter, and I knew, I had been down there, I had stayed down there with them in the summertime. And so I knew the drill, and I knew that there was no sense trying to call down there, because they wouldn’t have their phone in yet.


So, I called an aunt and uncle who were kind enough to come to Boston and pick me up and take me to Woods Hole [MA] for me to get the ferry to go over to Oak Bluffs, where these people lived. However, the ferry had no room. I could get over on the ferry, but I couldn’t come home on the ferry. They were full. So, okay, since they don’t have a phone, how do I get a hold of my wife? If I can get a hold of my wife, I can tell her to get on a boat coming this way. Well, I called the police station and I said, I told them I was Lieutenant Quist, I was just back from Vietnam, my wife was over there visiting and I didn’t know the address of the place, “but I could tell you how to get there, like give you directions on how to get there.” So the woman who answered the phone said, “Well, what’s the name of the family?” I said, “Prentiss.” So I hear her talk to somebody else, and “okay, well, we know where that is, so we’ll send somebody over there and have them pick up your wife and bring her back here, and we’ll call you from here.” So, it seems as how they sent a cop that had been dating this girl I went to high school with. His parents were the people my folks were visiting. And the cop walks in and says, “Is there a Mrs. Quist here?” And both Mrs. Quists answered “yes,” [laughter] and they sorted out that the younger one was my wife, and picked her up, brought her to the police station, I told her I was home, and, you know, “Get on the next boat.” So, that ended the saga.


CAO:                           That was a wonderful ending. [laughter] Okay, thank you. So, overall, when looking back at your experience, what were just one or two takeaways that you learned about yourself as a result of your experiences in Vietnam? And at Dartmouth?


QUIST:                        Well, [pause] learn about myself? Well, I think I am a pretty much figure out what needs to be done and let’s get it done person. And I think that led me to be able to put up with some of the anti-war people better than some of my friends. I remember coming back—well, I don’t want to tell too many sea stories—but, while I was at the Basics School, a number of the people that I had been at graduate school at Wesleyan with were having a party down in Greenwich, Connecticut, and so they invited me to come to it. So, I went up there for Saturday night, flew up and flew back the next Sunday. And this was just after the Calley business [at My Lai] had hit the news. And I was very much surprised at how some of the people at this party, knowing that I was a lieutenant, made the assumption that I was just like [Lieutenant] William Calley, and I took great umbrage at that. And that was the thing that annoyed me the most about people who were making judgments about how I did things based upon how they’d seen other military people do things.


And I also made it a point when I came home from Vietnam, people would ask me, “Well, what was it like in Vietnam?” And I would tell them that I could only tell them what it was like where I was at the time I was there, because depending upon where you were and in what year you were there, anyone’s experiences over there could be just drastically different. I think that’s another thing that Jim [Wright] talks about in his book. But, those two anecdotes may be a little bit off the beaten path.


But, I found it very easy to grasp what I thought was going on in Vietnam. I didn’t think it took a—I don’t think you had to be all that quick on the uptake in order to understand the basic problem. But it did take a good bit of intelligence to figure out how to attack the problem intelligently. And there were a lot of people who were attacking the problem very stupidly, and that made the problem worse, both the problem in country and the problem at home, the political problem here at home. I don’t know if I answered the question or not.


CAO:                           Yeah. No, I’m learning a lot right now. [laughter] So, I guess finally, Mr. Quist, do you have anything else that you would like to add to this interview?


QUIST:                        No, I don’t think so. If you think of anything that you want to ask me, just send me an email or call me or something, Karen.


CAO:                           Yeah.


QUIST:                        I’m going to—I’m supposed to be on a panel discussion for our 50th reunion here in June on the subject of “How did Vietnam affect our generation?” And one of the—the first thing that came to mind when I was asked to do this was a newspaper article that I read, and it must have been sometime either just before or just after I went to Dartmouth, and it had to have been around ’64. It couldn’t have been much later than that. And this person, whoever he was, I forget now, but he was making the point that the Vietnam War could create a real psychological problem for Americans, and this kind of struck home because he was painting the picture of we as a nation have a mental breakdown because of what was going on in Vietnam. And, you know, it wasn’t too long before that we had had a war much worse than Vietnam, and one that was as politically charged as Vietnam in Korea. So, I found this rather interesting, and I remembered it all these years, and I wish I knew who the man who wrote the article, because I think he was right on the money. And with all of the things that have gone on since then, and things we’re living through right now, I think largely can be traced back to where you stood on the Vietnam issue.


CAO:                           Okay.


QUIST:                        So, anyway, my two cents.


CAO:                           Okay, fantastic. I think this is a good place to stop the recording.


[End of Interview.]