Stephanie Emory and Mark Emory

Recorded August 11, 2021 Archived August 11, 2021 37:34 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: ddv001072


Stephanie Emory (47) interviews her dad, Mark Emory (77), about his experience enlisting in the Army during the Vietnam War.

Subject Log / Time Code

ME describes what prompted him to join the military during the Vietnam War.
ME recalls his parents reaction to his decision to join the Army, saying his mother was shocked to say the least.
ME recalls the day he was sworn into the Army.
ME describes his Officer Candidate School (OCS) training.
ME recalls a Hungarian company officer that mentored him.
ME describes the culture shock he went through at the beginning of his Army experience.
ME describes his combat experience in Vietnam and his connection to the show M.A.S.H.
ME recalls changing into civilian clothing upon arriving back into the US.
ME discussing re-entering the workforce after retiring from the Army, noting that nobody cared about his military background and training.


  • Stephanie Emory
  • Mark Emory

Recording Location

Virtual Recording


Partnership Type



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00:07 I'm Stephanie Emory. I am 47 years old and today is Wednesday, August 11th, 2021 and I am in Austin, Texas with my dad, Mark Emory.

00:26 A miter and I'm Mark Emory. I'm 77 and today is August.

00:33 11 11 19, 20 2021 and I live in Austin, Texas also and I'm talking with my daughter, Stephanie.

00:45 Well, right.

00:48 So, so what were some of the reasons that you join the military?

00:59 Run-of-the-mill barely average college student at the University of North Carolina and after 3 years. And not knowing what I wanted to do with a college education. At the time, I decided it was time to do something different, and the difference given that it was 1966. And Vietnam was really heating up. I decided it was time to get into the army and see what it was all about. I selected the Army because my grandfather and my dad were both army officers in World War. I and World War II. And it just seemed the appropriate branch of the service to go into.

01:44 They?

01:47 Well, I guess that's that certain why I decided and

01:53 The rest was history after I, after I made the decision, I went down to talk to the draft draft of not draft but to the recruiter in North, Canton Chapel Hill, actually, and among other things. I wanted to make sure that I was eligible to go to OCS. So I took an exam and they say, example, niceto you owe no problem. We will get you and do Cs and

02:24 I think I signed like a commitment letter to be there on a certain date in September 1966 at the at the recruitment Depot. In Raleigh, North Carolina. And this was from Midsomer 66 until September. And I had to go home to Philadelphia until my parents. They had no idea tell my parents were like what my plans were.

02:54 And what did they do?

02:59 Are you sure know the story? Why? My my dad was rather stoic my mom absolutely freaked out because the background is my grandfather was killed within days of the Armistice being signed in World War. I and my father was almost killed right in the middle of the battle in France, in 1944. And so,

03:34 It was sad.

03:36 It was a shock to my mother to say the least. My brother is all thought it was interesting and my friends want one of my my friend best friend was already in the Navy and so he know he was cool with it and it just went from there.

03:57 And it was at that time was to hear the oldest sibling and so was Uncle. Bob in college yet. And Kelly were in high school brother and sister.

04:18 Let's say that was that was sort of it until and that it was until September. I think I was about a month. But once ago before I had to go down there and we

04:31 We just did all the regular stuff and then had went out to dinner the night before I was leaving, and I got on the train and went back down to down to Raleigh, North Carolina. I met my college roommate, who is doing the same thing. On the same day. I went down to the office together.

05:04 Yeah, I signed in together. We stood beside each other when we took the oath and Bill McMurray. He was from North Carolina's dad on the Chevy dealership, but the

05:25 The day that we signed into the army was it was an interesting day because it I live in Raleigh. I had no idea what to expect. The only thing I knew was that we would be going to basic training at Fort Bragg and wish. I just opened as a training center because their army was gearing up in 66 and

05:49 I was sort of surprised when they put us all in this room and they had all of these guys, myself and Bill and all these other young men. We all went to a physical first and then they line us up and we are all in civilian clothes at the time and we were told to bring one small bag with like our toiletry and a change of underwear and that was about it. And they asked the physicals were they lined us up in a Christian way they lined us up by Army, Airforce Navy, Marines, and I don't think there's any cut buddy from the Coast Guard. Their the first thing that was a master sergeant from the Marines came in and asked for some more of us to volunteer to go into the Marines instead of whatever our chosen I didn't, I would never have thought all the different branches. That y'all went to the same place.

06:49 Depo in Raleigh, which was one of the main buildings and state. It wasn't just a recruitment office. It was like a gymnasium and

07:00 So shortly after that, they loaded his broke ass down by where we were going to training and loaded us onto buses. And oh, she is right in front of me.

07:15 Analogous on the bus and we

07:18 Spent was she from Raleigh. We spent probably.

07:24 An hour and a half on a bus that left at like 6:30 or 7 in the evening.

07:31 Dinner and arrived at at Fort Bragg at

07:36 Gosh, it was after dark. I don't know what time it was, but it was pretty late.

07:42 And that's when the parabola SLS. Hit the fan, a drop-down. I say March is over to have a sandwich or something and then they put us all back in a big Jim and and broke his town by platoons and told us where to go to sleep and make talents are on the Sergeant's. Also does how to make an army bed. And then I think maybe we got 2 hours of sleep and that

08:18 Who knows what time in the morning, the lights came on the whistle started blowing, and we were in the Army now. Nothing, like what? I thought it was it.

08:33 I actually enjoyed it and I, I treated.

08:39 All of my army training up through is he has almost like a game and and you had to play by the rules and do the very best you could to win the game.

08:53 Basically, and so I I sort of enjoyed it. It was very hard. It was harder than I expected. Physically. It was draining. I think I probably lost 10 or 10 or 12 lb in basic training and I wasn't very heavy back then and

09:14 You know, we went through you name it, what you can think of, to get trained to be an army guy, want to learn how to shoot a rifle, and we learn how to do hand, to hand combat, work out of work in the mess hall and clean barracks.

09:29 Make a bed. Make a bed. Do lots of other things like that and waited.

09:37 And then they then they took us off where we went through from Fort Knox. I mean, from Fort Bragg to Fort Knox.

09:47 And you know, I really don't remember how we got there.

09:51 Play Sitting the day was it? And I don't remember. I don't remember whether we had a week off between, I think maybe we had a week off or something. But anyway, we ended up at Fort Knox and Bill and I were together and advanced individual training is called a it in the Army and we all pick the branch and I had picked armor. Just because I always thought armor and Cavalry, stop sounded pretty interesting. And and I know I wasn't sure I wanted to be in the Infantry, which is where my grandfather was killed. My father was almost kill and I thought maybe something would be more interesting. So

10:32 So we went from there and I will be at my learn how to shoot a tank on and drive a tank and do all kinds of interesting stuff.

10:42 And I was by, then. I was a private first class in the US Army at Fort Knox.

10:54 You're not, you're never done your train. Yeah, I went to, I was it's interesting that they screwed up. My paperwork somehow on my friend bill went, he went directly from Advanced centers will training, basic was 8 weeks and I T was 8 weeks. And then he went like the next week right over do CS, which was at 4. It was like 2 blocks away from where we went through a it and I was, and I so I was sent to a training company, which and I took me like, 2 months to get my paperwork to get straightened out and get accepted into OCS. And I worked, I worked as a

11:41 Trainer, for other AI T kids that were coming and I would help help them. Learn how to shoot the guns, help them. Learn how to drive the tanks. I would be one of the guys that would drive the tank out to the firing range because usually the trainees weren't qualified yet to do that. Kind of thing is a lot different. It was

12:10 I don't know what to call it.

12:13 Extremely demanding, I guess is in both physically and mentally, you had to everything, had to be done the right way. Exactly the right way all the time. What kind of physical stuff is in this year?

12:31 The Army has a standards test and I'm sure it's a lot different now than it was in 1967, but we did.

12:42 Branches to get into the mess hall. We had to do so many push-ups.

12:46 How many pull ups for the bar? That was a bar in front of the door? We were and anything. We that our trainers didn't like, we got to do push-ups and they had to be really good. Push ups. And so they,

13:09 They basically got us and really really good shape.

13:14 Just day in and day out with, which I never occurred to me was happening at first, but day, in and day out. We were all getting thinner and stronger and more self-confident. I think and we had classes that, you know, she asked the class is allowed a certain academic when they were on Military topics, but they were it was almost like, being in school. We sit in class with instructor and take notes and we have exams on it.

13:48 I did because it was, because I knew what the objective was. It wasn't just taking classes, every class was very specific to what we were going to be doing. Once we work Commission.

14:02 And,

14:05 So, I did the classes. Unfortunately, I still wasn't the best student. I was picked as one of the top leaders in the, in our company, but I can honestly, I wasn't a superstar.

14:20 Not. But that helped me because I know that's where I really learned, which what it takes to study in stuff, which I had never been very good at 4 to do. You are the best student in the total class standing? I was a little bit lower than I should have been a very high up on the leadership part. And when we graduated, we graduate in the company, and I was one of the two platoons marching.

14:56 We March from our Barracks over to the hall where we where we were commissioned and my mom and dad were there. A lot of everybody's family showed up for it was a big deal and got commissioned and the big deal was you had to you had to give a dollar to the first person you had to salute to

15:18 SOS the way it worked was we all went in and there was I think our company was two platoons or think Thirty of us in each platoon. So I was too big Barracks from live dead and our primary drill sergeant was standing at the door as we walked out from everyone.

15:43 Peppa that rule, so that the ongoing saga of my day was

16:00 I liked it. I really enjoyed what I was doing.

16:04 And I felt like finally I had, you know, I was going to do so, I grabbed you went, then you were deployed or some of us who had passed the flight testing on it, which I had, but I had to take in the physical for it.

16:36 And then we were sent everywhere training centers. I was sent to Fort Lewis to a to a training Battalion, which was training. Young infantry AIT, guys. All of her went.

16:54 From a it after they graduated for a two-week, leave straight to Vietnam every single one of them unless they had a physical problem or, or something else. So it was it was a very, very different type of situation than I've been in before, and I was in one of the companies that was the first in the Army to train train, our students are at Keystone with M16.

17:23 They were interesting Lee, their rm16 that we're back from Vietnam, and they're basically worn out.

17:31 But they wanted the trainees to have an M16 rifle in my hands. So they would know what what it was like to be at another 1:30. And we went out. We had they actually extended our training by a week and we had at Fort Lewis in the rain in the Pine Forest. Not not the traffic.

17:52 But we we went out for a full week bivouac out in the woods and it would and ran the court class for a full week. And so we were in the jungle in Vietnam somewhere and we would have patrols sent out at night. We'd have Ambush site set up. We'd be attacked, or they were, they were some training company, guys, guys. Like I had been when I was at, and I wasn't sending me where I was kept there to work. There were guys, there were guys at Fort Lewis. So they would be out there and they'd be the they'd be the end. And they would provide the people that we would set up an ambush for or the people that we would be attacked by. They try to sneak into our bivouac at night.

18:52 And so we had the cards, you really had to be guarding. It wasn't just that everybody can't stop and go to sleep at night and they all graduated. I was really fortunate the company, when I got there the company Commander. That was my company. Commander was about to leave for Vietnam and hit a replacement showed up. This guy's name was Uber bought the saggy.

19:24 If you remember that, I can't forget it. He was a very pretty cool guy and I consider him a really good Mentor for me, who, but was was hungarian-born hungry. I don't, you probably don't know the history, but the bridge at andau, I think in 1956 the hungarians revolted against the Russians and the Escape Route was across this bridge at andau. And he and his family were some of the people that got out when he was like a teenager. Older teenager in love it going to West Point and getting commissioned as an officer at West Point. And when I met him he was back from his first tour in Vietnam with a couple of silver stars and see Ivy and all the stuff.

20:20 And he was as hardcore army officers. I've ever met very, very nice guy that everything had to be done. Right? He was like six foot, too thin as a rail. We all had shaved head haircuts at the time and

20:38 So anyway, so I met him and interesting Lee a year later, eight months later. I came down orders to go to Vietnam, same day that he did again, really, really, and I don't hear first time in his second time, in the Vietnam time. It wasn't like, it has been in these recent Wars where these kids get recycle over and over and over again, back into the combat zones and they come home and they have six months here. And let me get set back, didn't work that way. We were sitting for a year sometimes longer and we were done and most guys who were drafted were there one here. They got out. Usually, they came home and were discharged from the Army.

21:30 When they got home from their here in Vietnam, even if it wasn't their fault to year as a draftee enlistment time and

21:42 So did you see him while you were in Vietnam or did not but interesting Lee enough, we both came down orders to go to Jungle school and pick them up on our way to the back to Vietnam in the same class. So I got to go through the two weeks ago with them too. And that was a lot of fun. That was fun. That was hard. But it was fun. Eating, some of the stuff they had us. Try out. And I like the snake and stuff like that wasn't. I didn't go for that very much. But the rest of it was fun. I just mentioned the draftees. I had I had never met a person in my life. When I was in bed, when I went to basic training. I've never met a person. My life before they had never been to a tent.

22:31 And who needed? Really, really serious dental work done first, both at being at Fort Bragg and being going into the service at North Carolina. Almost all the guys that were there with me and basic training, where, all Southern? We had National Guard guys that were there.

22:53 It had gone. I had to go to basic with guys with college teachers and stuff like that, the National Guard, but we all went through it together, but it was a really big shock for me having grown up in Philadelphia. You know, I'm a fairly affluent family too. Just didn't know what I was saying. I didn't, and they were farms in North Carolina and South Carolina, Georgia, and all over the Deep South East is where they at this pool of people that went through training at Fort Bragg and we really had a good time there. This was after he mentioned, my mom was upset a very, very tearful departure and I know from

23:53 Just leave after after on my way to Vietnam before, I went to Jungle school. So I went back and did all the stuff, and he normal kid would do. You know, it's funny something year old young guy while I was off at home. And the last thing was I had to I had to go to

24:14 Captain call where it was.

24:17 Videos. The airport in Philadelphia to get on a plane to fly down to Panama.

24:22 Bedtime.

24:24 It was very, very tearful farewell and went through jungle school and I and I shockingly was given.

24:36 Then they told us their orders had been flights have been changed up and we were given two weeks. We were in Panama at the end of the two weeks, of course, being handed orders for what we didn't accept my orders were to be in San Diego, at the replacement Depo.

24:55 Not San Diego in Oakland, California at the Repo Depot.

25:01 2 weeks later.

25:05 And so was like after Panama, after Panama is like I'm not going back home. I can't do that to my mother again. So I

25:18 Like that, they had tickets for all of us to fly up to to Atlanta. And then basically you are all on our own after that and we have orders and vouchers for airplane, tickets back. Then I didn't have to go buy a ticket, but I did have to make reservation and so we showed up and I don't know what time it was middle of the day or late morning at Hartsfield in Atlanta, and I went to see

25:47 Are they told us which airlines to use even and I think it was maybe Delta and I went to get 94 tickets and there was nothing until the first flight out the next morning.

26:00 Hartsfield back then was not quite as downtown. Atlanta is it is now and then still pretty far from downtown, but it wasn't connected. And so I basically spent the day at the airport, slept on a bench in the airport that night. What are you wearing? I mean,

26:25 I might have been, I don't remember.

26:29 We are all we all because of the situation of Vietnam. We had all bought civilian clothes at the PX as soon as we could, so we can travel in civilian clothes, not Army, close. In fact recommended to us, not to. But we were traveling with big army duffle bag with all our stuff. And I didn't know what, you know, I didn't know it was at that point. I was, I got off the plane and what was going to happen when I got to when I got to the Repo Depot, and it just said be there. In fact, it said, in fact, it said, you can report there, anytime you want. Your flight is scheduled. That I had a date flight number and everything. In the orders. I gave me said, you can you can report there anytime you want. So I

27:28 Got off the plane in San Francisco, and took a cab.

27:33 If it can probably

27:36 To downtown San Francisco in on the Square. There were all the expensive hotels or I got all the things that weren't. What am I going to do for 2 weeks? So, I walked over to one of the hotels, I'm going to say it was a help and I think

27:51 It wasn't one of the big expensive, really fancy hotels and went in and asked for a room and it was.

28:01 For me, it was expensive, but I wanted to be there that night. So I went ahead and took her in for the night and it was I found out that even in mid-summer. This was in June. So I had to go buy some clothes.

28:17 And after after one night, at with that, I decided

28:23 Basically, I couldn't afford it.

28:26 So I got myself down to the Repo Depot at in Oakland, which is interesting cuz there's a I can't remember the name of it. But it's one of the big Bridges across the harbor there. The Bay in San Francisco that goes, you get off the bridge and the Repo Depot is right there. So I went out went down there, the next day and I went and got out of the cab of a dropped off that you were a week and a half earlier. Something. I was almost a week and 4 days early and I didn't know it was going to happen.

29:04 Soy, I went up and I still was pretty well. I was told where to go when I got to the gate, you know, I gave them my orders and I looked at it's okay Lieutenant. You need to go check in over there and I wish that the

29:19 Over there. Over there. When I went over there and I was signed in by the time, I don't know what it was.

29:33 WhatsApp.

29:35 So, when I'm there, let's talk about Vietnam for a minute cuz we're running out of time. We've been talking too much.

29:45 Combat was frightening. They said they talked about being days of boredom and then minutes of total. Absolute fear. That was her like that. But it was a combat zone. Unlike, what, what they had today, where the whole country was the combat zone. So we, we always carry loaded guns.

30:08 There was no place to take a break and work was hard.

30:14 And we waste our time there. I was in the 11th Cav. I was a platoon leader with a tank company and I was a company executive officer. I found out that

30:26 Which is in, charge of all the administrative stuff, getting supplies and getting food and getting parts, the tanks and getting replacement people out to the company when they were out in the field. And

30:39 I was astonished when I got home and and mash came on.

30:45 Because that was a lot like what? It was like, for being an executive officer. And Company. I spent more time than a glowing stuff and send you guys out to steal parts for tanks and just doing all kinds of stuff. Are you wearing? Didn't we don't wear underwear. Even, we just were. I ain't standing. I went, I came home. I went back. And I was a platoon leader in the hundred first Airborne air rifle. Platoon leader in an air cab unit.

31:26 I decided I was going to be a career officer by then and I was at 11th, Cav is a is a independent. The only independent Cowboy regiment in the US Army. It's not part of a division and I wanted to see what it was like to work in an army division in combat, not.

31:49 Go back a train somewhere. So I ask for extension to the 2nd and 17th. Cav the hundred first airborne and I got it. So I came home for a leave for my back and ended up being recruited to go pee in a rifle platoon leader, which was a frightening job. That was basically an infantry job carrying a rifle in the jungle and jumping out of helicopters and stuff like that when I came back from combat.

32:21 The first thing we did at the airport when we got off the plane was going the restroom and change out of our army clothes into civilian clothes.

32:29 We were not welcomed back and people were route, rather rude, but after that, I went to the 82nd Airborne for a while, for a year of his company Commander, their troop Commander there and then I went to the career course at Fort Knox.

32:56 I was born. I was an instructor at I was kept over as an instructor at the arbor school after their career course General Patton. The son of B General. It been our regimental commander in the 11th Kan in Vietnam, and he basically grabbed every captain that graduated from North Korea course, from the 11th cab and kept them instructors. He was commandant of the armor skill with the time and so I stayed there and that's where I met your mom.

33:28 And then there was pressure on everybody to take to get a second Branch at the end. As Vietnam was closing down in the Army was getting smaller and I pick the MP's, I went through a basic and was was the admin officer for the MP Battalion at Fort Knox.

33:51 At the end of the story of my military career, after after a year, doing that. I came down. I was coming down on orders to be sent to Germany and your mother and her parents who were all in France during the war. I said, you're not going to Germany and taking my granddaughter and my and your mom said I'm not going with you.

34:17 So, I turn my resignation and two days later.

34:21 And I had already been taking night courses to get back to finish my degree, and I ended up going to the University of Louisville and then grad school at University of Kentucky.

34:33 And the only answer the end of the whole thing.

34:38 And I don't have trouble getting back. I think I had little PTSD.

34:43 But I, but I

34:46 You know, what's with you and your mom, keeping me busy? I and I was in school full-time busy after 3 years and

34:57 And the

35:01 Then I went looking for a job in the interesting part of the job hunt was turns out.

35:09 Nobody, that I was interviewed by for jobs before I before I accept the job.

35:15 Cared at all about my military background for my training. Or what I had done is they just didn't care. And I I got I don't think I got any credit for being one of them had been in the military. Now if I can come out of the Army is a retired sergeant major and was looking for some

35:46 Other type of supervisory job, do a line supervisor in a big business, that probably would have made a big difference, but it sure didn't matter that. I was an 8-year Army.

35:59 You know, it yours in the army with a with the background like that. Just didn't matter.

36:11 I think I think people pay more attention to it. Now Vietnam era was just different and yeah, there were riots going on here in the states, over over why we were there, and that's never happened with each other assignments.

36:29 So that's you just had the short story of my whole life in there. And in the Army. In general. I thought I enjoyed the entire thing or some people. I didn't like working with. I only have one very close friend that I have stayed in contact with that. He was the guy that went through the career course with me and

36:52 I'm now retired civilian.

36:57 Let you know after 20 some odd years with GTE.

37:03 I think that started it, don't you tell me the story about the 40 minute version?

37:22 For the record.

37:25 Oh, thanks Courtney. I think that that's it.