Phyllis Greenway, Oral History Interview
April 19th, 2017
Sullivan Museum and History Center
Interviewed by Joseph Cates
JOSEPH CATES: I'm going to press record and then we'll get started. This isJoseph Cates. Today is April 19th, 2017. This interview is taking place at the Sullivan Museum and History Center with Phyllis Greenway. This interview is sponsored by the Sullivan Museum and History Center as part of the Norwich Voices Oral History Project. Phyllis, will you tell me about John?
PHYLLIS GREENWAY: I'd be delighted, Joe to continue what I was talking about andgiving stories that mostly were things that happened to me, uh, since John and I were together. Since, I have mentioned before was from sixth grade on. It has been almost three years since I gave you the information that you already had in hand. And now, my husband is still living. He is in a local facility here in Northfield called Mayo. This is a facility that was a private one and still is and has a small capacity, but that capacity of care is reflected in these people that take care of him. John, as I mentioned before, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Lewy Body Dementia. This was, uh, reflected when it first, the Lewy Bodies were first mentioned and agreed upon by the neurologist that this was one of his causes. That while he had delusions, hallucinations, uh, anger sometimes. Not physical, not striking out, but yelling. John was never a person to yell, always very much the self-control, but also, sadness, weeping, crying, very difficult for people around them. And I felt, I, for the first six months he was there, I spent a lot of time with him feeding him and so on. But those people there, this is an accolade for the facility, obviously. They said, "Phyllis, now you've got to let us take care of him." Which, of course, it's hard to let go. Uh, but now, he is, for the most part, can no longer walk, has a few words, but reacts to his classical music. But paramount above that, he reacts to my voice. So, that's good. I also massage his face and so on. Okay, so, shall I go on and I will, I will go over, I don't whether it's quickly, reading some of his letters that he wrote me when we were not together, which are a lot. I also have in my possession letters that he wrote to his mother and that I wrote to my mother when we were out of the United States. There's nothing like written letters to see the hand of someone that you really care for, for sure. John was, went to Norwich, as I mentioned in this other interview, half, first, always loved the military. And I think was kind of a whim that, this is a reiteration of this, that he'd go to Norwich. He got a letter from General Harmon, which I'm sure was ubiquitous throughout wherever and he said, "This sounds like a good idea." And his mother, he was not a great student but so, he decided to go and was accepted. And, for me, I was going to go to New Jersey College for Women. My mother was in the first class of that which is now Rutgers's and she was a great poohbah and had a reputation with them, so I didn't want to try to follow in her shoes. My sister had tried that and that didn't work at all. So, the woman that I took Spanish from said, "Now, listen. There's this small college up in Vermont and I have a friend that teaches there, called Green Mountain, and I'd think you'd do very well there." So, I applied and was accepted. And my mother and John drove me up there. Of course, I had to be there before he was sent to Norwich. And, they had a nice time. They drove from Jersey. Johnny and I grew up in Jersey, as I've mentioned before. But I have a letter that he wrote to his family here, on first coming to Norwich, which might be kind of fun: "Dear Ma, George, May May - That's his sister and so forth-, All the rooks," - that's in parentheses -, "as we are called, have to have haircuts. So, I was duly scalped yesterday morning. It doesn't look bad. The quote, military discipline, end quote, is a snap so far. All we have to do is say sir to all our upper classmen, salute officers, walk around at attention and this is called bracing. And take all the corners square. So, really, this is the same old thing, right? These last two or three or six weeks, then, we are Privates. Now, we are Recruits. We were issued uniforms today, with the exception of the full-dress coats, pants, and gloves." I'm going to stop reading this right now and I will put in a comment from me that in the thirty-four years that John was in the Army, the Army changed uniforms maybe six times. And when John was first at Norwich, their uniforms were World War II and then it began to change. Even in Hawaii, he was required to have dress whites when we could hardly afford chicken, anyway. Okay. "The trunk didn't get here yet." He also would send his laundry home in a box for his mother to do. "But my company commander doesn't think it's unusual. He says, 'Maybe tomorrow or the next day.' I'm not inconvenienced much except for shoes and the pillow. If you have an extra iron in it, it would be nice if you send it up. I met my academic advisor last night and he's swell, very much like Mr. Thompson in Rumson." Where he and I both took from Mr. Thompson. "He's the English teacher and I got my courses outlined and scheduled. I have English, History, Spanish, Biology, Geology, plus Military. No math. We had a talk from the dean last night in the armory and another morning from the guy who runs the college store. I'm in A Company and as things go here, in order, A is the first of everything, very lucky. Nothing else for now. So long, John." He was pretty good about writing his family. Pretty good.
JC: What did John major in?
PG: John majored, he was thinking about trying to becoming a doctor but he wasterrible in math and I'm not sure what he really, his plan was until we went to Hawaii. And that was the battalion that was very stable, a lot of battalions aren't, in and out, filled with a lot of West Pointers that were gung ho, if you will. Beautiful place to live, although we moved three times when we there. And I think that's where, and it may have been later, that he had a reserve commission when he graduated from Norwich, but he got on regular commission, either there or in Fort Hood where we went to after Hawaii. We always seemed to be going back to Fort Hood, which I'll say in a minute because I lived in nine houses in Killeen, Texas. Okay. Now this is, this is when he left me to go to Vietnam. Let me start that he went to basic in Fort Knox and we lived, quite a few of the students were married then. But not a lot of them. Hardly any had any babies and I had a brand-new baby son, which I had when he had already been in Fort Knox and there's a story about that earlier, but he came to get me when our first son was only six days old. We drove back to Fort Knox and lived in a high rise there called New Garden Apartments, which I fervently hoped that they have demolished by this time because it was kind of a weirdo's place. Uh, I hardly had any friends there, but I think he really liked basic. And we met new friends, one of whom, two or three of whom we stayed with our whole lives, a couple of Norwich fellows, and then, people from somewhere else. One, a fellow from Arkansas who, when he was in his cups, would yell, "Suey, pig!", which is what they yell at football games, if you're from Arkansas. "Pig! Pig! Pig!" he'd go. In fact, I talked to him last week when I had rather bad news about another friend. He is going to an assisted facility so that people can take care of him. David Sein is his name and one of my favorite people who always kept a sense of humor no matter what. So, we were in Fort Knox and I think I covered that he didn't like where he was assigned in Fort Knox to a training battalion, after he finished basic. And I mentioned that he didn't think that people worked very hard. And we had moved out of this high rise to the first real place that had bedrooms, except here, in Norwich. He went in. He said, "I've got to get out of here." Johnny was independent. And they said, "Okay. We've got packets going out." And, he didn't tell me he was doing this either. And I didn't resent it. He said, "We have four packets going out." I think that's what it was. My noggin's not quite working that well. Two to Germany. One to Korea and one to Hawaii. And the way they figured out who was going to take these packets. Packets were recruits, thirty or so. And they'd have to be babysat with a second lieutenant that went with them. And Johnny pulled Hawaii out of the hat. Two of our friends went to Germany and lived high on the hog. And we're talking '57 then, when it was easy to live there because of the mark versus the dollar breakdown. But sure wasn't in Hawaii. So, Johnny went off and I've already covered this, and with his babysitting people and he was on a boat to go to Hawaii with a lot of wives that were going over there, as well as the other. He was the mess officer on the boat. So, he was in Hawaii and met me when they finally sent the car over there. And, he had found, he had found a place to rent. And then, we moved one, two times before we moved on to Scofield. The first place we lived was Nanakuli, which is now, years later, and this is 1956, right. Now it is an enclave of the Samoan population in Hawaii. And of all things, when John and I were there, when he was getting diagnosed with his problems with mental development of his terrible problems, um, a fellow was waiting for his wife, who was being analyzed and diagnosed. And this man said to me, I said, "What do you, sir?" And he said, "I'm a sociologist and I've just come back from Hawaii." I said, "Where were you in Hawaii?" And he said, "Nanakuli." For heaven's sake! I'm convinced, throughout our life, that experiences in life are a circle. They're not beginning and end. It is a constant reiteration of what has gone on. So, as a matter of fact, in Nanakuli, which I mentioned, there was only one other person that spoke English in three houses in a row. And then, across the street was the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, sorry. Obliquely was a Filipino that had, I don't know, ten or eleven children, that he would run around the yard and beat with a rope. And he had three or four chickens, one of whom was a rooster that used to crow at some God-awful time in the morning and Johnny would go take the car. Of course, I had no other transportation, so I would read, or I would play with my son at that point. And I was pregnant with our second son, Andrew. And John would drive through Kohekohe Pass to Schofield. And the Schofield of those days, of course, he had seen it since, but I had not returned to Hawaii, looked exactly like From Here to Eternity. Everybody's seen that movie, of the older quarters surrounded by Banyan trees. Perfectly beautiful. And almost every afternoon, they would have a parade. There would be, and Schofield is in between two mountain ranges, over which, by the way, the Zeros went through to go, after they attacked Hickam to go down to Waikiki or to Pearl Harbor. But it would rain maybe twenty minutes almost every day and then, all of the sudden, you would have a double rainbow. And we did move on post, which was better for us because money was so tight, and I wanted somebody I could at least talk to and not watch beat their children so that was good. On and on. From there, we went to, we stayed for three years. The battalion was really annoyed with us because I had Johnny when I came. Andrew was born in a sugarcane plantation hospital in Ebbett Beach, where I would sit with the sugarcane workers, who spoke no English, but I have children like probably they do, with very few minutes to spare. And so, I had Andrew. And then, we moved in to Wahiawa and then we moved on post. And then, I became pregnant again. I almost saw reflections of my former self, which was kind of skinny but not bad. And, I became pregnant again and I got bigger and bigger. And, I went to my doctor. And he said, "Phyllis, I think you miscalculated." I said, "Well, okay." He said, "We'll do an X-ray." Then, they just did all these things which would be so frowned on today. You wouldn't believe. So, I went in and had an X-ray and this teeny little woman who came out to look up at me, who I think I probably weighed as much as Cassius Clay at that point. And I said, "Well?" She said, "I can't say!" I said, "Well?" "Doctor says can't say!" I said, "What? What are you telling me?" She says, "You not tell?" I says, "No. I won't tell. I won't tell." I said, "Are there two?" She said, "Yes! Yes!" And I was so excited. Can you imagine? Because my oldest was three and a half and my second kid was two and a half. So, I went in and I saw the X-rays of my twins. So, I went home, and I was, you know, I'd always planned to have six boys and I was well on the way. And, John was on the floor, unpacking a dryer and a dishwasher. And I said, "Ramsey! Ramsey!" That's his middle name. "Guess what? We're going to have twins." He said, "Oh my God!" And he just kept doing what he was doing, you know? It wasn't like one of these things in the movie, "Oh, darling! It will be great!" But he did relent in about a couple hours. He says, "Oh, God! Maybe one will be a girl." But it wasn't, and I had them the next day which was another story which I have in the other thing. Why was the battalion angry at us? Because they had to give a sterling silver baby cup to everybody that was, and I was the only one to ever receive three baby cups before I left Hawaii. So, that's the way that was. We could have gone on a [indecipherable]. In those days, people leaving Hawaii, they had a wonderful fleet of ships and they would send you first class. But who wants to get on a boat for four days with four boys. The babies weren't even weened yet, kind of. And with the other two running around fighting and falling. I said, "Oh no. Let me get out of here." So, they sent us out by plane. There's another story about that which I hope I put in the beginning of this. But we were sent to Fort Hood. And I don't think I've mentioned this either that whenever we were in between posts with so many children, we had to be accepted by members usually of my family, to come and live with them for as much as two weeks or even a month before quarters or anything were available or get there and we had to get a reasonably new car to go too. So, we were sent to Fort Hood. And we got some substandard quarters. We couldn't move. Yeah. Right. A lot of places that we've lived were immediately condemned by the post and I forget what the name of that was but for keeping cool, it has an evaporative cooler on the floor and I would give, this was in summer, we were sent there in August. And I mean it was hot! And I'd give those babies two or three baths during the day, you know, but nobody ever put any. So, from there, John was, we were in a battalion we like very much, and some strange things happened with that. In fact, I talked to a woman who, the company commander, you know, battalion commander's wife, you really didn't, when you're second lieutenant, you know, the company commander's wife, he was killed later in Vietnam. But the XO's wife, I talked to three days ago because she had a tragedy in her life, but we were really good friends and still have been. She came to John's retirement thirty-three years later and is still there now. Still has red hair. She and I, Lucy, great bridge player. I love to play bridge and, uh, she and I were very serious about it. And one of our opponents across the way once said, "You're so smart, Mrs. Herman, to find glasses to match your hair." And Lucy says, "I dye my hair to match my glasses." She just put it right on down the line. So, we were in Fort Hood. And then, John went to the advanced class in Fort Knox and we did have quarters there and that was kind of nice. And then, we went back to Fort Hood and did have some reasonably nice quarters there when we came back. We moved three times. And then, John was sent to Vietnam, after that second time. And this was in 1964. At that point, I could no longer live in quarters. Nowadays, wives can live in quarters. I did not go home to Jersey. They would have sent me home if I wanted to do that. But my family had no connections or history thereof of the military, as I mentioned, as well, "When can John try to get out of the Army?" But I just let it go. When you're a guest of somebody for three weeks, you keep your mouth shut kind of, which has always been difficult for me. So, I found a house in Killeen. And I'm reading this letter here, which has, often, I have lost where I've lived so often. This is Currie Avenue in Killeen, Texas, headquarters in Johnny's something, headquarters U.S.A. El Mag Vietnam, A.P.O 143 San Francisco, California. Yeah. Right. "Dearest Phyllis," at first, it's kind of, a little bit personal and talks about, because he left me at night to go off. He was flying out at night from Temple, Texas and he drove the car there. So, I had a friend. I planned to have a friend take me down the next day and pick up the car so it wasn't so filled with emotion of having to drive back to Fort Hood from Temple, Texas with the car after he'd gone. So, that worked out pretty well, except I took the boys over. And, this was a three-seater station wagon, pretty new. And, I'm going down the highway from Temple, Texas to Fort Hood and the back gate comes open in the car and the boys are kind of, and the third seat had been put down and the second seat had been put down. So, they'd been kind of crawling around, fighting in the car and I thought, you know, I was going fast, "What do I do?" So, I put on a brake. I slammed on the brake. So, all four of them just piled over the front seat of the car where I was driving. And they were all safe and they weren't too, you know, they weren't even bruised as far as [indecipherable]. So, that was my first thing when Johnny left and that really gave me focus on what was important and what not. Every day that he was gone, I would not allow myself to cross off the day until it was after seven o'clock at night. I don't know if I talked, my mother came to see me at Christmas time. So, that was good. And here's a little bit of his letter. "The San Francisco Airport is completely modernized but Travis is just the same. I went by the place we stayed overnight on the way back from Hawaii and started remembering all that. Got sad all over again. As I'm writing this, you're probably in Temple picking up the car. I was going to leave a note in it for you, but I didn't have time at that point. This will have to take its place. And I also can enclose the key this time, right?" And then, it goes very personal about his feelings which I can't bear to read. Okay. Let's see here. I have found, since I reviewed these letters, that his letters from Vietnam are, especially the ones to his mother, which I did not bring today, which were very much focused on international affairs and what he thought about it. Now, he was assigned to be an advisor in the Delta. And when he first, and he was a captain, okay. So, there was one major, I think, two sergeants and then, another captain. Okay. "Dear Phyl," March1965, these may not be in exact sequence. "I'm back from Ka Lai for a while. Everything's still very quiet. Many people think a lot of the main force VC units have moved to the north. I am not convinced this is correct. The troop commanders are skeptical." He means the troop commanders, the VC, or the South Vietnamese. "I think they are still here but have received orders to lie low. The only way to find out is to go out in force and look for them. This we have not done. The Air Force made air strikes in southeastern Pleiku district yesterday. Said they killed a lot of VC. They probably did. But also, probably killed a lot of other people too. This comes to mind recently as we have read in our local news now of civilian populations being killed. You mentioned all the fuss being raised about the use of tear gas. Now, that doesn't mean Agent Orange. That means something else. All those people can go to hell. I wish we had a couple planes spraying tear gas on these VC companies at Am Boc." That's where he was in a. "It certainly would have made that a much less costly day." I've never know him to be militant. This man was a liberal. He was not a gun guy except to kill ducks. "These damn do-gooders who deplore the use of chemical against the poor guerillas should try driving Battalion 261 out of fortified wood line. I think they would sing a different tune. The more I know of the VC, the more I think that the only good one is like the only good Indian was described -- dead. It doesn't even bother me anymore when I see the Vietnamese apply some of their more brutal forms of persuasion to gain information from captives. When you see some of the things the VC do, it's hard to find compassion for any of these. Anyway, my point is that I have no sympathy for the Viet Cong and any means we use to defeat them is justifiable. I saw in the Saigon Macv Daily Bulletin where Ed Huddle," that's another friend that he knows, "is deceased. I don't know any reports of an American Army captain being killed in the last couple of weeks, but I don't think the Macvag would make a mistake like that. Have you heard anything?" Right. "I've got to go mail this, darling, and I will send you the Leavenworth information in another envelope soon." John, when he was there, as I mentioned in my other comments, such a smart guy, but because he was in a village, um, and a very good linguist, he began to teach classes for the families and for the other soldiers in Vietnamese and teach them English. So, let's see. I'm not quite sure the sequence of this date. "Dear Phyl, this will be a short one. There's really nothing new or different to write. There's a small operation scheduled tomorrow." Oh, Jesus! I hated to read 'operation' or 'we're going to go on an exercise.' Just, you know, these things hit you like a sock in the chest. "But it looks like a waste of time and there was an intelligence report this afternoon. It was sampans on a nearby Mekong River tributary that are supposed to be loaded with VC weapons or ammunition or something. Of course, they'll be gone tomorrow. What they should have done was hit them with an airstrike this afternoon. My opinion of the Vietnamese Army leadership and intelligence, it is at an all-time low. They are simply impossible. The military situation seems to be stagnant." I'm sure Russ talked about this too. "At least around here, VC are not winning but they are certainly not losing, and I don't see how it can go on this way. No progress is being made, very discouraging. I don't think it will ever get any better as long as the Vietnamese are in control." Interesting and what he means is the South Vietnamese. "The only way it can be improved by the present organization is for the government to require the Vietnamese," South Vietnamese, he means, "to accept American advice as though it were an order in effect. The Americans would be commanders. Another way might be to bring the other Asian combat troops such as the Philippines are ties who would do the job and show the Vietnamese by example, will shame them into producing. These are both bad choices but either seems better than the neutralism and the attendant loss of U.S. prestige." Good writer.
PG: Right. "Do you hear anything on TV or read in the newspapers where theadministration might be feeling out Congress or the public on neutralization after elections? I haven't read anything like that in Time, but they have not been very encouraging in the Vietnam columns. Enclosed is some random pictures and so on." Right. He's going to buy another camera. Costs twenty-six bucks. "Darling, I think of you so often and miss you so much. Please keep writing often, even the little things that seem commonplace are interesting." I often thought that when I was writing that, "What does he want to hear about?"
JC: When was that one written?
PG: When was this one written here? He's good. Yeah. Nine, October, '64. Theseother ones, we might go through the other ones and see, because these are all jammed into different boxes of stuff. I hid his letters to me when he was in Norwich because we were very close when he was in Norwich and that's enough talking about that! Anyway. Laughter. Uh, okay. This is February 1965. He says, "I bought some furniture. We had to move out of our house and me too. But rather than go to the seminary, we chose to move in to this six-mechanized group camp. They gave us a couple of rooms on the second floor of a rather dilapidated old building that are adequate. One thing you'll be happy about though is the security. I can't think of a safer place to be in Vietnam. Anyway, we had been moving for two days and I'm sick of that. The wrangler is coming down tomorrow." The wrangler was his battalion commander when he was in Fort Hood the second time. This was a fellow that retired as a full colonel. But he had been, he had been patrolling the border between Mexico and Texas on horseback when he first was in the Army.
JC: Oh, wow!
PG: And one day, we had a party in the Fort Hood officer's club. And part of thefun when they had games and things like that was that the men would stand behind kind of a barricade kind of thing and take off one shoe. And you're supposed to be able to, and roll up their pants like, and that's all you could see. You had to find your husband by looking at his feet. And the wrangler, his name is John Hooks, just loved him, everybody, all the rest of the feet were dead white except, or kind of tan too, I guess, but then you got to this guy who had white feet and his feet were absolutely pointed because he always wore cowboy boots. Right. And then, "the golf tournament sounds like fun." Uh, right. "Time to hit the sack now. Love you and miss your cooking." Well, in this, February 1965 is a thing that was in the newspaper and it shows two South Vietnamese soldiers constantly amusing, a very common sight. Usually, the cooks can also be seen with blackened pots on their poles. This is called "Republic of Vietnam soldiers on an operation east of Saigon with a full course meal on their back. Soldier on the left carries vegetables and the other carries a live chicken, stocked to his radio." How about that? Isn't that fun?
JC: That is! That's fantastic.
PG: Johnny made a habit and he told me about it when he got back that he wouldgo out and eat with the South Vietnamese troops in the morning and they usually would have soup with all sorts of odd things floating around in the soup including beaks and chicken feet. Oh, yeah! Ramsey would eat most anything, including when we were in our house when we thought he retired, when there was a boat coming in by our dock and we saw men. They had huge oil drums and they were pulling out something from the water. You know, it was just kind of an inlet, where there were, and I looked at the boat. It was long and white, but it had a green top to it, you know, a canvas and the men were wearing orange suits during this. I'm an artist so I ran out of the house with my camera to take some photographs of it. They were close by and they said, "Ma'am, are you, is all right?" I said, "Sure. Sure. I'm an artist. I think your boat is wonderful. What are you doing? Catching crabs?" He said, "No, ma'am. Eels." He said, "We send them off to Japan." John came out of the house at that point and he said, "What are they doing, Gossy?" My name used to be Gosling. He called me Gossy most of the time. I said, "They're catching eels." John says, "Yum!" The guy said, "Would you like some, sir?" "You bet," says John. So, they drive this -- chugga, chugga, chugga -- up to our and give us two damn eels and so, Johnny takes them both, grabs them both and they're still alive. My son, my eldest son John, is coming in the afternoon when this is happening, and he says, "Come on, Johnny. I'll show you how to skin an eel." So, he did. He cut their heads off and then, slit them down the middle and skinned them but he rolled them in sand first. And then, I cooked them, not, I'm a really good cook but I didn't do a good job on those. "Oh! Gee whiz! You don't like it. Okay. Okay." Okay. Let's see here. This is a, oh, yes. I can't read that to you. (Laughter.) Yes. He has a wonderful letter which I didn't bring with me today which is kind of interesting. I think I had complained that I get a lot international commentary from him and that's I'd like a little bit more personal. And so, he followed through with this letter. But he said, "Captain Chonko got a really pornographic letter from his wife which he locked in his footlocker and he doesn't allow himself to open up except once a week. And he would take the letter out of the footlocker and shout and throw his fists in the air and say, "Yes!" And then, he'd put it back in the footlocker." That was that guy. Yeah. Right. Right. Oh, yes! Here we go. Here's something nice. "You sound as though you're staying busy. The golf secretary business sounds like a lot of work. Don't overdo it. Stay away from the golf pros and Pritchard too." That's another one of his friends. Okay. And so on. "One of the troops went out and got Frank the monkey a girlfriend. The girlfriend is apparently much older than Frank though no larger. They are very funny when they went out of the cage. I will take some more pictures." Right. "I think the VC are building up to attack the town of Bien Hoa. It's a VC village until last September when the seventh division took it over and decided to hold it. They have rebuilt the road from Chi Lai, but the people have strictly kept moving out, until no one at all lives in the town at night. The VC have attacked it once, the ten, December, but were driven off." Right. "There was a battalion of the eleventh regiment, stationed there. I don't think the VC will make that same mistake again. Last time, they only used a reinforced battalion." So, you can see how this goes on and on here. Right. Okay. "They have not reinforced the government force there although we still have the mechanized company at Chi Lai. The town itself is eerie. It's like a ghost town. The battle on the tenth levied some of it and the rest is just vacant, half-destroyed homes. The people that are left are openly pro-VC. There aren't any men. If the government can hold the town and get some good civic action projects going, they might be able to save it. Cho Grio in Long Den district was in the same condition last summer. And it's a thriving, pro-government town now. In fact, it's in a Long Den district town." He sent me a map of where he was so that I could see the towns that he was in. I wasn't big on tracking him where he was though because it made me too nervous. "Seventh division hasn't done much in rebuilding the road." Oh, Lord. It goes on and on and on, where he talks about our government. Another thing that's, I think this is important. "Another thing that's not helping matters is a step up in airstrikes. They're having a lot more of them lately and becoming increasingly callous toward who they hit. Civilians and VC-dominated areas are considered fair game. The fact is that the peasants could not keep VC units out of their villages, even if they wanted to, is overlooked. A young boy in a rural hamlet does not have much choice in whom to join when he sees his home and family roasted by napalm. A couple of days after each strike, the reports will filter back from agents giving the results. Invariably, they are favorable to the government here." And he gives examples of that. Right. "The VC don't build houses. They use houses that the villagers have built. If that village was not VC before, it got that way as soon as government sky raiders started blasting farm houses and killing women and kids. How can you win the people over when you treat them that way? It happens many times each week. Well, I got carried away, but this is what I think about a lot and I know you're interested in what I think." I'm more interested now in what he thought with these two years, with this man being an invalid and I can look at it more, more with the facts rather than the emotion of the time. Yes. "Good night, Gos. I love you very much. I'm glad you're safe." When he was first there --
JC: When was that letter done?
JC: When was that letter done?
PG: Good. Twelve, January 1965. Right. When he was there for only two months, hesaw his counterpart of an advisor, who had been captured by the VC, carried naked in a cage in the woods and was never seen again. And he tells me this. Thirteen, January 1965. "I'm listening to the State of the Union address. Armed Forces Radio had finally decided it's fit for us to hear and has rebroadcasting it. Lyndon sounds about the same, much eloquent talk about domestic warfare and nothing about how to solve this mess. Now he's talking about furtherance of American art. The VC overran two self-defense core posts yesterday, captured a whole bunch of weapons and God knows how much ammunition. One was attacked at thirteen hundred in the afternoon. That's the first time that's happened since I've been here. Seventh Division has done nothing (underlined) in over two weeks. The major project of the sixth mechanized group is building a new officer's club. Can you imagine? We are spending over one point five million dollars a day. LBJ is concerned with welfare programs and the Vietnamese are building an officer's club. I don't believe it. It's all a bad dream. I'll wake up in six months and everything will be normal again. I'd appreciate it if you'd send me a good thirty-five-millimeter camera. I must record this debacle before it is over, and I'm not satisfied with the little Japanese camera I have. The focus is lousy. I'll sell it to a Vietnamese before I go. LBJ is holding forth about the dreadful pollution of our rivers and streams. I'm very cynical tonight. Enclosed is a letter from the Armor Branch Chief. I'd like to keep it but will probably lose it. So, you keep it. Also, a couple of pictures of water buffalo along the highway, four in Long Den district for the boys. Love you, darling, John." Wowsie.
PG: I think this is a criticism of the government. It's a hell of a good letter. Yes.
JC: It is.
PG: It is. Okay and there's just a few more. This is from February 1965. "Justgetting to sleep last night when all hell broke loose in what sounded like the middle of Kai Lei. Rifle fire, automatic weapons. We all rolled out and got in trucks and it stopped in a few minutes. A VC platoon had attempted to assassinate the village chief of the little village on the edge of town but messed up the job and only wounded him in the foot. A local militia was able to drive off the VCs, so we went back to bed. I suppose you read in Time and Newsweek articles on Vietnam this week. I thought the one in Time was really crappy, some old stuff they've been putting out all the time. And with Westmoreland, they're already done about four articles on him and all of them are the same. Newsweek has a much better article but, and so on. But none of them say what they think the President should do. They all just lambast him for not having any policy and go down to the list of the same old stale altercations that have been put forth for the last year." Right. "It looks to me like he's trying to use these air strikes in the North as a position to negotiate from." I would think so. Right? Yeah. He's very perceptive. "And others have howled long and loud that such is not the case but I'm afraid it is. And that state is trying to get other nations into this negotiation and get the ball rolling. I don't think the strikes up North have given us any particular position of strength and agree with Newsweek that they give a clear message to the communists." Right. "I think it would be a terrible thing if we negotiated out of this now. It would spell certain defeat throughout Asia. Eventually, I think the only thing to do is to get more countries involved. Step up our own commitment, not with advisors and Saigon commandos, but with limited numbers of combat troops and see more helicopters and so on." Right. Engineer battalions. "Then, continue to bomb the staging areas and on and on with this." This is after a couple more pages. This has turned into an incoherent tirade. "But I think any course is preferable to backing out and I have a solution and I'm not just bitching to get off this subject. While I think of it, don't forget to send the car registration, ten dollars and fifty cents to my mother so that she can get the new license plate by the end of March. That's about all for now, my darling. I love you and miss you." While I faint in my damn chair in Killeen, Texas! I'll tell you. When John left, and I don't know whether, you know, and I wrote him every day, he burned all my letters.
PG: You know, and yet, here's the guy that would walk to town when he could nolonger drive here. When he knew he shouldn't drive and would bring me back a flower, you know? Right. "November 1963. I got orders today, the regular course at the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth. It starts in the middle of August. So, with thirty days leave, I will probably get a curtailment here and leave in the early part of July. Of course, I'm pleased about being selected, but dread another year of school. You will enjoy it though. We'll probably have good quarters and Kansas City is nearby." We didn't have good quarters. We had to accept substandard quarters or no quarters at all because he was so junior. We lived in the top half of an old wooden barracks. And that is something else, somewhere. Right? "I had been down to Kien Hoa for two days. The battalion was ambushed in Ham Long district. And one of our companies went down. They're picking up the pieces. The VC tried to mine Lieutenant Cross's jeep, but their timing was off, and they blew it up just in front of him. The mine was in a culvert and they couldn't stop and went into the crater at about twenty miles an hour. He got banged up a little. So, I took his place until today and troop came back to indecipherable. I'm still getting pre-Christmas letters from you and it seems strange. There's just no Christmas atmosphere at all." And then, he talked about getting some money. Usually, it's less than a hundred dollars or something like that because we really, and with me living off post, we had very little money on a captain's pay. "I'm going to hit the sack now, Phyllis. The artillery was quiet last night but the ground was hard. Tell me what you think about these orders. I'm really very happy about it." Right. "Love you, darling. Think of you constantly." Hmm. So, it doesn't matter whether he burned them or not, really. Talking about, which was mentioned in one of these letters that I just read, and I don't think I had the incident of when he was shot. It was in this fortified, tree-line exercise that was mentioned in a phrase before. And he was in an Armor Personnel Carrier, where the people that are in it are protected from the waste up, usually, but not above that. And on his right and left was the head of the South Vietnamese unit and the other one was the South Vietnamese executive officer and they're going toward this tree line where the Viet Cong is. The commander on John's right was shot in the chest. John leaned over and fell against John. John is six foot four and these people are, you know, around five something. So, he's sticking way up with this. He bent over to catch the commander who slumped against him and turned his face toward the guy. At the same time, the man on the other side was shot. They have two piles of the South Vietnamese soldiers there and Johnny's trying to help them both and a bullet goes through John's helmet and his helmet liner and partially knocks him out and he collapses on top of them. But, if he had stood up, he'd be dead. At that point, because it was still unusual for someone to survive, a lot of American units were not near that somebody from the corps of people that go and take photographs, came down and took a picture of him which I have here, and you've probably seen, and sent it to his mother! There was a big article on, "Here's Captain Greenway holding his helmet." And we didn't even tell her about this and somebody knocked from the Associated Press, knocked on her door and showed her this picture of John. I think that that was maybe, obviously, part of our knowledge of the tenuousness of life from then on, of where, I would have been left with four boys under nine and with just an associate's degree in whatever I was studying there. My mind is back on that helmet now. But anyway, he regained consciousness and didn't bother to go down and get credit for any kind of a Purple Heart of anything and went with his friends' bodies when they were taken away. It's interesting now. Here he is, in that facility in Northfield, and he's losing his hair. I've never seen it before and he never mentioned that he had a scar. But, all of the sudden, it's been evident that, there it is. You know? Of course, his grandsons that live close by him are, they're very interested in that, as you can well imagine. I do think, when he was in a delusionary state, in the first part of this, we had to take the mirrors out of his room. And he would shout at the mirrors, "There's that son of a bitch!" Whatever, you know, and shout, "Get her out of here! Danger," looking at me. Interesting, that he would know who I am but he didn't know what he was looking at either. And then, it was never, I think this was, it was never, "I want to go home," once he was there. It was, "Where was I?" Because our homes were, you know, we moved thirty-three times. When he arrived in Vietnam, it was the day that Tonkin Gulf blew up. This is from later. Good. These are out of Vietnam. I don't have to think about that or get upset. I do remember when he came back, of course, because all we had were letters. No phone calls. No nothing. Now, of course, when people are deployed, they have Skype. You can see them. I would think this would relieve it, but I went again to Temple, Texas to meet his plane. It had been almost a full year. He got off the plane. He was wearing tropical worsted uniform, which is, I don't know if they even have it anymore. It's kind of tan, beautiful. I heard the twins say, "Is that him, Mama? Is that him?" Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah.
JC: How long was he is Vietnam?
PG: He was in Vietnam for just, it was under a year. It was about ten and a halfmonths. He said something to me. We went to Command General Staff College, which is in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas from there. He said, "You know, I really felt as though I was making, that they trusted me. And that was only within the last three months that I was there that they trusted judgement," the South Vietnamese unit that he was with. There weren't that many totally American units down there at that point. He said, "I almost requested to be taken off the list to go to C&GS." Woo. And, of course, I was so glad to get him out of there, I didn't care where he was going to go. After C&GS, when I tried to learn to type again, which was really bad. I got a C in high school when we were together there and I'd either type his papers when he wrote some things but that was also filled with very ambitious young captains. Most of the time, majors, some lieutenant colonels but John was the third youngest of anybody in the class. In that goofy place that was right behind the commissary, the commissary was a wooden building. Leavenworth is a prison town. You have outside of Fort Leavenworth, you have the federal prison. On the post, you had the military prison. Downtown, they also have the women's prison, so, a lot of people. But those trustees from the military prison worked in the commissary and when you went into this commissary, um, you check out, and they put the stuff in bags. And then, you have to drive your car around. They put it in bins and you're given a number of a bin and stand in line with your damn old car. But, those of us that lived in the wretched places right behind the commissary, we'd have to roll over regular cart from, and the prisoners would put our bags in our cart and then I'd roll back across the street and take it upstairs, into our house upstairs. They were famous for stealing cookies and things like that. When John, the highest he had been in the Army was to be in a, have a company. Okay. And when he finished with C&GS, he was sent to the office of the chief of staff in Washington D.C. And John says, "Holy! What?" We had four hundred and twenty-five dollars to our name and we went to Washington to buy a house. Then, I lived with my sister which is a whole other story. She followed my mother's advice and married a doctor. He was a radiologist and what a really horrible person, the S.O.B. of the world, but a very good doctor, but we lived with them and their cousin too, who really was a wretched creature. But the boys like being there and we looked in Maryland near where they live for a house. And then, I looked there, and we could buy on the G.I. bill with nothing down, but we had to pay closing costs and my mother lent us another five hundred dollars for closing costs. We found a house in Alexandria. Johnny did. I was looking at stuff I just hated in Maryland, just hated, just wretched again. This was kind of a near, brand-new house in Alexandria. But, I don't know. I think we paid nineteen thousand for it or something like that. It was a four-bedroom house backed up against woods. I think the reason it hadn't sold because it had the big, you know, those huge electrical lines outside. We're lucky we're not all dead from that. He was assigned to the cable's office in the Pentagon. Do we need to stop? No? Okay. What he would do and the others in the same office that he was in, was assemble information from three newspapers from around the world, New York Times, Washington Post, and the Washington Times, and cut out pertinent things and put it into a cables book that was delivered to the chief of staff at his office or on weekends to his quarters. So, Johnny would go to work during the day and then he would have the in pile of all these newspapers on either side and do that. At night, when he would have to go in, he would have to fight his way because this is when the protests were taking place around the Pentagon. They'd throw stuff at him and they'd shout at him and anybody that was coming in. It made me so, incredible, you feel very protective about not only your own person. Two months ago, Matthew and I, who is my fifth child that was born in Heidelberg, had an opening, because I'm an artist, as is he, and this man, who wasn't as old as I, had brought up a very elderly woman from down the road and he was talking, this man, I love to get in conversation and I want to find out what people do. And he said, "Well, I'm very interested in gardening. I'm doing a Japanese garden and that kind of thing." And I was telling you I was really interested in that. I was saying that I had done a calligraphic piece on a warrior's poem from the fifteen hundreds Japanese hero. Maybe I already told you this story. The guy said, "Well, you know, I was a protester in Washington, during that time." And I said, "Oh. Were you?" And then, he said, "I got arrested too." And I said, "Were you really, sir?" And Matthew had heard what this guy said to me. That's my fifth son. And he says, "God, mother. I thought you were going to go at his throat." But I did say, "But you were right, weren't you? You'll have to excuse me." And I walked away. He said, "Mother, I'd never think you'd do that." I said, "You have to wait, Matthew. I'm just going to wait. I have to figure out what I'm going to say to this person because I will see him again and he's an advocate of the arts and so on." It came in my mind with everything. What would I say to him? Well, we ought to be proud we're in a country where people can do that, but they ought to have a little bit of, but I wouldn't say that to him. I'd just say, "With my history, I think, I have to say to you, with your history, that I really don't want us to have a friendship. I'm not going to do that. You'll have to excuse me."
JC: Mm hmm.
PG: That's the end of that. That's what Carol Todd would have wanted me to do,not go for his throat. Although, I'm very militant, but whatever. Okay. So, he was in the Pentagon doing this, still very, very attached to international affairs. His nights at home, because he was on shift work, I had to make curtains for upstairs because he would have to sleep during the day and the boys were going to school. He came to me when the three years were up, and he said, "I think I ought to go back." And all of the sudden, I just was really calm, and I said, he said, "I think I ought to volunteer to go back." That was when it was really turning and getting really, really bad. That was bad. I said, "John Ramsey, I don't think I can take it." Because I never told him. I said, "I can take it if you're assigned to go back, but I don't think I can take it if you volunteer to go back. I don't know what I'd do. I really don't know what I'd do." You know, I wasn't angry or shouting. I remember distinctly what I said to him. He said, "Okay." Nothing more was discussed. And so, he got an assignment out of the Pentagon, which was to go to a second heim, it was called, which was a NATO unit near Heidelberg, as a major. He finally made major at that point. We were going to have quarters in Manheim. I was so relieved. But it was never a thing, nowadays, everybody talks everything out and we didn't. The decision was made, and we went. Our sponsors decided we should live in Manheim rather than Heidelberg. We could have gotten quarters in Heidelberg. They have large, German-built quarters which are on a stairwell of three stories, okay. There are three on either side, plus a maid's room. And that's what we would have gotten in Heidelberg. But the other ones, we would get a duplex when he made lieutenant colonel in Manheim. I'm sorry we didn't go to Heidelberg because the schools were better there. There were support unit, and this is important, in Manheim. At that point, '69 to '72, we were in Germany. What was happening in the United States at that point were race riots. Bad ones. While we there too and a lot of these troops that were involved with that or knew what was going on with their family were in these support units there, not in Heidelberg. I liked the association with, the French had pulled out of NATO at that point, but we had German and Scottish and English as well as Americans in that small thing. I don't think John really enjoyed himself, but I sure did there. I didn't go. I went and availed myself with taking classes from the University of Maryland because I'd always been promised by my mother, "You've got to finish your degree." Because, she was a widow for a long time. You need to stop? Okay. So, I took a German language, two years of German language, and History of the Third Reich, and another history while I was there. Didn't have any money to travel or anything like that. It was really great. The guy that I know I mentioned in when I was talking about the languages, previously to that, when we were in D.C., and John was doing his thing, I went to the University of, went to George Washington University. I decided I majored in, I think it was, it was either psychology, okay. Then, I took history, two history courses there too so. History of the Far East, wonderful! Really wonderful, you know! I'm very enthusiastic about this. There's nothing better than getting rid of all "I will now have to be with John and I can't stand it anymore when you're eighteen years old." Then, you can concentrate on academic issues. Okay. Anyway, it was great. I had wonderful professors. So, we go over there and I do that. And then, I also had been very interested in cooking. I went to join the German American wives club and they have a German American wives club had a group that met in a Manheim [indecipherable], which you had to, every other month, you had to plan what you're going to have for lunch. Those women would tell me how to do Mexican food. I mean, they knew everything! They didn't know anything about it, but they're still going to tell me how to do it. But that's okay. I had two great German friends, one of whom, which I mentioned the other day in that lecture after the Weimar, she told me later, after three years, that she had been in the German youth. Her husband, who ended up being a doctor, but he was captured by the Americans and was in prison camp here in the United States. So, we talked about that too and it was great. But Manheim was an interesting place and that is it had ball bearing factories in it in World War II. It was almost completely flat so that everything had to be rebuilt again. Boy, when they rebuild something, they do it. As we've read lately, being here, they are very particular and very precise about what they're doing. They do a great job. The only thing that was left was [indecipherable]. But this was the real place, Manheim, where John really introduced me into his love of classical music. We would go to the Manheim Symphony and I know Rostropovich was finally left out of Russia. He came, and we heard him play once, but always, he would listen while he was in the Pentagon and it kind of crept into my mind. I had, between you and I, the other day when the professor that was talking about the Weimar Republic did not mention Mozart. He skipped and, of course, John knew every critical listing of Mozart. So, we were there. And then, I would play golf in Heidelberg, neat course, where they allowed Germans on. But the Germans would bring their kids on the course and there was a guy that played all the time and his kid would follow him with a scooter, with a bell on the scooter. Back in Manheim, because of the race riots in the states, and near where John and I grew up, burning, burning, they were concerned about the education, that they really had to get somebody in for the high school, that had good experience with that kind of thing. So, they sent a guy and his wife. They both had doctorates in education. They came in the high school there. He was touted with a tremendous amount of things in the paper on what a good job he's going to do. He lived in a high rise across the way and across the hall from him was a friend, a woman friend that I knew. They had just come out of Africa after three years. He was kind of a goofy kind of guy. Their house was filled with remnants of animals, of heads and there was a table made out of zebra legs. Then, his small office, he said, "Don't you want to come in and see?" I said, "No. I'm sorry. I just can't do it." I won't even cook Bambi! I thought, "Wow. God. How awful!" So, he was across the way, across the way from the new head of the school there. My friend and her husband with the whatever heads were invited to go to dinner across the way to the new head of the school in Manheim. And the principal excuses himself and goes out after they've had dinner, before dessert. Goes out to the maid's room and shoots himself in the head.
JC: Oh, my goodness!
PG: They figure out later that purposefully they invited the neighbors over.This guy did, so that somebody would be with his wife when he committed suicide. And it goes through the school that the principal has committed suicide. The kids, of course, think, "Oh, my God! What have I not done!" or whatever for this guy. I was playing golf with a psychologist that treated the husband a couple of weeks later and he said, "No. It wasn't that. Both sets of parents have Alzheimer's and they're [indecipherable]." But they never explained this to the community that was in shock. Also, the guy in shock was the guy who went for dinner and had to go and find the guy who shot himself. He was about to be cashiered out of the Army. Anyway, so, he was on medication to try to get him in a good enough state to leave the Army and he failed his drug test! He was the first guy, first officer in Germany to fail his drug test. I hadn't seen her again, but she had a great recipe for some type of gazpacho which was excellent. Anyway, odd. Our commander there, John's commander rather, when we moved into the duplex had an Austrian wife. When we first came to Germany, they put us in a German [indecipherable] before we could move in to the quarters. Nobody spoke English. Nobody! And I was there for three days but luckily, I had bought a German cookbook that I was reading on the way over and I think I tried to, I was trying to do something, and she thought I was buying a broom or whatever, but it was a very strange kind of thing. They were really close friends. But she had been engaged to a German captain. She was older than her husband. Okay. This was John's colonel that was his commanding. And she'd been engaged to this German captain at the end of World War II and he was an artillery officer. Sometimes, they took their dogs with them to combat. He was killed by an artillery shell at that point, but the dog was wounded too, and they sent him back to Karen to take care of this guy's wounded dog. So, she met Bris and they were married. And then, they got a divorce. And then, they were reunited and were married again. And then, they got a divorce. And then, they were remarried again. She's the only one that I've ever known that's been married three times to the same guy. She often said to me, she'd call me, and she'd say, "Frau Greenway," I just loved her, and she had Austrian traditions with Christmas and so on. Very close friend. And the only thing there is that's when the Baader-Meinhof gang was, do you remember hearing about that? Okay. When I would drive from Manheim to Heidelberg, to get off in Heidelberg to play golf. At the end of the ramp, on each of the exits from whatever they call the interstates there, it will come to me, is an open-back truck with a machine gun. So, you had to stop and tell them what was in your car when you got off. So, we left there, and I had Matthew. I had my fifth son. They brought me the same kid that looked just like my other kids, only he was eleven years after my twins, who will be here very soon to celebrate my eighty-second birthday and Douglas to be with his father, especially. Douglas, number four, was neither of them were great students but Richard went into the Air Force and Doug stayed in the Army and mostly in the Rangers. They're six foot four and a half and almost exactly look alike, except Richie's a little heavier. Matthew, who is an artist, and our caboose. So, I had three born in Hawaii as I mentioned. And if you're born in Hawaii, they're called pineapples. And if you're born in Germany, a slur perhaps, they're called krauts. So, I have three pineapples and a kraut and then, one that was born in Albion, Michigan, before John went in. I soon will live with Matthew. Matthew has three sons. I have, it's the time to mention this, I guess, I think I have about thirteen grandchildren. One was just born with my husband's middle name of Ramsey, which makes me feel very, very good. My eldest grandson is thirty-nine and my youngest grandson is, or no, I guess he's a great grandson, that one. My youngest grandson is four. And then, I have nine great grandchildren, none of whom I have seen because I don't feel right if I leave John. I see him every day, but I can't stay very long because it upsets me but that's all right. Part of the deal. We've been married sixty-two years this Christmas. And then, before that, we were dating, if that's what they called it then, I guess, three and half years before that. Yeah. What a time we've had. And couldn't he dance! Woo, Nellie! So, we left Germany. Okay. Now let me think. Do you want to stop a minute? No. Okay. We left Germany. Oh! I knew this was coming, that he has another short tour, unaccompanied tour, not short, unaccompanied. So, we went back to this kind of crummy old house that we bought when we first went to Washington and John was going to Korea, long after the Korean War itself. But he was going to be assigned to Camp Casey, which is now very much in the news because it is right on the border of North and South Korea. He was assigned to be in charge of all the extra things like officers' club, enlisted clubs, whatever, or facilities, troop support things. He was always liked that kind of thing, including the island of Cheju Do, which was off Southern Korea. At that point, we decided, absolutely, we've always taken the worst decisions about houses. I wanted to buy another one and mother had given us a bit of money when she had her situation was a bit better. But Johnny was never one to take a chance much and so, we're adding on to this house. And I've got a contractor that I'm dealing with who has a partner who has given an estimate on what he's doing. They ran out of money in the middle of this. So, I'm going to go fly to Seoul to see John in the middle of his tour. He also came home once. He met me in Seoul and I left my niece in charge of the five boys, where with the contractor's partner tried to get a little bit friendly with my niece and that's a whole other story. But, I get off in Seoul. I stayed three hours in Japan and then fly up to, and Johnny meets me and we go and we stay there in a nice hotel for a day and a half. And then, he can't take time off, so we have to go up to Camp Casey. I move in with him to a Quonset, where he is living in a Quonset with another lieutenant colonel. At that point, he's finally made lieutenant colonel which he made in Germany too. That was fun. I love promotion parties. Johnny would play, they had big bedrooms, huge kind of open thing. Heck! It's a Quonset. So, just put in a bar. I come out of the room in the morning when John's already gone to work. They have a house boy, takes care of them, and the house boy said, "Good morning, sir!" to me. And I said, "Good morning, Mr. Che." And when John went down to the island of Cheju Do later, he got a little statue made out of volcanic rock of a Korean thing with their traditional high hats. That's Mr. Che. Mr. Che is in my garden here. Yeah. That's kind of nice. Yeah. All these things. I met John's roommate who said that I will now move out now, with your wife here for three or four days. You won't want me. And John says, "Oh! Don't worry about that." Well, yeah. I kind of wanted him to move out but that's all right. I figured, "Well, indecipherable." And, he was as tall and almost as good looking as John, blonde, but a great golfer, and liked country and western music. He referred to my husband as weird, old John and he plays this stuff. Yeah. It's great. Johnny asked me what I wanted to Christmas. I said, "I want Tom." Laughter. Yeah. Of course, he stayed in touch with him. He went from there to taking over a battalion in Fort Hood and a cavalry battalion, which was very, very good. He did just great until the very end and that wasn't so good. Can we stop a minute?
JC: Start back up. Okay. So, where did we leave off?
PG: Um, good question. [Laughter]. I think it was when my husband went to Koreaon an unaccompanied tour, but that we broke it off by him coming home for a couple of weeks and then, I went there to Korea, which I thought was very interesting in the sense I went in February and it looked like Vermont to me.
JC: Oh, really?
PG: Little kids had sleds that they would propel along with sticks that theyhold on either hand and push them, push it like that. I missed him a lot, but I didn't worry about his safety. It meant a tremendous amount to have him back with me at that point. And then, we went to Fort Hood where he was a lieutenant colonel. He was on a staff of a brigade until the opening for the cavalry squadron was open for him to take care of. At that point, the brigade commander was Russ Todd. I moved in to town. Johnny had called me, and he said found a house for us off post. We didn't have quarters again right away. He said, "It's a great house. It has two fireplaces and three bedrooms and a fenced-in yard. The only problem is that it's across the street from the sewage deposal plant." It wasn't too bad. He, frankly, wanted to stay there but I wanted to get on post. And so, we moved on post to be close to other friends and so on. That was okay and wonderful, full of tradition, one of the oldest cavalry units in the United States Army, if not the. His staff was superb. We went on pretty well. The commanding general, at that point, left and was taken over by George Patton the Second, who has since passed away, so I shan't say too much about that. George Patton the Second had a favorite lieutenant colonel that he had said that you can have my husband's squadron when John was finished but what happened was at that point, they were having special things going on in Germany of where John had to take all the tanks and all the equipment for one of the troops to Germany. To do that, he had to go take all the best things from each one of the troops and send it over as a matter of fact with this Bob indecipherable who's coming, take over to Germany, so that he wouldn't have the complication of filling in things that were needed when he was there. So, it was kind of a take everything away from everything. It came up that there was an inspection for the squadron, ten days after this happened, of where everything went through. It was up to Patton to decide whether or not John would pass or not. It was decided that he would not, which is a death knell for anybody's career. At that point, the one star in the division, his name was Cavazos, and he was not on post and he normally would have been there and designated whether this would have taken place or somewhere else and so on. He came back and talked to John. He said, "Johnny, I never would have let this happen." And we thought, "Well, that's okay now. He's made lieutenant colonel, done the best he could." My husband was absolutely distraught. His giving up the squadron was set forward a bit and we didn't have orders to leave Fort Hood yet. I was trying very hard to be as supportive and not to be resentful about anything that went on. We got orders to go to New Jersey, where we both grew up in New Jersey, but it was a place where things were made and so on, a very kind of back water kind of thing but near Jersey City, where John grew up as a matter of fact. And so, we said, "Okay." At this point, one of the captain's wives said to me, "You know, Phyllis, I'm taking art in Harker Heights. You want to come?" I said, "Oh heavens, I did that when I was twelve. I haven't done anything since I was twelve!" And I went, and they were doing oils and this woman had them painting oils. She had put three fake apples in a tin jar and said, "Pretend these are real." And I thought, "Can't you go out?" Long story short, I really was hooked again, and I knew what I wanted to do. I spent the next couple of weeks thinking about that. All of the sudden, the list for those accepted into the war college came out. And the consideration for being accepted into the war college was not on the most recent OER. It was all the ones that he had gotten before.
PG: So, we're on our way to the war college. Absolutely, you know. Turn thisway. John says, "Well, it's all well and good. We're going to go and have a great time." I find it very interesting because it's in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and very near Gettysburg and Johnny had taken me to Gettysburg before, kind of walked me through. His brigade commander at that point, his name was Stoatzer, never forget it, Johnny came home and he said, "Stoatzer's trying to get me off the list to go to the war college." I said, "What!?" He said, "I don't think he can do it." I said, "I think he mentioned it to General Cavazos." So, Cavazos wouldn't let him do it. I mean, to take him off. Mrs. Stoatzer, as we left Fort Hood came over and gave me one of her paintings that she thought would be a nice remembrance of Fort Hood. I thanked her very nicely. As soon as she left, I threw the damn thing away. I was not going to have that in my house. Not that I'm vindictive or anything, but poor woman. I think she must be married to an idiot. He never did make general which was another joyous thing in the future. We went to Carlisle. Had a funny little house there. Matthew was the only kid that was with us at that point. I got some dining room furniture at auction and played golf and studied some other things. Johnny got his master's there in community organization. He thought maybe he might try to go in to be I don't know what, but he got that at Shippensburg University which was right next to there. I went downtown and there was a woman that owned an art store there in town. She had graduated from Kansas City Art Institute, which was a hell of a good school, very avant-garde but very hard to get in to. She'd married a violin string salesman from Italy. That didn't work and he just up and took everything that they had and left her Carlisle, Pennsylvania. So, Jo Pucci, who is a terrific artist, had a store there that she'd sell to old ladies and give lessons to old ladies. Well, I took a lesson from Jo and we were doing portraits and that kind of thing. She said, "Phyllis, what are you doing? How have you done this in the past?" She said, "You need to go to art school." She and I have been fast friends ever since. Although, when I would do a painting of somebody, she'd say, "You know, that really scares me. I don't know what you've done with the personality with this, but I can't stand it." And she'd go right in and change it. I could go on with stories about her too. So, we left, and John was reassigned to go back to Leavenworth. After he was sent to the War College, lo and behold, he comes out below the zone to make full colonel. Why? You know, we can't figure this out. But that's okay. I'll take it, you know. Moving to these wonderful old quarters in Leavenworth, I get a tap on my screen door out on my porch. And there's a woman all bedecked, she says, "I'm Mrs. So-and-so. I live up the street. Is your husband Lieutenant Colonel P?" She's asking me whether or not, he's not promotable to full colonel and what the hell are we doing is those quarters? I said, "Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah." So, I just said, "Yes. He is. Want to have a cup of tea? Come on in." She was a golfer too, but I took care of her. [Laughter.] Here we were in Leavenworth and I went down to the local college. And I said, "Look. I've got ninety-seven credits and I don't have a major and I want to major in art." That's where I went, to a Catholic college when I was, let's see, how old was I? Thirty-something. Thirty-seven? And by God, I'm taking these classes with young women, it was a girl's college, that were the age of my sons. It was a wonderful experience with demanding professors. Loved it! So, that was great. He met the next three-star that came in, I guess. Or maybe it was four. Three, I think, at that point. He worked for him on planning of structure of United States Army. I have some of the things that are left over from Leavenworth when we were leaving. One's from a B.G. that was there that that's the first time I really worked for a colonel. Johnny said, "Okay. Now this is going to be the end of my career. Now, we're going to be assigned to Fort Monroe or whatever. The next assignment is that last one. What do you want to do?" Did I write this in there?
JC: I don't think so.
PG: He said, "Maybe you'd like me to look for an attach job." I said, "Yeah.Maybe I'd like that because I'm very social." I love to cook and love art. Oh my God. He called up and he says, "Vienna is open." The defense attach to Vienna would be given a three-story house with three servants and whatever. Matthew would go to international school. But he was just six at that point. We would have to go for a six-month course in California in German, which I was already pretty good in German. He was a little bit. I was just licking my chops. We started to go to parties when we found out that John had been accepted for the job and he had all his pictures and the movers were coming in three days. We met these people at the parties. The guys had kind of longish hair and they were telling John how much he would like it because he'd probably not be home for any more than one night a week. That they'd go at least one or two things, the social things at night because they're really spies, of course, and they're going to go meet people, and very good at that. I saw him kind of change expression when we came home from these things. We were lying in bed, where a lot of our decisions were made, like every other married couple. And I heard him going, "Ugh! Ugh!" And I just said to him, "You don't want to go, do you?" He said, "Ill go. I'll go." I said, "You don't want to do it, do you?" He said, "No, Gos. I really don't." I said, "Well, screw it then. We won't do it." I said, "Can you get out of it?" He said, "In a minute." And he called General Richardson, which later was his commanding general and said, "Sir, we'd rather come work for you at TRADOC than do this. General Richardson knew me well enough to say, "What about Phyllis?" He said, "Phyllis is okay with it." And I was because who stand to be with somebody you really care for when they're absolutely [makes defeated sound]. So, we didn't go. We went to the Tidewater area of Virginia to go to Fort Monroe where they had, Jefferson Davis, by the way, was held prisoner in the moat. Did you ever go see that? Yeah. When Lee was a captain, his quarters were still there inside the moat. Very historic place and the Yankees just screwed up all sorts of opportunity when they landed at Monroe to do on the peninsula campaign to go to Richmond. So, we were there. I taught some art. Joined a very active group of artists in a gallery and then, later, also was an owner, when we had to move out of Yorktown. We lived in Yorktown. Very interesting because the peninsula was not only Civil War but even more. Oh, yes. Revolutionary War. Sure. The first year I was there, I was on the committee for the two hundredth anniversary of the surrender at Yorktown. I did all the envelopes and the inserts for the president and vice-president, all the members of the cabinet and old business. Really fun. And then, Johnny's doing a lot of travelling for this business and there's an old hotel. It's right on Hampton Roads where the Monitor and the Merrimack took place right there. And he was given a room in the hotel. He was working directly with General Richardson on all these different projects for structure business. He'd have to go out to California periodically. He was out in California and he took a red eye back, meaning he gets on in California and he gets off in the morning and that's where he is. And then, he goes to report to General Richardson. Then, he comes home and collapses, I guess, whatever. But, he went in to see Richardson. He said, "John, I want to tell you something." He said, "You're coming out on a brigadier general assignment." John said, "What!?" You know, because he hadn't had a brigade and combat arms officers, infantry, artillery, and armor, unless they've had a brigade, very, very seldom are they ever promoted. It was never in his mind that he would ever do this. And he came out to your house, which was a really nice house on the water in Yorktown. He said, "Gossie, I have something to tell you." He said, "I don't know whether I should take it." I said, "Are you kidding me!?" I said, "It's just a continuation." He said, "You'll give up everything." "I don't care. I don't care. Right. So, we rented our house and off we went. We went to Washington. He went through all sorts of things on how we should behave. Before then, in Fort Monroe, many congratulations when he was promoted by Richardson, who the picture of him, this man has been, he was, his father and mother were in China, uh, as Christian, uh -
PG: Yeah. Missionaries. He was born to a missionary mother and father in China.And he is from Virginia and has the most glorious, do not ever think that I would ever make fun of your accent. It makes me think of Richardson and what a dear man he was, is! In fact, he still calls me. So, off we went. And then, he was assigned to the, who the hell did he work for? I don't remember exactly where that was. And then, we were there for a while. Bought a townhouse. And then, he was getting promoted to second star. The guy he was working for, he and his wife, his wife was Ms. Arkansas or something like that. But she also was in the competition as a singer. And so was he. When John was going to get promoted, they came in front of our townhouse and sang the thing from Pirates of Penzance about "he is -- ". It was wonderful! The people came out of the houses. It was really great. So, we went out to Fort Lewis. That's the first time he had an aid there. Johnny just took the first guy that was kind of half assigned to him and was a man I almost considered our sixth son, took care of us while we there. John had the choice. He could go and command the Presidio, which is a two-star job at that point, or go to Fort Lewis, under a three-star at Fort Lewis. Because Matthew was then a little older and this was a more family post in Fort Lewis, I guess. I would have loved to have gone to San Francisco, but I didn't care. We went to Fort Lewis and that was strange, kind of odd thing. We get the kind of semi-dregs of what would be done but living out there, I'll never forget. There were seven or eight generals on post, [indecipherable] Feeley and the guy that was, Schwarzkopf was there first, when we got there. And then, he left. And then, Bill, oh golly. It will come to me. He and his wife came in. He had had a division in California. She has passed away since then. But, really good friends. Johnny went down with Greg. Greg is his aide. And then, when John was in Korea, long before he ever made general, he loved to have a haircut in the barber shop. They called it sex in the barber shop because they would get a massage in the shoulders and so on. Let's see. Reading: "Dear Gos," that's me, "Guess I haven't written in a long time, but the time passes so damn fast that I lose track of it. Only fifteen more days then I'll be home. Seems like the less time I have, the more there is to do and the busier I am. Today, I went to Cheju Do and back. That's the island. That's a real hassle. I had to go from here to Seoul Military Airport by car from the airport and so on. Takes all day and then, I get back and there's all the stuff I didn't do all day because I was away. That's okay. I'd rather have it that way. I had my airplane ticket. They've changed the schedule since last time. I'll be arriving," when he tells me that he would be coming home. "How's that sound? Will you meet me?" And then, there's a few things that I shan't read. "I still don't have a replacement. I'll probably have to, sometimes, they'll send somebody up from division. Would you believe that nobody wants this job and that the guy they had tentatively tapped for running around eighth Army trying to find somebody to take it, so he won't have to. The bastard has no sense of humor." This is, I guess, when he went to Korea before he had a second star. Oh yeah. Yes. "Tell the boys," this is the first time he went to Korea, "tell the boys we had an all-night music festival last night that I was in charge of. She's called Gunstock '75." Yeah. That was before he made two-star. All right. "Dear Gos," '88, "arrived on schedule Tuesday night. Stayed in Seoul place two nights. Spent all day yesterday travelling to signal sites to make sure communications are going in. All that is being done with National Guard units. The IG and I were a little nervous about it. I'm much reassured however." They had done very well. "CG's flight," commanding general from Fort Lewis he's talking about, "was delayed and he's a day late getting here. This morning, Greg and I will go and observe a company from sixth Infantry Division by parachute and then, spend the rest of the day visiting units. The exercise starts on Monday. Hope things are going well with you and everyone back at Lewis." He sees in the news we're catching rainfall. I think this was the week the Spiwaks were coming. Spiwak was one of our guides from our high school or maybe even grade school that had this party, spin the bottle party, or some kind of a thing where I think I first kissed John when I was about whatever. Okay. "By now, you probably have the puppy trained to go outside. He's a nice dog but I can't say I miss him too much. That cannot be said about you. I miss you lots. Please tell Matt and Julia -- ". Matthew was going to a prep school because I didn't want him to go to the local high school because I really felt that it would be too much pressure on him being a general's son and be bad for him. I wanted him to relax. This is a day prep school. He was taking German. He was born in Germany. The German class teacher announced that they were going to have a visit with German students for two to three weeks and would we consider putting one up to live with us for those two or three weeks and that they would come back and take classes together at the prep school. So, they asked me whether or not I would want a girl or a boy. I said, "It doesn't matter. I've got plenty of bedrooms." Because it was just Matthew home and the other boys were elsewhere. So, we get this letter that a woman called Julia DeMille is going to be our visitor for that amount of time. Okay. That's fine with me. We could put her right down the hall from me. The four of us were upstairs in this really nice house quarters. We go up to meet, all the kids kept getting off the plane. The other people there and we're waiting and we're waiting and the last person to get off the plane is a tall young woman and I knew Julia was only fifteen, a tall young woman dressed completely in black with one large, gold earring that almost touched her shoulder and I said, "Oh my God! What am I going to do with her!?" So, Matthew was very shy. He'd drive her back and forth to this prep school all the time. She was there, I guess it was a two-week thing, I think, and the day before she was to leave, she comes downstairs and Matthew comes downstairs. Matthew has his collar way up on his neck. I said, "Come here!" Laughter. He's got big hickeys all over his neck and I said, "Now, listen." I said, "Julia, would you mind waiting in the car outside, please?" I said, "You're seventeen. She's fifteen. You're not going to jail. Your father's going to jail if something happens with that young woman. Keep your hands off her for one more day!" Laughter. So, off they go, you know. They're going to say goodbye. It's all very kind of a community thing. "Oh, I'm so glad you came! I'm so glad you came!" And, I drive up to the airport with Matthew and Julia. I go in quickly. I maybe had to go to the ladies' room or something and they're not there! Where are they? They're walking down toward where they have to check in. She begins to lean all over him. All of the sudden, Matthew turns around and grabs her and kisses her out of an old black and white movie. Bends her over backwards. And I'm standing by the German teacher. I said to her, "They got along very well." Laughter. I sent away for Matthew's first experience in love, you know. Right. Right. This is more about Korea and so on. Yeah. He talks about, "We had to replace Pete, the new driver. He went out one night and got in a fight with a Korean and then took on some Air Force MPs who tried to sort it out, resulting in Pete spending the night in jail, very bad for the command and general driver. New driver's from a tank battalion. Seems okay. Poor Greg," that's John's aide, "is doing his best to take care of me and prevent me from leaving my field equipment behind everywhere I go. I went for a haircut in Camp Humphries' barbershop on Saturday afternoon. Better than ever. I may get another one tomorrow. Greg says my hair is getting shaggy again. All things considered, I've had nearly enough of Team Spirit." That's what they called this exercise they were. "Miss you all. Much love, Johnny." Yeah. So, on a kind of friendly, fun note, that's the way to stop. Yeah. I think.
PG: Yeah. Don't you think here?
PG: Yeah. A little laugh. Because we shared this a lot and I've written somepoems for you about that but often, we wouldn't even, after we'd been married since whatever, we don't even need to tell one another what we think about what's going on. An eyebrow will do it. With general officers, as you've probably heard, they don't talk about a lot of things. They keep their thoughts on something. John always was reticent and quiet and a loner, except for me. That's the way life goes. It's great.
JC: Was there anything else you want to add?
PG: I'm fine.
JC: All right. I'll press stop then.
PG: What do you think?
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