Interview with Donald Kearney
Interviewed by Mark Napier
Marion High School
Interviewed on May 14, 2003
At 620 E. Swayzee St.
MN: It is May 14, 2003. I am in Donald Kearney’s home. I am with Donald Kearney who was born on September 6, 1944 and he currently lives on 620 E. Swayzee St. I am Mark Napier, the interviewer, and Donald Kearney is my Interviewee. He is my Uncle.
MN: Were you drafted or did you enlist in Vietnam?
DK: I was drafted.
MN: Were you living in Marion at the time?
MN: Do you recall your first days in Vietnam?
MN: Can you go into any detail about that?
DK: It was different and something I had never really seen before.
MN: What did it feel like?
DK: Scary, and I didn’t know what was really going on.
MN: Where and how long was your boot camp or training?
DK: It was in Ft. Knox, Kentucky for ten weeks.
MN: Tell me about your boot camp or training experiences. Were they rough?
DK: The first couple weeks were not rough, but just something I wasn’t used to. After that, they were physically rougher, but not that bad.
MN: Do you have any real experiences from there that stick in your mind?
DK: No, not really.
MN: Was weather an issue in Vietnam?
DK: Yes, it was part issue. The weather really wasn’t that bad, except that it rained all the time.
MN: Do you remember any of your instructors while you were over in Vietnam? Anyone who left and impression on you?
DK: No, not really.
MN: How did they prepare you for Vietnam through boot camp?
DK: We were taught how to shoot a rifle and we learned about weapons. That’s about it.
MN: Was it physically or mentally hard for you to get through the boot camp experience?
MN: What parts of Vietnam did you serve in?
DK: I served in the central islands of Pleiku.
MN: Do you remember arriving in Vietnam and what was it like?
DK: We arrived by ship and made a beach landing. There were GIs swimming. We were loaded into trucks the first day and taken into the mountains where we were stationed.
MN: Now, were you on a base?
DK: We were on a base.
MN: What was your job assignment when you first arrived?
DK: Well when I first arrived, our equipment hadn’t arrived and we pulled guard duty. We were one of the first people that opened this base up. We dug foxholes, set up tents, and in a few months our equipment arrived and we had our regular jobs.
MN: What was the equipment you received?
DK: They were self-propelled 175’s and eight-inch artillery.
MN: Did you see any combat in Vietnam?
DK: No, not really. We were shot at a few times, but nothing you could call real combat.
MN: What was the name of your unit?
DK: Sixth battalion-fourteen artillery and I was in service battery.
MN: Were there many casualties in your unit?
DK: There were a few, but not what you would call many.
MN: Were insects a problem in Vietnam, in there causing Malaria or anything such as that?
DK: Yes, there were a quite a few people that had Malaria. I never had it, but there were quite a few.
MN: What kind of side effects did you see from that?
DK: You got a real high fever and you got sick.
MN: Did you experience any sicknesses?
DK: I had dysentery once.
MN: What was a common health problem among the men, if there was one?
DK: Just Malaria.
MN: Was moral an issue in your group?
DK: No, I don’t think so really.
MN: Tell me about your most memorable experiences in Vietnam.
DK: None really ___(thinks of experiences).
MN: Were you a prisoner of War?
MN: Were you awarded any medals or citations or was anyone in your unit awarded any?
DK: Just the normal ones you got when you went over there. I don’t even remember what they were. There were three of them.
MN: How did you receive them? By going over there?
DK: By going over there.
MN: How did you stay in touch with your family?
DK: By letter.
MN: What was the food like?
DK: C-rations were alright. B-rations which are like C-rations, but they are heated up and served in a mess hall, were terrible and the A-rations, which were regular food, were not bad.
MN: Did terrain affect your supply lines?
MN: Did you have plenty of supplies in your unit or were you ever short?
DK: We had plenty of supplies.
MN: Was there any one thing that boosted men’s moral?
DK: The day they came home.
MN: What were some of the ways people entertained themselves when they went over there?
DK: Reading, playing cards, talking, and drinking once in awhile.
MN: Did any celebrities go over to Vietnam and perform for you?
DK: No. There was some woman in a band that performed for us once, but I had no idea who they were.
MN: Did you ever receive leave?
MN: Could you really go anywhere in Vietnam or did you stay in one certain area?
DK: No, we stayed in a camp that was secure. We could go to town every once in awhile.
MN: Were you a regular soldier or a specialist in a certain task?
DK: I was a specialist
MN: What was the specialty?
DK: I was a welder.