Interview with Jerry Boone
Interviewed by Linda Silveus
Interviewed on May 14, 2003
At 1803 Quarry Road
LS: Today is Wednesday, May 14, 2003. This is the beginning of an interview with Jerry Boone at my home, at 1803 Quarry Road in Marion, Indiana. Mr. Boone is how old?
LS: Forty-three. Having being born on?
JB: March 16, 1960.
LS: My name is Linda Silveus and I will be the interviewer. Jerry Boone is my friend. Could you state for the recording what war and branch of service you served in?
JB: I was in the United States Navy and I served in the Grenada invasion.
LS: What was your rank?
JB: I was an E6, which is a petty officer, first class.
LS: Okay, and where did you serve? I think you already said that.
JB: Down in Grenada.
LS: What is your family and educational background?
JB: I was adopted in 1968. My father was in the Air Force and after his tour in the Air Force, he became and salesman and credit manager for a large furniture company. My mother was a schoolteacher and I had the opportunity to have her as my teacher for three years. So that was quite and experience. My educational background, I attended college after leaving the Navy, obtained my teaching license, and graduated from college in 1993. And then I finished my master’s degree work in 2002.
LS: Alright, what is your current occupation and address?
JB: I am a teacher at Tucker Vocational Center and my address is 815 W. 4th Street, Marion, Indiana.
LS: At the time of the war were you married or single?
JB: I was married, yes I was.
LS: Why did you choose to go into the Navy?
JB: Really, just to get away from home. That was my first desire, to get away and see the world.
LS: How did you feel about the war?
JB: I agreed with it, it was a good thing.
LS: You trusted and supported the American leaders?
LS: What were the feelings of your family and friends?
JB: Well at the time, my family and my friends, no one knew about this invasion beforehand. It wasn’t until after the invasion really had ceased that the public became aware of it, so there wasn’t a great deal of anti-war sentiment. Afterwards, the general population pretty much agreed with the purpose of why we went in to Grenada; to liberate them. As far as my family, they have always been supportive of the United States whenever there is a conflict.
LS: Did the war change your activities and habits?
JB: During the conflict itself, yes. Afterwards, things went back to normal.
LS: What were some of the first changes in your life you noticed as a result of the war?
JB: Well, I took my job more seriously. I realized that I could be put in harms way at any time, for any reason, anywhere in the world, with just a few hours notice and realized I better straighten up and get serious about my job in the Navy.
LS: Did you have different responsibilities and what were they?
JB: My responsibilities really stayed the same whether it was during conflict or during training or just everyday routine. My primary responsibility was search and rescue for Department of Defense Initiative, is what they called it. And then secondly, we flew a lot of reconnaissance over shorelines in South America and in the Caribbean. Photographing, marking out landmarks, updating specific maps, and looking at topography and we would insert teams to do to certain things and after they would be finished, they would contact us by radio and we would go back in and pick them up.
LS: Did you ever have worries that our side might not win during the conflicts?
JB: No, not at all. That’s never been a worry or concern. You know, after Vietnam the military changed quite a bit. It became more focused on their goals and more responsible in what was expected of them from the nation and from the public.
LS: Did you know anyone that was killed or wounded?
JB: Well, we were medivacing one squadron and during that there was a few rounds taken by the helicopter, some injuries, nothing really major, no life ending injuries, things that could be easily taken care of on the helicopter before we dropped them off at one of the carriers.
LS: During either the conflict or training, or at any time, did you have personal injuries?
JB: After the Grenada invasion, we were ordered over to Beirut. And I was there for roughly seven months. After that we went back to the South American continents and up into the Caribbean and at the time I was in a helicopter accident, which ended my flying days.
LS: How were you treated or cared for?
JB: Very well. I was flown to an aircraft carrier from the crash site and from there I went into Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, and from Puerto Rico, the medical center there, they shipped me up to Bethesda, near Washington and from there I went to Port Smith Naval Hospital for more recuperation. They took very good care of me.
LS: You did feel that they did the right thing?
LS: Do you think that the medical care changed any because of the war or during the war?
JB: Well, over the history of war, medical changes have drastically improved even from World War II to Korea you saw the mass units, from Korea to Vietnam you saw units even closer to the front lines with Grenada there was a hospital ship and two aircraft carriers right off the coast within twenty minutes flight so things have drastically improved with the ability to put someone right into surgery.
LS: What effects do you feel the war had on your physical or mental health?
JB: Emotionally it was exhilarating at one point because of the adrenaline that you have and then afterwards things start hitting home you start wondering why you had to take a particular person’s life. You wonder about was that a dad, or was that a brother or a son of someone? That kind of plays with your mind. You have to come to terms with it and realize that in war there is going to be death and it’s me or him and I would rather be the winner of that particular engagement.
LS: Do you feel that you had worthwhile experiences because of the war?
JB: Well, from the exhilaration that you feel and the gun-ho type feelings that you have is a spree de core, yes, would say yes. From the perspective that there was loss of life as a direct action of my action, then no would be the answer.
LS: Tell me about letter sent to you from your home and your friends.
JB: As I said, the invasion was over pretty much by the time the public found out, however, the particular detachment that I was with, we were sent to Beirut as I mentioned earlier and we received quite a few care packages from a Marine base in North Carolina and one of the Navy bases in Norfolk, from those bases particularly because we worked out of those two bases. And sense we were sent right to Beirut, they took pity on us and sent us a lot of care packages. Once my mom and dad found out, mom sent a large amount of cookies, three boxes, chocolate chip cookies, that everyone in the detachment helped themselves to while I was asleep.
LS: Where you or others ever homesick and how would you deal with this?
JB: No, I never missed home.
LS: You wanted to leave, right.
JB: I wanted to leave home and see the world. I really enjoyed it and anytime I got back to the states I would volunteer for the next detachment because I would be ready to leave.
LS: No one you ever talked to was ever homesick do you think? They all wanted to leave too?
JB: We had a few guys that were homesick and they handled it in, you know, whatever way they could handle it. I’m sure there were tears and times and you know I talked to one person in particular that was pretty homesick, missing his new bride and so you know you just have to be able to lean on people and be able to lean and support at the same time, I guess.
LS: Did you get to see or hear from your family or friends ever?
JB: We were allowed to make some ship-to-state phone calls after the invasion sense we were redirected right to Beirut, so they allowed us to do that during the crossing from the Caribbean into the Mediterranean. Once we got into the Mediterranean we flew off the ship to Sicily, and in Sicily we were able to phone call and talk for a couple hours.
LS: What was your most memorable experience?
JB: Probably coming home after Beirut. We came home for a few days before we were sent down to South America into the Caribbean. It was just nice sitting back and in the states having a cheeseburger and pizza. But after the mug of beer and the pizza it was time to get back out of the country.
LS: Did you ever have humorous experiences?
JB: Oh, many.
LS: Do you want to tell me about any of them?
JB: Probably shouldn’t. (laughs) The most memorable experience, it did not take place in Grenada, it took place in an area of Athens, Greece, called the Veda, and before we went on liberty, we were told by the ships public affairs officers that we should never try to steal a Greek flag. And knowing kids, you know, twenty and twenty-one year old kids, we tried it. That’s probably the most humorous.
LS: You obviously came out alright.
JB: Eventually. (more laughs)
LS: Who was your closest friend and tell me about them or any of your friends.
JB: David McAllen, he was my second crewman we always flew with the same aircrew, we never intermixed. David was always willing to go the extra mile, stand side by side and if I was in any sort of danger he would be there and vice versa. David always found something humorous about anything, whether it was death, fear, or whatever. He was able to shed light on many things with his whit.
LS: What did you guys do in your free time?
LS: Things that you can tell me.
JB: We did things. And other things. Whenever we were here in the states we would usually go camping down in North Carolina in the foothills, play with our guns. While we were on detachment we usually just preoccupied ourselves with training, a lot of physical fitness type stuff, working out on the weights, all that good stuff, swimming, jumping off the ship.
LS: I bet they liked that. Did your views about the war ever change over time or about the military in general maybe?
JB: No. In fact, today I am more proud of the military than probably when I was in it. They have come so far and the excellent training and good group of people.
LS: How did you feel when the war ended? You said that you moved right on.
JB: Relieved. Happy that I did not get hurt or my friends happy that I didn’t die, naturally. Just after all the adrenaline gets through your body you are pretty worn out and ready to sleep so I remember sleeping for quite some time. So I was relieved.
LS: How would you describe the ways in which the war changed your life?
JB: Well, it probably changed my life in ways that I’m not aware of directly. If I were to sit here and say that it changed a lot, I wouldn’t be able to tell you how. But I know that as a result of those type of conflicts we all change emotionally, maturity wise. I mentioned earlier that it became obvious to me that we had to take our jobs seriously because we could be put in harms way at any time so that would be one way there was change in maturity level and responsibility.
LS: Would you change any of your decisions made during the war or in any conflict?
JB: Probably some that I wouldn’t want to discuss. As far as my behavior toward my peers, people that I battled with, I wouldn’t change anything about that. You take a life you always want to change that. That is something that I think anyone would want to change that, you didn’t want to take that life, you had to.
LS: Would you change your decision to participate in military and war?
JB: No. Not at all.
LS: You kind of touched on this already but, after the war did you continue other wartime or military activities?
JB: Yes, Beirut, we flew air guard in Beirut for several months while we were there the embassy and the barracks was bombed so there was a lot of medivac work there and then after a short visit home after that we went in to South America and Honduras and Nicaragua and that area. We did several military operations involved in that area.
LS: Are there any thoughts about your wartime experiences that you would like to share?
JB: Nothing that I’ve already told you.
LS: What honors did you receive and tell me about them and what they were for.
JB: Well, we received for Grenada, we received the Navy-Marine Expeditionary medal we also received another Navy-Marine Expeditionary for Beirut. I received a Navy Commendation as a result of the rescue that took place. That was a highlight for me. It’s always nice to receive a medal signifying something you did positive. I received various other ribbons and medals throughout my military service.
LS: Would you suggest the military as an option for young people today?
JB: Absolutely. In fact, I believe that every young man should be required to do two years of military service and every young woman should be required to do one year.
LS: Is there anything else I should ask you or you would like to add?
JB: Should we institute the draft? No. We shouldn’t. But that pretty well covers it all.
LS: All right, thank you.
JB: You're welcome.