Oral History of Adolphus Stewart

The story of Adolphus Stuart has just a “WOW” effect on me. His personal story and journey of his combat experience in Vietnam and his life as a Marine give me a greater appreciation of service members. Veterans like him, at the age of seventeen, are America’s warriors that wrote a blank check to America. Interviewed by Meghan Harris for the Veterans History Project. The Veteran History Project is a series of personal interviews given by veterans from different US wars.

On June 18, 2019, he tells his story of combat, life as a Marine, losing a friend, becoming a chef, and what it’s like to have PTSD. The digital interview was a total of 02:23:30 min and can be downloaded for free. The file lacked a transcript of the interview, yet there are separate links that are short cuts to a specific topic that speaks on.

He begins his interview with a story with the motivation of joining the Marines. He wanted to prove to his stepmother that he was a man. He explains training at Camp Pendleton was valuable to him because it taught him to respect authority. His overall training at Camp Pendleton was irrelevant training to him that didn’t prepare him for Vietnam. He explains, “His training didn’t teach him how to skin a rabbit.”

His first experience in Vietnam was pleasurable. His first combat experience was “Operation Bo Charger” in 1967. He self-evaluated his first combat experience by calling himself “dumb” and oblivious to combat. He recalls getting shot at and being pulled to the ground by another service member. He stood back up in mid-combat and looked around. He recalls this as an awakening that combat was real and happening. The combat was maddening and filled with fear. He then realized that he didn’t want to die. Upon his second combat and after, it became routine.

His firsthand experience in a helicopter collision was very visual for me. He thoroughly explains seeing service members die in a mid-air helicopter collision. He describes the event by saying;

“There was a time, when um, we were landing helicopters in an operation, and there was a mid-air collision. The choppers fell to the ground and I was, I was like there. It was in a landing zone and the choppers hit and landed in the landing zone and they burst into flames. All aboard were killed. There’s no way we can get to them. One because of the fire and two the ammunition was hot. It was exploding and we couldn’t just get to them. And these guys could smell… They were cooking. The guys were cooking, they were cooking.”

To avoid losing his mind, he tries to make light of the incident by joking.

Adolphus Stuart’s interview was an eye-opener to the heroic measures that serve in our military. The scars brought home from war and the sacrifices we may take for granted. For more of Adolphus Stuart, see the link provided below.

https://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc.natlib.afc2001001.115684/

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