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“As long as you have the patience, they’ll turn out all right.”

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   William E. Vicars
Image of William E. Vicars
William Vicars, 1959.
War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Army
Unit: 173rd Airborne Brigade; 18th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division
Service Location: Fort Polk, Louisiana; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Carson, Colorado; Germany; Vietnam
Rank: Command Sergeant Major
Place of Birth: IL
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William Vicars spent 21 years in the Army to learn something about himself—that he was a born teacher. Vicars enlisted a year out of high school and did two tours of Vietnam. On his second tour, at the age of 29, he was called “The Old Man” by the recruits in his platoon. From an early career encounter with an officer named David Hackworth, Vicars had learned to watch out for the lowliest soldiers. He maintained tight discipline within his platoon, even as morale was disintegrating around him. After he retired from the Army in 1980, Vicars became a high school ROTC teacher in El Paso, where he grew up. He has thrived on giving young people a sense of purpose and discipline in their lives and is especially proud of turning around the lives of troubled youth.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (8 clips)
»Complete Interview  (61 min.)
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»Voices of War
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (8 items)
Lack of morale problems in his platoon. (01:39) The politics behind not winning the war. (01:40) Morale problems in Vietnam: turnover, politics, inexperience. (06:05)
Second tour of Vietnam; under fire immediately. (07:57) First tour of Vietnam; getting wounded. (05:02) David Hackworth's shining example. (04:41)
Officers who affected his career. (01:28) Teaching ROTC; working with kids. (03:31) 
  
 
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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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