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"I was one of those, I would say, fortunate blacks. I was one of the fortunate 143 'experimental' blacks who were sent to the Aviation Machinists Mate school." (Audio Interview, 2:05)

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   Rutherford Vincent Brice
Image of Rutherford Vincent Brice
Rutherford Vincent Brice, 19 years old, in flight outfit [1945]
War: World War, 1939-1945; Korean War, 1950-1953; Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Navy; Army
Unit: CASU 14 (Carrier Aircraft Service Unit); 1st Battalion Division, 2nd Infantry Division; II Corps, 114th Air Assault Special Forces; MAC-V AFRS Vietnam
Service Location: Pacific Theater
Rank: Aviation Machinist's Mate Second Class; Lieutenant Colonel
Place of Birth: VA
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Rutherford Brice spent almost 25 years in the armed forces, first in the segregated Navy, where he lucked into a position as an aviation machinist. Then, after attending college, he joined the Army just in time to head off to the Korean War, this time as a commissioned officer. Through tours of duty that took him around the world, including two tours of Vietnam, he broadened his skill set, taking full advantage of every career possibility he was offered.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (7 clips)
»Complete Interview  (46 min.)
Download: audio
»Transcript
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»Photo Album (2 photos)
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»AAHM: Pioneers
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (7 items)
How he ended up in aviation machinists' school. (00:52) Although he was a specialist, his sleeping quarters were with the cooks and stewards, totally separate from whites. (00:26) As an All-American football player, he was sent to Fort Knox, KY instead of Korea in order to coach the backfield of the football team. (02:04)
The only black man there when he arrived in Korea on St. Patrick's Day, so he was dubbed "O'Brice." (01:08) Description of the battle of Heartbreak Ridge. (02:25) Describes the siege on Old Baldy, for which Brice, as Executive Officer of C Company, was awarded the Silver Star. (05:53)
The most valuable part of his 24-plus years of service, aside from combat, was his role as the education officer for the Caribbean Command. (01:27)  
  
 
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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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