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Interview with Rutherford Brice [April 22, 200]

Frederick Wallace:

Today is Tuesday, April 22, 2003. And this is the beginning of the interview with Rutherford Jack Brice. Mr. Brice served in the United States Navy and the United States Army. He is career military, and he saw service during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. This interview is taking place at the office of the AARP Georgia, in Atlanta, Georgia. My name is Frederick Wallace and I will be conducting the interview.

Frederick Wallace:

Mr. Brice, as we go along I want you to feel comfortable and feel free to tell your story in your own words. This is what this interview is all about. We want to know how you -- what your experience is. Just anything of importance that you want to bring up. So this is your story and we want you to tell it from your own words. From the beginning, tell us of the date that you entered service, or whether you enlisted or you if were inducted. And take us from your entry into the service to your date of separation in each of the branches of service. So, Mr. Brice, this is your story. Will you begin, please.

Rutherford Brice:

Well, thanks a lot, Fred. I guess I have an interesting up and down kind of a career. By that I mean I served as an enlisted man, an NCO, and an officer. I began that 25 years, I guess. See, when I enlisted in the Navy in 1942 I was 17. And during World War II I served in the Navy, as I said. I was one of those, I would say, fortunate blacks in that during that time the whole world was a tad different in that the military was segregated. And I guess, except for the black NCOs and officers that were assigned to the Diesel Training Center at Hampton Institute in Virginia, there were no military occupation specialties that included blacks. I was one of the fortunate 143 experimental kind of blacks that were sent to Aviation Machinist Mates School. Initially I went to Fort Lawrence, or Camp Lawrence in Chicago to become a sailor. Then shortly afterwards was sent to Memphis Naval Air Training Station in Memphis, Tennessee. I remember the first day that we arrived there they gave us a mattress cover to go and pick up all of our clothing. As we were walking along with these big mattress covers over our backs with the clothing in it, the white troops were marching along saying "cotton pickers." {Laughing} They were teasing us, and we didn't think it was funny at all, as a matter of fact. But we finished that school, Aviation Machinist Mates School. I think out of the 143 it was something like 40 of us that completed the school. And I have no clue where most of them went. I think I saw one or two afterwards during that whole war. I was sent to Syracuse University. First college campus I was ever on. I was still a little boy and I was taught to be a supercharger specialist. They were putting an airplane into the fleet in Alameda, California. It was a F4F Corsair. And it was really an impressive airplane because it could turn inside of a zero. That was the airplane that the Japanese had and they thought that was quite impressive. And it had a supercharger that made it a lot faster. So, at any rate, I finished that school and was then sent to Alameda, California to join the Carrier Area Service Unit 14. And it was a part of the fleet that included the Intrepid. So during that war I was in Quam, Saipan, Laita and Guadal Canal all with that fleet that was going through the Pacific. Nothing of really classic history, I guess, except an incident, as I said, was a part of the time it was a segregated Army, Navy, service. And it was interesting, I'd go in the daytime during duty times and work with my crew because I was a specialist in that area. And then I had to go to the forward part of the ship out of the hanger deck to speak with my compadres, so to speak. The guys that were the cooks, bakers, and stewards mates. Some were black and some were Phillipinos. But the quarters were separate, completely. Then you'd go back to do your duties wherever you were assigned. I left the Navy in 19- something. 1940- in the 1945 beginning of 1946. And then I --

Frederick Wallace:

Why did you leave the Navy?

Rutherford Brice:

I was finished with that tour. They were letting people out who had finished a certain amount. The war for all practical purposes was over. I know it was D-Day 1946, I think, when it was over, but I transferred -- Oh, I had signed a chit to go to college. That was the whole thing. Then I went to Morgan State College, then. Now university. And was commissioned on the 6th of June. Graduated on the 6th of June 1950. And I was commissioned and sent -- interesting, graduated in the 6th of June of '50. It was commencement day as well as commission day. The 16th of June 1950 I was sent to Fort Benning to the associate officer's basis course, and to the infantry school, and to jump school, and ranger school.

Frederick Wallace:

Can I ask you for a bit of clarification?

Rutherford Brice:

Yes.

Frederick Wallace:

When you left the Navy, did you sign the chit, as you said --

Rutherford Brice:

Staying in the reserves, yes.

Frederick Wallace:

Staying in the reserve to specifically become a commissioned officer?

Rutherford Brice:

That's correct.

Frederick Wallace:

Very good.

Rutherford Brice:

And, I had to resign the reserve in the Navy to take the commission in the Army. So at any rate, on the 16th of June '50, I went to Fort Benning and on the 26th -- I'm in infantry -- on the 26th of June the Korean broke out. My class consisted of the infantry class from West Point. All of them. And when we got our assignments, because I had played football -- I was a minor All-American running back {laughing}. I say that when I think all the other guys that graduated from that same school. But, anyway, they went -- when I say they I mean the class of '50 from West Point, for the most part went to Korea immediately. And as I said, because I had played football, the general that was school troops commander at Fort Benning at the time was going to be in some way in charge of a training center at Fort Knox, Kentucky. And when I looked at the board, as we do at the end of classes and training in the Army, my name was not on the list to go to Korea. It was on the list to go to Fort Knox, Kentucky. And I just could not believe this. And my assignment was assistant athletic officer in special services at Fort Knox. I'm an infantry officer, airborne trained, the whole bits and I just thought that was the sickest thing in the world. When I got there I went to the general's office and he said "You've been assigned to play football and coach my backfield." {Laughing} So, we won the second Army championship. We beat the Quantico Marines in the championship. I came back to Fort Knox. And this was in January. And in February I had my orders to go to Korea. I had served my purpose. {Laughing}. In, oh God. Hm-mm, I can't think of the guy's name now. Whitey Ford. Whitey Ford basically had the same kind of situation as a pitcher on that same team. This general just pulled together all the athletes he could. He was a freak in that regard. And he was looking out for his career, you know. Let's see, what did I miss along there. I think that was about it.

Frederick Wallace:

I guess, you said you went to Korea?

Rutherford Brice:

Oh. From Fort Knox I went to Korea. Right after that, as a matter of fact. This would have been right before Saint Patrick's Day. An interesting anecdote. When I got to Korea, I went -- first I was assigned to the 11th Airborne Division 187. And it was on Saint Patrick's Day that I got to the reserve, you know, the marshalling area. And all the officers, everybody, was celebrating Saint Patrick's Day. However if you looked around there was only one face like me. So I went to the officer's club where they were working. And an officer that I had known at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, said Well Brice I never expected to see you here how you doin', you know, let me take you in. Real nice guy. And he says, you know, this is an Irish party so we got to do something about this. So he got a saber from the corner, took me up to the washroom, or whatever you call it, and he made me kneel down and he took the sword and tapped me on my shoulders, and then on the tip of my head. Said "I christen thee O'Brice. I thought it was funny {laughing}. And we served there and we had --

Frederick Wallace:

Where about in Korea was that?

Rutherford Brice:

Oh my God. I can't tell you to save my life right now. If I think of it. It was in Coomar Valley. That's all I can tell you specifically. This was in Coomar Valley. They were marshalling because they just come out of Heart, no, Bloody Ridge. And it was in preparation for Heartbreak. But I never went with them to Heartbreak. I went to the Second Infantry Division afterwards. And I'll tell you the joining thing for this. What happened is I was special forces insurgents as a jumper. And we had an advance drop 66 percent casualty. I was hit in my leg and sent to the Philippines to Manila. It wasn't a serious kind of thing, it was like more shrapnel than anything. Just scraped up my bone a little bit. At any rate, I came out of that and I couldn't jump. So I was sent to the Second Infantry Division. That's when I went to the 23rd Infantry Regiment C Company of the Second Division. And where the 187th had gone, I joined that same -- I went to the basically the same place because the marshalling area and the reserve training area for the Second Infantry Division was just where the other one had left. If that made any sense to you. Where I was with the 187. They went off to I don't have a clue where. So, that's when the Second was training to go into the attack for Heartbreak. And that was interesting because when I joined that outfit I was in an observation post the night before I was to join that company, C Company, looking at the preparation for and the jump off for this attack. Actually we called this thing Papasan. 10-69 was the heighth (sic) of the hill. And that was bloody. That was Heartbreak, I'm sorry.

Frederick Wallace:

Can you clarify Heartbreak. What are you speaking of?

Rutherford Brice:

Heartbreak Ridge was one of the furiest battles in that valley. Because Heartbreak Ridge, as I said, the heighth was 1069, was the predominant dominant land mass in that area. You could see all of Coomar Valley from there. And we had to have that land in order to see what was developing with the troops, you know, the enemy troops all over the place. So that was in that particular area. So that's why it was important to us. But it was really well fortified from an artillery standpoint. And nobody had really taken the hill and held it. The Marines held it. I was in two situations like that where, you know, we were just back and forth. I mean they kicked our butts off, we'd kick their butts off. Same thing happened with Heartbreak. It was really a Heartbreak. One because climbing up that thing from the reverse slope was unbelievable. The paths there. They had it all tunneled in, and they had artillery in the base. You know, they'd been there for a long time. So they, being Koreans and the Chinese, they were involved in the battles, too. Anyway, finally we, along with the 24th, took care of that hill. They routed and went off and we defense landed for I don't know how long because I went off to someplace else. Went back into the reserves. There were a lot of people killed there. I mean lots of people were killed at Heartbreak. It was one of the most furiest battles we had in Korea. Bloody Ridge, Heartbreak Ridge, Old Baldy, and Pork Chop. And I was in three of them. I was in Heartbreak and Bloody, Baldy -- I'm sorry. Baldy and Pork Chop. But not a lot of action in Pork Chop. But most of my combat action, from a commander's point of view, was at Old Baldy.

Frederick Wallace:

Were you the commander of the unit?

Rutherford Brice:

Yeah, I was company commander of the unit. I was platoon leader at Heartbreak. But I was a company commander at both Bloody Ridge and at Pork Chop.

Frederick Wallace:

And you had to leave your platoon or your company --

Rutherford Brice:

My company. One time to advance the company.

Frederick Wallace:

Anything significant happen while you were advancing on the enemy at either one of those?

Rutherford Brice:

Well, I think probably in my mind the most exciting and most responsible position as a company commander was during the siege of Old Baldy. I was the executive director -- not executive director, executive officer for the C Company of the 23rd Infantry Regiment Second Division. And we prepared for this attack on Old Baldy. And I was in charge of the blocking position for Old Baldy. Old Baldy, itself, the mountain was I imagine about two and-a-half miles away from the blocking position. And the blocking position was to protect our troops in case they had to fall back. We used to say "bug out." And I had the rocket launchers and machine guns, and two platoons of troops to, you know, to aid in the blocking position. Let's just say -- and I'm not really convinced I remember -- the attack went off right about 7 p.m. It was a night attack. It didn't really get dark until probably about an hour and-a-half or so after that. It's interesting, I guess about 20 minutes or so after the attack had started the company commander was hit. And he was evacuated. And the battalion commander called me and said Brice, get up there and take charge of the hill. We had D Company and E Company on the sides, and my C Company was going up the middle. This thing had been going on for quite a while so the hill was really pulverized with artillery. It was not a big top on this hill so it was very difficult to hit with artillery. So a lot of the rounds were coming off the back of the hill. So when I say pulverize, it's like trying to get up that hill from the center, because that's where my troops were concentrated, and that's where the O-P, the observation post was, I had to go through this stuff. Was like climbing sugar. I mean, it was just very difficult. Patska (ph), was the company commander of D Company on the left flank, and a guy named Evansville (ph) was the company commander on the right flank, and my troops were in the center. I remember two of my platoons were not there, they were still in the blocking position. So, but I took with me as I went, the rocket launchers. Because that was all___. I didn't take the machine guns, they were too heavy. Rocket launchers were easy to take -- the ammo was easy because you could strap it across their shoulders. I laugh about this because I always tell about coming up this hill in the back. And how it was like sugar or salt that you're trying to run up. As we were climbing up the back of this hill, I could hear this round. It was a mortar round. I didn't know -- there was a name for it but now I've forgotten what they call this thing. I could hear it coming. And, you know, when you don't hear it anymore it's about to drop. And I didn't hear it anymore. And I looked about as far away as double the distance to that corner. And crap went everywhere. It landed, but it didn't explode. It was a dud. And me and these two guys, it was like our butts took wings. I don't remember touching the ground at all till I got {laughing} up to the top of that hill. Which I think it was on the ridge. And I want you to know, that as much as I hate to tell you this, I peed all over myself. {Laughing}. But it really didn't make any difference, and I was sweating anyway. So anyway, we got there and we took care of organizing at that point. We took machine guns, got rid of things. I showed you some paperwork as we went along that, you know, kind of supported all that. Anyway, within seven days we had secured this hill and, you know, taken care of the enemy. We'd knocked out the machine guns, we got in good position. We had air cover had gotten there and took care of their artillery, etcetera, and we thought we had secured it. As a matter of fact we did. And I was on that hill only seven days. But some of the interesting part of this -- and remember that the 24th, the Marines, a lot of people had been there before we were there trying to secure this thing. I'm sitting there -- during that time what I remember is we never -- the only thing I ate was grapefruit out of a can during that whole seven days. I must have lost, you know, about 12, 14 pounds. But anyway, that was -- and I was recommended for the VFC and got the Silver Star, as a result of having full -- the troops -- you know -- I had for all practical purposes, command of the battalion at that time. And I thought that was -- that made me feel good. It was quite an experience. I did a lot of growing up during that seven days.

Frederick Wallace:

I'm sure.

Rutherford Brice:

Yeah. And then I went back into the reserves. I mean reserve training.

Frederick Wallace:

If I understand, you were released from the service?

Rutherford Brice:

Oh, no, no, no. When I said I'd went back to reserves, I went to reserves training for that Second Infantry Division. We were pulled off and was going off to someplace else. And I went from there -- I had requested an interview -- no. Yeah, I had requested a transfer to Japan because I wanted to get my family to come over to Japan. Which they did. And I was -- but this is all a part of the process. When I said they which they did, it wasn't right away. I went -- from there I was assigned within -- I went on R and R to Japan. And I came back and I was reassigned to the 34th Infantry. 24th Infantry Division, 34th Infantry Regiment. And I was sent to winter training. And it was for insurgents training to do winter fighting. And I was assigned to Fort -- no, no, no, to Camp Fuji at Gotimba. It was at the base of Mount Fuji. And we had ski school there and we dropped out of airplanes in the snow. White uniforms, the whole shooting match. This was something really supposed to be the real going thing at that time. It was special forces, you know, that same kind of thing where the insurgents you're supposed to go and blow up bridges, all that stuff. My partner's name was Carter. Carter was a long, tall, skinny, black guy. Spoke better Japanese than any Japanese I ever saw in my life. He was unbelievable, this guy. So he and I were buddies. We lived at Gotimba together. Same room, you know, all this stuff. And he was teaching me Japanese as we went along. And he was -- he had been there for quite a while. And Carter had another assignment and he went off to someplace else. And they broke up the insurgents team, and I was sent to be the headquarter's commandant for Camp Cole in Yokohama. And that was like about two and-a-half weeks or three weeks. All of this was really because my family was coming. I didn't even know that they were going to come till I got a telegraph saying that were on a ship and they were being there. But that's why I was transferred to as the headquarter's commandant at Camp Cole. Anyway, I stayed in Japan for about nine months, pretty close to ten months in that assignment. Then I was sent back to the 24th, 34th Infantry Regiment, again. And I was a part of the operation team for them like, S-3, S-2 thing. Didn't stay there long. Actually, I was shipped back to the states. I was trying to think of where I went. I have to look. Oh, I know, I went from there to Panama. I think that's right after that is when I was riffed.

Frederick Wallace:

You went from Japan to Panama?

Rutherford Brice:

I went from Japan to Panama. But in the interim I went from captain to SFC E-6. No, I didn't. I got the orders but I wasn't transferred. I went to Panama as -- and I was assigned to several different places. I went as an operations officer. And then I was assigned as an education officer for the Caribbean command. And that's when I was riffed. The rationale was that all these different things I was doing going all the way back to Fort Knox where I was pulled out of the infantry, so to speak, I had very short tours with the infantry special forces and all that. And the letter I got said "and you had been trained to be an insurgents officer, blah, blah, blah, the whole stuff. And I had been special forces, I mean special services and all this. And they were -- after the Korean war they were reducing the service. And so anybody that had -- most people -- regular Army people were staying, they're kicking out reserves officers like crazy. So, anyway, that's what happens. I guess -- I was trying to -- and as I said I was assigned to Panama. And I ran around --

Frederick Wallace:

So you were riffed as a commissioned officer?

Rutherford Brice:

I was riffed as a commissioned officer, and I elected to stay in the service as an SFC-6. I could never be lower than that because I was ROTC commissioned. That was a part of the whole thing. Anyway, I was shipped after that, to -- well, as I said I was an education officer for the Caribbean Command for a while. I was in a tank outfit. I did all kinds of stuff. And then I --

Frederick Wallace:

That was when you were stationed in Panama?

Rutherford Brice:

Panama. I moved six different times. My kids moved to three different schools. This is an anecdote. I went -- I was moved from Gulick on the Atlantic side to Camp -- anyway, right beside the canal. I can't think of it. It was right up against the jungle. And I came home from fishing one night and my family was all crowded in the living room because they were afraid to go into the kitchen or the rest of the house. Anyway, at that time they were putting oatmeal in metal cans, in the tropics. And I asked my wife what happened. And she said there was something in there making noise. You could see panthers and stuff walking around the jungle outside, and snakes. So, they were frightened, you know. When I went into the kitchen I could hear this thing. And I opened the cabinet door and a can, oatmeal can fell out. It was chewed where there was a rat. And I took a broom and pushed it back up under the refrigerator was in the corner. Killed the rat. Took the rat___+ and I'm only captain. There's a lieutenant colonel sitting there at the desk, and I took the rat by its tail and I slammed it down on his desk and I said my family is going to be moved out of those quarters right away. That was in Cocosola. So they moved me, then, to another place. Nice quarters, everything was fine. Golf course right in back of the house. It was great. And that's where the education center was, and the broadcast center, and all that stuff. And that's when I got really involved in the whole broadcast business. Because I thought__+. And it worked because I was doing news analysis at the time, you know, it all tied in together. Where to. From there I was shipped to Fort Huachuca -- now I'm riffed, okay? Now I'm SFC E-6. I go to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, and I had come up on the promotion list. And this was just like nine months. What they did was read your record and crap, and anyway I was immediately promoted to first sergeant. And I was a first sergeant for a {cough} company. I'm at the service station putting air in my tires and somebody touched me on the shoulder. And he said "what in the hell are you doing with those stripes on your shoulder?" And looked up and it was General Short. He said "You're the best aide I ever had, get up from there." I told him what the story was, and he told me "well I'm just coming here I'm being assigned as a post commander." He said, "come see me 90 days." Ninety days couldn't come fast enough. I went to see him. He -- and the aide that was there, and the secretary said Come on in the old man's waiting for you. I went sat down on the side of the desk. He said "I made some calls to the Pentagon. My only question to you is do you want to be an engineer officer or a signal officer?" I said signal. He said okay. Called somebody. Within six days I had orders and I was a major in the Air Signal Corp. And that was it. Then from there I went, I guess my first assignment in Vietnam. And then at that time I was assigned to Mcafee Second Corps. Two Corp. And I served with "Vinegar Joe" Stillwell, Junior. Which was just really an exciting thing because I was in his operation division in the G-3 office. And he was -- he had a colonel assigned with him that was just a real nut. He didn't believe anything that G-2 told him when they made observations, when they did any kind of field work in advance of troops for training. Now remember, this is training the armament, training all these people. And he didn't believe them. He wanted to see it on the ground himself. And I'm his general flunky. So we would go in the helicopters and he said let's go down there and see what's going on, Brice. He don't know what the hell is out there. And bloop, out he'd go. {Laughing} Here I come, his little lackey, behind him. Anyway, finally we got, you know, out of the Two Corp thing. We went down into the delta running around acting like rabbits. And I got transferred back to Thompson-U. You know, the air base and stuff. And if you remember at one time you had a terrible siege of Thompson-U. Bombs come from everywhere and they really ripped her up, turned over our tanks. They just really blew us up. And when they did that, people were disbursed all over the place. And I got assigned to -- they were in the Rex Hotel they were building the radio station. And setting it up. And then I got shipped back to the United States. I went to Gordon --

Frederick Wallace:

How long were you in Vietnam for?

Rutherford Brice:

Two tours. One was 11 months. No, one was nine months that first time. And then I went back for 11 months. I was assigned as airborne brigade commander for the 114th Air Assault. And that was interesting but that didn't last very long because I had been exposed to that radio thing. And they knew this was all going to go on. So I went back to Gordon to the television division of the Southeastern Signal Corps School, learned some more stuff for about six, seven months, and then shipped right back to Vietnam to do that Good Morning Vietnam kind of to build up that station. And I --

Frederick Wallace:

Were you an officer or enlisted?

Rutherford Brice:

I was enlisted at that time. No, no, no, I had been re promoted now. I'm a major now. But the first time you saw me there -- no that was -- I had been -- I hadn't been given my grade back. And then when you saw me announcing, that was at the station when it was now Good Morning Vietnam. Then I went from there I was assigned to Orleon, France. And I was the broadcast officer for Orleon. That was like 60 miles from Paris. And when de Gaulle kicked us out of France, I went from there to Munich and took that station in Munich, Germany. And then from there -- nothing, I just did regular broadcast stuff around the station and stuff.

Frederick Wallace:

This was for AFN?

Rutherford Brice:

Yeah. This was for, yeah, Armed Forces Network. Europe, Armed Forced Network. France and in Vietnam they called it Armed Forces Radio. They didn't call it Armed Forces Network. And then my last assignment I came back to Atlanta. The first time. I mean the only time I was here. And I came, I thought I was going, as I said to you, to an E-6 slot. When I got here it was only an E-5 slot. I wasn't going to get promoted. And I was not going to be sent to the command general staff school. So I talked to the brigadier who was my advisor in the Pentagon, and I said "There's no way I'm going to stay here." And he said "Well you can always retire." And I only had at that time 24 years and eight months. It was stupid on my part, but I was ticked off. So I said "well hell I retire." He said "Get a job." So I got a job as an extension area manager in Economic Opportunity Atlanta, right here in the Pittsburgh neighborhood. And within six months of that, I think maybe four, pretty close to four, five months I was promoted as the director of that neighborhood service center and went on to become -- do some other things. I was director of child development. I was, you know, as a civilian.

Frederick Wallace:

As a civilian?

Rutherford Brice:

Yeah, as a civilian. I was also a congressional senator investigator for child related programs. And the rest --

Frederick Wallace:

Your total service was how many year?

Rutherford Brice:

Twenty-four years eight months all tolled. Navy, everything.

Frederick Wallace:

And what in your opinion was the most significant part of your service?

Rutherford Brice:

I think the most significant -- not including the combat?

Frederick Wallace:

Yeah.

Rutherford Brice:

But was as the education officer for the Caribbean command. And the reason for that is that I served as a Usaki (ph) validation and testing officer for all the South and Central America. I was running all over the place. I had a C-47 or something that the guy flew around. And when anybody in that area, in that theater -- there were a couple lot of us, but took correspondence course. In order to take the exam and get credit from University of Maryland, University of Wisconsin, and California, for the courses they were taking, you'd have to sit and monitor their test and validate the fact that they had taken the exam in good spirit. You know, in good faith. And I ran around all over the place doing that. It was the guys would come in, the Coast Guards would come off of those towers they have out in the water. I've lived in some terrible little villages, you know, and things, but... And to help these guy that were trying to get ahead in the service. And I thought that was a real helpful thing. Otherwise, I know somebody else would have done it, but the fact that I was doing it was meaningful to me. And you'd meet these guys' families that were living in thatched huts out in the boonies, trying to serve their country. I thought it was just fantastic, you know. It was a good thing to do. And that was about it.

Frederick Wallace:

Then when you finally retired from the military, did you retire in commission status?

Rutherford Brice:

Oh, yeah. I retired __+.

Frederick Wallace:

And, did you take advantage of any of the business programs?

Rutherford Brice:

I bought a house.

Frederick Wallace:

Okay.

Rutherford Brice:

I didn't go back to school, but let me tell you; during that time I had taken a couple courses, as well. And what I did was I had the campus at the University of Wisconsin. Oh, before that when I was just at some food service school in Maryland, before I went to some assignment, and at any rate I had taken correspondence courses and I got a master's in psychology. Human behavior. That was at University of Maryland. And during the time I was in Panama doing all the education stuff, that was my environment. So I just took -- studied and took the correspondence courses. Passed all the tests and stuff that led me to have to go to campus at the University of Wisconsin, where I got my MBA. So the Army did me, you know, good.

Frederick Wallace:

That was going to be my question; overall, your experience in the military was a positive experience?

Rutherford Brice:

Absolutely positive. I have a pretty positive attitude, anyway. And every place I went, from one stage to another stage there was always something that could be learned that really enhanced what you were doing. And the people I worked with were just fantastic along the way. I think it was great experience.

Frederick Wallace:

Do you think that your family enjoyed being with you?

Rutherford Brice:

Yeah, they did. And they were everywhere. They went to Japan, to Panama, to Italy, France, Germany, and all the states. Let me say this to you, I served 24 years eight months, a little more in this military. And 19 of them were for all practical purposes, overseas. Nineteen years out of almost 25. So I had quite an experience. I didn't mention I had already been in Panama for those years, spoke fairly decent Spanish, but I went to the Defense Language School to learn to speak Spanish.

Frederick Wallace:

Did it help you?

Rutherford Brice:

Oh, yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it did. I was supposed to go to Ecuador and we had some political upheaval. I think you might be able to __ into it. And politically things didn't go well for our country in Ecuador. And that's where I was supposed to go after the language school in Monterey. But I was assigned again to a civil affairs school in Augusta to teach Spanish.

Frederick Wallace:

So it was interesting.

Rutherford Brice:

I never went to Ecuador, and I already spoke Spanish, anyway.

Frederick Wallace:

So your military career really helped you in your civilian life?

Rutherford Brice:

In so many ways.

Frederick Wallace:

Right.

Rutherford Brice:

It's been a great experience. This ties in so nicely with AARP and the kinds of thing we try to do here. The involvement that we have with our own communities and helping people to try to get ahead and serve their lives in a positive, constructive way. It's all a part of the game.

Frederick Wallace:

What would you say to young people today when they think about a possibility of a service career?

Rutherford Brice:

I think that one of the things that pops in my head immediately is the discipline. But I'm talking about self-discipline, not somebody marching up and down telling you what to do. It's what you learn about yourself. And what you will ultimately find out is that you can just about do what you guide yourself to do. There's always somebody there to help you if you let them know what direction you want to go in. It's a great way to go. I would do it all over again from 17 to 77. (Laughter}.

Frederick Wallace:

Well, thank you very much.

Rutherford Brice:

All right. I hope I said something to you.

Frederick Wallace:

Well, actually you're saying it to America.

Rutherford Brice:

Yeah. It makes sense.

Frederick Wallace:

Yes, it does. I think that it's a privilege that you made this transcript available for your family and future. Your grandchildren__+. This has been an interview with Mr. Rutherford Jack Brice who attended the military in both Navy and the Army. And we thank you very much for sharing your story with us.

Rutherford Brice:

My pleasure, Fred.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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