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"I almost went native and became an advocate for protection for the people." (Video Interview, Part 1, 37:00)

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   James Franklin McCall
Image of James Franklin McCall
James McCall, 2005
War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Army
Unit: Military Assistance Command
Service Location: Vietnam
Rank: Lieutenant General
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James McCall's life took an unexpected turn in 1956. Fresh out of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and Finance, he was drafted into the Army-and began a successful career in the military that culminated in his achieving the rank of Lieutenant General. McCall served in Vietnam, where he worked closely with the civilians, for whom he developed strong feelings of respect and affection. He also put his education to good use, becoming Army Comptroller, learning how to justify military expenditures to Congressional appropriations committees.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (12 clips)
»Complete Interview  (150 min.)

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»Photo Album (23 photos)
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (12 items)
First African American officer in the Army's 3rd Infantry; how working with the Old Guard at Fort Meyer, Virginia, made subsequent assignments seem a lot easier. (07:14) Nature of fighting in Vietnam, nature of Vietnamese fighting forces; teaching governor of province to maintain peace and security; effect of the Tet Offensive on his area. (06:17) Identifying closely with the locals, trying to protect innocent civilians and limit destruction by American forces. (02:06)
Bad day with downed chopper, all men aboard killed; praising Joe Wallace's leadership-when something goes good, give credit to subordinates, and when it goes bad, take the blame on yourself. (03:44) Speculating about Vietnamese leadership that the US installed and their fate. (01:29) General Hay picking him to be secretary of his general staff; assuming battalion command; second tour of Korea; dealing with a difficult and demanding boss; playing combat football against Colin Powell's battalion. (10:31)
Encounter with Harry Brooks, African American general who taught him some valuable lessons. (02:38) How his family and friends supported him over the years; the continuity of history; recognizing the buffalo soldiers. (04:03) His experiences as Army Comptroller; dealing with Congressional oversight of budgets and Congressman Ron Dellums, head of Appropriations Committee. (08:52)
Taking care of medical costs for vets not covered by the government. (02:04) Reflections on his military career and his support of the Powell Doctrine. (06:02) Advice to those considering a career in the military; the difference between the Army and the other services. (05:04)
  
 
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  October 26, 2011
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