General’s Star

generals-starI received this pin as a gift from Robert Wilson. During my service in the U.S. Army I did have oppportunities to encounter a general when I was at the U.S. Army Ordnance School at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland. While an intelligence officer I had an opportunity to brief General (4 stars) Besson who was commandant of the Army Material Command. I received a call once from a general asking a question about missiles, and I received a call from another general commending me on my fitness report. He said I had scored the highest for a captain he had ever seen.

I had dreams of becoming a general myself, but alas, it was during Vietnam and the Lt. Cols and upper ranks were so corrupt it turned my stomach. The ones I knew about were far more interested in getting the Combat Infantry Badge than taking care of their troops. Many would serve 31 days in a combat zone and then have their rabbis pull them back to the States. Fortunately there were young officers in Vietnam, such as (now General, retired) Colin Powell (rescued a private while under fire, risking his life to save the life of a trooper) and (now General, retired) Norman Schwarzkopf. In the Vietnam War, Schwarzkopf served as a task force adviser to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam Airborne Division. He was promoted to major shortly after arriving in Vietnam. After an initial orientation at Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), headquartered in Saigon, Schwarzkopf was sent north to Pleiku in the central highlands, in the II Corps Tactical Zone. He got his first combat experience on August 3, when he was the senior adviser to a force of 1,000 South Vietnamese paratroopers sent to relieve a beleaguered South Vietnamese Army force at Đức Cơ Camp. The paratroopers took heavy casualties and a second, larger force was required to relieve them. That force too came into heavy contact. Schwarzkopf and his group fought continuously for several days. At one point, he braved heavy North Vietnamese fire to recover and treat a handful of wounded South Vietnamese soldiers and escort them to safety.

These brave soldiers realized that the leadership of the Army was corrupt, and overall Army concepts were outdated. They were key in reforming the Army to meet its contemporary missions. I did not continue my military career after serving during Vietnam. I of course never made general. These two men revived my faith in the really good guys can rise to the top.

Location: 12-B1