David Keith Fish

(Disclaimer: To the best of our knowledge, the information provided in this oral history interview is accurate. We do not make any representation or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of the information.)

Oral Interview with Dave Fish

Conducted by Dan Hartman, Veterans’ Memorial Hall Program, St. Louis County Historical Society

Recording Date: Unknown

Recording Place: Veterans’ Memorial Hall Program office, St. Louis County Heritage & Arts Center

Transcriber: Susan Schwanekamp, St. Louis County Historical Society

Transcription process funded by a grant from the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation

Note: This interview has very bad sound, with extra sounds in the recording, reverberation constantly, or something like reverberation. Even Hartman’s questions and comments are sometimes unintelligible. This DVD was worked on by National Audio Visual, which caused some improvement, but it still left it very hard to hear and understand, with multiple “holes” in the transcription.

DH: On June 2, 2011, we are going to be getting an interview today with Dave Fish, and if you can say and spell your first, middle and last names.

David, D-A-V-I-D, Keith, K-E-I-T-H-, Fish, F-I-S-H.

DH: OK. Well thank you for doing an oral interview today, as I was trying to say a little bit earlier. So what war were you part of?

DF: Vietnam.

DH: And do you know what time frame you served from?

DF: I served from 1966 – I think I went into boot camp in December and I got stationed out in California. Got stationed on a minesweeper first couple years and was in MSO438. I served under that. If you ever look it up online you can see a picture of it being torn apart with a ________. We used to patrol the waters off shore in Vietnam. I’m probably getting ahead of myself. And my first day in Vietnam I do remember very well. The first day when I got there I went to Da Nang. And it was in the evening and I got assigned to _______________ homesick and they told me to just stay in the back and be ready. And there was a fire fight that night. So that was my first day.

DH: And what year was that in – ’67, ’66?

DF: That was in ’66.

DH: And what year was your last year in service?

DF: I got in and I got out numerous times. Then I went back in and retired out. So my first time out was ’66 to ’69 or ’70. First time I got out.

DH: And how was your tour of duty in Vietnam?

DF: It was really…..my first tour I transferred over to river boats. I thought that would be a little more exciting, being 17. And I got some good experience on them – we had a lot of fire fights. And then my second tour – I had two tours over there – two twelve month tours - I went back because I really did enjoy it, _____________. They were twelve month tours.

DH: And where were you born?

DF: I was born in Duluth.

DH: In what part of the city?

DF: I was born in Park Rapids, Minnesota. (Contradiction, here. See two lines up.)

DH: And that’s where your parents were from?

DF: Yes.

DH: And what were your parents’ names?

DF: Walt (?) Fish and ______Fish.

DH: And what was the ethnic background of your parents?

DF: Mother came from Prussia and my Dad was a Finlander. He came from Park Rapids. His mother came from Finland.

DH: Prussian and Finnish?

DF: Yes.

DH: And how long had they lived in Park Rapids?

DF: Pardon?

DH: How long had they lived in Park Rapids?

DF: They probably lived there all their life. My Dad was in the service and he came back and got married and lived there a number of years. And then they moved to the Dakotas (?) That was my first few years. I don’t remember at all. Then my Dad moved, and in 1950 they moved to Minnesota, to Duluth, and I’ve lived in up Homecroft all my life and still live in Homecroft.

DH: OK. And, so, what year were you born?

DF: 1948, December 11th.

DH: And what was your father’s profession?

DF: He was a carpenter.

DH: And your mother – was she a stay at home Mom or was she…?

DF: Well, she was a little bit of everything. She was a mother and she worked in restaurants, waitress at a____________.

DH: And was it a kind of fun place to grow up in?

DF: Oh, absolutely. I enjoyed growing up.

DH: What were some of the activities you did for fun?

DF: Actually the best thing you could do was ____________(I thought I heard something about “river”, and also “models” and “chicken place”)_________I skipped school most of my life, so I stayed at Coney Island like most of us did. Never graduated from school.

DH: And what were some of the things you did for fun while you were in Woodland?

DF: Drinking, sneaking cars from my Dad, sneaking cars from______________(extremely unintelligible here).

DH: Can you remember what you used to drink?

DF: We used to go down to 1st St. and we used to pick up _L & I ??____wine. ____________. The alcoholics down there would buy you a bottle if you gave ‘em a dollar. Them were the good days. Never got in trouble. The police always sent you home. Never locked you up or nothing.

DH: When you said Woodland, were you talking about upper Woodland?

DF: Yeah. Upper Woodland around Falks Pharmacy and the hardware Store. It’s still here today.

DH: Is there anything that’s different today about Woodland, versus back then?

DF: Yeah, elm trees. They cut down all the elm trees. We used to have a good time – all us kids up there. We used to hang around there. They don’t do that anymore._______

DH: Any sports you used to play when you were there?

DF: I played a little bit of basketball, but I never cared for (it). Because I got hit with the ball one time. And one thing I hated was that the basket was too high. I played a little bit of football, and I liked boxing. I used to box a lot. _____________

DH: So you pretty much grew up in the City of Duluth, then – being so close?

DF: We used to come downtown a lot, and just hang around. Just bum around and do nothing. Cause problems, Walgreen’s, Snyder’s Drug Store, all the old….Woolworth’s and nothing’s the same. Back then, though, I do remember we had cobblestone streets and the streetcars. And then they paved over the streets and took the cable cars out, a few years later, they went back to cobblestone. It was just a waste of time and a waste of money. It was a lot of fun to _______________.

DH: So how were the street cars? Was it something kind of fun, or…?

DF: Yes, they were. We always used to – I remember - take them up to Woodland and we used to have a big lighter and we’d light ‘em up – and sparked ‘em, whenever it rained it just sparked like crazy. (What is being talked about here?)We used to go up to the end of the car line in Piggly Wiggly’s parking lot. Used to be a café in there, it was called Carl. Most of the time us guys used to sit there and drink Coke, you know. It was the big drink of our time.

DH: How was downtown Duluth then, versus today?

DF: You could go downtown and never have a problem. You know, I do remember that. We used to have a place called Dance Land. You’d pay a dollar and you could go in – no fighting. Not like today. You know, I’d be afraid to walk on 4th Street today. But you could be out in the middle of street and be safe and you could meet everybody you knew from Central High School or Washington.

DH: You knew everybody?

DF: Just about everybody.

DH: As you got older and got more into your teens and so forth, did you go to a lot of movies back then? Has anything changed at all?

DF: Oh, yeah. We used to have the old Lyceum Theater in Duluth, you could go to for a dollar, 50 cent movies. A bag of popcorn was a nickel. I remember movies well. We’d get a lot of the old time movies but they were very enjoyable. Every Saturday we used to take a girl there and get a little kissing in. A lot of fun stuff, you know. Young stuff, but still legal.

DH: (Do you remember) the names of any movies you remember watching back then?

DF: I remember Guam. One of the scariest movies I ever saw at the time.__________. Some of the other ones? No, I don’t remember too many more of them. You lose a lot of memory when you get older, you know.

DH: (Unintelligible statement. ) So, any activities growing up that you think would be kind of fun to remember?

DF: You know, really, I just wanted to be away from home. I left when I was 17 and I didn’t come back for about 15 years. (Note: This contrasts with the earlier statement of having lived in Homecroft all his life.) A lot of good memories, but a lot of friends leaving for Vietnam. And I just didn’t want to go back. I lost a lot of friends in Vietnam. And it seemed like my whole high school experience, I quit after 8th grade, I went to Vietnam and never graduated. I got letters from home saying somebody was killed in Vietnam. That was news___. Many of them on the wall down here. Many of them on the wall in Washington. I just really never felt like coming back. I came back one time on leave and I didn’t know anybody. So I wanted to get back out to California and that’s what I did. Married my wife out there. We stayed out there and then I bounced from job to job to job. __________. So I went from many, many jobs. Good jobs. I really enjoyed California. You know, I always wanted to live there, the weather was nice. You had the mountains and a beach, you had a desert. We used to do a lot of stuff out in the Mojave.

DH: So what made you choose the _____out there? Because the Army was the branch?

DF: No, Navy. Actually, _______because I didn’t have no education. But I got a lot of education through the Navy. I just had to stick it out.

DH: You got in when you were 17?

DF: I was 17 when I went in.

DH: Do you remember where you enlisted at?

DF: I enlisted right here in Duluth, down on Park Point. The man’s name was Master Chief Long. I still remember that. After I got out of the service the second time, I built a house for the man up in Rice Lake Township, so we got acquainted again.

DH: Yeah. So your second enlistment was actually from Park Point?

DF: Yes.

DH: Was that the Navy Reserve Center.

DF: Yes. From the Navy Reserve Center.

DH: Did you sign up for the reserves or did you sign up for active?

DF: I signed up for active.

DH: And then, I guess, tell me what happened after you signed up.

DF: I got sent down to MEPS, they okayed it and I was gone in a second. It was real quick. _______buddy system, three of us. Went in on the buddy system, we were supposed to all together stationed.

DH: Who were the three?

DF: Bill Erickson and Jack Handy. All three of us were separated after that. So the buddy system really didn’t work that well. We were on the same type of boats, you really couldn’t call them boats, I mean ships, but they were just boats. _________________________

DH: (Unintelligible question, probably, from context, about his decision to join up.)

DF: Up in Woodland area, you know, just friends and we decided one Saturday “Hey! Let’s join the Navy and get out of Duluth.” I wanted to leave home.

DH: OK. So where did you guys go right after you signed up? Did you leave here by train, or…?

DF: Yes, we did. We left here by train. And we went to Great Lakes. Great Lakes Naval - what was that called? Great Lakes Naval Station.

DH: How was the old Depot then? I imagine you left from this building?

DF: Yes. I really don’t remember, but it was nothing like this. __________________were still used by the __________. I remember the train, the first time I got on the train. There were sleeper cars for us, so …..we got on the train and we got down there and we thought we were big because (we were escaped from Duluth?). And things changed then.

DH: Tell me what happened.

DF: Well, the first thing that happened was they got us off the bus (train?) and they shooed us in to get uniforms. Didn’t care what size. Just as long as you had a uniform. The next thing, they took us in for a little shave of head. They took us in and they put us out on the _ground?______. And they whipped us (or worked us ) along, marching. And we got stuck in the barracks. I did remember that we had… every couple of hours we had a smoke break for a half an hour. That’s when we had some really vicious cigarettes, service _______. We went through our training there and then we got our orders. We stayed in Duluth for a while. I think we were here for about two weeks and then we went out to California. And that was a thrill. Seeing the beaches.

DH: And at that point you were in…..

DF: Long Beach. Long Beach, California.

DH: And did you go by train there, as well?

DF: Nope. We flew out there, ________.

DH: And what was your first impression of California?

DF: Oh man. It was something I always heard about and seen on TV. And I was present. Beach parties. They were real. They were real. We enjoyed them. California is a beautiful place. I’d move back in a second. But I moved back here for my _____________and stuff. But California, you know, had big things - Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm. I only spent about six months there. I met my wife and we got married. A month and a half.

DH: So you got married right after you went to Long Beach?

DH: Yeah. I got married in 1958.

DH: What was your wife’s name?

DF: Suzanne. S-U-Z-A-N -N-E.

DH: What was her (last) name?

DF: Roberts. We were married - what? 50 years? We were married at 17. She was 16.

DH: So you were both married by 17.

DF: Yeah. We were young.

DH: [Unintelligible]

DF: You know I figured I had a girlfriend back here I would have married, and we were supposed to be, but I just kind of forgot about her, when I was in a different state. I see her quite often. She’s got a good education. She taught at East High School. We’re still good friends. Very good friends. And she’s always wanted me to come to her class and I’ve spoken about Vietnam and my experiences in Vietnam, and ____come back out and started again at _____schools. So I went to two or three of the schools.

DH: So moving right along…


DH: Tell me a little about your training now.

DF: I went to 50 caliber machine gun school. I had that through the Marine Corps - at Camp Pendleton.

DH: That’s in San Diego, right?

DFJ: Yeah. And they sent me to another school, prisoner of war camp school, and that was at Camp Pendleton.

DH: Describe what that was like.

DF: Well, if you were captured or anything, they wanted you to see what it would be like. It was all run by Marines. They didn’t make any_____stuff, I don’t think, anyway. ‘Cause they would actually slap you around, you were locked up and put into bamboo cages, just like prisoners of war, ___________. You honestly thought that you were a prisoner of war. You kind of lose reality. You have bread and water. And I stayed there for 30 days. If you can escape out of there, you would be free. You know, if you made it. I was too long legged, I could never make it under the fence or make it through the bars. I went through the whole 30 days of it. And I got a certificate. And I went to Ft. Benning, Georgia, and they made up. They taught us in jump school, pole jumps. Never actually made the real jump. The _______jumps were bad enough. And I spent two weeks down there. The Navy sent you to a lot of schools. But they’re only a couple week schools. You honestly don’t learn that ch – you get the basics, and from there you fill in the spaces.

DH: Yeah. This was still ’66, or was it now ’67?

DF: That was still ’66. I went to San Diego a number of times for different trainings, but I can’t remember when they were.

DH: At what point were you river rat, put a boat______?

DF: I went to Vietnam on a minesweeper. It took us over a month to get there.

DH: So you actually went across the Pacific?

DF: Yes.

DH: Wow.

DF: You ever been seasick – I was seasick from the day I left to the day I got there. It took us 35 days to get there. There was five of us that went four at a time.

DH: There were five on the boat?

DF: No. There was five boats. We had a crew of 80 people. We were run by ________, I remember that. One of the guys was an agent (?).

DH: How many people per boat?

DF: There was only about 80.

DH: 80 per boat.

DF: Yeah. 80 per boat. That was officers and all. They were very small. Only 150 some ____ on and they were solid oak. They were deep ____ for mines. So everything was glass and wood. They were very rough traveling through the water. But when I got to Vietnam I found out you could swap duties. And we were going to have _____minesweeper and I took the guy’s job on the little boat. I had two different – I could operate the 50 caliber and I could cook, we actually had two or three different boats on missions on that. So, I went to the river boat and I was on a _______mission there and I was practicing up, and you see a lot of action________. We stopped the infiltration of_________rivers______. There were places in the river barges where people were _________across ______carried out their mission for the Viet Cong. So we tried to stop that _______, hiding behind bushes and _____.

DH: Earlier you said you landed at Da Nang…..?

DF: Yep. And it was a good experience at Da Nang. The first next there we had a fire fight and I had no idea what that was. None whatsoever. So I ran down. Gunfire was just a block over and I figured___________and that was the ammo - that’s what they were trying to kill us with. So me and the other two guys I went over with were hiding behind the ammo. So we got screwed over pretty well. Our first night there, we had no idea.

DH: So you hid behind the ammo, then?

DF: Yeah. We had a long trip ahead of us _________________. It was a good experience, better than any place_____________________.

DH: So from Da Nang, where did you go from there?

DF: That’s when I went…that was a home port for mine sweepers. North of there, we would go up the Mekong, maybe the Mekong.______ In the end, we had ________, I think.

DH: How did it compare to a river boat here? Was it jungle?

DF: Oh, yeah. There was jungle. A whole bunch of different tributaries off of it. The river boats had a little base there, for their boats. It was called Snoopy’s Nose. And that was built by the Seabees – the Navy Seabees. They made the platforms and ______tied up to them______and Jesse Ventura was there at the time. He was there and___never met.

DH: You met Jesse Ventura?

DF: I’ve seen Jesse a few times, yes. ___________________ I was a gunner’s mate in the service, and I went ____ with guns, rifles and pistols, _______________Go in the service, learn a trade, ____________so I did. Mine a legal trade. I guess I really wanted to be re-assigned.

DH: And so what were you [unintelligible]

DF: Illegal?

DH: Yeah.

DF: Well, I was ______arms illegally_________and selling ‘em. Sold some to a Duluth cop. So they came to my house and …I almost went to prison, 40 years in Leavenworth.

DH: (Another Hartman comment I can’t hear/decipher) So I won’t go over too much of what happened there.

DF: Say it lightly.

DH: So going back to the river rats, how many people were on the river boats?

DF: There was only 500 boats, so the river boats seen a lot of action. I was on the 50 caliber the whole time. It was something that was scary to do at first, my first tour over there, but the second tour I stopped ______ and I just ___and I got a high from it. Just a real high.

DH: Explain that.

DF: It was like the highest pinnacle you could reach. Adrenaline. From killing somebody. See ‘em fall, children (?)_________, and it was the high of adrenaline. There’s nothing in the world higher than that. And I don’t even joke about that. ____________You could do anything you wanted and not got in big trouble, you know? So you could practically do what you want and you got away with it. My second tour was really bad. __________. We’d go in and we’d ask what arms were taken. It didn’t make any difference which way you got the information. Hold ‘em upside down, ________, they didn’t have no rights, Sgt. Calley…..it started with him. The Vietnamese people – I’ve met some since. They’re fine. But I’d never trust……I still have a problem with that. And I go to the Vets Center…I still have a few things with that. It might go on. But I really did enjoy my job.

DH: We’re getting kind of detailed. What was role of the river rat? You were patrolling, mostly? Trying to find the ammo?

DF: Right. We were patrolling the rivers. We ambushed. We’d take ‘em out. We’d go ashore, to try to learn where they had their ammo, where they stored it. Mainly in the villages. ________in front of us. You’re not going to get me in front. So we had a boy on the boat who was_________. And he could find ‘em. They were in hay bales, _______, everywhere. The whole country was ________. That’s where we’d find a lot of arms and a lot of stuff, _______. You could take it, destroy it, destroy the village, ______and that’s it. It was really kind of a worthless cause, that’s how I think of Vietnam now. Wasted time, wasted American lives.

DH: But at the time did you think that?

DF: No, no. At the time I was in good shape then. I was young, big, tough, ________. Now I’m an old man who can’t even go hunting without falling in the woods! I’m not flying anymore. I creep. And it’s awful.

DH: So when you were over there you thought the cause was just and….?

DF: Oh, absolutely.

DH: And what were you fighting for? Just the fall of Communism, or….what’s the reason you were over there?

DF: I think it was Communism. But my second tour it was just for the fun of it. Just to get high. I never took drugs, but just for the high of it.

DH: Mostly you got kind of an adrenaline rush?

DF: Adrenaline rush. Much like ________in Duluth. That’s what I got in trouble for.
DH: So were there any certain stories you remember that you want to tell, some of the more interesting stories?

DF: Not really. ______before.

DH: How long were you driving on the boat?

DF: We would go on eight hour shifts. Eight hours on, eight hours off. We had a lot of free time. We went to Hong Kong. A lot of R & R. It’s a real strenuous job.

DH: What did you do in Hong Kong? Did you drink, or what did you do?

DF: Yeah, that’s mainly what you do. You mainly drank, pick fights with the Australians, Hong Kong, that’s what you did. River boats…I thought they were the elite group. They were a _____bunch of guys. We never went by first names, never went by last names, we just went by…they just called me Fish. _______just ______guy on the boat. I remember one. We called him _______. He lives in Dallas, Texas. I stopped and seen him about two years ago. A Vietnam vet will always try to do the job, that’s ___________, _________. They’re very suicidal and ______see him for the first time in ___years, twenty years. We just said “hi”. We met for a cup of coffee and we ______a guy who committed suicide out in the desert, and that’s it. That’s all we talked about. There was no friendship involved. We did it, it’s over, and________. And that’s the same way today. ____________(Much unintelligible commentary here.)______When you see one, you don’t get close, because it hurts you. And I have my share of hurts. It’s a tough, tough……just like going to the funerals. _(There will be more - ?)__________funerals of the Vietnam vets because they’re in that age now. And it’s just hard. You think _____same school I went to, coming up. One man that I give a lot of credit to, who builds me up whenever_________________is Joey Freeman. He lives in Duluth. He’s going blind and missing an eye. He was _________and got hit by a mine. He was totally blind. I complain, because it’s giving me nightmares, and I’m not sleeping. ___________. He got married late in life, he’s got a couple of kids, he’s happy. I just look up to the guy. Why are you____? He lost and gave up so much_______. It was an overwhelming job.

DH: So your first tour sounded like it was better than the second tour….?

DF: No, actually the second tour was better. I was more used to it. ___________.

DH: You were on the same river, it sounds like?

DF: Same river. I was patrolling the same river, just between different points on it. So it just got to be a day to day thing. You report to work, then you come home from work, you drank your beer, some guys would go and smoke their pot, some guys would have their heroin and forget. _______________. You can’t get away from the river. (?) I enjoyed every bit of that.

DH: Any drinks that you remember?

DF: There was one from Japan (?) called Anniset. It tasted just like licorice. One shot of Anniset with your beer and you’re on the floor. It’s illegal here in the States. But it was just a thick beverage. Delicious. You just drink that down, you drink it slow and you have a beer and it puts you right _______. Something else! When I was on the minesweeper I did get hurt, sweeping for a mine and we hit one and ____________________. Hit ________________and prosthesis right from the hip. _________50 caliber machine gun ___________________________and it exploded in my eyes and I got laid up _______. I was supposed to get a Purple Heart, but I got out, and _____detail on that one. Now, I want medals, because it’s a _________________. (The one I want - ?) is the Purple Heart. And I could get it if I write in, but you have to prove everything, and I _______________start diggin’ up. I know I received it. And you can’t sell it, you can’t give it to a for-profit ______(?).

DH: So, you were married before you went into the Service?

DF: Yes.

DH: So, did your wife write to you a lot when you were over there?

DF: I think we wrote twice a week, maybe three times a week, but you don’t get letters until two or three weeks later. It isn’t like (?) the Iraqi, that you can call on the cell phone. And that was tough! Unbelievable when I had my first child – a baby girl and_______when she was born, how much she weighed and everything. So, when I got home I had a six month old daughter, __________.

DH: What is your daughter’s name?

DF: Jody. Because when I came home the first time, I was really…what you’d call crazy. I was crazy because when I came home (she’d be crying?) and she wouldn’t shut up. Child abuse….shaking her to death. My wife had to step in. My second child was born_____________________right at the end of my being a full time soldier. ________made my career. I was a recruiter, right here in Duluth. I think it was 45 years. I had a lot of fun in the Service. I was in. I recruited for Desert Storm and I recruited for the _______after Desert Storm. They tried to recruit a lot of Vietnam vets at that time, because of _____. I did very well. I won the highest Navy award, ___________________, for that. __________________went to Chicago and was I expecting to give a big presentation – they told me they had a big presentation for me. Then they called me in the commander’s office. He said ______go to Fresno. _______________put me out. That was a shock. ______surgery, all the aches and pains my wife has put up with. I’ve still got the best of two legs, I’ve got Agent Orange from Vietnam. It’s with you forever.

DH: And where do you think that was made possible, _____?

DF: Anybody who was in Vietnam has Agent Orange. You ____it, you drank it. It will go everywhere. ______spray____they would spray it. You can’t get rid of it,______it just goes to everything. We thought nothing of it at the time. It worked. It would clear half a mile of foliage. But I’m sure it killed a lot of the Vietnamese people, too. It was just a vicious, cruel war. On both sides. We did stuff that we shouldn’t have did. They did stuff that they shouldn’t have did. I did many things I shouldn’t have did.____________________. The nightmares come back. Sometimes I’m aware of it. But you live with it. Hard core ______. And hostile. And mal-cut hair. And you (don’t?) smoke. __________________, beers, __________TV______. That really helped a lot. But after a while, you kind of grow up. It was a high! And the high wore off. Most Vietnam veterans _____________________. I’ve been through enough counseling at VA Hospitals. PTSD clinic in Indianapolis when I first ____, three months in hospital and I have to go monthly now. _____________________________ Same problem___six months in the hospital, PTSD ___________________.The first one didn’t help; the second one did. But you have to want to______________from the first day you get there. ________. I remember all the stuff that I hid back in my mind for years. And now I’m okay with it. I can take it or leave it. That’s what I’m trying to do.
DH: You seem very calm about it, so….
DF: Maybe, yes, I am. But I think that’s the age. They give you _____ . Antidepressants, then uppers, lowers, Lortab pain pills, constantly, three times a day. That’s the age______. ____sleeping____.

DH: So I’m going to bring it back to Vietnam. Is there any (additional) part of your Vietnam experience that you want to talk about for the record. Like anything I’ve skipped over, by chance? Anything about the minesweepers?

DF: Very rough life, very hard work. The food was great on it. It was great. We had steaks once a week. A lot of maintenance on the boats. We’d sweep the boats because we never knew if _______. Scrubbed the decks every day, because you’d never know ______they had officers’______. The sheets have to be so tightly ______on the bunks for them. The lockers have to be_____. It was more of a show boat. It was just ridiculous. They let us wear shorts, but we had to wear officer ________shorts, with combat boots. Just dumb stuff. On the river boats we were pretty much free to wear what you want to wear. T-shirt, dungarees, whatever. _________________________On the minesweeper, you had to look good. That’s why I wanted to get off of there. It was just hot.

DH: (Unintelligible question.)

DF: Oh, absolutely. You’d come in, have a few beers that night. On minesweepers you couldn’t_________________. And that’s a very lonely feeling. That ocean was very lonely. You kind of wish__________________. That water was terrible. It was rough, seasick, nothing worse than being seasick. That’s the worst problem you can have.

DH: Pretty small boat, from the ocean__________.

DF: Very small. That’s why they had guys to blow the bell in case _________________. They were that small, and they’d be twisting and you could see water coming in both ends and on each side. They’d leak, and we’d put ‘em into dry dock to work on ‘em and we had a couple times when we were being fired upon so we got _______________dried up, plugged them up, sealed them up and hang them. And I thought _______________________________there was only one left and that was a steel__________. Who’s going to _____________? You know, you live on it for awhile and __________it was nothing but a scrap of wood.

DH: So when you were over in Vietnam, how did the Allies get along? You said earlier about the Australians in Hong Kong. Did you guys get along pretty good?

DF: Oh, absolutely. The Australians – you always fought with them, __________we’d have a few drinks, __________________”We’re tougher than you!” “ No, we’re tougher than you!” So, oh yeah, ______, put you in the brig for a couple of hours and send you back to the ship. No, actually everybody got along. We were in the Philippines – I saw more countries
than I ever seen in my life. _________________, Hong Kong, Japan, _______. When you’re in the Navy, you’re always traveling.
________________________, absolutely. A couple of weeks here, a couple of weeks there, then there’s the R & R’s.

DH: So a question I ask a lot of the Vietnam vets is when you came back to the United States, was it an issue that were you treated pretty poorly?

DF: Oh, yeah. The first time I got out, I came back, I went to a ______to get a job working in a gas station station worked in a gas station and I honestly think it was for $?? And hour and I think he worked nights. He didn’t want to tell you he was a Vietnam . Then I thought___that name, Alan Boe, and I ran into him. So I worked that for a few months and then I went to a restaurant , cooked there for a few years as a food manager. I just bounced from job to job and then I found out why. It was PTSD. Worked for Firestone building tires. Went to oil fields and worked in the oil fields for a couple of years. Came back here, worked for Lake Shore Lutheran, I worked for my Dad for years in construction – that was the longest I ever worked a job.

DH: So what were some of the ways you were mistreated by people when you came back?

DF: I actually never told anyone I was a vet. Just the people who knew I was. At that time, you just didn’t want to tell anyone you were a veteran. If you went to a VFW you were refused. (?) So you just never talked about it. I never did. Other guys did. Since the ‘70s vets have been treated better. And that builds a little in my craw, but not too bad, because ____________. You know, when they brought the bus loads back and did the big hero thing and all that, and I thought we had the right __________. I can’t say they have it any easier, but we were in the jungles. Things can happen. _________so I would think it would be easier. Maybe I’m wrong. I can’t condemn people. They’re a lot smarter. A lot of these guys are college graduates. Not like me. We were 17 year old kids. Just getting out of high school. Weighed 170 lbs. wet. We were just babies. These kids are a little more ______________. They’re sharp, they know what they want, they make that clear. A lot of the Vietnam vets – maybe I shouldn’t say it, but there are a lot of pot heads. They’re at the Vet Center, _________________, crime ______________________. That’s how they are. I was thinking for what it is, it’s kind of silly. I always had my hair short for the Service and I had it long for the same reason. That was ______________. That’s my view, and if you don’t like it, I’m sorry.

DH: Is there anything I haven’t asked you about that you want to share, so it’s on the record? _____pretty good…

DF: No, I guess, for the future, kids, you better think about it. You better think about what you’re joining the war for. Is it for money? Is it for our government? Because our government gets us into wars that aren’t right all the time. It just isn’t. A lot of politics, and a lot of money passes hands. ______think it’s right that _______________Latinos, _____? For what? Four years, five years, some of them might make a career of it. Think before you__________. You’re going to suffer about it. You’ll have a lot of nightmares, flashbacks, _________. If you look at it now, _________________________. (Here, Fish gets into reflecting about the meaning his and others’ participating in wars, etc. and it is very, very frustrating, because it is still mostly inaudible. I don’t want to guess at this part at all.)After a few years, you’ll look back at this and think “What??!!” What a waste of time. My second time, ________Vietnam has been at war forever. ____walk away. That’s all I’ve got to say, I guess.

DH: Well, thanks for doing the interview with me today.

DF: I appreciate it.

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