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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Charlotte Holder Clinger, 2006

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Object ID: WV0230.5.001

Description: Primarily documents Charlotte Holder Clinger’s service with U.S. Air Force from 1967 to 1994, her job with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and her education at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG).

Summary:

Clinger discusses her adventurous family; her childhood; living in Mexico for one year; and her secondary education at various instructions, including UNCG, in the early 1960s. She comments on her excellent professors and challenging classes at the school.

Clinger chiefly describes her lengthy career in the air force. She explains that she joined to get her brother out of the draft for Vietnam and then discusses her military education and her various duty stations, particularly those in Southeast Asia. Clinger briefly describes Officer Training School at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, including the lack of sleep and the importance of looking appropriate. She also remembers reporting for intelligence training at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado, during a snowstorm; being in an integrated flight; and her desire to go overseas during the Vietnam conflict.

Clinger speaks at length about her assignment in 1969 to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand, where she was stationed with the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing. She describes her work collecting intelligence information; doing briefings and debriefings for the flight crews; changing schedule shifts; being the first woman to ever join the 553rd; how she was received by the men and her interactions with them; social life at the base club during time off; her off-duty party suit; learning that being in the air force and at war meant killing people; and not being able to fly because she was a woman. Clinger also describes her one-month temporary duty at U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Air Field and the differences between the Strategic Air Command and Tactical Air Command units.

Clinger talks about her return to the United States and her work at Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin, Texas, in the early 1970s. She describes her culture shock; her love of Thailand; her feelings about Vietnam; her feelings about the draft and its benefits; and the satisfaction at doing a job that she was trained for and helping save lives. She also comments briefly on the political and military situation in Vietnam; Robert McNamara and President Lyndon B. Johnson; and how her attitude toward the war changed between her first and second tours. Topics related to Clinger’s service at Bergstrom include her intelligence work at the 12th Air Force Headquarters with the Tactical Air Command and as part of the inspector general team. Other topics include visiting and inspecting other bases; the F-111 fighter bomber; setting up bombing sites for practice; and her desire to go back to Southeast Asia to promote the F-111.

Clinger discusses receiving her orders for Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base with little notice; becoming Colonel Thomas Lacy’s wing executive officer and what the job entailed; resentment because she was a non-rated woman holding the position; and learning to stand up to some of the men. Other topics include: recreational activities, including hosting a pig roast and going to Bangkok; Col. Lacy and what it was like to work for him; and her decision to return to Austin.

Throughout the interview, Clinger describes incidents of both personal and institutional discrimination because she was a woman and how the discrimination changed when she became a married woman in the service. She also comments on changes that have taken place for women in the military; on women in combat; and on what she liked about being in the air force.

Clinger recalls her decision to leave active duty and go into the reserves; looking with her husband for civilian jobs and finding work with the CIA; becoming an operations chief with the CIA; becoming the first female commander of a Joint Military Reserve Training Command in the early 1990s; and her volunteer work after she retired from the CIA.

Creator: Charlotte Holder Clinger

Biographical Info: Charlotte Holder Clinger (b. 1943) of Asheboro, North Carolina, worked in intelligence in the U.S. Air Force and the reserves from 1967 to 1994, including two tours in Southeast Asia. She also worked for the Central Intelligence Agency from the late 1970s to the 2001.

Collection: Charlotte Holder Clinger Papers

Rights: It is responsibility of the user to follow the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Materials are not to be reproduced in published works without written consent, and any use should credit Jackson Library, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Full Text:

BC:

[Today is August] 8, 2006. My name is Beth Carmichael, and I'm at the home of Charlotte Clinger in Fairfax, Virginia, to conduct an oral history interview for the Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro [UNCG].

Thank you so much for talking with me this morning. If you could give me your full name, we'll use that as a test.

CC:

Okay. Charlotte J.C. Holder Clinger.

[Tape recorder paused]

BC:

I'd like to start by talking a little bit about your background. Can you tell me when and where you were born and a little bit about your family?

CC:

Okay. I was born on 8 November '43 in Asheboro, North Carolina. My family was from Randolph County, part of it, and part of it from Lincoln County in North Carolina. One side was from Lincoln and one from Asheboro in Randolph County. As a young girl, my family moved around quite a bit because my father was in textiles, [coughs] and so we lived in Virginia, we lived in North Carolina, and then we moved to South Carolina and lived for some years in South Carolina. When I was a senior in high school, my father, on a lark, decided to take a job as a plant manager. He was in textiles, in Querétaro [City], Mexico. So we moved to Mexico.

I came back to school. I did one year at Queens College in Charlotte [North Carolina] and then begged and pleaded, and my parents let me go the next year to the University of the Americas in Mexico City, after which they sent me back to UNCG. And I graduated from UNCG in '65.

My family has always been adventurous. They moved from Mexico to California and then California back to North Carolina. When we moved back to North Carolina, I taught for a semester, because I had gone back to Mexico and gotten my educational degree because my history degree wasn't giving me much without an advanced degree. So I went back and got my educational accreditation, came back to North Carolina, and taught for a semester at Wilmington, North Carolina.

Then it's funny how I got into the service. I had kept my bags packed after school because I knew I was going to do something. I didn't know what. So while I was teaching—teaching was wonderful but it didn't make a living. Frankly, I couldn't make a living at it. So a friend of mine, who was a teacher, had seen a recruiter and apparently just gave him my name. So an air force recruiter showed up at my door one day and said, “What would you think about joining the air force?”

And at the time, my brother—they were trying to draft my brother, and he was between junior college and senior college. He was going to Lees-McRae [College in Banner Elk, North Carolina] and he was going to go to Appalachian State [University in Boone, North Carolina]. Well, I said, “Okay, here's the deal.” No, actually, he was getting out of high school. I'm sorry. He was getting out of high school at that point. I said, “Okay, actually, I will, but you have to do something for me.” I was terrified of him going to Vietnam—not so terrified of me, I'm the older. So I said, “You get my brother out of the draft, and you give me intelligence, which sounds interesting to me and with my history background would be interesting, and I will join.” And the recruiter did just that.

BC:

You're kidding.

CC:

No. No. He did that. How he got my brother out of the California Draft Board, I'll never know, but he did, and took me in his place.

So I set off in August of 1967 to Officer Training School [OTS], and that's a three-month course at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas for officers. It's basic training for officers, really, is what it is. But I had no idea what I was getting into. So the day that they said, “Well, we're going to have a lawn party,” I thought finally we're doing something that I consider civilized. Well, a lawn party turned out to be us in our gym shorts out there picking grass from between the sidewalks. No kidding.

It was an interesting adventure for me, but I made it through the three months and graduated and became a second lieutenant. They then sent me—in November '67 is when I was commissioned, and a second lieutenant. They sent me to Lowry Air Force Base in Denver to do my tech training in intelligence, and I did it in two forms of intelligence, both as a briefer and also as a photo analyst, which later on would stand me in good stead in my civilian occupation, having gone and done intelligence.

So during that, of course, Vietnam was at its height. I'll backtrack a little and tell you that when I was at Lackland, they were running so many classes through, I was in class 68-C, and they were running so many classes through that they were using both the Lackland side and the Medina side of Lackland Air Force Base. I was on the Medina side, so they called us Medina Marines. But it worked out very well, and it was their first try of putting women with men in the air force, so I was in a flight that had both men and women who were being integrated as fully as they could. Also, it was kind of a new look for the air force in letting women into a lot more AFSCs, what we call AFSCs, Air Force Specialty Codes, than they had in the past, there hadn't been many women. But in my class, there were a good number of women and we went through with our own male/female flights, although the women had a separate barracks. We did not live in coed barracks. We had a separate barracks.

Basic was interesting. I mean OTS was interesting. You got very little sleep because you had to be up and have your bed made, your makeup on, your clothes on, and everything else by reveille. Well, in order for a woman to do that—it's not like a man who washes his face, he shaves, he showers, he's out, while a woman is makeup, hair, and everything had to be right. You couldn't look like a slob in those days. It was considered, you know, not officer-like. So at five o'clock in the morning, I'd be up with my flashlight. We'd have it over our heads, and we'd take it into the bathroom and we'd put on makeup by flashlight.

Well, still there was not time by reveille to make your beds. So we slept on our beds all the time. We never slept under the covers except once a week when they were going to pick up for cleaning the next day. So for three months, I slept on top of my bed with a robe over me except on the day they were picking up the sheets for cleaning. Anyway, OTS was an interesting experience.

When I got to Lowry—I left for Lowry from San Antonio, where Lackland is, and I started up across the high plateau of New Mexico. I had a sundress and sandals on. Well, it was warm. It was eighty degrees down there. I stopped at this little bitty general store on the high plateau in New Mexico, and the man said, “Well, little lady, you really are brave and adventurous.”

I said, “Excuse me? What do you mean?”

He says, “Oh, there's a storm in Raton Pass. There's a storm in Colorado.”

I said, “What?”

He said, “Yes, ma'am. That's what it is.”

So I got in my little Ford Falcon and I started for Raton Pass. I was the last car through Raton Pass before they closed it. I had no snow tires, no chains, and I was in sandals. However, I got through Raton and then somehow made it all the way to Denver in a blinding snowstorm.

When I got there, the first that happened to me was I slid through a stoplight on Colfax Avenue. Luckily, nobody hit me because almost nobody was out. I stopped at the first place I could find that looked like a motel. So I walked in through the blinding snow in sandals and a sundress and got a room for the night. The first thing I did—then I called in and said, “This is terrible. When do I have to report for duty?”

They said, “Oh, you have to report tomorrow.”

“But there's snow and blinding—”

But anyway, the first thing I did after reporting for duty was to go out and buy a pair of boots, so I had my sundress and my boots. While I was at Lowry, that was like a nine-month school, but I was on casual duty for the first couple of months because they were waiting to get me into a class. Again, Vietnam War was on. There were eight hundred junior officers in my squadron. We had more junior officers—we had more captains in the air force at that time than the navy had officers.

So anyway, I went into my squadron on casual duty, so they had me come in like a couple hours a day, do some work, and I found an apartment. Two of the women that I had been in OTS with were going to share it with me, so I picked out the apartment and I took the only single room of the two bedrooms and made them room together. [laughing] It worked out very well, though. We had what was called a garden apartment at the time. It's a basement apartment, but it worked out fine. It had a window. The only thing was you could see feet going by your window instead of looking out on grass or something. So but it was fine. It worked out very nicely for us. It was not too far from the base and we could afford it. That was the important thing. I think it was three hundred dollars a month split three ways, and so that meant that our housing allowance actually covered it.

So while I was there, I met my husband-to-be, Noel Clinger, C-l-i-n-g-e-r, and we did not get married at the time, though, because we both knew with the Vietnam War on we were both going overseas. We were in intelligence. We were going to the Vietnam Conflict. There was no question. They said, “Here's your choice. You can either volunteer or we're going to send you.” So I volunteered, but I thought it was exciting. I wanted to do it. Besides, I was patriotic and I thought we were holding back the Communist horde.

BC:

How did you feel about Vietnam when you joined and the war was already dragging on?

CC:

I was very patriotic. I was very patriotic about it.

BC:

Did that have an impact on your decision to join the air force?

CC:

I don't know. I don't remember at this time. But I know that when I did join, I don't think I had thought a huge amount about it, except not wanting my little brother to go, because he sleepwalks. He is a wonderful psychologist, but he sleepwalks. Under stress, I could just see him sleepwalking when he was out on a patrol or something and ending up dead, and he shouldn't have been taken, but at that time, they would take anybody. If you could breathe, they would draft you. So anyway, he did join later, by the way, to get the draft off him, and I had no more bodies to give. But he waited until he was through his first two years of college and then did his two years, a little less, and then went back to school, so that worked out.

In any event, so the school was very interesting. I met my husband to-be, and we dated while we were in school. Then of course our orders came, and mine were for Korat, Thailand, Korat [Royal Thai] Air Base, Thailand, where we had both F-105s, F-4s and C-121s. I was stationed at the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing, which was C-121s. They're Super Constellations that had been brought back to duty for the Vietnam War.

BC:

What were they being used for?

CC:

They were being used to find the enemy on the trails so that fighters could go in bomb them. They would go up and they would fly these patterns and look for—along the well-known trails through Laos—and look for the Vietnamese, North Vietnamese, bringing supplies to their fighters to the south because that's how they'd do that, go around like that instead of behind. They'd go straight across the DMZ, over the Demilitarized Zone. So that's what they did.

So my job was briefing and debriefing, intelligence, basically. I put briefings together to tell the crews what they were going to be facing, what they were going to be doing, how it looked out there, what to stay away from, because if there was something—As slow as the Connie was, if there was something like a SAM, Surface-to-Air Missile, in the area, they needed to change where they were going to be flying, because they couldn't fly over SAMs, they'd be dead. So it was my job to keep them from getting killed.

BC:

Where were you getting that information?

CC:

It came over—we got it over what we called message traffic all the time, and it came in electronically, and then I would take all those electronic messages, and the people who worked for me—the airmen that worked for me—would help me take it all and they'd help me put together the briefing. Then I would go out in front of my crews and brief them.

BC:

Was it coded information that you had to decode?

CC:

No, no, it was straight. It was through lines that were supposed to be secure, and so when it came to us, it was not coded. But it had the latitude and longitude of where sightings had been, for example, and we would take that and plot where they were. So when I would go up, I would say, “Here's where the SAMs are. Here's where the big AAA is that can hit you.”

BC:

What's the AAA?

CC:

Oh, I'm sorry, antiaircraft artillery. So I think they called it ack-ack in the Second World War or something, but we called it AAA.

So I would go there and I would brief them. There would be, in fact, this is my office and me briefing, and there is our emblem, the 553rd emblem with “Cavettte Cattam” [Latin for “Beware of the Cat”], and we were Bat Cats, that was our call sign.

So then the crews would go out, they would fly their missions, and we had like twenty people on a mission because there was a lot that needed to be done on those missions. There was a lot of electronic equipment and everything on the aircraft. The ironic thing is, first thing that the commander said when I got in—by the way, I was the first woman in the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing ever. The commander had to give up his latrine for me. He had to give up his bathroom for me because there was no women's bathroom. They'd never had a woman over there.

BC:

Were you the only one then or did—

CC:

I was the only one. Some came later. Another one came later. But I was the first one.

BC:

How did you find that? How were you received by the men?

CC:

Oh, great. They were just so nice. In fact, I've got some cute things that I'm going to give you, like here is a—the guys in operations, which were right next door to me because the messages came into operations and then they gave them to us and then we got our part of the briefing fixed, they got their part of the operational briefing done, and then the weatherman came in and also gave a briefing about what the weather was going to be like.

The weather in Southeast Asia can be horrible. The clouds, the thunderstorms can be just really dangerous for airplanes. In fact, we lost two airplanes, two crews, while I was there, and both of them had something to do with weather. One of them, I lost everybody in the crew. One of them, I lost about half to three-quarters of the crew. Both of them weather related. I never lost one to not telling them where the anti-aircraft or the SAMs were [laughing], okay. It was all weather related. It was somebody else's fault.

But I was very well received. They were thrilled to have me. I was a second lieutenant for god's sake. I was like a mascot. I mean they really enjoyed me. In terms of at work, they treated me like a professional, but after work and—there aren't that many things you can do when you're at war, and go to the club is one of them. We ate at the club. We had a dining room there and it was open twenty-four hours a day because we flew twenty-four hours a day, and we had a bar that was open not all the time but part of the time there in the club.

So when you were on duty, you entertained yourself by, you know, getting together with each other, and we did that every so often. So we all had those party suits, which is something I also gave the university because I think it was unique to that war. Party suits were unique to that war, and everybody got them, and it's something you wore when you were off-duty and with your friends or partying and you didn't want to be in uniform but you wanted—but it was kind of semi-official. You wanted to show where you were from and show who you were and things like that. So we all wore party suits—we had our party suits, and that's what we wore and I had go-go boots with mine, that was the era, so which I also gave them, because I don't need them and they were white. [laughing]

So anyway, it was very entertaining and I learned a lot when I was there. You become a little callous I think, because I did get in some guys when I'd been there for some months—it was a year tour, and Vietnam at that time was a year always unless you re-upped and came back. I did come back later, by the way. So some recent graduates of the Air Force Academy came in to my shop and I was busy counting bodies one night, just, you know, you had to keep these tallies. He looked at me and he said, “How can you do that?”

I said, “What do you mean, how can I do that? It's my job.” Apparently, he was just—it was hitting him in the face like that, that he had come into a war zone and that what we actually do, our business is—the air force's motto is “To Fly and To Fight,” and fighting means killing and you kill people. This guy wasn't the only one who ever had a shock that what we actually do when you fight is go out and kill people.

One of my roommates in intel school, one of the two other women that I roomed with, she got out of intelligence because somehow it hadn't occurred to her that we were going to be going out there and helping our guys kill, and to fly and to fight. That's what you do. So she went into supply or something, and she was much happier. I still hear from her once in a great while, and I still hear—I still exchange Christmas cards with my other roommate from tech training.

But anyway, so back to Korat. So I spent my year there. We had some fun things that I'm going to show you when this was over, because it was both very tense and very exciting and also in times I swear it was fun, you know. You made your own fun with each other. You went out and you found things to do. When the men weren't flying, I would go places with the crews rather than just on a date most of the time. Most of the time a group of us would get together and go out, because the crews were very funny.

The other wing on the base was the 388th, and 338th was F-4s and 5s. Those were both fighters, straight fighters. One of them was a single seat and one of them was a double seat, which, of course, the fighter pilots aren't much for that. But F-4s do have two seats, and they have both a navigator or a guy in back and then the pilot. Sometimes both a pilot, sometimes one was a navigator.

But anyway, my 553rd guys were extremely possessive of me, and they didn't want me going out with anybody from the 388th. So when anybody from the 388th did ask me out, everything broke loose. I mean, you know, the guy would be ribbed to death until he just gave up, because they would not—my guys really didn't like me going out with anybody but them. Well, I was their one and only. Later on, as I said, another woman came in, in admin, to the unit, but see, I was close to the guys all the time because I briefed with them, I ate with them, I ate with the ops guys, I was fully into the unit.

BC:

You were really a part—

CC:

Yes, yes. So as far as they were concerned, I was part of each of their crews, and I was a good briefer, very frankly. I could give standups. Standup is when you had the whole—once a week, you brief the colonel and the entire staff and everybody comes. And I could do that too, and one of the reasons is with standup—in my second tour it really showed up—is that women's voices are higher and so these guys who had lost a lot of their hearing in the mid-range could understand me. They could hear me. I mean in my second tour I can't tell you how many people got fired. Well, in my first tour, people got fired, but that was usually by the crews. The crews would say, “We don't like this guy anymore because dah, dah, dah, dah, dah.”

I did things to make them feel better. If they wanted to have a little girly picture at the beginning of everything—it wasn't bad, it would be like in a bathing suit or something, I'd flip it up. I'd have my airmen find these pictures of girls in magazines, and you can transpose them onto those transparencies and I'd flip it up and they'd laugh. They were very superstitious. If they didn't get that, then it was going to be a bad flight. And I had no problem with that. I mean, they'd seen me in a bathing suit, for goodness sake, out at the pool at the club. So I would put these things up.

But we had a Mormon, and he wouldn't put the girlie pictures up. They fired him about three times because he wouldn't put the pictures up because they were very superstitious. You did that. We went TDY [Temporary Duty] to U-Tapao [Royal Thai Navy Air Field] one time. They had to resurface our runway at Korat, so they sent us down for thirty days TDY to U-Tapao, which is down on the coast where the B-52s and KC-135s were. Well, that was pretty good except my guys hated it. They wanted to go back to Korat for R&R [rest and recuperation] because the KC-135s and the B-52s are so loud that my guys were having trouble sleeping.

Well, I was so dead to the world by the time I'd get off work, you know, and the little rooms were hot, hot, hot, but I'd go to sleep and I'd just—I think I slept through a date one night. I had a date with somebody. He came and knocked on the door, and I never heard him. He thought I'd stood him up. I just never heard him. Finally, they went and got somebody one day and got a key to get in my room. They thought I was dead in there, and I was just asleep. [laughing] But you get tired and it's very hot and you just—I would just zone into this little cocoon and, boom, I'd be out, because if you didn't, you couldn't sleep because of the roar of the engines. They had a run-up pad not that far from where our hooches were, where our barracks were. So anyway, that was interesting.

I found out then how SAC lives, Strategic Air Command lived, next to TAC, which was Tactical Air Command, which is basically what I was in. I was in PACAF [Pacific Air Force], but it was TAC units.

BC:

What's the difference between the two?

CC:

Tactical Air Command, fighters, fighter bombers, but mainly fighters, and they go up in a one-seater with two guys. Well, Strategic Air Command goes up in a B-52 with a whole crew, and you know that was just a completely different command, and I discovered when I was down there how different it was.

Here I was, a briefer and a debriefer. I also did debriefing after the missions. That's another way that I found where out stuff was, where SAMs and things were, because they would pick up the emissions and say, “Okay, I think there's something here you've got to watch out for.”

But anyway, I got down there and they said, “Oh, my god, well, you'll have to do a briefing, one of our briefings.” Well, I got to there and they said, and it was this huge production, there were all these crews sitting in there. I mean we had standups that were less formal, honestly. They had this chaplain get up and bless the crews, and I'm thinking, “These guys are flying at forty thousand feet. My guys are at two thousand, three thousand feet on the deck getting shot at. What are they—and these guys have a chaplain's briefing every time?” You know, we kind of kicked the tires and lit the fires and we were gone. In my case, the Connies kind of belched two or three times and they were gone.

But anyway, so then they decided that, no, they couldn't let me brief because I was not from their command or something like that, and they got nervous, and so I didn't brief, but I thought, “Fine with me.” But you know, here they were, they flew so high that almost nobody could hit them. As long as they didn't go up over Hanoi, [Vietnam], or someplace where there were SAMs, these guys were in no danger. They were just killing monkeys, out there dropping lots of bombs and doing like, you know, carpet bombing.

But anyway, so that was a very interesting experience for me being at U-Tapao and seeing the chaplain briefing and each person getting up in these very formal briefings, and it was really an eye-opener for me of the different ways that different people in the air force lived. As a matter of fact, when I came back and they started making those guys fly lower, those guys went berserk. Oh, my goodness, they couldn't believe it. Well, my guys had been getting shot at and killed all during the war, and here they were really upset when I came back. “What do you do to keep from getting shot at,” was one thing. I said, “Egress and ingress. If you go in one way, come out a different way. Don't come out the same way.” [laughing] I mean they really had to go through a learning experience to learn to fly lower.

But anyway, so then our thirty days in U-Tapao and I lived on base there at U-Tapao, but some of the guys—there wasn't room for some of our crews, so they lived out at another place, which was very nice. It was a resort, really, so there were water sports and everything when they weren't on duty. I tried to learn to water-ski there. Well, I didn't do all that well, so we'll go on from there. They made some comments that are not repeatable in polite company about my water-skiing ability. But anyway—

BC:

Were you still the only woman or very few women?

CC:

I was, by that time, one other woman had shown up, so we now had two in the whole wing, mind you. There might have been two women.

BC:

How many were in the whole wing, how many total?

CC: That's a good question. We had, I would say, several hundred. I never really thought about it. Between the crews, twenty some per crew—now the funny thing is, I digress because I was going to tell you what the commander said to me the first day that I walked in. He said, “First thing I'm going to have to say to you is you can't fly.”

Well, I said, “All right, sir.”

He said, “You know, because the thing is everybody else in my shop flew.” I would have flown as a crewmember had I been male. But because I was female, I was not able to fly.

BC:

Did you have the training for it?

CC:

Yes, because it was intel. See, part of what they had to have were people who were intelligence trained on those missions, so I was trained. I was as trained as the guys from my shop flying, who were flying.

BC:

But they wouldn't let you do it.

CC:

But they wouldn't let me do it because I was a woman, and it was rank discrimination. But it was not against me, it was against the whole air force. I did have crews that said, “We'll take you up.” I said to them, very simply, “If anything happened, that they found out, your career could be ruined, and it's not worth it to me to have your careers ruined over me wanting to fly.” So I didn't fly, but I still—but you know, it wasn't like I went around moping about it at all. I didn't. I mean I had my job. It kept me very busy. Our shop was very fluid because of the fact that everybody flew but me, so since everyone else flew, you know, our schedule was crazy.

BC:

So what was a typical day for you? Did you have regular working hours?

CC:

No. That's what I mean by crazy schedule. I worked three shifts. One was a day shift, one was a swing shift, and one was a mid-shift. If I had the day—I'd do a couple of days on a—you know, it depended on because of the flying schedules. I'd do a few days on day shift, then I'd do a few days on swing, and then a few days on mids and then I'd have a day off. So that's the way it worked.

My typical day, whether it was day or night that I was going in, it was basically the same, going in, getting ready to brief crews and debrief crews. Brief them before they flew and debrief them after. So you're getting ready, you're looking at all the intelligence, you're trying to find out what's going on so that you could keep your crews safe, in my case. In all cases, that's what intelligence officers do if they're in a flying wing, you know, whether it was fighters or reconnaissance, which we were. The fighters, they were trying to do the same thing, tell them where it was. The problems with the poor fighters is they had to go in anyway, they just had to be aware of it. They were still going to have to go in. I did some seery[?] brief. I did escape and evasion too as part of my briefings every so often.

BC:

What do you mean by that?

CC: p>If you go down in enemy territory, what to do, and basically what you were told in Laos, in particular, because they would tend to hack them to pieces if they caught them, was stay off the main roads and don't let the locals catch you. And wait for them, you know, have a beacon and hope that somebody's going to come and get you.

But it got to be—the Vietnamese, the North Vietnamese were a little bit more, the regulars were a little bit more disciplined, so if they caught people, they would take them prisoner sometimes. But the Laotian villagers would just as likely kill them.

BC:

Did you ever have anyone who went down?

CC:

Not on that tour. Well, as I said, I'd lost two but they were both weather-related, yes. Yes.

BC:

How much did you know about what was going on overall in the war, in terms of progress?

CC:

I kept up with it, but you know, the truth is in the fog of war, you never really know what's going on. I mean you can see we bomb this, we bomb that, this is—but nobody ever knows what's really happening. I mean somebody in Washington may think they do, but the truth is the reporting coming out of the theater is likely to be with the fog of war not complete. The guy looks down, he's dropped the bomb, he looks down, he says, “Aha, I got that truck.” The next guy comes along, he drops a bomb, he looks down, it may be the same truck, but he thinks he got the truck. It may still be sitting there from a previous bombing, just so you don't know. It's very hard to know. It's very hard to know. How the war is going depends on your perspective, sometimes, too. For us, it was go out and do your duty.

BC:

Did you have a lot of access to news of what was happening in the United States?

CC:

No.

BC:

So were you aware of the increasing protests and the politics?

CC:

No, not till I got back. Plus the fact, you are so involved in what you're doing, there is not much time to think of politics, and I didn't. I, frankly, didn't at that time. My attitude was a little different when I went back over the second time. By the time I went back over the second time—well, I don't want to get ahead of myself. I came back at the end of my tour.

BC:

When was that?

CC:

In September '69. I returned to the States and was stationed at Bergstrom Air Force Base in Texas, in Austin, Texas. My husband-to-be—one reason we quit dating then was that he was stationed in Europe. I had asked for Europe. They said, “Oh, yeah, you go to Vietnam, you can get anything you want.” Yeah, right. I asked for Europe. I got Texas. That's the military for you. [laughing]

But anyway, so I was sent back to Austin, Texas, and was stationed there at Bergstrom where they had F-4s. They had an RF-4 training unit, R for Reconnaissance, what they called RTU [Replacement Training Unit]. That was an interesting tour also. I was at 12th Air Force Headquarters in their intelligence office, so I went out and did a lot of assistance visits. On the occasion when they went to a recce [reconnaissance] unit, I went out as part of the IG team, the Inspector General team.

BC:

What are assistance visits?

CC:

Well, people in the headquarters go out to [National] Guard and reserve units to see how they're doing and also to active units and see how they're doing at the wing level. These different bases that have wings of aircraft. The 12th Air Force was over everything west of the Mississippi. The 9th Air Force was on the East Coast. But we were 12th Air Force, so everything west of the Mississippi was ours, went all the way to Reno, Nevada. We had a guard unit there, and they had a recce unit there, so I did both the assistance and then strangely enough ended up having to go out with the IG, Inspector General's team.

So first I go out there and I find out what all their problems are, then I go out and inspect them. That didn't go over well, but I got along very well with that group of people out there. They were very western, very independent. It was extremely funny when they had their centennial celebration, I think, in Nevada, so all the men grew beards. Well, so we got out there, and we kind of understood. I went out with a big team and we kind of understood. Well, the two-star general from 12th Air Force came out there. The first thing he did when we got off his plane, he said, “Wait a minute. You've got beards. You can't have beards. You're in the air force. Regulation so-and-so says you can't have beards, you have to be clean-shaven.”

So the commander of the unit came out and said, “General, this is my airplane patch, and I want you off it now.” He was a colonel too.

The general looked around for somebody to help him, and we all just stood there, and he had to get in his airplane and leave because the guard, as you know, belongs to the governor, unless it's called up. The governor'd given them dispensation, and by god they were going to do what they were going to do, and they were going to grow beards for their centennial. [laughing] So anyway, they did. But I got along great with them, and our team did, it was just that general that got sent packing.

But that was an interesting tour. I learned a lot and I started—that's where I got involved with the F-111s. The F-111 was a fighter bomber and had a swinging wing, and it had a really bad reputation. The first time they went to Southeast Asia, they got their tutus kicked, because they went over and tried to go out and do business after the guys didn't have enough crew rest and all this stuff, because it was a brand-new aircraft in the inventory. So they were trying to show off and it didn't work and they sent them packing.

BC:

What were they being used for?

CC:

Going in and bombing the enemy. You know, you go in, you find, you know, where the enemy has supplies or something like that. You go in bombing it.

So anyway, but we had just gotten them in Tactical Air Command and TAC—by the way, when I went back to Bergstrom, I was in Tactical Air Command. So we decided, okay, they need—we had three wings of them in Tactical Air Command. So they said, “Well, they need some kind of bombing practice,” because they could carry a huge amount of ordnance. So none of the fighter pilots wanted to mess with it because they said, “Oh, bombing, ooh, ooh,” you know, “we're fighter pilots.” So it fell to me in the intel shop, I said okay. So I helped set up all these bombing sites and everything.

This man named Colonel Lacy came from Mountain Home Air Force Base, [Idaho], where he was wing commander to get a briefing on the bombing, how we were going to do the bombing practice, and so I gave him the briefing. Well, I had briefed so many people on that, I didn't really remember it, but he told me later that, yes, I had done it.

So I'm at Bergstrom, and finally I decided, well, I've gotten so involved with the F-111s and I think they're cool, I think they've got a bad rap, so I decide I'd like to go back over to Southeast Asia with the F-111 when Mountain Home or actually Nellis [Air Force Base, Las Vegas, Nevada], 474th TAC fighter wing deployed back to Southeast Asia to Takhli [Royal Thai] Air Base. I decided I'd like to go. So I called TAC headquarters in Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, and said, “I'm volunteering.”

Well, at first they said, “Oh, you can't go to Southeast Asia.”

I said, “Wait a minute, I've already been.”

They said, “Oh, well, that's a terrible base,” and they weren't reopening that site. I mean it was snake infested.

But I said, “But I want to.” So they apparently—one of the guys at TAC whom I knew apparently decided, well, he thought, there's no reason that I shouldn't be able to go. So he apparently put in a word for me and said okay. Besides that, the men were starting to say, “Okay, I hear my mother calling. My dog is sick. My wife doesn't want to leave, dah, dah, dah,” and so they were finding they're not having all this many volunteers anymore to go back for second tours or to go over with the F-111s.

So this guy who decided that he didn't see any reason why I couldn't, killed himself. He went down to his garage, and I don't know if—he obviously made that decision before he decided to commit suicide. But he walked down to his garage, turned on his engine, and died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

BC:

Oh, my goodness.

CC:

Yeah. I never did know why. He was a captain, nice guy. I don't know what it was with him. It could have been clinical depression. You never about that, people.

But anyway, he had already taken care of putting it in motion for me, and I didn't know this until I got a call. We had a freak snowstorm—well, snow, winter storm, in Austin, Texas, but for us one inch and everything stops. I was sitting at home one day because we'd had our little snowstorm and I got this call from this Sergeant Burlisson, I'll never forget, in mobility, and he says, “You need to be at Nellis Air Force Base day after tomorrow for deployment to Southeast Asia.”

I said, “Excuse me, who put you up to this? This is a joke, right?” I said, “I have an apartment and a car and a cat, you know.”

He said, “No, no, this isn't a joke.” He says, “Really, you've got orders, came out of TAC and headquarters in Langley. You've got orders for mobility to Southeast Asia.”

So I said, “Oh, my god.”

“To the 474th at Takhli.”

So I said, “What's the absolute drop-dead date that I have to be at Nellis before we take off on an airplane?”

So it gave me about three more days, and I took those three days to find somebody to live in my house, take care of my cat, take care of my brand-new car I had just bought, and so I did all those things and it fell into place. There was a woman who was going to get married and she was looking for a place to live till she got married, so—

BC:

I just want to backtrack a little bit.

CC:

Yes.

BC:

How was it coming back to the States having been overseas?

CC:

Oh, coming back to the States, very different atmosphere, very much more liberal than when I left. It was like coming into a time warp. When I first came back to the States, I'd never heard of flower children. I'd never heard of San Francisco other than, you know, Tony Bennett-type San Francisco, you know. The music changing, I'd already gotten into because we got music over there, you know, so that part—

But everything else that was going on was just amazing to me. It was really like—it was one of those scary things of you never want to be out of your country for too long because when you come back you've kind of lost something. You're out of the loop. People think nothing goes very fast in this country. It goes tremendously fast. People don't know unless they've been out of the country and come back. What they were doing to soldiers and everything from Vietnam, I, of course, was probably pretty bitter about. But I still had a job to do at Bergstrom, so I just pressed on. Besides, all my friends were military.

BC:

Were you surprised by how the public sentiment had changed and the protests?

CC:

I don't remember. I don't remember how surprised I was, but I did know it had turned. It's not so much as surprised as just this kind of understanding that it had turned and it had become very unpopular, and I had gone over thinking, you know, we were going to be able to make a dent and to maybe hold them back and save Vietnam from Communism. As it turns out, we didn't, and they've been Communists now all this time, and I still think Vietnam sucks for a thousand miles. I've got to tell you. I wouldn't do anything with them. I wouldn't give them anything. I would not. I would not give the Vietnamese one bit of anything. They wouldn't get trade with me. They wouldn't get anything with me as far as I'm concerned.

I love the Thai people, by the way. When I served there, it gave me a real love for the country and the people. We did get away. On R&R, we'd go down to Bangkok, [Thailand], for a day or two if we got a couple days off, and I think I got a four-day R&R once, you know, once a year. So I love Thailand.

But as far as the Vietnamese, I have nothing nice to say about them and I have nothing nice to say about the country. The country is Communist. What it did to the people that it took over when it took over the South was unspeakable, and oh, I love the way this country forgets things like that.

But anyway, the rest of it, you know, yeah, I guess I was surprised in some ways and some ways it was kind of, you just take for granted, because I was just so busy just trying to take in the cultural change that I didn't have a lot of time to think about all the other stuff that was going on, because the cultural change for me was just incredible, and it's scary. It's like because I had lived in Mexico before, I realized that if you stay away from your country too long, you lose pieces you can't get back. Or it's gone, it's so far ahead of you suddenly, you really have to struggle to catch back up and to become part of the flow instead of just this onlooker.

[End Tape 1, Side A—Begin Tape 1, Side B]

BC:

—what you found.

CC:

I found culture shock is what I found, and it took me a while to get really back into the flow. But, you know, again, all of my friends had the same experience as I had, so when we got back, we got back into the flow and we got into our own thing. A few of them that were in the military hadn't been yet, so we had this kind of bridge to help us overcome it. And we had some—Remember, this was during the draft, which I, by the way, think is a very good idea, because I think everybody ought to have—every parent ought to have the chance that their child will have to go to war if we're going to have a war. Every parent. There should be no exceptions. There should not be anybody who can sit in Congress or in the Senate even and say, “Well, I know my kid will never have to go because he or she will never volunteer.” Everybody ought to be in the lottery. Everybody ought to be in—there ought to be a chance for everybody's child to go. It certainly changes your perspective, and I believe it changes it for the better. You really are careful about how you decide to go to war if you think your children may be involved.

So that being said, I also think it's a great melting pot. You meet people. Through the draft, you have people coming through the military who keep it sane, because they're people who aren't going to stay in forever. There are people who are coming through that keep this breath of fresh air coming through the military. When everybody is a volunteer, you don't have this breath of fresh air coming through, and it changes your military forever unless you do have a draft.

I noticed the difference for the long career that I had in the military, both reserve and active, you noticed the difference when there was no longer a draft. Because when there's a draft, it is not only one type of person that's gone to the military. Everybody has to take their time in the barrel—or, you know, of a certain number has to take their time in the barrel. It does, it gives you a breath of fresh air. It keeps you honest. It keeps the military a lot more honest when there's a draft.

BC:

Gives a lot of different perspectives.

CC:

Exactly. You have a lot of different perspectives. You have those that can step up and say, “Wait a minute. This is insane. What are we doing here? Why would we do this as opposed to that?” Whereas when you have a volunteer service, I think you get into this lockstep. Everybody gets into this lockstep and kind of goes along to get along.

BC:

So you were volunteered to go back to Southeast Asia.

CC:

Oh, yes.

BC:

You were ready to return.

CC:

I was ready to go back. I was going to help prove that the F-111 was indeed a good aircraft. So anyway, I did go back to the 474th TAC fighter wing deployed, and I volunteered to go back in intelligence, of course, because that was my specialty. Well, I had been over there a few weeks, maybe a month, and Colonel Nelson, who was the wing commander there, was going to be returning to the States and a Colonel Thomas E. Lacy was going to be taking over.

BC:

When was it that you returned?

CC:

Oh, sorry, January of '73. January of '73. So Col. Tom Lacy was going to be taking over for Col. Nelson. Well, I had been going along, going along in intelligence, doing the same kind of thing that I had done before, only this time with fighter bombers, so it was a slightly different take on it, but the same thing, briefing and debriefing. So Col. Lacy came over and said—somebody walked into the intel shop and said, “Have you heard who Col. Lacy wants for his wing executive officer?”

I said no. He says, “You.”

I said, “Well, excuse me? There's a lieutenant colonel in that slot. I'm a captain.” However, Col. Lacy then did get in touch with me and say, “I'd like for you to become my wing exec,” and he says, “Since it's out, since the rumor is out, I'm going to tell you now that you don't have a choice. You can't turn me down.” [laughing]

I said, “Oh, yes, sir.” So I became the wing executive officer my second tour, and that was very—one of the best tours I ever had.

BC:

What does that position do?

CC:

Well, I ran the front office. There's the wing commander, and I was in the office beside him, and I ran his flow. I had two airmen working in there, and we took care of making sure that he got what he was supposed to get and basically taking care of the commander, and all the questions that came in from all the squadron commanders who were lieutenant colonels, the logistics guy who was a full colonel. All these people had to come through me to get to Lacy.

Well, I will tell you, number one, I was a woman. Number two, I was a captain. Number three, I was non-rated, and they had always had a rated officer. Rated, non-rated: rated is flying, non-rated is non-flying. So the man who had it before me was a lieutenant colonel. He showed up at my hooch one day. I lived in this little portatrailer, which I have a copy of. I will show you all this stuff at the end. He said, “I'm going down to Patio Beach. I'm not helping you one iota. I can't believe you got this job.” He showed up at my trailer, and it was only a woman-man thing can be this way.

I had mud cake on my face when I answered the door, [laughing] and I felt so unprofessional, but I was off-duty at the time, and I was working still long hours down in the intel shop. So he shows up and I have a little towel and I've got this mud stuff all over my face. He said, “I'm not helping you one bit,” and he takes off for Patio Beach.

So I walk in with no help to a job I've never held. However, Col. Lacy was determined that I was who he wanted, and there were a couple of reasons for that, too. Politics is one of them. I did not come from either the 474th at Nellis or the 347th at Mountain Home. He knew that I would be loyal to him. I had no loyalties to the ops chief, that's director of operations. I had no loyalties to the logistics chief. I had no loyalties to any of the squadron commanders. I was his in terms of he knew where my loyalties would lie, and they did. The entire time, we got along wonderfully. He was a very mean man, really a tough commander, and we got along just great because you always knew what he expected of you. But the funny thing was, he went off to 713th Air Force in the Philippines to a some kind of conference when I was still, I want to say, just transitioning out of intelligence into the job of executive.

This young pilot, whom I knew well, came into the debriefing and said, “I got shot at.” And he'd been on a training mission, not a regular mission.

I said, “What?”

He says, “I got shot at tonight.”

Well, I went straight in to the op[erations]s chief. Oh, no, I guess the flying officer on duty, and the head of the operations center that night, and said, “You've got to send out a sit rep [situation report] saying that this guy got shot at.”

He said, “He's a lieutenant. What do you mean he got shot at? He doesn't know that he got shot at?”

So the guys, all these lieutenant colonels and colonels talked me out of it. The next morning, the Bangkok Post, the front page in the headline was “Thai Army Shoots at Unidentified Airplane.” Lacy was coming back at the speed of light from the Philippines. When he hit the tarmac, I was out there to meet him. The first thing he said to me was, “Why did you let them override you?”

I said, “Captain, captain. Sir, it won't happen again,” and it never did. Any other time when they would try to and pull rank on me, I would say, “Okay, here's your choice. You either listen to me and take my advice on this, or if you do it your way, then you must answer to Lacy. So you better be right.” They would always back down and let me take the heat. [laughing] Always after that, they would always back down. They didn't like it, but they would always back down after that, and so it never happened again. I never let anybody talk me out of something I thought should be done after that.

So when he would leave to go somewhere, he would let them know, “You go through her, and if she doesn't—and if she makes the decision, you abide by it or you speak to me when I come back.” Nobody wanted to have to face him. Oh, he was a terror when he got on a tear. So but because of that, he had one of the finest wings in all of PACAF, Pacific Command, and I had a really good tour with him. I got to see more about how a whole base runs than I would ever get to see in any other position in the air force. It was not an intel position, so it wasn't just looking at the intel slice. I was looking at everything, logistics, supply, flying, everything.

BC:

So was this then a more structured office workday?

CC:

Yes, this was a more structured. It was like, oh, twenty-four hours a day. If he called, I was there, you know. He once said to me when General Jack Ryan, four-star Jack Ryan, came out on his last tour of the Far East before he went out as chief of staff of the air force, Lacy grinned at me and said, “You know what an exec officer does, don't you?”

I said, “No.”

He said, “He keeps the mud off the wheels.” [laughing] Or “She keeps the mud off the wheels.”

I laughed because that's true. That's what I did. That's what I was there for, was that, and to occasionally say—he was very stubborn, and I occasionally would say, “I don't think this is the way to go.” It didn't matter. If he'd really made up his mind, I was going to have to go with what he wanted to do.

One story that's really funny is I had this really good friend, the guy that had come in, said he'd been shot at, and his name was Phil Stralely, Lieutenant, Captain I guess by then, Phil Straley. But anyway, Phil had been at the club one night, and I wasn't there. Apparently, they had gotten into a contest about who could urinate the farthest. [laughing] So Lacy got wind of it, and he said—and he knew he was a friend of mine, which he never liked anyway—and so he said, because he wanted twenty-four hours of my attention. He did not want me dating. He did not want me out as well. That part of it was lonely. He wanted me at his beck and call. If I was out where he couldn't find me, he was really irritated.

So I had gone out with Phil before I became exec officer. After I became the exec officer, I realized real soon if I did that, Phil's career was ruined. So anyway, he got wind of it, and he said, “I'm going to reflect that on his OER,” his Officer Effectiveness Report. It would have killed him. So when Lacy wasn't looking, I brought in a bunch of OERs for him to sign. Phil's was in the middle, hidden, so he didn't see the name. He just signed them all. About a month later, he came and he said, “I haven't seen Straley's OER yet, where is it?”

I said, “Oh, sir, you signed it. It's gone.”

He said, “What?”

But I couldn't help it because I talked to Phil. I said, “What were you doing, Straley?”

He said, “Well, I promise you I didn't do that.” Now he was probably lying through his teeth, but he knew I was his only savior and “Oh, Charlotte, I didn't do it.” I suspect he wasn't the only one, if he did. And why should he be the only one to pay for it? So anyway, but that was a funny story.

We decided we would have a—oh, a good friend of mine then came over later, Nina Gustafson, she was a captain, and she was in intel also, which was how we'd known each other. She was at Nellis, and she came over TDY. So we decided to have a few—oh, by the way, as exec officer, I had to set up all the parties for all the visiting dignitaries, and you'd be surprised how many generals come through because they liked Thailand. So we decided to have this big pig roast, so she went down and she got the pig and then we set up everything. I don't know who had been what squadron or who had been the instigator, but anyway, there was this big huge pig roast and there was a little libation that passed through everybody that night.

Well, the next day, there were pictures. Yes. That was not going to work. So somebody had to go around and collect all the pictures so that we could destroy them. [laughing] I thought, they were—but Colonel Lacy was there, too, and it's my job as exec not to let him get into trouble. So anyway, but it was a great pig roast, but it was crazy.

In a war zone, these men don't have like family things they have to do, you know. They don't have to cut the grass. They don't have to do this. They don't have to do that. So there isn't a lot for everybody to do, so you make your—as I said earlier, you make your own fun, and the pig roast was what we did. I think I don't know what I ended up getting in the pig roast, because I was on duty part of the time and got there when the piggy was about eaten. [laughing] But it was a true roast, you know, he was on a spit and everything.

BC:

So what else did you all do for entertainment?

CC:

Well, we'd go down to Bangkok once in a while overnight, and once I became wing exec, if Colonel Lacy was going down to Bangkok, I'd usually hitch a ride, because if he was gone I could be gone, generally speaking. He didn't have a deputy, by the way, so that's why everything came through me and I didn't have to mess with a deputy, just the chief of ops. I didn't have to mess with a deputy commander, which I was happy about, to tell you the truth. I'd rather just deal with Lacy straight on and not have the politics of dealing with two men. I was his exec. That way there was no question. There was no division of loyalties. I was his exec, and I took care of him, and that's all. He made decisions on some things, and I was there to back him up.

A lot of things came across my desk, like Red Cross and stuff like that, you know, people wanting to go home because their wife was running around or they had somebody sick or—and a lot of them, Lacy would say no to, and that made him very unpopular, but that's just the way it had to be, you know. If it was something they could help with, that's different. If it was something they couldn't fix, you know, if the wife said, “I'm going to keep running around if you don't come home,” well, sending him home for a week doesn't help that. He comes back and she's running around again, and he's as miserable as he was before he went home, and he spent all that time going back and forth across the Pacific. And maybe all the money he has in the world to do it. So it just didn't make sense.

But it was one of the best experiences I ever had in the air force. So then in July or August, no, I guess it was July, excuse me—I was there TDY, which means Temporary Duty, so that meant I had to make it until they decided to make the wing permanent. We'd all been over there TDY. It had proven it was a great aircraft, by the way. It had done a really good job. So they decided to make the wing permanent, and so they asked people who were TDY to become PCS, Permanent Change of Station, and stay over there.

Well, I decided I'd had all the fun I wanted, because it was very time-consuming and I felt it was time for me to come back to the States. Also, if they ever moved Lacy, I had to go before he went. I had to go with him or before he went, because as wing exec, you make some real unpopular decisions, and people would have tried to take it out on me had he left. So I made the decision to come on back. He was not happy with that, and we had some very tense times because I was the perfect exec for him. I was at his beck and call twenty-four hours a day, I did all his entertaining, I did all the work in the office, you know, basically it was perfect for him, and it was not-so-great for me. I didn't have any social life. I mean I enjoyed being around him and everything, but I mean it's not like dating and I was still single at the time, you know. So anyway, I decided to come back for various reasons, plus I needed to see my apartment and my cat, my car. I mean I just had things I needed to get done back in Austin. So I went back to Austin.

BC:

When was this?

CC:

July.

BC:

Of '73?

CC:

Yes. See, the longest they can keep somebody TDY is a hundred and eighty days. After that, it becomes, either the president has to do it or you have to go become PCS, Permanent Change of Station.

So anyway, I went back to Austin, and which is kind of lucky, because I went back in July. In September, the first part of September, I got a call from Noel, my husband, who said, “I'm back in the States. I'm at Lowry teaching in the intel school, and how would you like to come up for the weekend? I have some people coming in, and how would you like to come up for the weekend?”

BC:

Now, had you all been keeping in touch while you were gone?

CC:

Not really. We did when we were in Asia the first time. But when he went to Europe, that's so far, you know, so. And I figured, “Oh, my god, he's probably gotten married,” but I didn't really try and find him, but he found me. He found me and he said come up for the weekend.

Well, needless to say, we were married on the first of December in Las Vegas, and he was the one. He was always the one. It was just a matter of the time being right and the ages being right. I think we were too immature, and with Asia looming, Asia was not the time to get married. It really, really wasn't. It was stupid to marry somebody when you're getting ready to go on a long extended tour with, you know, a lot going on.

So we got married and then I transferred to Lowry to the school after we got married. That's another reason we got married so soon, is I wasn't going to get transferred there without having a little paper in our hand saying Mrs. Captain Clinger. So anyway, I went to Lowry and taught there in the school for about a year and a half and then went into the reserves. I didn't miss a day. I went straight from active duty to the reserves in '75.

BC:

Why did you decide to leave active duty?

CC:

There were a number of factors involved, but the air force is not well known for letting married couples stay in the same place, and being in my air force specialty, they were talking about Korea and I had just done two tours in Southeast Asia.

BC:

You really didn't want to go back.

CC:

No, not separately. I didn't think it was healthy. Plus the fact, it was not that hard to do. The air force was then, by then, '75, trying to cut down on the number of officers it had on active duty.

BC:

Right, so Vietnam was over.

CC:

So me going to the reserves was not a problem then. I went into the reserves. I went straight into Det-4 [Detachment 4] of AFIS, Air Force Intelligence Service.

BC:

What does all that mean?

CC:

Detachment 4 of Air Force Intelligence Service, which is a reserve unit right there on Lowry. So I got to stay right there, do my reserve duty, worked out perfectly, and Noel stayed in for another three years. But when he was coming on ten years' service, we started looking around and we'd like to do something together, and I didn't want to stay in Denver forever, and he would have been stationed somewhere else. So we started looking around for a civilian job and we put in applications with CIA, Central Intelligence Agency, because we both had been in intelligence, right? And we were accepted, long story short, went through a lot of doo-dah doo-dah, but we were accepted and so we moved to Washington, [D.C.], from Lowry. I mean it's never easy to get in the CIA. Trust me, it's doo-dah, doo-dah a long, long—it takes about a year.

BC:

Both of you at the same time.

CC:

They are very good about tandem couples, which is one of the reasons I didn't go—I also looked at Defense Intelligence Agency, which is not good with tandem couples. I looked at some—I had a headhunter looking for me, I think. Anyway, I also had a chance to go with a beer distillery, however, I—they had one in Dallas, [Texas], and one in Buffalo [New York], I figured I'd get Buffalo. I don't think so. Plus, they also had a thing about tandem couples.

Well, I don't want to work for anybody that has a problem with tandem couples. So the CIA had no problem. They've always liked that because they feel it's safer. So we ended up going with the Central Intelligence Agency but staying in the reserves. He went straight to the reserves, too, so we both stayed in the reserves and had long careers in the reserves.

So when I went off active duty, my career in the military was not over by any means, in that I then became—I worked in a reserve unit for a long time, went through various positions, and as a major or lieutenant colonel, I forget which, as a lieutenant colonel I guess I took over as a flight commander, I guess, or something, let me think here, whatever you call them. Anyway, I took over a unit and then I made full colonel.

When I made full colonel, which is unusual, there aren't many women full colonels, particularly not in reserve, I became the unit commander. So I was the first female commander of that unit, Joint Military Reserve Training Command. Then later, and that was from '91 to '94 was my last command. Then I retired in '94, November of 1994, and in 1997 CIA gave me an award as a woman military pioneer in their fiftieth anniversary, which I was very proud of. It was one of—because one of the reasons they wanted to acknowledge me was that I was the first woman commander of a Joint Military Reserve Command unit.

BC:

What did that unit do?

CC:

Basically what we did was we had several services in the unit, and basically what we did was, you know, we did our weekend work and then we—but frankly, the unit had a lot of people in it that were very knowledgeable, so we'd go out, we'd do normal reserve work, you know. You'd take on a project that somebody in the active military would give you, and you'd work on that project on weekends. Then on two weeks' active duty you might go to that place or another place and do—My husband I went to Central Command several many years doing our two weeks, because, let's see, the Pentagon in October or Tampa, Florida, in October? [laughing] Tampa, Florida wins. And we did go once to Panama for our active duty.

BC:

How did that work? It was two weeks every year?

CC:

Yes, two weeks a year and weekends.

BC:

So you could be sent anywhere with this unit?

CC:

Yes, yes, although, you know, the way this unit ran, you didn't have to go with the whole unit. You could go with, you know, either part of the unit or just the two of you to work in like an intel shop or something like that, and that's what we tended to do. We tended to go just the two of us, and there were parts of the paramilitary people in the unit that would go off and do things together for two weeks.

BC:

It wasn't a problem to do that while being in the CIA?

CC:

No, because the federal government gives all employees who are reserve military or guard military two weeks a year for military duty, and the other stuff you do on weekends, so you're not at work. Lucky I got out when I did and retired when I did, because my last job with the agency was shift work and it was a great job. But it required me very long hours and it required me to be an ops chief, an operations chief. It required me to be at work at nights and weekends and holidays and everything. So while it was a wonderful job, it would not have done real well with my reserve duty. Plus the fact once you've been the commander, pretty frankly, once you've been the commander, it's time to leave. What else are you going to do?

BC:

Can you tell me anything about your time with the CIA?

CC:

I enjoyed it, I traveled a lot, and I did some really interesting stuff. I got to travel all over, primarily the Far East, but I also went to Europe. I always have liked parts of the Far East, and I had a variety of jobs with the agency and just basically enjoyed my time. My last job did not require travel. I mean we took a trip maybe here or there, but didn't require a lot of travel. But as I said, it was a great job as ops chief. I really, really, really enjoyed it and it was very demanding, very long hours. It was four days on, three off. With the three off, all you did, you were so tired by then, the first day was, and then two days you tried to get something done and be ready to go back. My last day was always getting ready to go back. You know, so you had one day that you really got anything done and the last day you're preparing yourself to go back and work really long hours, because I did a—I had a briefing that I gave to generals and just the country, I mean different parts of the country where we had installations.

If I was on nights, I gave it early in the morning after I'd been out all night. If I was on days, I had to be there for it, although I didn't have to do the main part of it, but I had to show up and be there and be ready to talk by seven a.m. So you figure, I was never really—there's no such thing as being kind of on duty, and there was no such thing as leaving while I was on duty, you know. There was no way. I had to be there because I had to make a lot of decisions all the time.

So I had a very varied career and very interesting. My husband did, too, as a matter of fact, and he ended up going in a different direction than I did. He ended up going into the science and technology side of it, and I ended up going into—I worked at operations, which is what you think of, the spying and everything, and I also did, worked in imagery analysis. We both started there. That's how we got our foot in the door.

BC:

Can you tell me what you do with imagery analysis?

CC:

No. [laughing]

BC:

I didn't think so, but I thought I would ask.

CC:

It's very interesting. It's been very interesting. It's been very entertaining. My life, I guess that whole thing about the way my parents were very adventuresome, I became that way. So I've had a really—it's really been fun. I can't complain.

BC:

So what did you do after you left the CIA?

CC:

Nothing. Well, I do a lot of volunteer work, to tell you the truth. I did do some volunteer work—this is my husband Noel.

[Tape recorder paused]

CC:

—volunteer work now, and we go. We go to North Carolina, and I'm working on doing a history of Beech Mountain, [North Carolina], from the resort forward. A lot of people have done histories of the backside or the old side of the mountain. Tom Dooley, by the way, came off of Beech Mountain, the song Tom Dooley, came off of Beech Mountain, the back, the old Beech Mountain. But since it's become a ski resort and summer resort, we're doing a history. There's a group of us on a committee to do a history on Beech Mountain, North Carolina, the resort period. That's also what I've been looking for, getting stuff for you, but also looking for stuff for Beech while I was here, because my family's had a place up there since charter track two opened, which was like '68, '69, my father started building a place, and that's where my husband and I still go.

I work with the UDC [United Daughters of the Confederacy] quite a bit. I'm a general chairman and for the two years previous I was the Virginia Division officer, recorded military service awards. No kidding. No, not a big surprise that I would go and be interested in something like that. Also, I work with WIMSA [Women in Military Service for America] with the women's memorial, and I've done some projects with them. So I stay busy. I stay plenty busy. It's nice to have the time now to really go out and do some things like that that I never had the chance to do.

It's nice to be able to go to Beech Mountain, and Beech Mountain is just—has some really interesting people, too. I enjoy some of the stuff that we do. We have a lot of activities. Like I'm really into flora and fauna type stuff, and so we have what we call Nature Ventures and where we go out and take wildflower walks and we went up on the [Blue Ridge] Parkway. Right before we came back, we went up on the Parkway and we stopped at this apple orchard and this guy, oh, my god, this guy has the most incredible stories to tell.

Then we went to Little Switzerland and had lunch, you know. We did have one man with us, but was basically really girlie stuff, and so that's funny I should say about girlie stuff, you know. When I got into the service, you'd hear these things. I thought if I get to OTS and I see all these women that look like dykes, excuse me, I'm not staying, you know, but I got there and found out they were just women like I am, with kind of a sense of adventure and wanting to do something different and go places and travel, because I was scared to death. I mean you don't know what to expect. I'd never been around the military much. My father had been in World War II but, you know, and he kept saying, “I don't think you understand. This is going to be basic.”

“Oh, no, no, Daddy. He told me to bring my tennis racquet.”

I never saw a tennis racquet while I was in OTS. I was up at five in the morning and falling in bed doing my studying at ten or eleven at night by flashlight under the covers. Under my robe, I should say, never the covers. But I got there and found out—and I still have close friends. Shirley Cordani, one of my best friends there, she and I saw each other. She's now Shirley Cavanaugh, but she's from Hawaii, and she and I saw each other, oh, back in June.

BC:

That's great.

CC:

Yeah, she was over here. She'd been to Europe and she'd stopped through for her ex-husband's funeral and so we got together for lunch and so we stayed in contact all this time.

BC:

Was basic a big transition for you?

CC:

Oh, god, yes. Those people were crazy. I called my parents and said, “I'm coming home. This is insane. These people are insane. We can't talk when we eat. We can't look at people when we eat. I mean we have to eat in like two minutes,” and I had always been a slower eater till I joined the military and discovered I was going to starve if I didn't learn to eat fast. All the marching everywhere and the screaming in your ear, and I said, “I'm leaving.”

My father at that time, I'll give him credit, he said, “You know, kind of look at it this way. You may like the military, you know. Basic is different than the military. You may like military,” he said.

My mother said to me, kind of like, “You made your bed. It's time to lie in it, honey.”

So because when you're in Officer Training School, you can do what's called SIE, Self-Initiated Elimination. If you were a woman, they just sent you home. If you were a man, they made you do four years' enlisted. But if you were a woman, they just sent you home, because women weren't subject to the draft. My roommate when I got there was just gung-ho. Her uncle was a general. She was going to make a life out of it, blah, blah, blah. Well, she lasted about four weeks and she was gone, and there I was in the room by myself having to do all the cleaning by myself. I had a single room for the rest of the time I was there because she ended it, she had SIE'd and she was the one who was all gung-ho.

Once in a while, you've got to use you femininity and take up for all the negatives about being a woman in the military service. So one day they thought that I had been—I was the road guard and they thought I'd left early or something like that and so they were going to put me on demerits and keep me in that weekend. They could keep you in your room ad infinitum. So I went to this guy that did it, I went to somebody over his head in the cadet ranks and said, “I didn't do that.” I don't know, I don't think I did, but I don't know. But so he went over the guy and dropped the demerits. Because there's so many negatives to being a woman in the service, still there is, I never went—what I hear women going through especially enlisted, but others, it's just amazing to me.

The air force was so good to me in so many ways. Yes, there was discrimination, but a lot of it was institutional as opposed to personal, and there was a lot of change, too. When they started letting women in, you know, men who used to kind of grouse about women being in the military and everything, hey, they started letting women into the military academies and guess who was interested in going. It was their daughters, not their sons. That changed a whole lot of opinions. Then it was, “Do you know how I can help my daughter get in?” It's a whole different attitude when it's your little girl that wants to join the military.

So but all in all, I mean things didn't happen like—I had a couple of bosses that were just jerks. One of them that I was—we had a little committee within the office as a whole in the 12th Air Force. So when the junior officer was always the one that was designated to take the minutes. So I was taking minutes, taking minutes, taking minutes. Well, a new junior officer came in, and he was a male. I handed it over to him. My boss just had a fit and said, “Absolutely not, you have to take the minutes, because you're a woman.” So I did.

BC:

Not much you can do.

CC:

Yes. But it just irritated me no end. I mean there was a later time when he would have probably not been able to say that, but at that time, he had no compunction—you know, you had the different generations and he was—a jerk was a jerk, I don't care what generation. But he was older generation and a jerk. [laughing]

And I did, when I was in Southeast Asia the first time, my intelligence boss was a real jerk. He was an old, what we called, brown-shoe intelligence officer. He'd been in HUMINT, Human Intelligence in the Military, and I think he was World War II vintage. The guy, Victor Lubovich, what a jerk. They would want me to go on these things with them, the hierarchy would, but they knew that he would just eat me alive if they didn't invite him, too. The jerk never knew the only reason he got invited to this stuff, because nobody liked him much, was the fact that I got him. They wanted to invite me, because they didn't have that many women anyway, so having a woman along was always a nice diversion.

I've got to show you something. I'm going to show you. I only gave you a couple things out of here, but this one, when I say diversion, this was the fighter tactics conference at Udorn [Royal Thai Air Force Base]. [pulling out photographs] I had friends at Udorn, too. I had friends everywhere, because we'd all come out of intel school together. But this was—when I said you had to make your own fun, well, the conference was a good way to do it, and this is—they even had some of the Thai women in. Well, she's not Thai, but there were some Thai women that were even in party suits for this. There I am. There I am. And there's Karen. This is the other woman that was in my wing.

BC:

That's a great photograph.

CC:

Thanks. Yes, we did a pretty good job photographing things. Let's see, This is just—it's all the craziness that goes on. Jolly Green Giant. These were the guys that went out and picked up downed airmen. It's really very—they have some funny captions, but it's the conference. It's a chance to get together and it's also a chance, and party and see people. It's also a chance to really talk about tactics, when they were sober enough.

BC:

Is that what the conference was about? Tactics?

CC:

Yes, yes, [looking through photographs] and here's—and they had a parade. I mean it was funny, too. Oh, yes, here's one of the Thai women.

BC:

Who was this conference for?

CC:

All the wings from there in Thailand got together. Oh, here we are. Here I am again, with Karen again. We had some funny things. Parade, air show and lunch. There's the parade. Oh, okay, then they had a competition where every—all the different kinds of airplanes tried to hit this little dinky bridge. There they are missing it [laughing] and missing it, missing it, missing it. All the path movers are missing it, naturally. Guess who finally got it? A propeller finally got it.

BC:

An airplane.

CC:

Yes. Well, here I am again. [laughing]

BC:

That's your party suit.

CC:

That's my party suit. That's the one I gave to you all. That's the party suit, and that's one of the reasons I included that picture is because it puts it in context.

That after we did that at Udorn, we all went down to Bangkok for another night of I don't know what, what they were trying to call that as the conference, but we went down. Then we all went down to Bangkok to a hotel there. I think that's it for me, anyhow. [laughing] There's some great captions for Bangkok. I wore a flip, too. My husband, my now husband's wing commander who was there. Oh, yes, so they were back from Vietnam, too.

[Telephone rings. Tape recorder paused.]

CC:

This is a different one but it's not as good. It's not as funny.

BC:

Was that another conference?

CC:

Yes, this was.

BC:

How often did they do that?

CC:

This must have been at Young Tiger Day at U-Tapao. See I was at U-Tapao and that's how I picked this up. You know that thirty-day TDY while you get out. Oh, god, there's that boss I hated, Victor Lubovich, oh, what a jerk. Again, he got to be there because they wanted me there.

[Noel Clinger comes in. Tape recorder paused]

BC:

What was the strongest thing physically that you had to do while in the service?

CC:

I didn't find anything very hard physically. I was in physically good shape. When I went through OTS, Officer Training School, there were women who had trouble passing the physical part of it, but I never did. I was in good shape. I mean not from anything special. I just was in good shape.

BC:

What about emotionally? What was the hardest thing you had to deal with?

CC:

I think it was—emotionally the hardest thing was discrimination.

BC:

Personal or institutional or both?

CC:

Personal when it was bosses that were unhappy having women in the service. It might not have been just me they were unhappy with. It was having women in the service they were unhappy with and in combat wings, doing jobs that the men did, just uncomfortable with. Or like with Victor Lubovich, his comment was, “You're not miserable enough over here,” and he held that against me because he was miserable because he was not popular. I mean I hate to say that, but you know, people didn't ask him to go places and things like that, unless they were asking me to a big function and then they knew they had to ask him. But that's the only reason he got an invitation.

So old grumpy men, basically, who thought I should be miserable every moment of the day, and emotionally that's very hard. It's very wearing because you don't—because you find more than one person like that in the military, you know, favorites or you know, they'll have their favorites. Like with Lubovich, his favorite was that guy that kept getting fired by the crews because, I don't know, the guy sucked up to him. Pardon me, but that kind of thing. Emotionally, that's the hardest thing is having people—

After I got married, another thing I didn't like was after I got married, if my husband and I needed to be going TDY together, Temporary Duty, people would say, “Oh, this isn't fair, he gets to take his wife.” Well, I had a job to do. That kind of thing, nagging, nagging, nagging, it wore on you over time.

BC:

Did you find that you were treated differently when you were married as opposed to when you were single in the service?

CC:

[pause] The discrimination changed. Then it was why should they be able to go together, as opposed to it's not fair that they both get housing allowances, it's not fair that they get this, it's not fair that they get that. I don't get that for my wife. Well, your wife's not in uniform. She's not working.

When you're single, it's the wives think, “Oh, there's something wrong. My husband's going TDY with her, she must be a whore.” Or “You're either whores or dykes.” You can't be both, honey, I don't think. Or you know, they'd get jealous, some wives would get jealous, you know, when I was single and real young. But basically it was just it was not—you could just throw the wives off. Basically—they tried to get me to join the Officers' Wives Club. Oh, please, I don't think so. It was just those nagging little discrimination things. That was emotionally the hardest. They certainly aren't the things that stand out the most, but that was emotionally the hardest. There was always this little bit of envy that was very hard to take.

BC:

What does stand out the most as you look back on your air force career?

CC:

The fun things. I mean even—and actually getting to do what I was trained to do. I was trained as an intelligence, as a combat intelligence officer, and I actually got to do that, and that is worth its weight in gold. The rest of the time in the military, you're training, basically. Till you go to war, you don't get to put all that training to use, and it's nice to know that you're part of a unit that's doing something important and that you're trying to keep people alive. So that, you know, that was. And then—

[End Tape 1, Side B—Begin Tape 2, Side A]

BC:

During Vietnam, were there certain people, political figures, entertainers, military figures, that you admired?

CC:

Well, Bob Hope came over to Korat. I've got pictures of that, too. That was a lot of fun, and he always had quips about, you know. Any place he went, he had quips about the particular base. He would get some information from somewhere. So when he got to Korat, he said, “Well, I'm happy to be here in Peyton Place East,” because Korat, right next door to Korat was Friendship Army Base, and there were a lot of wives who would come over to see their army husbands, and then there were women who would slip over to see their air force husbands.

So one year at the club at Friendship, they had a couples only New Year's Eve party, and the place was packed. So it was really—and there was also a lot of stuff that went on that like at any place like that where somebody may have come to see her husband, but he was flying a lot and there was somebody else around. I mean there was—we were all young in our twenties and early thirties, and there was a lot of backing-and-forthing that went on. [laughing] So that was very active socially, which was really unusual, and I don't think would have been nearly as much had it not been for the fact that that army base was right next door to us, Friendship Army Base.

BC:

Was there anyone else that you looked up to at that time or that thinking about that era brings to mind?

CC:

I can't think of anybody in particular, no. I was not happy—I think like many military people, I was not happy with the way [President] Lyndon [B.] Johnson did not let us bomb farther into North Vietnam, you know, where that DMZ was. We weren't supposed to go over the line, and that was kind of—made it more difficult to keep the war at bay, and in the end, probably drug it out and kept it from being anything, I mean kept us from winning in many ways. To win that war outright, we would have had to have attacked North Vietnam, instead of just tried to protect South Vietnam, and that would have—and we'd have had to just destroy North Vietnam, and politically it was not worthwhile. So there was nobody in Washington I felt very—and I hated [Secretary of Defense Robert S.] McNamara. I thought he was, and I still do, a traitor. He's so stupid, he's treasonous. The way he thought he was going to run the war was ludicrous.

At a base called Nakhon Phanom [Royal Thai Air Force Base], I had friends who went there, who ended up there, it was on the border with, Laos, I guess, and it—And McNamara had this idea that he was going to be able electronically to overwhelm the Vietnamese. Well, the Vietnamese are on elephants and they're walking. Electronically, how are you going to do that? His whole attitude about how he was so much smarter than they were and everything, played right into their hands to the point where some of the things we did were just insane, and cost a lot of money, and didn't really bring anything to the war, I don't think.

BC:

How did you feel when the war came to an end?

CC:

The second time I went over, I resented every American life that we lost. First time, the war was still in high gear—

[Noel Clinger comes in. Tape recorder paused]

CC:

What did you ask me?

BC:

The end of the war.

CC:

The end of the war? By the time I went over the second time, I very much resented every American life lost, because it was clear to me that we were getting out, that we were just going to cut and run. So I had a different attitude my first time than my second time.

BC:

How about when you returned the second time?

CC:

I was thrilled to be there for the F-111s, but again as I said, I resented every life that we lost.

BC:

You were ready to come home.

CC:

Yes, after my six months, I was ready to come home. But, not because I—by then, a lot of the fighting had ended, but—there was still stuff going on in Cambodia, by the way. I don't know if anybody knows it, but there was still stuff going on in Cambodia—but nonetheless, it was the lives I resented losing, and I also needed to get back to life in this country. I had learned I don't like to be away from this country but for a certain amount of time before—because then you come back and it's culture shock. It's like you don't know what's going on.

But toward the war, my attitude had changed. My attitude had become, we are cutting and running so every American life we lose, I resent now, because it's a wasted life. The first time, I had no compunctions because I thought we were still going to go out there and save the world for democracy. The second time, I figured we had lost that one and we were going to leave, and I was a little bitter about the fact that we didn't get—the first time I was bitter about the fact that we weren't able to just go ahead and take it to the North Vietnamese, either win or lose, but take it to them, instead of losing American lives the way we were, fifty thousand in the end, over fifty thousand.

BC:

Right. Did you see many changes in terms of attitudes toward women in the military over the course of your career?

CC:

No. No. The truth is no.

BC:

You said that there were several negatives about being a woman in the military. What do you think the biggest ones were?

CC:

The perception that you don't belong there. I didn't get that feeling most of the time, almost never. I felt like I belonged and did a job, but there are still people, women more than men, who are outside the military who feel that women don't belong in the military. You know, you feel like—I feel like, who are they to say what your calling is? Who is any human being to say what another person's calling is? I feel that way about all things that women aspire to or men aspire to. Who is anybody else to say what your calling is, whether it's being a minister or a nurse or a doctor or in the military? If it's your calling, the thing that you can do well, meaning the thing that you can do well, press on, you know, press on.

I'm probably more liberal. I would say that my generation is more liberal than the generation that followed us, because we fought harder to get where we were going, and I still feel like press on. You know, I still hear this thing about, of course, sometimes from an older generation but not always, this thing about women in combat. Press on, honey, if that's your thing, press on. Just do what you feel that you want to do, that you need to do, that you're good at, you know. Don't go on to something you're not good at, but go on to something you're good at. If you're—you know, like I wouldn't even consider being a combat infantry person, but there are people who like that. I wouldn't consider being a female Marine, either, but there are women in the Marines and they like it. So press on.

I mean I always liked the air force because, very frankly, the flying and fighting is done by officers, all of it almost, except for big airplanes where you have a large crew. But majority of the fighting is done by officers, so nobody can go around saying that we're putting the poor little guys out there for fodder. It's a bunch of college graduates that are out there getting shot at. So I always—the air force was always my choice. It's funny how people don't understand. There is a difference between the air force and the army, and the army and the navy. I have a good friend who's—a have two friends here in town, one who is retired army colonel, one who is a retired navy captain, which means it is the same thing as a colonel. We get together, and you know, there is a difference, but there are some things that are alike. I think in some ways you go through somewhat the same things, and in other ways the three of us were blessed in that we never really ran into really bad situations, not bad enough to kill us.

BC:

Would you recommend the service to young women today?

CC:

Oh, yes, absolutely, if they like it. If they like the life, I absolutely would recommend it. It's adventuresome. I mean Iraq's a little too adventurous. But when you get in and you get trained, if you don't want to do what you've been trained for, then you really don't belong in the service, you know. If you get squeamish at the idea of going out and fighting, then you really don't belong in the service. I don't care what service you're in. You belong in the service if you like the life and you like what you're doing.

BC:

Well, I don't have any more formal questions. Is there anything that you'd like to add that we didn't talk about or cover, either your time in the military or the time at UNCG? We didn't really talk much about that.

CC:

No, we didn't. I enjoyed it. It's changed a lot. When I went back to the veterans luncheon, you know, that was really a nice thing. It does kind of get you back to the campus when you haven't been. But there have been a lot of changes at UNCG. I mean obviously it's not now, you know, almost 90 percent female. When I was there, it was 98 percent female. It was so nice to see.

Later when I was in the service, I used to think back. When I was having trouble finding a ladies' room. I used to think back to the guys trying to find a men's room on UNCG with a little smile on my face, because it's very seldom that men are in that position where they're the minority. But you know, I can't think of—but I enjoyed my time there. I made some really good friends, especially Linda [Jones]. She and I have been good, good friends for many years now. In fact, I made the mistake of calling her an old friend one day, and she thought I meant in age rather than in time as friendship. [laughing] I won't make that mistake again. She was bent out of shape about it.

The classes, I'll have to say, the professors were good when I was there. It was UNCG—see, I had a history with UNCG. My aunt went there and two of my older cousins that were my mother's age went there. So I had a history. My father always preferred that I go to a girls' school, when he can arrange it, so I did go to UNCG. But I thoroughly enjoyed the time there, in that the professors were good. The classes were difficult. In fact, we used to laugh about it. To tell you the truth, when I was there the girls would go to summer school at [University of North Carolina at] Chapel Hill, easier. I hate to say it, but easier. UNCG was always challenging, and I went to several different schools so I can say that. It was challenging, and professors on the whole were excellent.

BC:

Is there anyone in particular that stands out to you now?

CC:

I had a couple that did, but you know the truth is I can't remember their names anymore now. It's been so long since I was there I don't remember the names. But I had a couple of professors that stood out as being excellent. I had a history professor who had gotten an undergraduate in math and then got his graduate degree in history, his PhD in history, so he was interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed history with him. I thoroughly enjoyed almost all my classes. The biology was fascinating, and the—I took physical geography because there was something I didn't want to take. So I took physical geography, but I loved physical geography. It had a lab, and I remember that as being a lot of fun, a lot of fun.

I can tell you from taking my first year at Queens, Queens recommended I leave, because it was too easy for me and I was not putting myself out. So they took me in. I had a little talk with the—I don't know who he was, psychologist, tester, whatever, he says, “You know, you could leave a space for a girl that really, really wants to come here and really, really would enjoy it.” Queens was just too easy. I just never had to study at Queens.

UNCG was different. I had to study. At least for my tests I had to study. I found that interesting and fun, and I had never had trouble. I never studied much in high school, and my high school teacher told me—you know, teachers don't realize how much influence they have. One of my high school teachers told me, because she was mad at me for not having to study very much, not saying very much, saying, “When you get to college, you're not going to make anything better than a C.”

So I [unclear], okay, Cs. I never cracked a book and my first year and I'd make A in something that I was really interested in, but everything would be kind of like—This was my freshman year and they said, “You just ain't putting out, honey. You're not trying. So we recommend you pick another school.” They were very nice about it, but they were right. Queens really wasn't the place for me probably.

So the next year I went to University of the Americas. I wheedled my parents into letting me go to the University of the Americas, and that was interesting because of the different culture and the different people and everything. And then Daddy said, “One year there is enough. You're going back to the States to school,” which was probably a smart idea.

So I came back to UNCG, and I enjoyed it there. I found the professors good. I found the work challenging, more challenging. I mean I still was never a study bug. I'll have to admit. I was never a study bug, but I made pretty good grades, you know. It just depended on how much I felt like putting out. In my major, I always felt that I should make As. The rest of them, ah, Bs. But I did okay.

Then my last year when I went to get my certification, my teaching certification, I made straight A's all year because the dean had a bet with somebody. So it just depended on how I felt about things. But I did okay, and I got my master's from the University of Northern Colorado when I was in the service when I was in Denver, and I finished my master's up. Well, I didn't finish it, really, until 1979, my master's. But I got it in public administration, which it turns out I didn't use because I went into intel again. I went with the CIA. But you never know, you know, and I never did go for my PhD, which I could have done. If I had done it, it would have been in history. So it wouldn't have been in public administration but in history. But I really didn't have a reason. By then I was so busy all the time with the agency and traveling and doo-dah, doo-dah.

BC:

You didn't need it.

CC:

No. The agency offered to send my husband tuition free for his PhD. He turned it down because what that meant was a lot of his courses would have been while he was still working. I wouldn't have seen him at all on weekends. In fact, he talked to some people who were in that program and they said, “You know, we have no life, none.” So he said, “No, I'll pass.” So when we decided to retire then, he didn't need the PhD anyway, and neither did I. Of course, I never needed it. For the work I did, I never needed it. My master's was handy to have. It gave me a higher grade when I started, but that's all there was. That's all I ever used my public administration for. [laughing]

Oh, god, let me show you some things, then.

BC:

Well, thank you so much for talking with me today.

CC:

Yes, I enjoyed it. I really did.

[End of Interview]