13 November 2006
Person interviewed: Royce Zvorak
Wendy: Hello. My name is Wendy Garcia and I am talking to one of the familyís friends. His name is Royce Zvorak, right? And here he is.
Royce: O.K. Iím Royce Zvorak originally from Roseville, Minnesota. Born in 16 June 1947. graduated in 1966. 1966 June of 66 I want to the airforce. I spent 8 weeks at Lackland and 12 weeks in Wichita Falls, Texas going to the Tech school for aircraft maintenance. From there I went to Clovis, New Mexico for more training on aircraft. From there I deployed to Vietnam in 1969, October í69. I spent one year till October í70 in Vietnam. From Vietnam I went to Spain for five years and met my wife. Came back to the states in í75 to Lubbock , Texas. From Lubbock, Texas we went back to Spain till 19 from í79 to í85. í85 we went to Pitsburg, New York where I retired in 1989 out of the airforce and then from there got a job at Laughlin Airforce Base in 1989, working with the first civilians to work aircraft maintenance at Laughlin.
Wendy: Can you tell us about your experience over at Vietnam?
Royce: At Vietnam I was at the 510th technical fighter squatter having to fly F100 aircraft and I was a coup chief and we maintained the aircraft. We loaded them with fuel and bombs, loaded the guns with ammunition and I did that for a whole year in Vietnam. The only bad period over there we had the attack, rocket attacks 50 times on installation on where I was at.
Wendy: Can you please tell us how they let you know when you were going to Vietnam?
Royce: About three months prior to October í69, I got orders, which is a big old piece of paper saying that I was requires to go to Vietnam in October. So I took a thirty day leave, went home and after that I had to go to Oakland, California. We left out of Oakland to Bien Hoa, Vietnam where I spant my tour at Bienb Hoa and then I came home a year later in October of í70 to Oakland, California. I went from Oakland to New York to Madrid Spain.
Wendy: Thatís where you met your wife.
Royce: Thatís where I met my wife and all my problems.
Wendy: What is something remarkable about the war that you remember?
Royce; Coming home. Everybody was looking for the day they were coming home. Thatís all. We just got to work. We worked twelve hours a day, seven days a week, and we got very little time to spend for ourselves. It was all work and waiting to come home the 365 days.
Wendy: Were you frightened?
Royce: All the time. We got, like I said earlier, we got hit. The base got mortar attack fifty times while I was there. And I was always scared.
Wendy: What is your understanding of what was going on during the war?
Royce: My understanding was that we were over there fighting to keep out the South Vietnamese people from the communist and keep them as a democratic society. And we got a job to do. We did all the work the best way we could. But the politicians got involved and thatís where we lost the war at. We will be considered the people that lost the war because of politics. Politicians got involved in the war and would not let the military do their job. But I think it was President Johnson put halt to bombing Ė or Morris. Stopped bombing during Christmas Holiday and thatís when the North Vietnamese governed upon each other. They would be going down this trail, the Horseshoe Men Trail, and then to the North down through Warelsome to Cambodia and there they met supplies in the South Vietnam and we could not bombor do anything. So our soldiers went to Warelsome or Cambodiabecause of diplomatic stuff going on and more politics. We got off the airplane in San Francisco going on to the airport and people calling us baby killers because we had a bad reputation of killing people. Well, thatís the militaryís job. But we are not all baby killers. It was just a few that got out and all the people look alike. The women would be carrying grenades. The kids would be carrying grenades. Anybody was carrying grenades. You didnít know who you were fighting because they all looked alike.
Wendy: So it got confusing.
Royce: it got confusing and you get out in a firefight or shooting, and you are not going to pay attention to whatís going on. You worry about yourself. You worry about getting yourself back alive. And if a kidís got a grenade in his hand, are you going to let him come up and say, ďHey, G.I., take the bomb.Ē Or are you going to shoot him?
Wendy: Shoot him.
Royce: You are going to shoot him! Sure, Ďcuz heís trying to kill me. So that would be definitely the problem. But they are not all called G.I.s, but we are not smoke pot headed. We donít take LSD.yes, we have lotes of them that have mental problems because of the war. And you will have that for all wars. So we are not all a bunch of pot heads and dumbies and stuff. And we donít all kill babies either.
Wendy: How important do you think you were to the war?
Royce: Well itís not just a one person. Everybody that was over there, from the army to the marines to the NAVY, we all had a particular job to do. So it wasnít one person doing the job. It was everybody. All four branches of our forcesworking together as a team. The airforce would go out and help them out with our aircraft, drop bombs and stuff and when the NAVY would be bombing the North from the aircraft crater. And all I did being subjected in Bien Hoa was ground support for the army and the marines. But it was not alla one person only. It was a whole team. So no one can say, ďHey I did it all,Ē you know.
Wendy: Do you feel proud of it?
Royce: If I would have to go again I would go back again and do it Ďcuz itís like right now. If I was younger I would be in Iran and Afghanistan because I think itís my obligation to help other countries become a democratic society. I donít agree about the way we go about it at times, but as a military person you sort of bite your tongue and do what you are told to do. You know itís Ė do your best job you can with what you got. And keep out of politics.
Wendy: How was it like coming back from war?
Royce: It was a surprise because all the people that were protesting the war Ė we never got a welcome home like the people now are getting from Afghanistan or from Korea or from WWII. Everybody Ė it was one of the wars that everybody hated. Nobody, of course, nobody likes wars. But we feel that we came back and we were the ones that were the bad people and everybody thought that it was American G.I. it wasnít American G.I. We were following what our higher ups told us to do and it was very dishearted and itís hard to say dishearted and hard to come back under stuff like that. And ďMilitary we hate you!Ē But we were just kids coming back fighting at war while other kids were at home having a good time, dodging the war, burning flags and everything and they doing this while we were trying to protect the country.
Wendy: So you were saying that it was from age Ė the age range was of like 18 toÖ
Royce: Like 18 to, I would say the age range was approximately a8 to about 24, 25 years old.
Wendy: And you were 22 at the time?
Royce: I was 22 when I went to Vietnam.
Wendy: How did your family welcome you?
Royce: My family is just like any other family. They were excited to have us back. I had relatives that didnít like the war but they didnít hold it against me. Thatís being one of the Ė you know they accepted me as I had a job to do. I went over and did it and whan I came back they did never talk about the war. I think we are talking about the war more now that I ever have done.
Wendy: So you usually never talk about the war?
Royce: No, I think thatís one of the dark moments but thatís war.
Wendy: Well I would like to thank you for taking your time with the interview.
Royce: No problem, and Iíll help you next time if I can.
Wendy: Thank you
Royce: No problem
I hereby agree that the person interviewed was me, Royce Zvorak