tv American History TV CSPAN April 18, 2015 11:16pm-11:31pm EDT
senator tom carper: my wife says that i never grew up and i hope in a sense that i never do. i grew up in virginia, my dad worked for nationwide insurance. it was in gamble, virginia on the north carolina border. i was in the boy scouts. my father encouraged me to attend and i did scout when i was 12 or so. the first time i ever sat in an airplane was at the civil air patrol, indicated that took off beside me. off into the wild blue yonder. i was always intrigued with the military, my dad had been a chief petty officer in world war ii and in my family, nobody ever
graduated from college that i was aware of. when i was a senior in high school i applied to the air force academy. we did not have a lot of money. i applied truly to be considered. best to late to be considered -- to late to be considered. i was in high school and there were announcements, anybody interested in winning a navy scholarship, go see the guidance counselor. i thought that could be me. i went to seize the guidance counselor and i found out about something called the navy rotc. delusion and fees at $50 a month on top of that -- tuition and fees and $50 a month on top of that.
i got a scholarship and went to ohio state. the rest is history. david: you will to ohio state in 1964 -- you arrived in ohio state in 1964. senator tom carper: how do you know all of this? have you been talking to my mom? [laughter] david: your bio sheet. can you talk about how it was to be a midshipman in 1964? the vietnam war is going on in the popularity of the war is declining -- and the popularity of the war is declining. can you talk about being a midshipman in all of this? senator tom carper: i will go
beyond that, april of 1970. i remember coming back from one of our flights, in a restaurant outside of the officers club. they played music, you could have a meal out there. the b-52s were coming from a strike in the late afternoon or early evening and there was a huge wave of b-52s coming in to land after the bombing mission over vietnam and they played a big song by crosby, stills nash, and young. it was about the shootings at kent state. i was down from ohio state at the time -- i was on from ohio state -- gone from ohio state at the time, but they literally sent everybody home in the spring quarter. that is what it was like in 1970.
i left and 68. the mood on campus was not that polarized. there was a strong sentiment against the war felt by a lot of people. in rotc you wear the uniform one day a week. the other six days a week you are just a regular college student. the people that were rabid spoke up against the war, a lot of cases they were friends. it is not like they held it against you personally but if you wore the uniform you stood out and symbolized the military. david: do you remember mayday parades -- i remember mayday parades, demonstrations were the students would put flowers in the barrels of the weapons -- we did not carry weapons in the mayday parade. there was sort of a friendly dissonance. those who were not in uniform, demonstrating against us nothing unkind or intimidating but you felt it. the day you wore the uniform you were different.
david: you talked about your summer cruises. when i was a midshipman, we did in orientation type crews and then we get a first-class cruise. was that similar to your experience? senator tom carper: when i was a midshipman and i went to penn state. in my freshman year, we d -- we headed off to newport island. i was there in the year that bob dylan was booed at the folk festival.
we went out into the atlantic ocean to do exercises on a destroyer. i remember the most exciting thing was that we got stuck in a hurricane at sea. it was a real test of our stomachs and our will and our manhood. the other thing i remember from that cruz was being signed -- that cruise was being assigned to the engineering department. they put you in the hardest part of the engine room, steam blows on you. i like to work out every day at the y back in delaware. sometimes i go into the steam room and that is cool compared to what it was like in the engine room. but it was a good experience. you find out what is is like to be the lowest of below. -- of the low.
david: this was an old world war ii frame. they were modernizing in the early 60's. you are talking about a destroyer at the time that was pushing 25 years old. you rock and roll out there. senator tom carper: writing out the hurricane was an adventure -- riding out the hurricane was an adventure. getting bounced around in your bunk, trying to eat a meal in your quarters. i remember thinking maybe i do not want to be on a ship. maybe there is a better life out there for me then navy aviation. david: you did mention civil air patrol so obviously you have the air bug at an early age and this did nothing to dissuade you from this.
can you tell me about the decision-making process? senator tom carper: the second cruise was at the end of my sophomore year. it was bifurcated into two parts. we went to little creek, virginia, this school. i remember going there a couple of days early with one of my best friends from ohio state gary, also a midshipman. we camped out on virginia beach and went to a great concert. earlier in the summer, in newport, i was there the same night that bob dylan was booed. a year later we were on virginia beach and we went to a concert by the byrds, the academy of full grown. -- epitome of folk rock. we learned to fly these tiny
plants and had a pilot instructor and did all kinds of flying. some of the guys got sick, i did not. i thought that this was fun. we have a great marine officers out of navy rotc at ohio state. the best officers that i trained under from the time i was a midshipmen were the marines. some of the enlisted personnel were excellent as well. i was drawn to the marine corps i think because of the mission and the great respect i had for the officer and enlisted men
that trained us at osu. my junior year, before my senior year, was long beach california. it was a great duty. we would go out monday morning fly around the south pacific southeastern pacific, and come into court on friday afternoon and have the weekend off. on monday do the same thing again. it was fun. they did not put us down in the engine room. we were treated more like a junior officer and learned a great deal about the operations part, standing watches and all. we were taught a course not too far from mexico. we had a growing mexican population in california. someone on the ship, the skipper or somebody, asked me, i spoke a little spanish, to teach spanish classes. one of the extra things i would do was to teach troops to speak spanish. david: i served for a year and a half. senator tom carper: on active duty? david: from 84 or 85.
senator tom carper: did anybody on the crew mentioned me? [laughter] david: they were a salty crew, it was possible. [laughter] david: it is probably razor bladed by now. good you just address -- could you just address the affiliation you had at the midshipmen brigade at ohio state? senator tom carper: i cannot remember for sure. i was on the military council at ohio state which was the are the air force, navy, rotc. i was involved in that from the time i was a freshman. i enjoyed that. we had a military ball every
year and on my senior year i got to be in charge and put together a big debts. -- big dance. we brought in this group from canada that the mamas and the top was had discovered -- the pappas had discovered. it was the first time we had rock 'n roll at a military ball. there was also a traditional orchestra. david: what did you study at ohio state? senator tom carper: i thought i would major in political science but i changed my way halfway through to economics. i never regretted it. economics a lot more helpful for me as state treasurer. when i was in the house i served on the banking committee so it was very helpful or. -- helpful they are. -- helpful there. it was more helpful than a major in political science. a lot of what i do is actually economics.
david: going on to death senator tom carper: when i -- going on to -- senator tom carper: when i graduated from ohio state, i did not want to stay in the navy forever. i wanted to do my time and serve, i liked the movie but i wanted to do my time and be on to other things -- the navy but i wanted to do my time and be on to other things. i was interested in business and thought what can you do in the navy? i could be a supply officer and that would use my undergraduate training. but i was also interested in aviation. it was his very tough choice and in the end i almost flipped a coin and ended up going to
pensacola. i could have been a pilot, they taught us to fly my junior year. i did not want to stay for the extended period of time to become a navy aviator. five years instead of six. thought i would try that. david: you knew going in, it was the five-year instead of the six-year commitment. now it is a five-year commitment if you are a pilot. going in, most aviators at the time, they want jets. they want to fly jets. senator tom carper: i like the idea of landing on land every night. the idea of sleeping on my bed. being on a ship and trying to land, floating landing strips, that was not what i wanted to do. i wanted east coast. i wanted to be close to oh