Skip to main content

tv   Oral Histories Katherine Westmoreland West Point Interview  CSPAN  February 4, 2018 6:45pm-7:50pm EST

6:45 pm
jonas did help some confederates to receive their pardon after the war. he had some communication with the people, but not living here. our staff recently toured to fayetteville arkansas to learn about its rich history. learn about other stops in our tour at tour. watching american history tv all weekend every weekend on c-span3. >> next, catherine west general weste of moreland, talks about her life as a military daughter, sister. she recounts her time living in vietnam and serving as the red kosice aid -- red crosses aid
6:46 pm
during the vietnam war. this interview is from the west point center of oral history and is a little over an hour. >> today is the first day of october 2016 and we are in the west point center for all history and i'm here with catherine stevens -- can you please spell your last name? tell me about your childhood. i knew you grew up as the daughter of an army officer. as an like growing up army brat. >> i grew as a millionaire child without any money. wonderful -- had
6:47 pm
the most wonderful childhood. brothers and my father had been in the cavalry. he was a wonderful horseman. both my older brother and i rode from the time that i was three years old, and my older brother was the same way. i was born in princeton. for six years and when he married my mother, my mother was so bear -- was a very beautiful lady. my older brother was born there.
6:48 pm
>> where else did you grow up? bragg. washington. oklahoma. hawaii, back to oklahoma. if the cut new york. i got free tuition. >> one of the questions i always asked people who lived through , where did you -- where were you when you learned
6:49 pm
--ut katherine: we went to a movie and we had just left home why. it was just an unbelievable moment in one's life. >> with her that event mean to your parents? -- what did that event mean to your parents? katherine: my father was just very surprised that -- we were stationed and they came over koligkolig pass and my father was very surprised -- we were surprised.
6:50 pm
interviewer: both your fathers and brother graduated from west point so west point has been a part of your life for a long time. katherine: a long time. interviewer: can you describe your childhood impression of what west point was? katherine: well, it was just so much a part of your life, really. and my father threatened my brothers, you know, if you don't study, you won't be able to get into west point, and thank god they didn't allow women in in my day because i never would have made it, i don't think. but it was something my brothers were expected to do. and i think it was fine with my younger brother but don't think it was the best thing for my older brother. he was great.
6:51 pm
he played polo here and -- in this building. interviewer: how many times had you visited west point? katherine: many. they asked me at the desk if i'd ever been here before, i guess the first time i came was a child and then as a -- we called them cadet girls in those days. gosh. i can't remember. i think i was 16. 15. interviewer: 15 or 16. wow. what did it seem like to you back then? katherine: it was wonderful. i stayed with a classmate of my father's. he and his wife were stationed here. and i was scared to death. and i really -- they set me up with a cadet that truly wasn't very nice. i didn't like him very much. sort of a snot.
6:52 pm
interviewer: you must have gone to dances at column hall. katherine: we did. at collum. we first went to the movie. and if you got a coke or anything, we paid for it. -- you paid for it. and we walked. there was no bus service, no cars. and you learn very quickly in the winter to wear your boots and carry your dancing. interviewer: very nice. tell me about meeting your husband, general westmoreland. katherine: we were stationed at fort hill. and i got my school bus, which was an old army -- army ambulance.
6:53 pm
and it was drawn by two mules. and it stopped in front of west, the o.q. and he came out. he had just graduated from west point. and he was so handsome. so that's when i met him. i was 9. interviewer: that was at fort -- then you met him as a student at u.n.c. katherine: no, i met him again in hawaii where i had a very beautiful polynesian dancing teacher, and i thought he was coming over to the club to distance with me. guess what? he danced with the -- he taught us how to dance. and then, of course, the war
6:54 pm
came along. interviewer: world war ii. and he was in the european theater. katherine: he went into casa blanca, into africa and then england and -- interviewer: france and germany. katherine: he didn't have time to have many girlfriends. so i was at my grandmother's and called him up. interviewer: that was after the war? katherine: uh-huh. interviewer: tell me about that. katherine: i just called fort bragg to see if he was there. i didn't even know if he was there or not. and they connected me. he was commanding the 504 then.
6:55 pm
and the aide said -- it wasn't an aide, some lieutenant. anyway, he answered the phone and west answered and he said, kitsy, van dusen, are you a big girl yet? and i said yes. and he said, well, let's have dinner tonight, i'm going to general gavin's. so we went to general gavin's dinner. interviewer: how about that. katherine: we were married i guess four or five months later. interviewer: that's nice. describe your wedding for me. katherine: well, it was kind of the first wedding in
6:56 pm
fayetteville where my grandmother lived in the town, so to speak. so it was more of a reunion for my parents than a wedding for me because everybody came, their old friends and everybody came. and the terrible thing that happened was that father had bought cases of champagne and this and that. and he found -- when he started to unload it where we were having the reception, it was a woman's club and they wouldn't allow -- and it was a great shock. but anyway, everybody had a good time and then came back to my grandmother's house. interviewer: you wore your grandmother's lace? katherine: no, my great grandmother's on the vandusen side. it had long sleeves and very covered and a long train. interviewer: it must have been beautiful.
6:57 pm
katherine: it was. it was great. interviewer: was he in his blues? katherine: for, he didn't have any blues, i don't think then. i think my father was. father was in tails. but i think west was just in a regular uniform because it was pretty soon after the war. he had just gotten home. interviewer: one of the interesting things i noticed when i looked at his time line was that he was a captain, although during world war ii he held the rank of colonel. and then when the army downsized they reduced everybody? katherine: he became a lieutenant colonel but just for a little while. and then became a colonel again. interviewer: how much did he discuss his world war ii experiences with you?
6:58 pm
katherine: not too much. not too much. interviewer: during your early married life at fort bragg he was commander of the 504 and pretty soon after that he was chief of staff for the 82nd airborne division. describe your experiences at fort bragg. katherine: well, i think i was like a puppy. i just wagged my tail and walked in a room. i was so young. i was just 20. and i just thought everybody liked me. and i was much too young to be a colonel's wife, but as i say, i just didn't take it that seriously. interviewer: he would have been a young colonel, too. the war was accel -- accelerating everybody. did you enjoy bragg? katherine: yeah. interviewer: in the korean war he commanded the 153 infanry
6:59 pm
-- one 87th infantry regiment from 1952-1953 as a brigadier general. katherine: he was a colonel when he went over. interviewer: then promoted while over there? katherine: yes. because somebody, that dreadful man told me that -- called me once and said he could not wear the combat infantry badge because generals couldn't wear it. or something like that. and west was a colonel when he went to korea. and so he couldn't wear it, i guess. interviewer: when the korean war happened, where did you live? were you allowed to stay on post or where did you go? katherine: oh, no, we never were -- in those days, you had two days to get out of quarters and i went home.
7:00 pm
it didn't dawn on me not to go to my poor mother and father. and so i stayed there. and then i was able to go to japan. and as soon as i got there, then the chinese came in, i guess it was, and the 187 went back. to korea. interviewer: and the 187 while in korea went back and forth from korea to japan several times during the war. what was japan like? katherine: it was beautiful and very rustic. the honey buckets still went up and down the street and in fact, west landed in a field one time that had just been spread.
7:01 pm
interviewer: with fertilizer. katherine: and i wouldn't let him in the house. i hosed him off outside. oh, it was bad. interviewer: and i talked to a bunch of veterans from the 187 and they really enjoyed all your -- their jumps and your husband enjoyed jumping? katherine: oh, he loved it. i think he had 121 or something like that. i don't know. interviewer: what was the japanese culture like for you? katherine: i loved it. it was, you know, you had gone through the war with i hate the japanese and all that, but this was before the treaty had been signed, so we lived in a great big, gorgeous japanese house for about six months, i guess.
7:02 pm
then we moved to -- the peace treaty was signed and we moved to pretty bad quarters. interviewer: after the korean war your husband was assigned at various times to the pentagon and then to harvard business school. what were these experiences like for your family? katherine: well, west was lucky. , you were born, and we were living in park, fairfax, and no air conditioning and a tiny little apartment and we had our -- an older -- our oldest child, stevie, and then i had rip and west promptly left for harvard, and he was gone. but i -- you went up to graduation.
7:03 pm
interviewer: harvard was the unaccompanied tour for him? katherine: he just went up. i think it was three or four months, something like that. interviewer: you were at home with two children? katherine: at home in this apartment. and then when he came home, we moved into a bigger house. and then he went with max -- worked for max taylor. interviewer: how was that? katherine: lovely people. i had margaret. i had two babies at the time, so i don't think i was a very good wife to -- i forget what his job was called, i don't know. interviewer: then after that, after leaving the northern virginia area, general westmoreland commanded the 101st airborne division from 1958-1960
7:04 pm
and then from 1960-1963 was the superintendent here at west point. and then from 1963-1964 he commanded 18th airborne corps. katherine: it was just a few months of the airborne corps. interviewer: yes, ma'am. what were your experiences like at fort campbell? katherine: oh, we loved it. it was such a -- it wasn't a very pretty post at that time. but we thought it was perfectly beautiful. and rip, and i had the two little children and then our oldest child, what, six years difference? and, oh, just fort campbell was -- because you had to make your own fun. and i even got the regimental commanders to dress in tutus and boots.
7:05 pm
interviewer: that sounds like a good story. they didn't jump out of a plane like that, did they? katherine: no, but we did a charity thing and the regimental commanders had their boots on and tutus. interviewer: that must have been something. katherine: and they danced. we made a lot of money. interviewer: that's good. and you lived in the farmhouse, right? katherine: we lived in the log house. and the commanding officer's house was way off by itself and i had two young children and stevie and they would have been miserable down there. so we moved up there. and loved it. interviewer: then let's talk about west point and becoming the superintendent. tell me what it was like to be the superintendent's wife. katherine: well, when i walked in the house, i thought the whole house would fall down and
7:06 pm
god would say, you are kitsy vandusen, you do not belong here. but i had young children and i was 31 or 32 i think at the time. and i just had a wonderful time because i didn't think of the cadets as young little boys, so to speak. they were all gentlemen to me. and i mean, i was not that much older than they were, and i think we had a lot of fun together. i went to all of their -- i went to the swimming and the wrestling and track and football, of course, baseball. i loved it all. and the kids would go with me sometimes and sometimes they'd
7:07 pm
say no. but -- interviewer: what were your favorite activities here? katherine: i loved wrestling. can you believe it? but i loved swimming, i love football, of course. and i love baseball. but i just love sports. interviewer: i imagine you went to all the formal events, right? katherine: yeah. interviewer: all the different dances and that sort of thing? katherine: not all of them, no. interviewer: tell me about entertaining at headquarters. katherine: oh, well, you could seat 10 on either side. at the big tables. and we had wonderful people come.
7:08 pm
well, just -- sincerely interesting, fascinating people. and then of course we had the cadets and that was like a hell dinner. i would pick up my spoon and they'd pick up their spoon. and, oh, well, we ended up, i think you had a good time but you couldn't drink at that time, of course, but we served liquor afterwards and that sort of broke -- interviewer: who were some of the interesting people that came? katherine: of course president johnson came -- no, president kennedy. he came and that was a fun time because i had hired the two ashworth boys and i had given
7:09 pm
them 25 cents apiece to keep rip, who had, oh, the most wonderful crowd of little boys that did everything. and i had hired bobby and jeff to keep rip. i said i don't care where you go or anything, but just keep him out of sight. well, of course he ended up, bobby and jeff ended up listening to president kennedy's speech firsthand. i mean, you went under the -- and then when we had a garden luncheon and when everybody was leaving, one mary, i can't remember, or one of the people that was very close to kennedy said, oh, kitsy, we've had the best time with the boys.
7:10 pm
i said, boys? i don't have any boys. she said, you've got five boys up in that tree. and it was when the old copper beech was there and all the little boys were up in the tree and they would send a basket down for food and they were filling their basket up and then the basket would come up. and then it would come down again, i gather. i never knew what he was going to do. i never knew. i could control the two girls. can't control him now. interviewer: and eisenhower visited as well, correct? katherine: yes, he did. interviewer: and bradley, too? katherine: bradley. interviewer: what were they like? katherine: and macarthur.
7:11 pm
it's something about being the superintendent, i think, that they all -- if they've been a cadet, they kind of will -- macarthur, really, was very polite and, you know, straight and so was general eisenhower when -- i got to know, and i didn't know general bradley as well as i knew -- i knew general eisenhower, and mamie was a very good friend and jeanie macarthur was a lovely friend. interviewer: you told me earlier they were all very nice ladies and would call you and visit. katherine: oh, yes. when west was chief of staff, i turned kind of the third floor into a guest -- and there was an elevator. so people could come and --
7:12 pm
interviewer: you frequently had mrs. eisenhower come visit? katherine: she loved to come because her sister had a one bedroom and she had secret service. so any time she came to washington, she always stayed with us. interviewer: that's nice. katherine: and she couldn't believe, rip had her robes, bathroom, and couldn't believe the room. it was a boy's room. interviewer: now, general macarthur stayed there the night before he gave his duty, honor, country speech. katherine: no, he came and she came up and there was the review and then we took what was the ladies room and turned it over to jean and general macarthur.
7:13 pm
and i forget what she -- i wanted i think just water with no ice or something, you know, like that. and they stayed in there and rested and then he went and gave -- interviewer: i heard he rehearsed his speech. katherine: jean told me that he had never given the speech but jean told me he rehearsed on her for many nights. i don't know if that's fair to say because, you know, he did say it was -- interviewer: your husband commanded in vietnam for over four years starting in january of 1964 to june of 1968. tell me about your experiences during that period when he was
7:14 pm
deployed? katherine: well, we had, what, a year with the children in vietnam. interviewer: ok. katherine: oh, dear. you know, they went to school early in the morning on a school bus with chicken wire so grenades couldn't be thrown in. and there was an m.p. in the front, and an m.p. in the back. and this was not my children, it was everybody's children that went to school and then when they got to school, we had only vietnamese guards but then the hospital and the school had m.p.'s. we had vietnamese guards and so did west.
7:15 pm
interviewer: what was it like living in vietnam? katherine: well, you know, if you have children, you understand, that you're really kind of scared most of the time if you want to know the truth. but you're not going to show your children that you're scared. and they were -- the children there were absolutely wonderful. i mean, they protected one another. we had movies at the house. and they would -- i mean, you were -- there wasn't really a bad cookie that i know of in the crowd and they had -- you all had a really good time. unfortunately, the boys saw "the great escape," and they started
7:16 pm
digging a tunnel in our house. and they went down in it and came out dead white. [laughter] 'cause it was some tunnel. interviewer: and i heard he had ordered wood after that to board it up -- katherine: he did. and they all had sores, because -- oh, oh, dear. interviewer: how was the vietnamese culture? katherine: it's lovely. they are a beautiful people. my main work was red cross, and i really worked -- almost every day i worked in the vietnamese hospital. our hospital and then i went
7:17 pm
once a week to do red cross work. interviewer: would you go by ground convoy, or -- katherine: no. i flew. interviewer: in a huey or? interviewer: one time i was in a huey and we got shot at, but mostly i went in an airplane. interviewer: how about your daughters in vietnam? katherine: stevie had a teen club and margaret had a best friend. they had kind of a compound. the children came to our house -- what did you say? i mean, you -- >> stevie had [applause] -- [indiscernible] they were wild teenagers is
7:18 pm
what they were. interviewer: -- katherine: she was in love with carl. and all of the vietnamese children. there were 32 of them in the back. and they would go in and watch her. poor stevie did not realize -- didn't you go watch her? a little bit. [laughter] yeah. they painted this room this horrible color, red and black. anyway, it kept him busy. interviewer: tell me a little bit about your red cross work. katherine: that is work i did almost from the time i came married.
7:19 pm
i worked in vietnam and when we went to hawaii, i could not work as much, but i always work for -- worked at fort campbell and every place we were stationed. i always spent at least two days and i became a nurse's aide. interviewer: did you get an award for your red cross work? katherine: i got the harriman award, which was outstanding volunteer of the year. interviewer: oh, that's wonderful. katherine: i was very proud of that. interviewer: what was it like working with the soldiers in vietnam? katherine: well, they were wonderful. when i was here, the hospital
7:20 pm
was really awful. they had the x-ray was across this huge, busy road, and i remember one of our -- turner was rather badly wounded and he -- they had to take him on a pulley with an umbrella. it was pouring rain. across this busy intersection for the x-ray. i mean, we had no x-ray in the hospital, and they had to carry the gurneys up steps, because they didn't fit in the elevator. i mean, it was -- and then i had a guest house in the house i -- we lived in, which i turned into a hospital which we turned
7:21 pm
into 30-some beds and i had a -- arranged that if i called one person and they called, and we could set up this hospital. that was christmas eve. they were all there, and they -- the bombed -- interviewer: what year was this? katherine: when was it? i can't remember. >> the hotel? yes, they bombed the regs, the other, the blq that they bombed. it was awful. evidently, precedent just went out the window. what we did was we emptied out the hospital in town and brought them to my hospital and then we
7:22 pm
could put the wounded in the hospital. i know that doesn't make sense, but -- interviewer: you brought up to 30 patients. katherine: we brought 30 patients. interviewer: to free up more room in the hospital? that makes perfect sense. sometimes you would have to take your kids in to the hospital. one time your son got blood poisoning from digging his tunnel and you had to take them -- him to the hospital and there were wounded soldiers being brought in? katherine: yeah. interviewer: what was that like? katherine: that is what i did. i mean, i worked almost every day. and you didn't dare get sick. i mean, because -- rip went in and out in a hurry.
7:23 pm
i mean, the children -- you had no dental care, of course, and you didn't have a doctor. i mean -- when you went in, you went out. interviewer: what was it like having the wounded soldiers in your guesthouse? katherine: well, it was christmas eve, and that is when they bombed, and i remember i was coming down the stairs because we were having -- lots of people were coming from, you know, out of the country for dinner, and we had the funniest christmas tree. we had three trees wired. they were all scrawny. anyway, we had a christmas tree. it kind of changed.
7:24 pm
we did not have christmas eve dinner. interviewer: now, you became good friends with bob hope. katherine: yes. interviewer: tell us a little bit about him and his wife. katherine: well, she was really my very dearest friend. we just, i don't know -- you click with somebody, and we did, but bob was a wonderful man. i don't know if you know the story, but he always had cards. because he was quite blind and of course would not wear glasses or anything. and he was going -- coming in his car, and he forgot his -- what did he call them?
7:25 pm
they were cards that he used, and there was a name for them, but he forgot them. and he said -- they said, oh, we will bring them to you, mr. hope. he said, oh, no, i will get my cards. he turned around, and with that, the bridge he was going over was blown up -- so that really saved his life. interviewer: forgetting his cue cards? katherine: yeah, yeah. interviewer: oh, my goodness. you stayed in vietnam for 13 months, from '64 to '65. where did you go after? katherine: we went to hawaii. interviewer: i'm sorry, i keep trying to get you while you are taking a drink. katherine: we went to a rental
7:26 pm
house and then i bought a house in hawaii. and then they said i could go to the philippines. interviewer: and you did not much care for the philippines? katherine: no, i probably should be very careful. interviewer: what wwas it like in hawaii? be very careful.katherine: we l. we really -- i worked -- i can't remember the name of the hospital. when i went to the philippines, i did air evac and worked at an air evac hospital and i flew air evac. i would fly into saigon and spend a couple days, then fly back with a planeload. interviewer: did any one incident stick out in your mind
7:27 pm
about the red cross work you did? katherine: i guess the one thing that was really kind of funny was that i was in vietnam, and i always went to see the wounded there. and in the hospital was where rip went to school. where they all went to school. and there were two black men that were next door to one another and one had lost the left leg and the other lost the right leg, and they were very both, they were bonding with this -- they were very close. they were bonding with this. so i saw them in vietnam, and i flew air evac back to the philippines and my two black men were on the airplane.
7:28 pm
and they said, by this time we recognized one another, and they said, oh, if we could just stay together and go to walter reed. so, i said -- well, they came into the hospital. we kept the badly wounded for a few days, then they were air evaced out. so, i call west and told him the names, and he called his surgeon, and i don't know, anyway, they ended up at walter reed. so, i had seen them in vietnam and on the air evac plane and in the philippines. then west got called back to the united states, so i went back to
7:29 pm
washington with him, and i went out to walter reed, and here were my two black ones, side-by-side, and they looked up at me and said, ma'am, you sure do get around. [laughter] that, i think, was the most personal story. and they were wonderful. i don't know where they are now. interviewer: it's interesting. i was thinking about this while we were talking. i don't have any interviews with any of the red cross workers. katherine: oh, you should. interviewer: with you, now i have one. what were your duties like? katherine: you did what you wanted to. i wanted to be with the vietnamese, so i worked in their special forces.
7:30 pm
they had a special forces hospital. , and one time i couldn't get over the infection that we had have. in the philippines they would come in and they would be infected, and there was a terrible odor. but i went into this special forces vietnamese and there were two in a bed, and it was clean, but it was not our hospital clean. and there was no infection at all, no smell, and i turned to the special forces doctor and i said, i just don't understand. and he said, well, if they
7:31 pm
survived as children, then -- so we are almost maybe too clean with our children. interviewer: right, so they built up immunity. ok. now, as a red cross worker, were you what they call -- katherine: i was a nurse's aide. interviewer: ok. katherine: and at times -- gosh, i sewed up a couple of people. and i think, oh, my god, what they must look like, but they were just pouring in. interviewer: was this a difficult time for you? during tet? katherine: i would say tet. they were flying in dirty and they were just getting them out.
7:32 pm
interviewer: i imagine it was probably good to see a friendly face when they came in. katherine: another funny story. the first thing we did was bathe them, and i was bathing a young -- he was black, young soldier. and he looked up at my name tag and he said "west-more-land." and he said, "are you any relation to the general?" i said, yes, i'm his wife. he said, "you know, ma'am, i always wondered what general's -- generals' wives did when they were overseas." [laughter]
7:33 pm
well, i'm bathing you. interviewer: that must've been quite an experience for you, being over there. katherine: it was. it made me feel more useful. interviewer: i'm sure your husband appreciated it as well. katherine: i don't know if he did or not. [laughter] interviewer: so you really did not spend a whole lot of time on the home front, did you? you were constantly back-and-forth. the philippines and hawaii. katherine: yes. interviewer: so what sense did you get of the divisiveness within the nation at that point? katherine: well, you see we did not have television particularly in the philippines, and i guess we realized in hawaii some, but
7:34 pm
when we got to the philippines, you just had the army times and we really did not have television, and i guess we did not know it was so bad. interviewer: you were insulated. katherine: yes. interviewer: shortly after your husband returned from vietnam -- your brother, the lt. colonel, commander of the 47th infantry regiment, was killed on -- katherine: july 4. interviewer: july 4, 1968, when his helicopter was shot down in the mekong delta. tell me about how you learned about his death. katherine: oh. well, i had not seen my parents in -- gosh. four years.
7:35 pm
and -- oh, this was an awful time. interviewer: i'm sure. katherine: that was almost the first thing that came over west's desk. as chief of staff. so, he had to wait until they acknowledged it, and then my older brother, who was class of '46, he was in washington. so, we flew down to fayetteville, where my parents were, and of course i had not seen my mother in, i guess, three or four years. and she was so happy to see me, and then i just shook my head --
7:36 pm
interviewer: she did not know yet until you got there. that must've been difficult. katherine: well, and we drove around fayetteville because carolyn, my brother's wife lived there, and i didn't know where she lived, and my brother didn't either. we just had an idea. i said to van, we've got to tell his wife before we tell our parents. it seemed like the right thing to do. and we couldn't find her. it turned out she was not there. she was in blacksburg, virginia. but my mother was, you know, so happy. and i remember, i just shook my head. interviewer: it must have been rough. katherine: it was.
7:37 pm
interviewer: i'm sorry. tell me a little bit about how your role as a commander's wife differed from post to post and assignment to assignment. was there anything different --because you are at campbell and then you were at fort bragg and in washington -- katherine: well, washington, you kind of just existed, and then i had two babies. i had rip and margaret, and margaret was born at ft. myers didi taylor -- west worked for max taylor and she was wonderful to me. interviewer: this was in the late-1950's. katherine: when were you born? mid 1954 and margaret was born in '55.
7:38 pm
interviewer: what was the hardest, most challenging day you experienced as an army wife? katherine: i guess to tell my parents my brother was killed. interviewer: i can understand that. what was the best or most rewarding day? katherine: i guess being here. west point has, a special place for you. katherine: i always said i could not complain. i was at west point and if you were at west point, unfortunately, you cannot complain. interviewer: it's a great place to be. husbands and wives form command teams within the household. did your husband ever use you as a sounding -- go ahead and take
7:39 pm
a drink. i will wait. did your husband ever use you as a sounding board? katherine: yeah, but he never paid any attention. [laughter] he was damn well going to do what he wanted to. but we talked quite a bit. interviewer: the next question was going to be what was your favorite time at the army, but i guess -- katherine: it's west point. interviewer: during your time in the army, the army's wives club were a lot different. katherine: they sure are. interviewer: describe some of those events. katherine: well, i remember this one. i never was good at making a speech or anything like that.
7:40 pm
in fact, this is the first time i have ever done anything like this, and i'm doing it just because i didn't know -- interviewer: i'm glad you did. katherine: well. i think one of the funniest times i had was at fort campbell. i like iced tea with lots of lemon and sugar, and i was brand-new being introduced, and i had put all of this sugar in my tea and i was stirring it, and everyone thought i was going to give a speech. that was the last thing i was there for. so, everybody stopped talking. interviewer: the clank of the spoon --
7:41 pm
katherine: they thought i was going to -- i looked up at this quiet group, but they started talking again. interviewer: at that time, the women would wear gloves and dresses and a hat. tell me a little bit about that. this generation doesn't. katherine: no. i said to susan, if we went down holding on -- i said, you know, in my day, we wore gloves, and think of all the germs that we are getting going down this, and in those days, i had gloves always at the front door that i could grab when i went out, and you just dressed -- but we, we volunteered.
7:42 pm
i don't think any of the wives worked, per se. but i used to tell, when west commanded something, i would say to the young wives go get a job quick. get something to do that you like and make sure because you are going to be asked to volunteer. interviewer: volunteering was very important to you. katherine: it was. in my day, whether you rode the school bus or spent time -- there was always a child care, and that was all volunteer, in those days. and so you volunteered your time on the school bus or in the
7:43 pm
hospital. interviewer: what did you do after your husband retired? katherine: oh, my goodness. i guess we fought. [laughter] no, we really didn't. but he wanted to come to south carolina. i did not really like south carolina. he had 31 first cousins on his mother's side in columbia. that's the capital. so, he said we -- i could go to charleston. so, we built a house there. it was beautiful. i got very busy there. west went around the country for
7:44 pm
-- talking for the vietnamese. interviewer: i heard he visited every state -- katherine: he did. he did. he did. interviewer: tell us about how he felt a connection. katherine: well, he felt the vietnam soldier, and of course in those days, you just can't imagine what -- i mean, one man -- i can't think of his name -- later he became chief of staff. he was taken off a train on a stretcher. someone came up and spat on him. it was that bad. and, you know, the 101st was called out to protect the memorial bridge.
7:45 pm
i mean, there were terrible things that happened. interviewer: mm-hm. now, your father, your brothers, your husband attended west point. and you lived at the academy yourself. what does west point mean to you? katherine: oh, that's a brutal question. it was just so much a part of my life. what's that? interviewer: was there anything in new york city with vietnam veterans? katherine: no, i think so. >> the march of 1985? katherine: oh, daddy. he led that march. that was, he was very proud of that.
7:46 pm
he walked down -- interviewer: yeah. katherine: was it fifth avenue? interviewer: they gave themselves a march. your necklace -- mrs. hope gave it to you. katherine: this is west's class ring. i was out visiting the hopes, west and i, on my 50th birthday. i was not a very good sport about being 50. west and i, on my 50th birthday. i thought i was really over the hill, and dolores gave me this which says, oh, to be 50 again. she always said -- i guess she really was my best friend and i think i was probably one of her best friends.
7:47 pm
and she always said, she was 17 years older, and she always said, i'm old enough to be your mother, and i would say -- that's going a little far. [laughter] interviewer: now, is there anything i haven't asked you that you want to say? katherine: no, i have three wonderful children, and i think you all had a very good time growing up. we were lucky. we had a wonderful sergeant that eventually retired with us because he would not leave his boy. and chris. we had really people that loved us and we loved them. i mean, and sergeant walker. interviewer: walker.
7:48 pm
katherine: just special. interviewer: the army as a family. katherine: uh-huh. and i think they were proud of -- sergeant daniels was my head man here. and i was going to call him, but i think he's gone now. i talked to him the last time i was up here, and he wasn't too well. interviewer: you certainly got to meet a lot of wonderful people. katherine: we did. we were so lucky. i think secretary rusk was one of my very favorite people, and, well, so many. interviewer: well, ma'am, this has been a wonderful interview and we are so honored to have you come in. i know it was a lot to get over for you to speak with us.
7:49 pm
katherine: you are a wonderful interviewer, and i thank you for your kindness. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] raising the best the 1968 olympics, does that relate to what we are seeing with the football players and the national anthem? >> we have a long history of racism. >> you could be featured during our next live program. join the conversation on facebook. @c-spanhistory. >> all weekend long, american history tv is joining>> we havef our cable partners to showcase the history of fayetteville, arkansas. to learn more about the cities on our current tour, visit we continue with a look at the history of fayetteville. >> you are at the museum of native american history in bentonville,


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on