Biography: Dave Goulson
Dave Goulson was born in San Francisco, California on October 21, 1952 and raised in Marin County. He was an only child of two parents. Mr. Goulson attended Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, California. His father enlisted in the army because he was an immigrant from England and he wanted to speed up his citizenship process. His father heavily encouraged him to join the military as well. Mr. Goulson is a first-generation American as both of his parents were from England. He skipped graduating from high school, voluntarily joined the Navy at 17, and received his diploma while in the Navy.
He was in the Navy for six years, from 1970 to 1976. During his time in boot camp he stated that it was a pretty bad time and that he was happy when he completed it. While Mr. Goulson was in the Navy he was stationed in multiple places like the on the east coast, North Virginia, and San Diego.
While serving, he went to Vietnam but he wasn’t actually in the country but off the coast of it, so he wasn’t able to witness the atrocities that were going on in Vietnam at the time. He also did not have many dealings with the civilians and soldiers. In the Navy he eventually reached the rank of E5, which is Petty officer Second Class In Vietnam Mr. Goulson worked in the navigation room helping control the ship. He was on several ships. One was called The USS Providence. He was also on a guided missile destroyer, which is a ship that launches missiles and the USS Claude V. Ricketts also know as (DDG-5). The 3rd ship was called USS Duluth aka (LPD-6). The last ship that he was on was called USS Plunkett aka (DD-431).
Once the War was over Mr. Goulson came back to California and lived in San Diego. He went to San Francisco State University and got a two year degree, and then became a commercial diver. He worked in the grocery business for many years. Today, Mr. Goulson is married, retired and lives in Sonoma, California.
The interview with David Goulson began with simple questions about his childhood. He then talks briefly about how he enlisted to the navy right after high school. From there he talks about his influences of joining the navy stemming from his father joining the army, what his experiences in boot camp were like and the grueling training and punishments he experienced there. He goes on to talk about how life was for him during the war on several naval vessels.
While on board four ships he worked for the navigation unit. During this time Mr.Goulson witnessed the feeling of naval combat. Next he shared with us how some of the ships he was on were off the coastline of Vietnam and what it was like to be ambushed and how the feeling of the ship’s weaponry gave the ships an earthquake type of shaking. He also talked about how he never set foot in Vietnam and did not have the same traumatic experience as many other veterans.
Finally he talks about how after the war he went back to school attending San Francisco State and how he was only slightly affected by his service in the navy even though during that time it was extremely unpopular. He also shares with us how the war has given him a change in perspective of life by never taking your luck for granted. In the end he shared with us a book with the pictures of him and his crewmen at the time and an encyclopedia showing us the different kinds of vessels he boarded.
Download Full Interview Transcript: Dave Goulson Full Interview Transcription
Interview Highlight: Boot Camp
Highlight #1 Transcript:Boot Camp Transcript
Analysis: Boot Camp
In this clip, it discusses boot camps and the punishments in boot camps located in San Diego. David Goulson describes bootcamp as a “terrifying experience” and he said that once he graduated his most memorable memory was “getting out”. He also talks about the type of punishment they did in bootcamp. One of the examples in boot camp was about a guy who had to carry two buckets of sand all the time and when it was lunch time they would march him in and only gave him three minutes to eat his lunch and then make him march. He also mentions the type of people he met in boot camp and how they were about his age in boot camp. Finally, he talks about his favorite moment in boot camp, was leaving.
We choose this clip because it gave us some details of boot camp and how difficult it was. He talks about the punishment and how boot camp is the worst place to be because of the things you do in bootcamp. Adding on, the punishment they gave the in boot camp seemed interesting and it’s unlike anything you read or see in books or movies (except Full Metal Jacket). From what our interviewee told us about boot camp it seemed like it was a terrifying place to be or go. Most Interview’s don’t go into too detail about the punishment they would encounter in boot camp if they did something bad.
In this clip it shows how boot camp was difficult for people and how it is extremely difficult because of the drills the recruits had to do and how the drill instructors would yell at them almost everyday. This made the environment of boot camp very tense. Especially since there were many conflicts going on in America and in Vietnam in 1970. There were many protests and riots that occurred. For example, Students Strike of 1970 at Kent State University. After finding out the Invasion of Cambodia aftermath. The students at Kent State University burned down the ROTC building. This lead to National Guards men to confront the protest and killed four students. Soon after the Kent State incident, it lead to an outbreak of many protests in many colleges. For example, University of New Mexico, New York University, Jackson State University, etc. all protested.
Some people could use other soldiers as a source who have experienced bootcamp during or before the Vietnam war. Another source they could use is from another person’s perspective of boot camp, who went to boot camp, and talks about their experience in boot camp and how difficult it was. For example, you could use author, Ed Heinkel who signed up for the Marines in 1971. Heinkel has an article in USMC Life website talking about his experience in boot camp for example, he mentions about the people who were struggling in running and tried to keep up with the group were picked on and if they couldn’t keep up they would be sent to “Fat Farm”. This is closely similar to David Goulson perspective in boot camp and how they treated the recruits when they are punished.
For my reaction about the boot camp and how the boot camp punishment made me terrified of the place and hopefully try to avoid the topic. In my opinion, I think boot camp is a way to prepare you for war and in a way that they try to ease it for you so you could follow orders later on in battle. When I say “ease it for you” I mean they will yell at you and make comments towards you that would could affect you but the purpose is for you to be prepared because it’s to prepare you once you enter battle to be ready.
bootcamp image credit:https://i.ytimg.com/vi/a539E5UXlMg/hqdefault.jpg
Interview Highlight: Hai Phong Ambush and other Ambushes
Highlight #2 Transcript: Hai Phong Transcript
Analysis: Hai Phong Ambush and other Ambushes
In this part of the interview Mr. Goulson discusses an ambush that he experienced while on a ship off the coast of Vietnam. One time, when he was firing the artillery, an officer ordered the ship a bit too close to the coast. Suddenly Vietnamese troops started to shoot at them. Dave and his ship got out of there really fast, then air support came in to go after the Vietnamese. This was the worst ambush they had ever experienced even though they got shot at a lot. This took place in Hai Phong Harbor in North Vietnam, and the attack caught his ship and crew completely by surprise, since they were not expecting it at all. Hai Phong Harbor was well guarded because it was North Vietnam’s main supply harbor,where the Russians dropped off the supplies for North Vietnam. In two missions, they went up to North Vietnam with a convoy of about 5 ships. The first time they didn’t have the navigation light, but the second time they did. They went up there to raid the North Vietnamese, it lasted about 7 minutes. Each ship had their own targets which they each rapid fired on. The mission was meant to be quick, in and out, and they did just that. After they completed their mission, they exited the harbor. They have sonar on the ship, which can calculate how many times the ships were hit. They went through Hai Phong Harbor twice.
We chose this clip because it told us how raids don’t always go as planned, and sometimes you get ambushed. It is interesting because they still got the job done even though they were completely oblivious to the ambush. They raided this place because it was the where the North Vietnamese got their supplies from Russia. This was necessary because it would limit the North Vietnamese’s resource to fight the ground troops; the American ground troops would come across less challenges when they were fighting the North Vietnamese. This was important because these two missions saved ground troop’s lives.
During this time, the United States was fighting the Cold War. In this war, there were no direct battles between the United States and Russia, so they got their allies to fight each other. Specifically in the 1960s, South Vietnam was Capitalist and the North Vietnamese was the Communist and they were fighting a civil war. During the Cold War, the United States offered support to any country that was fighting the Communists.
In the Vietnam war, the U.S. sent a lot of helicopters to fight the Vietnamese. Other popular weapons used in the war by Americans were: Agent Orange, M-16, napalm, and the M-110 Howitzer. There was a draft during this war, and many people did not support this. The war ended because the people of the United States did not support it and the U.S. government was forced to pull troops back. The South Vietnamese surrendered to the North Vietnamese when they marched into Saigon, in 1975.. The Vietnam war cost about two hundred billion dollars(estimated price).
Before the war Dave had no plans, he was 17 and didn’t think that far ahead. The domino theory did not change his opinion about the war, so he joined. His father also encouraged him to join; his father had joined the army to speed up his request for American citizenship. He grew up in a military family, so he might not have had a negative view of the war. Mr. Goulson said he doesn’t have an opinion on the war, he also said he did not have a plan, so he just did what he was told. He never had any interaction with the Vietnamese people because he was on a ship, so he could not talk about the impacts of the killing and fighting. When they returned from the war, service members were not lauded, but instead looked down upon, so he felt like his service was not appreciated, but he was not looked down upon.
Interview Highlight:Helicopter Crash
Highlight #3 Transcript: Helicopter Crash Transcript
Analysis: Helicopter Crash
In this part of the interview, Mr. Dave Goulson talks about how he witnessed a helicopter crash into a ship on the night of May 8th, 1972. A helicopter approached the fantail of the flagship. Dave Goulson was sleeping at that time when he witnessed the accident. The rear landing gear was not on the ship, so the helicopter was told to go back up and re-approach. The helicopter went back up and approached the ship, but when the helicopter rose up the engine died. The helicopter hit the fan tail of the boat and flipped into the water. The admiral, captain and commander, that were riding in the helicopter were killed. The flight crew managed to escape. Mr. Goulson said this was “huge”. It was the biggest event that happened to his ship. The admiral, captain and commander were planning an attack and that was why they were trying to land on the flagship. This did not change the the momentum of the war, and those that were killed were replaced by others with the same position shortly after.
We chose this highlight because it really stood out to our group. He gave a detailed story about it. The story is a good example of accidental casualties in the Vietnam War. Mr. Goulson described it with great emotion and it helped us understand the impacts of war.
Accidental deaths were a big problem in the Vietnam War. According to the National Archives, there were 58,220 U.S. casualties in the Vietnam War, and 9,107 of these were accidental. This shows that 15% of U.S. casualties were accidental. Accidents were an ongoing problem in Vietnam and casualties like this happened a lot, not just once. The National Archive corroborates Mr. Goulson’s experience.
In another source, author Janie Blankenship describes a deadly helicopter crash in a Veterans of Foreign War online magazine. In the article, titled “Helicopter Loss Possibly Vietnam’s Deadliest Crash,” Blankenship reports, “For those serving at LZ Judy, Aug. 26, 1970, is a date they won’t likely forget. That’s the day 31 men died when their Chinook went down just shy of landing.” This source supports Mr. Goulson because it talks about there being helicopter crashes and errors in Vietnam. This source was published in 1970 and that was the same time Mr. Goulson was serving in the Navy in Vietnam.
Dave Goulson did not like the idea of war. He thinks war is unnecessary and he does not like how the U.S. is involved in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is from San Francisco. His father heavily encouraged him to join the war. He enlisted in the army after high school and he served for six years. His point of view is that war is not necessary and should be prevented. When he left Vietnam he was upset because people were being left behind and were facing a miserable life.
Dave Goulson’s experience in the war seemed hard. Mr. Goulson’s account is sad because he felt bad leaving the people in Vietnam. When a soldier or anyone in the military dies they are immediately replaced like they did not even exist. It is unfair how those people don’t get recognition for their work. They are being worked sort of like machines. When they break down or die they just get thrown out and are forgotten. He helped me understand mentally how war was like for him I feel like his experience was a good one. He provides a lot of information on what the War was like for him. I feel that he goes really in depth on what he talks about. His actual experience is a good source for a better understanding about the Vietnam War.
helicopter image credit: http://cdn.history.com/sites/2/2013/12/american-gunners-firing-from-helicopters.jpg