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[Interview Begins]

KURTZ: August 7th, 2007. My name is Jim Kurtz, and I'm interviewing Tim Bauer from Hudson, Wisconsin, at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum on the Capitol Square in Madison, Wisconsin. Tim, when and where were you born?

BAUER: I was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, August 12th, 1947.

KURTZ: August 12th, 1947. And where did you grow up?

BAUER: I grew up in St. Croix Beach, Minnesota, and went to grade school there and moved into Hudson, Wisconsin, about 1958, '59 and finished my education in Hudson.

KURTZ: So you graduated from high school--

BAUER: Hudson High School.

KURTZ: And when was that?

BAUER: 1965.

KURTZ: What did you do after high school?

BAUER: Well, I went to the university in River Falls for a year and then 00:01:00enlisted in the Navy.

KURTZ: When you were growing up, growing up, did the did you have any veteran experience in your life?

BAUER: Not really. Just other than seeing my dad's World War II uniform and, you know, reading old newspapers and seeing old pictures, but other than that, not really, no.

KURTZ: When you graduated from high school and were in college for the one year, did you have any opinions about the Vietnam War? Do you know anything about it?

BAUER: Well, I was I was I remember it at the university in the basement of the dorm watching the Gulf of Tonkin incident taking place. And the news releases that we had been attacked, the ships had been attacked. And I mean, it was in 00:02:00the news that we had sent military advisors over there and Kennedy escalated that part of it. And when Johnson took over, and so we everybody followed it but I really didn't have much of an opinion one way or the other.

KURTZ: What about the Cold War and the idea that there might be a threat to our nation from that standpoint?

BAUER: You know, I distinctly remember the Cuban Missile Crisis and the atmosphere of the country. I remember in school, you know having the nuclear bomb attacks and duck and run and hide and--

KURTZ: [laughs] It's kind of crazy.

BAUER: Oh, yeah, but I really you know, it it didn't bother me. And I mean, other than a lot of concern during the Missile Crisis and following that very closely, it really didn't impact on me that much.


KURTZ: Did Kennedy's speech, inaugural speech, have any impact on you? Ask not what you can do for your country, but--

BAUER: I think it did on anybody that paid attention to it.

KURTZ: Yeah.

BAUER: Sure, that did for sure.

KURTZ: Yeah.

BAUER: You know, watching the thing, I can remember being impressed by watching the naval blockade. And the videos and things that black and white television off of the ships and stuff. But, you know, we we paid just as much attention to John Glenn.

KURTZ: Mm hmm.

BAUER: I mean. And that was not military other than, you know, their connection with the branches of the government that were involved in the space program and stuff. I mean, there there was enough to be paid attention to that I didn't focus on it.

KURTZ: Okay. Well, you said that you enlisted in the Navy. Why did you enlist in 00:04:00the Navy?

BAUER: My dad had always pounded into me that it would be better. The Navy was cleaner, the food was better, and I'd always have a dry place to sleep--

KURTZ: Mm hmm.

BAUER: --then pounding dirt, you know, with the, with the Army. And. I mean, that was--I don't know if he knew it that I was ever going to go in the service, but I think it was just general information from father to son that the that he thought the Navy was a better branch of service for, to serve in for creature comforts and food, I suppose, you because of his experience in the 2nd World War.

KURTZ: Was the draft any impact on the reason you enlisted?

BAUER: Yeah, I enlisted for two reasons. I was I was really bored of school, 00:05:00and. And I was worried that somebody would have more control over my destiny than I would if I didn't enlist.

KURTZ: So it would be fair--

BAUER: So I enlisted.

KURTZ: So you enlisted, it would be fair to say, because you wanted to control your destiny as much as you could.

BAUER: Right.

KURTZ: Where did you go to training?

BAUER: I took my physical in the induction center in Saint Paul, Minneapolis. It's actually in the Minneapolis side.

KURTZ: Mm hmm.

BAUER: And took a train to Great Lakes for basic training.

KURTZ: Is there anything that stands out about the Great Lakes experience?

BAUER: Oh. Probably the first couple of nights we spent in old wooden, uh, transient barracks that had the sides that folded up and were braced up with 00:06:00wooden posts. And there was no linen on any of the racks. You just, actually some guys slept on spring. I was lucky enough to have one of the thin mattresses [Kurtz laughs]. But that was kind of a rude awakening, you know that, you know, you just you just had to accept the fact that this was the way things were going to be and--

KURTZ: Okay. So there were no people, you know, that stand out or anything like that?

BAUER: Not really.

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: Not really. There were a couple of guys in the in in basic training that that didn't make it through, they lost it and the corpsman came and took them away. We never saw them again.

KURTZ: [knock at door] Come in. When we were briefly interrupted, I was going to 00:07:00ask you the next question about where did you go after Great Lakes?

BAUER: After Great Lakes I went to--Well, from basic training, Great Lakes I went to Hospital Corps School also at Great Lakes.

KURTZ: Okay. And so where, did you enlist to go in Hospital Corps?


KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: But my intention was going to to go into the Hospital Corps. The Navy put you through some some testing. And I think I qualified for work as personnel or yeoman personnel and and and then volunteered for the Hospital Corps.

KURTZ: Did you know that as a Navy hospital corpsman that you could be a marine?

BAUER: Absolutely. Didn't bother me at all.

KURTZ: Didn't bother you.


KURTZ: So, in other words, even though you were following your father's advice, there was a possibility that you wouldn't.


BAUER: Well, I was. I took his advice, but I was still doing my thing.

KURTZ: Oh, okay. Okay.

BAUER: And Navy Hospital Corpsman is part of the Marine Corps are, you know, they were, and they still are, you know, they're like the Rangers and the SEALs.

KURTZ: Yeah.

BAUER: They're highly decorated, and they serve a definite purpose. I definitely knew I could go in the Marines.

KURTZ: Okay, so what what was the Corpsman School like at Great Lakes?

BAUER: You know, it was it was challenging, but certainly doable.

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: You know, and I don't think we had anybody in our company that washed out or went anywhere else because we couldn't pick up the, you know, the training.

KURTZ: Um, what skill levels did you pick up there?

BAUER: Well, the basic first aid, some of the field medicine techniques and how 00:09:00to work in a hospital on a ward.

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: And, you know, pass medications and and all of those things. That was really my initiation to any kind of medical--

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: --training. But, you know, I enjoyed it. I liked Hospital Corps School and I enjoyed the whole experience.

KURTZ: Then what happened after you completed Hospital Course School?

BAUER: I was I got orders to the Naval Hospital in Buford, South Carolina. Um, if you're familiar with that, Parris Island--

KURTZ: Yeah.

BAUER: --is on one side and the Marine Corps Air Station is on the other side of town, and the Naval hospital kind of in the middle. So my relationship with the Marines started immediately. And and I thought it was great.

KURTZ: Okay.


BAUER: When I was at Buford, they sent me to Orthopedic Tech School right there, uh, the technician rating school within the hospital in the orthopedic department. And so I got my rating as an orthopedic classroom technician, surgery. classroom technician there.

KURTZ: Okay. Did you work regular shifts then too while you were going to [school??]

BAUER: I started working. Yeah, when I was first there, I started as a regular corpsman working on the wards.

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: We were taking all kinds of geographically located folks from that area, coming back from Vietnam. We would get, you know, those casualties coming back for their care. And of course, then we took care of all the Marines that were going through training at Parris Island and the technicians and other Marines 00:11:00that were in the Air, that were in the Air Corps, sorry. So we saw a lot of active duty people and a lot of basic training Marines and and the casualties coming back from Vietnam.

KURTZ: Is there anything you can tell us about the casualties that come back from Vietnam or coming back from Vietnam that stand out in your mind?

BAUER: Well, they were they were already the the the battle wounds themselves were already pretty much healing up. We took care of, in the orthopedic department, we took care of a lot of the long term orthopedic injuries and rehabilitation. We were not a prosthetic area. Once we healed up joints and and stumps and fractures and and infections from open wounds in the bones, 00:12:00osteomyelitis, typically we would then if they needed prosthetics or if they went other places. But this was a primary intake place after they left in country. So they were there were wounds that were still open and healing. And and we put on special casts with devices that would enhance range of motion exercises for some rehabilitation. And we would heal up traumatic amputations and and start fitting people for prosthetic devices. The initial therapy that they give to to shrink swelling and stuff before they get their prosthetic appliances fit. Alot of traction during the healing process. A lot of bed cases, 00:13:00people that, you know, were not ambulatory.

KURTZ: What was the psychological status of these people?

BAUER: It was pretty much individualized. I think most everybody was just damn happy they were alive and at home.

KURTZ: Yeah.

BAUER: There were there were, you know, occasionally there were people who were angry and bitter. But by and large, the only one that I ever met that that stands out in my mind from the Naval Hospital in Buford is a warrant officer, Navy warrant officer. And I don't know what he did in Vietnam, but he was a Medal of Honor winner. He had his Medal of Honor, and I was putting a cast on one of his legs. And I was I think I was a hospitalman, an E3 corpsman. And I don't know what I said to him. But I made him mad. And he got mad instantly. He 00:14:00had a hair trigger temper and he just blew me right out of the room. We finished our business and he was happy with what I did, but I said, I don't even remember what I said, but I just remember that he was a warrant officer Navy and he had his Medal of Honor ribbon on. And, uh, he had an attitude about death, [laughter] but of course, he deserved to have water.

KURTZ: Sure. What did this have any impact on you seeing all these casualties, you know?

BAUER: Not really. We we had a job to do, and we wanted to. We wanted to do it the best we could do. The people I worked with all felt the same way.

KURTZ: Did you live on base in Buford?

BAUER: Lived on base. I was there about two years. Lived on base, except probably the last five or six months. My wife was and was in the Navy. She was a 00:15:00Navy corpsman. And we met. And after we were married, we moved into a little trailer for four or five months before I got orders to Vietnam.

KURTZ: What did you stay in the Navy when you were?

BAUER: She was she after, just before I left for Vietnam she was discharged from the Navy. She got pregnant. And that was planned because we didn't want her in active duty. At that time, women who were pregnant were discharged, I think, and there was an honorable discharge at the convenience of the service.

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: And we knew that we planned for that, to get her out because I knew I was going to be going to Vietnam.

KURTZ: What was the reaction of the people down in Buford to the war?

BAUER: I think everybody on active duty supported the war. The only the only 00:16:00emotional problems I think anybody ever had with it were we were stationed with folks for six months or a year who the other corpsman who left for training prior to going to Vietnam, or they left directly with orders directly to Vietnam. They didn't go through Fleet Marine School at Cherry Point. Some of them went directly to Nam and they were very similar to me. Some had married local girls, some had married other enlisted ladies. And there were a couple of different times when I got sent with with a hospital ambulance up to Charleston Air Force Base, Charleston, South Carolina, Air Force Base, [??] the guy had been only gone for six or eight weeks and had been killed and came back for the funeral.


KURTZ: How did that affect you or what was your reaction to that?

BAUER: I don't think it was any different to anybody that got killed in a car accident in the local area.

KURTZ: Mm hmm.

BAUER: It was it was something that happened to somebody else. And everybody felt really terrible about it. But it happened to somebody else.

KURTZ: Yeah.

BAUER: And it was, you know, the possibility that it could happen to you was always there. You know, if you had the wrong set of orders.

KURTZ: Mm hmm.

BAUER: Or whatever. But when you're 19, 20 years old, you don't worry about stuff like this.

KURTZ: That's very true. So when you got orders to Vietnam, what was your reaction?

BAUER: I cashed in all my savings bonds. I wrote instructions for everything 00:18:00that I had, anything that was material to make sure that Joyce got everything, put everything into liquid, and liquid accounts that she could access easily. And kind of figured that was, you know, I was going to go over, but I wasn't going to come back. That was pretty much the attitude. If I got through it, that was going to be wonderful. But I wasn't [laughs] about it. I was kind of fatalistic, definitely fatalist.

KURTZ: What was your--

BAUER: Too many of my my buddies got killed.

KURTZ: What was your wife's reaction as you were going to Vietnam?

BAUER: We knew before we got married that, you know, it was it was an inevitable 00:19:00thing. Everybody in the hospital at Buford sooner or later got orders to the Fleet Marines or some other naval support activity in Vietnam. And it was just something that was inevitable. And I think that was that kind of that was the way we approached it was going to happen sooner or later.

KURTZ: Did you share with your wife the fact that you thought you weren't going to come back?

BAUER: Oh, absolutely. Yeah.

KURTZ: What about--

BAUER: Sure, one reason why we got pregnant.

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: [Laughs] I didn't want to go over Nam and leave anything.

KURTZ: Okay. Did you talk to any of your other people, friends that were on orders about this fatalistic feeling that you probably wouldn't come back?

BAUER: Oh, yeah, it was. It came up now and then in the Enlisted Club or 00:20:00whatever, and everybody would have another beer and drink to it.

KURTZ: Yeah.

BAUER: It was--

KURTZ: Were there some that felt that they would come back, that they didn't believe anything could happen?

BAUER: You know, I don't remember that. I don't think so. No, I don't remember that.

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: I'm sure there were people that thought there was It could be anything that could happen to them that they were.

KURTZ: The reason I ask this question is my experience has been there's people like you. There's people that feel that absolutely nothing could happen and others that are just oblivious.

BAUER: The only the only people that I felt enough that I remember saying that that nothing was going to happen were the Marines.

KURTZ: Mm hmm.

BAUER: There were a lot more Marine that were around us that we that we bounced off of every day. And they had that general attitude that that they were invincible. And I think that was a good part of their training to have that kind 00:21:00of attitude.

KURTZ: So did you move your wife? Where did she stay when you were in Vietnam?

BAUER: We moved. I moved her to her folks in Missouri.

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: They had a good hospital and clinic there. And, you know, it was she was surrounded by her relatives that she felt comfortable with. And so it was kind of a natural thing to do.

KURTZ: When you left for Vietnam, how did you get there?

BAUER: I left from, uh, we drove from Buford to Missouri. And I got an airplane from Springfield, I think, to Kansas City and Kansas City to San Bernardino.


KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: Air Force Base. And then took a chartered Continental Airlines to Danang.

KURTZ: Did you know anybody on your plane that flew over?

BAUER: No, I don't. Didn't know anybody else. I was all alone. I mean, it was filled with Navy and Marines. But no, I didn't know any of them.

KURTZ: What was it like going over in a charter as you got closer to Vietnam?

BAUER: It really didn't bother me at all. It was like landing in the, you know, in San Francisco. You know, it was interesting. I was very interested in it. We landed in the morning, and so when we came in, it was typical for those chartered civilian airliners to come in high and then dive down rapidly and land fast. And everybody got off really fast. But it was it was February of '69. And 00:23:00for some reason, the Navy couldn't think ahead enough to take us out of our dress blue uniforms and put us in, you know, at least a white Navy uniform. So when we got off of the airplane in Danang it was 220 degrees and 70%, 120% humidity, it was unbearable. And and all of the duffel bags were just dumped out of the airplane into a great big pile on the tarmac. And we sat on duffel bags out there until they could figure out what the hell to do with us. And we were surrounded by little huts with [??] families and troops.

KURTZ: Was it pretty chaotic, too, or?


BAUER: It looked chaotic to us, but I think it was organized chaos. All it looked like to us was that it was it was hotter than hell. There wasn't anything to drink. And nobody cared. And that wasn't, obviously, the truth. But when you're feeling sorry for yourself, that's the way you interpret things.

KURTZ: On this plane that you went over with it, did their anybody that had served in Vietnam before that you had any contact?

BAUER: I don't remember that. I think everybody was newbies.

KURTZ: Newbies. So did you have orders to a specific place when you got to Vietnam?

BAUER: I had orders to Amphibious Ready Group Bravo. And the only thing the personnel people at the Naval Hospital could tell me what it was that was that it was part of the river patrol Navy Support in Danang because it was in Danang, and that's where alot of the Brown Navy stuff was based. And so my information 00:25:00that I carry with me was that I was going to go to the Brown Navy.

KURTZ: Mm hmm.

BAUER: And and that was kind of exciting. I thought that was a good deal. You know, I was excited about that. And as far as I know, that to this day, that was where I was initially detailed. I got to the Naval Support Activity at Danang, and checked in to the personnel unit there. It was little shack with, you walk up to the outside of it with a door that had popped open and the guys were all inside with fans going, You're standing outside and sullen [both laugh]. And I checked in and the personnel man said, Well, you know, you're a orthopedic tech, you're an 8489. You can''t go wherever they had me detailed to go. He said, 00:26:00That's a clinical technician rate. And it took two or three days before they finally told me where I was going and I didn't know what was going on, but I just envisioned that they were shopping around for who needed an orthopedic tech, whether it was going to be the Support Activity in Danang or the Naval Hospital in Danang or wherever. And when I went back, they told me I had to pick up the chopper the next day and go out to a ship, intermediate ship, and then take another chopper where they got close to the ship. I was going to that I had been ordered to Surgical Team Bravo.

KURTZ: And which ship were you on?

BAUER: The first ship was the Valley Forge. Well, the intermediate ship was the the Tulare.

KURTZ: But the Valley Forge was always better.


BAUER: The Valley Forge was where the surgical team was located. It was an LPH8, Valley Forge was an aircraft carrier that was post-World War Two vintage. Served with distinction in Korea, the first aircraft carrier to launch juts from its deck. First, U.S. carrier to ever launch jets from its deck and then converted to an LPH--

KURTZ: What's an LPH?

BAUER: Landing Platform Helicopter. It was a helicopter. Vertical Envelopment, Marine Amphibious Landing Ship.

KURTZ: Okay. So that' s where they carry those Marine combat teams with their choppers and all that kind of stuff.

BAUER: Right. You know, the Navy, well, the Marines have their--the helicopter unit that was on at the time was HMM-164. And I don't remember exactly what, we 00:28:00were with several Marine battalions.

KURTZ: Okay. What was your reaction to getting these orders instead of going with the Brown Water Navy?

BAUER: I was I was a little bit disappointed [Kurtz laughs]. I was, you know, I had my mind all set, you know, to be on a small boat with a group of guys and probably no officers. And I thought it was going to be kind of great to have, you know, like a bowswain's mate 1st class or a chief as the captain of the board and it would make it a little bit more, you know, the camaraderie was going to be a little bit--.

KURTZ: Yes. Yes.

BAUER: You identify with people in it, and, you don't have--you can say "Captain," but you don't always have to say, "Sir."

KURTZ: Yeah [laughter].

BAUER: And so I thought it was going to be really great. So I guess initially I initially I was a little disappointed, you know, until I got to the surgical 00:29:00team and I found out more about what was going on.

KURTZ: So, what was a typical duty day like in this?

BAUER: We stood around and played cards. Made sure inventory in our, in our operating rooms was good and our our sterile packs were all good. But once you get down into the routine and unless you're taking casualties actively, it gets pretty boring.

KURTZ: So this is kind of like an emergency room then?.

BAUER: The Navy had two surgical teams in with the Marines in Vietnam: Alpha and Bravo. They were basically, it's it's kind of the equivalent of an Army MASH unit.

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: You know, the concept from Korea, you follow the combat troops around in a mobile surgical unit. We were always on ships. We never left because we were going up and down the coast and the Marines were on the ships. They would leave 00:30:00the ship for a combat activity and the casualties then would come back on the empty choppers after the first troops were on the ground. And that's the way we operated. So it was.

KURTZ: Yeah.

BAUER: So, It was an emergency room, trauma unit kind of a concept.

KURTZ: Yeah. So did you work, what kind of shifts did you work? I mean, was there two shifts?

BAUER: There weren't any shifts. If there was casualties, you worked.

KURTZ: Mm hmm.

BAUER: We ran. We ran two OR suites one time, 24 hours a day for seven days. There were, I think, four or five surgeons on the surgical team. There was one one anesthesiologist, there was one male nurse anesthetist and 15 enlisted techs. So we ran the the sterilization central supply area. We ran a lot of the 00:31:00triage unit up on the hangar deck, and we ran the O.R. suites, the anesthesia.

KURTZ: I got to turn the recording. What kind of what were your quarters like on your ship?

BAUER: Oh, dark.

KURTZ: Dark [laughter].

BAUER: Uh, we were in a berthing area. I'm not, I think there were other people from other, in fact, I know there were Navy corpsman assigned to a marine unit called the Casualty Counting Company. They went in and out on helicopters with the Marines and were in charge of the casualties care during the evacuation process. And so they were in our compartment. There were probably 20 or 30 people. Maybe maybe more in the in the compartment. It was an old ship. So the 00:32:00the the racks were from the from the deck to the to the overhead, maybe 18 or 20 inches apart, hung on chains with canvas, the old canvas ropes holding the mattress. Then you'd slide on it if you were lucky enough to have sheets. And we we did because we took them from the OR units and stuff and we would have sheets and pillowcases. But it was a typical thing, you know, if you, if you were to start out you had to get out to turn over, you know, and everybody had to crawl up the racks like monkeys if you happen to get one that was up high. I didn't. I saw the wisdom of sleeping down low and so on. But, you know, it was great [laughter]. I thought it was wonderful. It was dark and it was cool.

KURTZ: It was cool. The ventilation was pretty good?.


BAUER: The ventilation system system was pretty good on that old ship. The only thing that that was not good were the desaling, desalinators. We ran out of fresh water a lot of times, you know, and had to take, you know, 30 second showers with a marine guard to make sure that nobody was going to use up too much of the [??] water. Yeah.

KURTZ: Uh, how was the ship resupplied?

BAUER: Well, we refueled at sea from other, from from oilers and stuff. Uh, we we went into Danang a few times, and, of course, we stayed in the harbor. We never pulled up anywhere because we were a big ship and took supplies off of the LS, LTD, I don't know, whatever the small boats were. And we were resupplied all the time by helicopter.

KURTZ: Okay. When you went into Danang, did you ever get opportunities to go 00:34:00into town or?

BAUER: No, we could never get off the boat, off the ship. They wouldn't let us off. I don't, the only time anybody ever got off and spent any time there that I remember was if you flew a mail helicopter for some reason. Now, one of the, the commanding officer of the surgical team was also, no, wait, he was a physician. He was a captain. Oh, no. He was a commander, I'm sorry, he was a commander. And he spent a lot of time, you know, up on the flag area with the with the ship's company. Oh, we were attached, but he was senior enough so he was flag and he was also a helicopter pilot and the ship had its own one or two helicopters that stayed on the ship. They were not part of a group of Marines or somebody else that would come on board and that helicopter would be used to fly mail.


KURTZ: Mm hmm.

BAUER: And so occasionally we would be able to fly with him. If you were going to, if he flew the mail helicopter, we could fly in. But you never got off the helicopter. And, you know, they'd throw bags of mail on and you'd just throw them back and then sit down in the canvas seat, put the belt on and ride back on again. But it was good for combat air money.

KURTZ: Mm hmm.

BAUER: And we would fly, you know, up and down the coast a little bit until they could verify that we took some fire. And then we would collect our air cargo.

KURTZ: But in taking fire, what kind of fire would you take?

BAUER: The people in the jungle would take a shot at you now and then.

KURTZ: Okay. What about native boats? Did they come around and bother you at all?

BAUER: We ran them over.

KURTZ: Yeah.

BAUER: There were little sampan boats around and they would put fishing nets out with little flags in the water. It didn't make any difference. If they got in 00:36:00the way, the ship ran them down.

KURTZ: Did you have any feelings about that one way or another?

BAUER: Not at all. It didn't make any difference. There was noth--even if I did, I couldn't do anything--

KURTZ: Yeah, right.

BAUER: --you know, so, I don't actually remember any any of them that we hit, but we sure ran over a lot of fishing nets. And there were sure a lot of guys that were doing everything they could to get the hell out of the way [laughs].

KURTZ: Yeah, I would think so. Something that big, you know.

BAUER: They knew better. They knew it was their problem and not ours, I guess.

KURTZ: So how close did you operate to the shore?

BAUER: We took small arm runs off the side of the ship. I can remember a couple of times. One was Christmas Eve, 1969. And it was a big enough ship, it didn't get in real close. And I don't know what kind of small arms fighter it was, but 00:37:00I can remember it hitting the ship.

KURTZ: Did you have any weapons to shoot back with?

BAUER: Personal weapons?

KURTZ: No, no [Bauer laughs]. I mean, on the [??]. Well, maybe you did because you get guns--

BAUER: I had a personal weapon. Marines supplied me with a personal weapon. But no, the ship had, Valley Forge, had a couple of five-inch guns that were still on the ship after the conversion, and they had 50 caliber machine guns and 30 caliber machine guns. The Marines had their recoilless rifles on the, I can't remember what those little--They look like four-wheel drive go carts.

KURTZ: [Inaudible] It begins with an O. I can't

BAUER: You sit in a little canvas seat and the steering wheel pops up at you and you just drive them all around. They have those and some of them have recoilless 00:38:00rifles mounted on them and they use them for hauling ammunition and C-rats and supplies and stuff.

KURTZ: Kurtz: I can't remember what they're called.

BAUER: They were fun.

KURTZ: Yeah. How long, driving around the deck I suppose? [laughter]. Do you ever have any races?

BAUER: No. Well, we had running races. We had races. We would bet each other who was in better physical shape and then after flight ops were over in the evening when it was a little cooler, we'd we'd have foot races up on the up on the flight deck. I was racing this little Guamanian hospital corpsman chief guy with that. He was a little, fat little guy. And [inaudible, laughter] I had to do all I could do to beat him. and I tripped and I just ripped up off my hands pretty good. The officer of the deck was kind of mad about that, but I beat him.

KURTZ: What was the deck made out of on the aircraft? What--

BAUER: It was a wooden deck with the with the material, you know, coated over 00:39:00it. It would come off in chunks and stuff. Every once in a while, a chunk would fly around when the choppers would land.

KURTZ: So how long were you on the Valley Forge?

BAUER: We rotated off Valley Forge. It was her last cruise. She went back to Long Beach and was just decommissioned in. I got on in February. I think we got off in, like, September or October of '69, and at Subic Bay and transferred to the New Orleans, LPH11

KURTZ: So you went to Subic Bay on the Valley Forge and then you were taken off?

BAUER: Yeah, we transferred over, I think it was at Subic Bay.

KURTZ: Did you get any leave or anything then in Subic Bay?


BAUER: No. Nobody ever got any R & R and nobody ever was never. There were a lot of guys that, you know, for I don't know how it ever happened that they went to Australia. There were two or three places that you could go on R & R. We sure as hell never did. [Kurtz laughs] Well, it was never offered to us. Nobody ever went anywhere except where the ship went.

KURTZ: Now, was there alcohol available on the ship?

BAUER: Sure. None of the enlisted guys ever had any, but the officers had it freely. And we on the, especially on the Valley Forge, the docs on the surgical team would host parties down in the OR rooms for different occasions if somebody was rotating home and they were still alive [Kurtz laughs]. You know. That was always a. reason to have a party. We had Christmas parties and the New Year Eve, 00:41:00New Year's Eve party, and we had all the food and booze and whatever.

KURTZ: So. But you got it only for party. It was not--

BAUER: It was not available just on a daily basis. And the only way it was available for special occasions were was if the the officers from the surgical team would share what they had with us. And they did[n't??] I mean. And I have no idea why we never got caught, except that these were other officers and our old man was tight with with the captain of the ship. The Commodore was also on our was also on our ship who was in charge of the flotilla that we were with. But we were the we were the capital ship in the group. And I think they were 00:42:00tight enough that, well, you know, there were it was it was a good old boys club. I can remember Commodore had his own [??], he had his own boat and he had his own private car that they would load. It was a little Volkswagen handmade, one of those little plastic pieces of junk. But that was his car that he, they offloaded it in the Philippines and they offloaded it when we went to Hong Kong and they offloaded it whenever we were anyplace with the Commodore. when we were at the Philippines, the Commodore hosted a party on the beach for the surgical team. We had steaks and, you know, that was really nice. It was only about a week after that that I had to take some [bi-cillan??] up to his cabin and give him a hell of a shot because he got something that he didn't want anybody to know about and never went into any records anywhere. So it was tit for tat.


KURTZ: Mm hmm.

BAUER: We took care of the old man and he took care of us.

KURTZ: So what was the next ship you got out on after the Valley Forge?

BAUER: It was the New Orleans.

KURTZ: New Orleans. I didn't write that down.

BAUER: That was a new LPH, Shorter, different hull configuration, single-screw cork in the water. Didn't ride nearly as nice as the big old Valley Forge with the four screws.

KURTZ: Hm hmm.

BAUER: Rounded bottom, comfortable ship, but it didn't ride very well.

KURTZ: What was the living quarters like?

BAUER: We, the surgical team, stayed in the hospital ward overflow area, the casualty area. Our bunks were the same. If we would have taken enough casualties, it would have filled up that area. We never did. As a matter of fact, I don't remember taking casualties from October until I rotated off on the 00:44:00on the New Orleans. I don't remember that we were involved in any specific. But we did surgery. We did a whole ton of elective circumcisions on Marines [laughter] And they had closed--it was one of the first sips that had a little internal closed-circuit television, you know, television hanging on the bulkheads with little tape players and things. Was always a big deal. We'd fill up as many of the post-surgical beds and the there were probably ten or 15 beds in a space, and it had a television hanging there and we would do surgery, do circumcisions. Get eight or ten of these Marines, do circumcisions. And then 00:45:00that evening we put in a porn flick on there [Kurtz laughs] and watch them react to that. That was always funny [Kurtz laughs].

KURTZ: You guys were torturing!

BAUER: Popping stitches. But no, it was a thing to do [laughter].

KURTZ: Did New Orleans go back into Vietnam waters?

BAUER: Oh, we were always, while we were on, while we were on the New Orleans, we were always in I Corps waters, yeah, all the time.

KURTZ: And so what was the timeframe that you were on in New Orleans?

BAUER: It was October, I think, of '69 until must have been January or February of '70.


BAUER: I was over for 12 months. Not quite the full 13. Nixon had his political, um, troop draw-down--


KURTZ: --down.

BAUER: --you know, bringing the troops home thing and anybody that was close. It was just an exercise in paperwork. I don't think anybody ever left early. They were always backfilled with another body. I don't know who the poor guy was that got my slot, but I didn't really care [Kurtz laughs].

KURTZ: When you were in Vietnam waters were you able to get Armed ForcesTelevision?

BAUER: No, or radio? No. The only thing we ever had were Star Trek reruns.

KURTZ: Okay, So you weren't even able if you were up on the deck, get radio from, if you had well, did you have portable radios or anything [inaudible]? You wouldn't get anything.

BAUER: We never received anything. The only thing is there would be a movie on the hangar deck or underneath, not very, infrequently. And it was crap.

KURTZ: Mm hmm.

BAUER: And then we would have Star Trek movies from the original Star Trek that 00:47:00they'd ship over and somebody--I don't know how we ever got them, and they'd show them in the hospital course space and everybody lay on the damn cold deck and watch Star Trek movies. That was about the best we ever had.

KURTZ: Okay. Did you get new, how did you get news? Stars and Stripes or--

BAUER: Only from stuff that people back home sent us. Otherwise, uh, with the. The the Stars and Stripes, you know, something would show up periodically, and it was looked at as Navy propaganda. And when I was over there, the Stars and Stripes didn't mean anything at all. If you, we didn't believe anything of it. And even though we very seldom saw it, nobody ever trusted it. You have an innate distrust of pretty much everything.


KURTZ: Was that, was the doctors all [?? ]

BAUER: Well, I don't know how they felt one way or the other. I think everybody was of the general, same general frame of mind. They, obviously, the officers, you would think would have access to a lot more information than we ever did. But they never shared anything good or bad that I ever remember. We never talked politics. We never talked, uh, anything.

KURTZ: That's kind of an unusual thing. From my military experience, we were, as an officer, we were told, you know, we command information and all of that. So it is interesting that the Navy didn't choose to do that.

BAUER: Well, I don't know about the Navy's action. I'm going to do it it all I know is my personal experience.

KURTZ: Okay. Fine.

BAUER: We we didn't get news regularly through the ship, and, uh , I don't 00:49:00remember ever being informed of anything, any single thing or anything in general by our direct officers on the surgical team. If somebody got a Newsweek or a Time magazine or a hometown newspaper. And some guys did routinely, you know, they get a subscription to their hometown newspaper or something. And those were always read by everybody.

KURTZ: Yeah. And how often did you get mail?

BAUER: As often as we were close enough for a chopper to fly it to us.

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: You could go for a couple of weeks without mail and then you could get mail every day for a couple of weeks.

KURTZ: How did you communicate with your wife?

BAUER: Letters and the little small reel to reel--

KURTZ: Tapes.

BAUER: Tape recorders. Yeah.

KURTZ: And what was her reaction to what you were doing and all that?


BAUER: I think it was just she just, you know, generally accepted. I don't think that, nobody ever made any real big deal out of it. We were just there, and when you were done you were done.

KURTZ: How did you find out--Your child must have been born when you were in Vietnam?

BAUER: Yeah. I have a daughter that was born in July of '69. I got a telegram from the Red Cross and it was just a couple of lines, you know, and baby daughter, wife and daughter are doing, and then how much she weighed and the date, and mother and daughter doing fine. Very brief from the Red Cross. And that had to be directed, obviously, through the ship's communication system. So that night we were watching Star Trek and I laid on the deck and it was the 00:51:00coolest place to watch the screen and it was announced over the P.A. of the ship. That was kind of a routine thing, any of those morale-boosting things. And so that was kind of cool.

KURTZ: Was that an occasion for a party?

BAUER: Never had a party about it. Nobody really cared [Kurtz laughs]. The only, they cared a hell of a lot more about what their girlfriends were doing then they did about any baby's that were born.

KURTZ: Yeah. That's right.

BAUER: One of the corpsman from California had pictures all over the place of his girlfriend. She was just, she was beautiful. And mail came, and he got a letter from her signed by her and his dad, telling him that his dad had divorced his mother and taken up with his girlfriend.

KURTZ: His girlfriend!

BAUER: Yeah. And so his girlfriend and his Dad ultimately got married before he got home after his dad divorced his mother.


KURTZ: Oh, my goodness.

BAUER: That was an interesting thing. But you know, it didn't take him that long to pop back [laughter].

KURTZ: Probably wasn't the right thing.

BAUER: Probably turned out to be a good deal for him. I don't know.

KURTZ: Guess you can't tell.

BAUER: But those those things people paid a lot more attention to than somebody having a kid.

KURTZ: Were there drugs on either of the ships you were on?

BAUER: There were not--I don't ever remember anything on the first, the Valley Forge. I remember hearing about somebody that got nailed with marijuana on the New Orleans, but it was part of ship's company and not attached to us at all. And we just heard about it through kind of through the rumor mill. Everybody had the opportunity, at least members of the surgical team, had the opportunity to invest in some type of a black-market scam that was going on on the beach and 00:53:00and nobody really talked about it. It was just, you know, you're a new guy, if you want to put in a couple of hundred bucks, by the time you leave, it's going to be worth, you know, it's going to be worth three or 4,000. And there was never any questions asked and it was never a topic of conversation. You just put your money in and when you left, you got, if you were alive, you got your money out. And I know that I did not do that, but there were other people that did. Never knew what they invested in or how it was ever utilized. They also, we also sold, you know, I knew people--topical lidocaine came in toothpaste-like tubes, 12 to a case. Those were sold to the, for the ladies in in Subic Bay and all 00:54:00over to use. But, you know, however.

KURTZ: Sure.

BAUER: And but other than that no I don't remember any drugs at all. We, occasionally people would take Dexamyl or something that you could get right from from the pharmacy that we had if we were working, you know, all the time, day and night and day and night. You know, if you wanted to stay awake. But I don't think anybody on the surgical team ever did.

KURTZ: How much contact did you have with the Marines that were on it?

BAUER: 100% all the time.

KURTZ: What was their reaction to you guys?

BAUER: On the ship we wore the blue jean dungarees--

KURTZ: Yeah.

BAUER: --and a white T-shirt with a big red cross on it. The 15 people on the, enlisted guys on the surgical team were the guys with the white shirts with the 00:55:00red crosses. We came down the passageway or walked down the flight deck or we were in line for the mess decks. Everybody got out of our way and we went first. That was just the general accepted practice. The Marines had a lot of respect. They had as much respect for us as we did for them, actually, probably more because we got we got some front of the line privileges that they gave to us because we had our white shirts and Red Crosses on.

KURTZ: What about the ship's company?

BAUER: They didn't care who we were [laughter].

KURTZ: Gotcha. Have we? Is there anything we've missed on your experiences on the two ships you were on?

BAUER: That pretty much covers it, I think.

KURTZ: What was it like the day that you were leaving and how did you leave?

BAUER: Well, it couldn't come soon enough. I knew the, I knew the month. But you 00:56:00never know quite--and then, like I say, Nixon's political thing. I got out three weeks or more ahead of my rotation date. So that was kind of a shock to be going home earlier. A few weeks earlier. Not a long time. Didn't make a lot of difference. Well, every day did to me. But I mean, in the big scheme of things, it didn't. Just packed up. And, actually, I think there was at least two of us from the surgical team that rotated on the same date. So, the guy, the other guy was from Florida, the second-class corpsman read all the paperwork for the surgical team and maybe the two them [laughs]. I don't know, but--.

KURTZ: Good chance.

BAUER: --but we left, we left together. We got on a marine helicopter in Subic Bay and flew to Clark and got a commercial charter. A charter to Guam and got 00:57:00another commercial charter to California.

KURTZ: Okay. What was the dates of your Vietnam service?

BAUER: February of '69 to January of '70.

KURTZ: How were you received when you came home from Vietnam?

BAUER: We [??] we flew into California to, I think it was San Francisco and got off the airplane and it was at night, the middle of the night. Wasn't a lot of 00:58:00people around. Nobody said a word to me. I went and changed into a clean uniform, got a standby ticket to Minneapolis, and Saint Paul. It was 49 bucks. And I really didn't know what to stand-by ticket was or I would have got a first class ticket [laughter]. But it was the cheapest ticket I could get. And it pretty much would guarantee me at that time of the day that I was going to get on the flight. That's all I cared about. And I wasn't there very long. Had I checked, and I did not. We were supposed to check orders at the appropriate service branch. I did not do that. I went right past the service branch with my 00:59:00packet, because I was going to, I had orders to go to Corpus Christi, Texas, and I couldn't figure out what I needed to check in for and give them another crack at me to keep me from going home. So I did not. Bought a ticket, waited around for a few hours, got on the airplane, went to Minneapolis. Took two or three weeks leave no [I mean??] that was only a couple of weeks. Bought a car. Drove to, with my wife and my daughter, to Corpus Christi. Checked in and was told that I really screwed up big time because I didn't check in at the service desk at the airport. I would have been discharged. As it was, I drove down to Corpus Christi. I spent another three or four months in the service until the paperwork could all catch up and they could discharge me. So I got yelled down a little bit and I maybe screwed up, but--

KURTZ: Did your wife yell at you for [laughs]??

BAUER: No. I mean, you know. Corpus Christi was a good place to be. Got to see 01:00:00part of the country. Bought a nice car. And had a nice road trip. So I didn't care one way or the other as long as they didn't throw me in the brig.

KURTZ: So you didn't experience anything from people you didn't know that was negative or not?

BAUER: Not really, no. I wore my uniform back on the on the Northwest Airlines flight from the coast to Minneapolis. Had a white uniform on, so and then no peacoat or anything. So when I got off of the airplane in Minneapolis.

KURTZ: [??] frisked.

BAUER: Freezing my ass [laughter].

KURTZ: Frisked.

BAUER: Drove and I just got it, I got a cab from Minneapolis over to Hudson. That was kind of a big deal. The cabbie, I don't think, said ten words to me the whole 35 miles. 40 miles. I really didn't have anything to say to him either, so I didn't care. In fact, it was kind of nice not to have to talk, you know.


KURTZ: Yeah, right.

BAUER: And family had a big banner hanging on the front porch. And that was the extent of anything.

KURTZ: So your wife and daughter were up in Hudson, then?

BAUER: Yeah, they had moved up there [??]

KURTZ: Now, you've told me that you have other military experiences. I'm going to let you kind of go free form with that, and I'll ask you appropriate questions if that works for you.

BAUER: Yep. After I got back from Vietnam, I went back to, or while I was in Vietnam.

KURTZ: Let's stop.

KURTZ: [??] tapes. Tim, you were going to tell us about your further military experiences.

BAUER: Sure. After I went to Corpus Christi, Texas, the Navy actually wanted me to stay in. They tried to re, re-up to me and offered me a school for prosthetics with almost the better part of a one year, on a three-year 01:02:00re-enlistment. The first year was pretty much going to be all school time, and I thought that that was a wonderful opportunity that, you know, there's there's just a ton of money in prosthetics in the civilian side. And with that kind of a background, I thought I may get out. I'm going to make myself some bucks and it's going to be all on that stuff. I mean, you know, the training and the experience they get the next three years. So I accepted it. Re-enlisted for three years. And part of it then was also going to be my E-5 stripe.

KURTZ: Was there a bonus at that time?

BAUER: No. No. The school was the enticement. And so, while we waited to find out the date of the start of the school, the Navy closed the school for one reason or the other and it was no longer available. So I was discharged from 01:03:00Corpus Christi, Texas. Got out, went home to Hudson. Was immediately offered a job at the Hudson Clinic. While we were still in Vietnam, I had heard about this physician assistant training and had actually received a couple of letters from headhunters at different schools looking for people. To fill in applications to go to their program. I filled in applications [clears throat] for the University of North Dakota physician assistant training program, which was just starting. They had not even had their first class.

KURTZ: Mm hmm.

BAUER: Never heard of another word from them. And so when the Hudson Clinic 01:04:00offered me a job, I took that job and I went back to school at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. I thought, well, it's going to be elementary or secondary education teacher.

KURTZ: Mm hmm.

BAUER: And, but the clinic was very, very liberal. I was able to work. I had classes. I could go down the road to River Falls and take a few classes and still come back and work. And and they treated me really well. The Hudson Clinic was a wonderful experience. While I was working for the clinic, I got a letter back from, then a couple of telephone calls from the University of Grand Forks, North Dakota, University of North Dakota that they had started their physician assistant program, and they were looking for students for the second class. First class was, you know, recruited. They were going to school, they were going to start the second class. And I thought that that would be a nice thing to do. 01:05:00So I went to school at River Falls, took a few classes, and while I was waiting for the University of North Dakota, I went to nursing school at St. Paul Ramsay School of Nursing in the Twin Cities. So I went to nursing school, and just prior to graduation from a two-year program, I dropped out of nursing and I went to a physician's assistant school at the University of North Dakota. So I had a lot of medical background in the Navy and in nursing school. And and at that time, I was actually the youngest guy in the physician's assistant class. There were, like, 28 people in the class. And I was also, because I was the youngest guy I was also the junior guy on military time. I mean, I really only had, like, 01:06:00four years and everybody else, they were retired Navy corpsman and iArmy folks and stuff there. But I was the junior guy in the class.

KURTZ: So, the most part, these were people that had had medical experience in the military?

BAUER: These were all military medical people. The first physician's assistant training programs were only recruited military people.

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: That's the whole, it started at Duke University. And that was, the whole concept was to take advantage on the civilian side of all of these people that had a ton of military experience. And the whole concept for physician's assistants were based on that. So I went to UND-Grand Forks, P.A. School, and graduated from that, took some of my preceptor training and intern training at the Hudson Clinic and at some of the hospitals in the Twin Cities. Just prior to 01:07:00graduating from UND PA school, the Indian Health Service recruited me and I finished off my PA training as a student at the Indian Health Hospital in Sisseton, South Dakota, on the Indian reservation and then got a permanent job. I was with them, worked at Sisseton for, a little over a year, year and a half, and was recruited to an independent duty setting in, with the Indian Health Service in a class. Had my own little clinic, did that for a couple of years and transferred to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Went to work at Tomah VA up the road.

KURTZ: This is the US Department of Veterans Affairs?


BAUER: US Department of Veterans Affairs. Went to work at Tomah in. Well, I graduated from PA school in '72 and I passed my boards later, I passed my boards in '73. I was already working for the Indian Health Service and did that and transferred to Alaska, and then it must have been in 1974 or the end of '74, early '75, I transferred to the Department of Veterans Affairs, went to Tomah, stayed there for 19 years.

KURTZ: What did you have much contact with Vietnam veterans at home?

BAUER: There were a ton of non-vets just in the general population and the veterans that we took care of, though, however, were World War I, World War II, and then spattering of Korean War veterans. You know, it was only 15, 20 years 01:09:00after the Korean War, so there weren't a lot of them in the VA system yet then. But as as that time progressed, the World War I guys were all dead.

KURTZ: Yeah.

BAUER: The World War II guys were dropping like flies, and they were pretty much all Korean War veterans and after. And then the other thing with the VA that you have to keep in mind is that it's a it's a business. They're in competition with the civilian side. They have to keep up their market share by recruiting patients. And as the national economy changed and people came back from the service, especially after the Korean War, the employee benefits included hospital care, etc., etc., etc., so there was not nearly the need for the VA system unless you happen to be, you know, disabled or otherwise indigent. So the 01:10:00VA system was changing also. And I worked for the VA. I went into the, after I got, you know, my, my boards and stuff all out of the way , and my licensure [??]. And I joined the Army Reserve, Wisconsin National Guard, Army Reserve as a warrant officer, physician's assistant, First Battalion, 120th Field Artillery in Wisconsin [??].

KURTZ: Why did you do that?

BAUER: Because I wanted to be an officer.

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: I wanted, I always wanted to be a warrant officer. I didn't care about a commissioned officer.

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: They were a whole different breed, but warant officers were special and physicians assistants were were warrant officers at the time with a trained technical rating and, of course, that all changed as the profession matured. Now they're all commissioned officers. A lot of my buddies are, like, colonels now. 01:11:00But I went in as a W1 and and stayed in field artillery for, I don't remember, two or three years till the Navy Reserve picked-up the warrant officer physician's assistant program as part of the medical service [??].

KURTZ: Did you have to take any particular training to become a warrant officer just for the--


KURTZ: [??].

BAUER: No, no, the army, the army is a whole different deal. The army, as far as I'm concerned, is totally screwed up [laughs].

KURTZ: I'm sad that [you??] said that [Bauer laughs].

BAUER: But that's because of my allegiance is, it's naval.

KURTZ: Sure, of course. Of course.

BAUER: I enjoyed my Army time immensely. But, the example. For example, there was no orientation, and the Army expected me, as a prior military person, to 01:12:00understand the system. And that included where to get your uniforms and how to wear them and wear the insignia in school. And I--

KURTZ: Yeah.

BAUER: The thing that a Navy person says about Army, and you've undoubtedly heard it. If you haven't, I'm going to tell you.

KURTZ: Oh, I appreciate that.

BAUER: Is that if you're chewing gum and you walk by anybody that's Army and you open up your gum wrapper and you take it out of, you pop the gum in your mouth and you throw the tinfoil on the ground, they're going to pick it up and slap it on their uniform someplace [Kurtz laughs]. And I mean a Navy uniform is simple as--

KURTZ: Yeah.

BAUER: You know, you have your nametag and your ribbons, and that's all, you know. Army's have the shoulder board things and the collar things and the breast things.

KURTZ: Yeah.

BAUER: You know, they have stuff hanging all over the place. I was never given any orientation on any of that stuff. And the very first drill that I went to in Wisconsin Rapids, the general out of Madison was coming up for inspection. And and as a warrant officer, they stuck me in front of some platoon. And of course, 01:13:00you know, I had no idea what to do with the general, and, you know, I was first one in line. I could have watched somebody else, but they were dumb enough to put me the first one in line. And he was going to inspect. And he came up in front of me and and I didn't salute him and I didn't say squat. And he finally started asking me what I was going to do. And I said I'm going to stand and keep my mouth shut, because that's what they tell us in the Navy [laughter]. He didn't appreciate that too much. So I made a made a fool out of myself. And I was mad at the Army because of that. But generally it was a wonderful experience.

KURTZ: Were there any active-duty veterans in your National Guard unit?

BAUER: You know, there were, but I--the people that I was with in the medical company, I was the only one with any combat experience. And that was a little disconcerting because then, everybody everybody kind of looks to you. Well, and 01:14:00then I was senior. I was a warrant officer in charge of that with the battalion surgeon position. And so that was a whole different deal. All of a sudden, people are looking to you as the as the old man, and you have responsibility for 25 or 30 people and their health and welfare.

KURTZ: Mm hmm.

BAUER: So that was kind of something I really didn't expect that was different. But field artillery was fun. I got to drive howitzers and shoot machine guns and and do all kinds of military stuff that I never had experienced with the Navy or the Marines.

KURTZ: Mm hmm.

BAUER: Marines gave me one of those little .30 caliber carbines that you put on a little belt hook, a pistol belt hook--

KURTZ: Right.

BAUER: --and cut off the barrel, and they cut off the butt stock, and it's all kind of--

KURTZ: Yeah.

BAUER: That was my weapon in Nam. In field artillery, I just had a stick. I 01:15:00didn't have a sidearm, I didn't have a weapon, never had any weapon training. They taught me how to shoot a .30 caliber and a .50 caliber, which I had experience with, with the Marines. And they taught me how to shoot the howitzers, to drive the Gamma Goats. And so I did more military stuff than I did medical stuff. I had a good time.

KURTZ: Good. You know why they created the Marine Corps, don't you [Bauer laughs]? So you Navy guys had somebody to dance with [Bauer laughs].

BAUER: That's one I hadn't heard [laughs].

KURTZ: Well, I got to retaliate, I got to retaliate when you're cuttin' down my guys [Bauer laughs].

BAUER: Okay.

KURTZ: Okay. Let's--You went back to the Navy. And, was there any problem getting out of the guard to go to the Navy?

BAUER: No, not really.


KURTZ: Good.

BAUER: No. Not really. So I just went down to La Crosse, Wisconsin, Naval Training Center, and told them my experience, that I was in the Army--

KURTZ: Yeah.

BAUER: [--and I wanted to transfer over??] and it was just a paperwork exercise. So not only that, the Army gave me the the ability to be a W1. The Navy does not recognize the W1 rank. So, I was a W1 when I went to the Navy. I was a W2. I made W3, and the same date that I was--so I was, I always had good years toward rank. So when I, when I was commissioned I was commissioned as a [full??] lieutenant rather than an ensign. So I never an ensign. I never [??]


KURTZ: So, you got commissioned in the Navy as a lieutenant?

BAUER: As lieutenant.

KURTZ: So you went through a lot of the ranks up to--what was the highest rank you achieved in the military?

BAUER: 03 lieutenant, I went in as a as a--when I got my commission. What is it? It's. It's ensign. And then it's--

KURTZ: Lieutenant junior [grade??].

BAUER: Yeah. I was with the [??] lieutenant when I got my commission, and I made lieutenant, and I resigned my commission after a couple of years. I was a year and a half or two years away from lieutenant commander major. That was my goal, was to be a lieutenant commander. One of my goals. The other one was to land on a big carrier in a, in a jet.

KURTZ: Mm hmm.

BAUER: [Not in a prop??], but in a jet, I didn't get to do that. The third goal 01:18:00I had was to serve on a battleship, and I did that.

KURTZ: Well, can you tell us about that? And which battleship?

BAUER: I can tell you about.

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: I [??] my Navy career. And you won't see those ever. I'm the only physician's assistant that ever served on a battleship in the US Navy.

KURTZ: For the record, people can't see here Tim has just handed me a picture when he was a lot thinner. Had more hair. Looks more intelligent as a Armed Forces [??] O3. So tell us about that now.

BAUER: Well, an 03 with the battleship.

KURTZ: Oh, the battleship. I'm sorry.

BAUER: With the Wisconsin.

KURTZ: Well, I mean, this guy's not letting me get away with anything here [Bauer laughs]. On the battleship.

BAUER: That was the highlight of my military experience.

KURTZ: So how long were you on the Wisconsin?

BAUER: Just as was a matter of months.

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: She had--It was just before she got detail. I got , I rotated off before she left for the Gulf War. And that was her only combat experience during her 01:19:00last commissioning. But I was on the East Coast in Norfolk, and I was in the Naval Reserve. And at that, I was in the Fleet Hospital, #23 in Lacrosse. And at that time, the Veterans Administration, you could earn 15 days of military leave a year in addition to your vacation time. And you could retain as much as 30 days on the books before they would [??] That's the maximum you could have as military leave on the VA's books. But you could combine your military leave with any time that you had as a VA employee.

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: So I took 30 days, I saved up 30 days of military leave. And I think I 01:20:00had, I don't know, six weeks or seven weeks of regular V.A. employee--

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: --time, vacation time. And I asked the Naval Reserve Center how one goes about getting orders to a ship of your choice. Nobody really knew. There are ships, occasionally, that put out announcements that they're looking for reserve people that come on and backfill for somebody who is, you know, the Navy doesn't have a vacant detail right away or even just somebody that's going on vacation for a few weeks. And well, I just wrote a letter to the old man on the Wisconsin. I wrote a letter to the captain.

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: And I said, I got a lot of time and I always wanted to be on a battleship. And and I think I could do you guys some good, and I think you could do me some good. What do you think? And he wrote me a letter back. He said, anytime you want to come. I took this letter to the personnel yeoman at the 01:21:00Reserve Center and got orders and left. It was great.

KURTZ: Was your wife happy about you taking this long vacation?

BAUER: Well, no [laughter], not particularly. But, uh, you know--

KURTZ: Yeah.

BAUER: It was my opportunity to serve on a battleship, and I wasn't going to let that one go by. That was one of my three goals and I did that one.

KURTZ: So you were essentially double-dipping then, too.

BAUER: Oh, I double-dipped the whole time.

KURTZ: Yeah.

BAUER: That was a good deal.

KURTZ: Yeah.

BAUER: You know, I had a good time and I made some bucks, so.

KURTZ: [Bauer laughs] Well, that's good, that's probably--Now, what did it cost you with your wife to do this? I mean, when you double did--She knew you were making extra money. So you had to buy her something nice, didn't you?

BAUER: Oh, well, yeah, you always go home with something nice or you don't go home [Kurtz laughs]. I don't remember all of the baubles and doodads that I accumulated, but they're at home somewhere, you know.

KURTZ: Have we adequately covered--Because you told me before we started that 01:22:00the only way you'd let me leave this room alive is if we could talk about you as your must, your Mustang experience. Have you got--

BAUER: Oh, the Mustang thing. I mean, I, I went in on Delayed Entry. So the 90 days, I think it was at the time, Delayed Entry. So when I got out of boot camp I was an E3--

KURTZ: Mm hmm.

BAUER: I had enough time sitting at home plus the boot camp. So I was an E3. I started out, you know, like everybody else as an E1. I always had that extra year, year and a half towards the next rank ahead of me because of that delayed entry thing and that--And I always wanted to be a warrant officer. I did that. I think I wanted to be a warrant officer, really, for two reasons. I had a second cousin in the 2nd World War. My dad's cousin was a warrant officer and I heard a lot about him in the Navy and how good he had it. And so it just kind of 01:23:00intrigued me to be a warrant officer would be a great thing. And so that was one of my goals. I had the opportunity to be a warrant officer and I took it in--The only time it was available, was in the Army. So I thought, Well, you know, what the heck, I'll do that too. And I had the Army experience. And that was good. I went through, at the time, all through all four warrant officer ranks and was lucky enough to get a commission. And so I served all three rank structures of the military.

KURTZ: Yeah. That's good.

BAUER: And I've had all of that experience and I'm glad I did that. I had a good time. The whole time. I was in all branches of the service. I had a good time. I enjoyed it, had a good time. You never know how glad you are to be alive until you think you're going to die. And we, you know, you know, you think you're going to die at various times coming and going. But and so that experience was good. I enjoyed the whole thing.


KURTZ: Is there anything we haven't covered about your military experience that we should.

BAUER: Oh, probably. But it's probably is irrelevant because everybody did something and alot of the guys did something. A lot of guys did more, a lot of guys did less. Everybody did something against it. [??] did something. That's all.

KURTZ: How do you feel your Vietnam experience specifically affected the rest of your life?

BAUER: Oh, the medical experience I got in Vietnam allowed me to have my career, you know, my civilian career as a physicians assistant nursing home administrator. If I hadn't enjoyed the military medical experience as much as I did, I don't, I mean, I might ended up as a schoolteacher or something, you know, but. So I had a good career. I made a couple of bucks and a good retirement. So, you know, I'm glad I did that. It started out well. Vietnam, specifically, I think that just opens--you had to be pretty shallow not to have 01:25:00that kind of experience open your eyes up a little bit.

KURTZ: So as you would assess it, it was a positive in your life , is that--

BAUER: Yeah, the whole experience was positive. Absolutely.

KURTZ: Have we missed--he other thing-Have you joined any veterans organizations?

BAUER: I'm a life member of the VFW. And I like to hang out at the, have a couple of beers now and then at the American Legion down in Hastings [laughs] because they got a nice plate, looks at the river and you can watch the boats go by and girls and stuff and the beer is cold. Other than that, no, I really--

KURTZ: Okay.

BAUER: --don't care about the service organizations. They don't hold nearly the weight that they used to hold.

KURTZ: Well, great, I think. Have we missed anything?

BAUER: Probably, but it's irrelevant.


KURTZ: Okay. Well, thanks ever so much to you.

[Interview Ends]