Physicist, Oceanographer, Aerospace Technologist, Rancher, Land Developer and Lecturer
ROTC Class A Patch
Richard Holt was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Regular Army of the United States in June 1956. He had just graduated from the ROTC unit at Wheaton College where he had been designated a Distinguished Military Graduate of the ROTC Corps of Cadets.
In his senior year he was appointed to be the Brigade Commander of the 600 man ROTC Brigade at Wheaton. All freshmen and sophomores were required to enroll in the ROTC program, a requirement that was changed some years later. Juniors and Seniors were in the program voluntarily, but many underclassmen chose to continue with the outstanding program offered at Wheaton. Besides, there was a stipend attached to being a part of the unit, so that came in handy for many in the Brigade. Being in the ROTC also kept many of the students who may have had some grade point problems out of the draft which during this period was in vogue because of the Korean War.
The photo below was taken by a professional photographer at the final dress parade of Dick's senior year. Before the "pass in review", which is the marching of all the cadets before the reviewing stand with an Army band leading the way, the Brigade staff stood at attention, then the Brigade Commander and his Deputy moved to the reviewing stand for the parade of cadets. It is a beautiful ceremony and Wheaton College was known for really having a sharp Corps of Cadets.
Brigade Dress Parade - Cadet Colonel Richard Holt, Brigade Commander of the 600 man Brigade is at the right end of this photo, with his staff to his right.
Dick received the President's Medal two years running
and also was awarded the outstanding cadet medal
from the Chicago Tribune. He achieved the rank
of Cadet Colonel for his senior year responsibilities.
The adjacent photo of Dick was made shortly after
graduation from Wheaton, soon after he had been
fitted for this Army Dress Blue Uniform at the uniform
shop at 5th Army Headquarters where there was a
clothing store that did all the necessary tailoring for
2nd Lt Richard L. Holt
During his college years, Dick chose to become a member of an active Army Reserve component assigned to the Army's 5th Infantry Division headquartered at Soldiers Field in Chicago, Illinois. He volunteered for an assignment in the Quartermaster Corps, to the 94th QM Group who had a company at the 5th Infantry Division headquarters. This unit was to carry out the responsibilities to supply and maintain all the materials for uniforms and any other fabric-type of support required in the Division. The unit Richard was assigned to had all the equipment to repair any of the multitude of canvas and cloth equipment in use. This included the large canvas covers on the trucks, tanks, tents and other kinds of equipment that utilized this kind of materials.
49th Quartermaster Group
U.S. Army Reserve Service
49th Group Quartermaster Corps, 5th Army, Chicago, Illinois
Dick chose to enlist in this Army Reserve unit in the Chicago area to gain more experience in the paperwork system employed by the Army which he figured would help him when he actually went on active dury. He was enlisted as a PFC first and quickly made a Corporal's rank. He was assigned as a company clerk in a Quartermaster company in the 5th Army Headquarters at Soldier's Field in Chicago. This unit was responsible for the repair and replacement of all cloth/canvas anywhere on vehicles, tents, sleeping bags, etc. for all of the 5th Army Reserve units.
Richard Holt started this assignment as a Pfc in the enlisted ranks in the company headquarters. His commanding officer soon promoted Dick to the rank of Corporal to take on the responsibility of the Company Clerk, which in this kind of military unit is responsible for all the paperwork for the unit's tasks. Within a year it became obvious to the Company Commander that Dick was capable of directing all of the functions of the office and he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and he completed almost 3 1/2 years at this job.
As the Company Clerk running the front office of the unit at the rank of Sergeant Dick was in a position that required that he know all the paperwork system for the repair and replacement of materiel throughout the 5th Army. This was a major step in the direction that Dick had hoped would happen as a result of being a part of this particular unit. Besides that, he received pay for meetings attended and camps he participated in going to during his tenure of more than three years in this reserve unit. It was a valuable experience for him.
Another interesting thing about this tenure in this particular reserve unit was the large number of professional football players that played for the Chicago Bears and were serving time in the reserves to keep from being drafted into the service during this period which was the time of the Korean War. He got to know most of the team during these years, in fact, he got to partcipate in the pre-season conditioning period in Indiana for the Bears.
Reserve Officer Training Corps - My military service was spread out over several segments of the military, starting out in my college years with ROTC which started at the time of my enrollment at Wheaton College in 1952 as a freshman. All freshmen at Wheaton were required to enroll in the ROTC program. As Juniors and Seniors this requirement was lifted, however many opted to continue in the ROTC program which was to result in the award of a commission in the Reserve Forces of the US Military. This period was to fill all four years of my undergraduate years at Wheaton.
U.S. Army Reserve - During this time I also chose to enlist as a member of an active Army Reserve component assigned to the Army's 5th Infantry Division headquartered at Soldiers Field in Chicago, Illinois. I enlisted in the 49th Quartermaster Group, a unit in the Reserves that had a company assigned at the 5th Infantry Division headquarters. This unit had the responsiblity to supply and maintain all the materials for uniforms and any other fabric-type of support required in the Division. The unit had the equipment to repair any of the multitude of canvas and cloth equipment in use. This included the large canvas covers on the trucks, tanks, tents and other kinds of equipment that utilized this kind of materials.
I started this assignment as a Pfc in the enlisted ranks in the company headquarters. My commanding officer soon promoted me to the rank of Corporal to take on the responsibility of the Company Clerk, which in this kind of military unit is responsible for all the paperwork for the unit's tasks. Within a year it became obvious to the Company Commander that I was capable of directing all of the functions of the office and he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. I completed almost 3 1/2 years at this job, all the while also enrolled as a cadet in the ROTC program at Wheaton College. My whole purpose in joining this particular service component was to learn the Army paper work system. I certainly could not have chosen a better unit to learn this particular skill.
U.S. Army Active Duty - My first assignment after being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant at my graduation from Wheaton was to attend the Army Signal School at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. I had received a Reserve Commission at that time because the security clearances had not yet been completed for my Regular Commission. Even though I felt that I did not need to attend this school since it was not associated with my Regular Army assignment which was to come soon, I really appreciated the "learning" that I was able to accomplish at Monmouth. They covered every piece of electronic equipment that the Army had, how it was designed and operated, and how to fix it. Quite an education in electronics, including the newly emerging science of computers and how the Army planned to use them. About mid-way during the Signal Course at Fort Monmouth, the security clearance was completed and I was commissioned in the Regular Army and transferred to a combat arm, the Air Defense Command, headquartered at Fort Bliss, Texas. I graduated 5th in my class of 29 mostly made up of West Point graduates, so I was pleased with my accomplishment.
While finishing up the signal school, I received orders to proceed to Fort Bliss, Texas to begin the Army's Missile School, the Officer Basic Course for the Air Defense systems being employed in the continental U.S. I got in on the ground floor of the Army's use of guided missiles, a new term in the technical world. We got into radars, command and control systems, computer directed flight, and mantenance of missiles in preparation for their launch to destroy enemy bombers. Each Nike Missile site had three radars, a surveillance radar, a target tracking radar and a missile tracking radar. To connect all of them, a computer kept track of the designated target, the surveillance radar not only tracked the designated target, but also kept searching for other targets. Then the target tracking radar locked onto the designated target and followed it on its inbound course. The missile tracking radar was locked onto a missile in the launch area and when the launch command was given through this radar, the missile would take off and be directed by the computer to the target that was being tracked by the target tracking radar. For its day, it was a brand new technology and I was excited to be in on the beginning of this new technological world. I was very fortunate to graduate 3rd in a class of 57 at this school. My physics and math training paid off in a big way!
While in the last few weeks of the school, I received orders assigning me to be the Fire Control Platoon Leader at Battery B of the 865th AA Missile Battalion, located on the beach at Playa del Rey, California which is now located at the end of the long runways of LAX airport. At that time LAX was much smaller and the runways did not run that far. I was to soon learn that our Battalion had been chosen to train the first group of National Guard people to operate these NIKE sites throughout the U.S.
Every officer in the Battery was a Regular Army Officer, chosen to be in this target group to train these National Guard troops. This task lasted about 14 months after which we were assigned to other units in the Los Angeles Air Defense Sector.
I was subsequently reassigned to be the Battery Commander at a site overlooking Los Angeles where I commanded a staff of 250 officers and enlisted men and a whole contingent of missiles which were a part of the Los Angeles air defense system. When I received my assignment for this new job, the Commanding General of the Air Defense Sector called me into his office and briefed me on this new job. The battery in question was commanded by a Captain whom they had determined was not competent to be in that position. But he was a member of a minority and could not be easily replaced. My orders assigning me to be the Battery Commander had some unique sideshows attached to it. I had to go into the Battery and convince the Captain that I was there by the General's order, that he was to remain, but that I was to run the Battery. What a terrible position to put me into. I was a First Lieutenant at the time, and here was a Captain, a higher rank, that I was to command. Unique is putting it mildly to what I experienced in this job. But I got it to work. The Captain remained, didn't work much but maintained an office at the Battery, and once in a while came on the site to "inspect" to see how we were doing. Wow! Talk about learning something?
While on this assignment of duty, I was fortunate to meet a group of senior engineers who had come to visit my missile site from the Naval Missile Center at Point Mugu, California who offered me a position as a physicist/engineer at Point Mugu working for the Navy when and if I was to get out of the Army. Some 18 months later, I went to work for the Navy as an Engineer at the Naval Missile Center, Point Mugu, California.In the interim I received orders from Personnel at the Pentagon assigning me to go to Bremen, Germany to command a Nike Battery stationed there. That would mean working in a mobile environment since there were no permanent fixed missile batteries in Germany, a system that I knew would not work. I had already determined that the Nike System had been sold to the Army by some slick sales people at Western Electric, and with three or four men working for me, armed with .30-.30 rifles I could put the whole Los Angeles Air Defense Sector out of commission and that it would take no less than six months to fix the damage we could give out. I told my commanding officers as much and they listened! The Nike System was remvoved from the active Army list of weapons soon thereafter. Not because of me, of course! But by then I had separated from the Army!! I resigned my commission to get out!
Active Duty Assignments
Army Officer's Hat Insignia
The Officer's hat insignia, the 2nd Lieutenant's bars and the crossed cannons with the guided missile in the center were three things that awaited Dick when he graduated. His security clearance was delayed because it was necessary to do a background check in Panama before it could be awarded, so Dick went on active duty not wearing the crossed cannons and missile of his Regular Army Commission, but wearning the crossed signal flags of the Signal Corps.
Crossed Cannons and Guided Missile Air Defense Command
Signal Corps Lapel Pins
He was commissioned with two separate commissions, one for the Regular Army and one for the Reserve Corps. He actually entered on active duty one day after graduation, and a month or so later, his security clearance was approved and he was recommissioned an officer in the Regular Army with the crossed cannons and missile.
2nd Lt. Richard Holt was issued an Army Serial Number for his Reserve Commission. Then when the security clearance was completed, he received a Regular Army commission and an appropriate serial number for this. It did not cause any problems, but for Dick he benefitted for he was assigned first to go through the Signal Corps school at Fort Monmouth, N.J. and then at the completion of that schooling, to go to Fort Bliss, Texas to attend the Surface to Air Missile School. Two excellent schools and he would not have gotten the one if his clearance had come as expected.
The Signal School gave Dick an education on almost every piece of electronic equipment in use in the Army at the time. This class was composed entirely of Regular Army officers, all but three graduates of West Point. He did well at this school graduating in the top 1/3rd of the class. His training at his second schoool, the surface to air missile school at Fort Bliss, gave Dick an education in-depth of the radars, computers and missiles in use in the Army at the time. At this school, Dick graduated 3rd in a class of 57 officers.
Dick & Rusty my Running Buddy
Even while awaiting orders to continue with my special training, I had a lot of preparation to do with my body to get it ready for this training. My first assignment after finishing the Signal and then the Air Defense officer specialty schools for the branch training, my next goals were to attend the Army jump school at Fort Campbell, KY and the Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, GA. I was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas during my advanced surface to air missile school and had a lot of time between classes and weekends to run to get in shape. I decided I needed a buddy to run with me, so a local German shepherd pup dealer had a beautiful one year old male pup for sale which I fell in love with quickly and took him home with me. He became my buddy for running the long lonely miles on the desert around Fort Bliss, where I had to run to get in physical conditioning. Rusty was his name, and he loved to run. He would go off into the desert to chase rabbits but he always came back to me. I continued to do this for almost six months, running 5 - 15 miles at a time without taking breaks, getting ready for one of the toughest schools the military had at the time. I attribute a lot of my success in getting through ranger school to Rusty who always stuck with me and ran all the same miles that I ran.
Nike Ajax Surface to Air Missile Assignment - Playa del Rey, California
My primary assignment in the Army was to be a Fire Control Officer in the Army's newly deployed Nike air defense units. I was assigned to the 865th AA Missile Battalion as a Fire Control Officer after completing the school at Fort Bliss, Texas. As such I had learned all about the entire battery operation, the radars, fire control computer and the missiles. I reported to Battery B located right on the beach in Playa del Rey, considered by some to be a choice assignment. I had about 40 men under me consisting of some three warrant officers, a platoon sergeant and radar and computer operators and maintenance men. They had all been carefully selected for their assignment based on tests given to them and how well they had done in the schools they had to attend before reporting to the unit.
Our battery was located adjacent to Westchester High School in Playa del Ray and this provided a lot of attention getting from both sides of the chain link fences that separated the school from the Army property. Now, in 2013, the school is still there, but the area where our battery was located and where the missiles were also located is all gone and in their place are luxury apartments. Alas, a time gone by!!
I found out after reporting that we were in the process in this unit of training California National Guard troops to take over the sites relieving the regular Army people to other assignment. This was to take about 18 monts of my military life.
Nike Ajax missiles being raised to the firing position on their launch pads
At the completion of the transfer of our unit to the California National Guard, I was transferred to a site which had its radars and fire control system on top of Magic Mountain overlooking the City of Los Angeles, and the firing area on the other side of the mountains towering above the city, in Soledad Canyon. I was to assume the duty as the Battery Commander of that site.
As with other Nike sites, we were self sufficient, with our own mess hall, barracks and all the vehicles we needed to conduct our operational responsibilities. Our food purchases were made by the mess sergeant at Edwards Air Force Base or in the local economy. The battery headquarters was located at this site in Soledad Canyon. Now that site is just off the freeway going between the San Fernando Valley and Palmdale. But in those days, we had only a two lane road to travel back and forth to where we had our private quarters in the Valley. All of our technical support was from Fort MacArthur which was located on the opposite side of Los Angeles from where this battery was located. Most of that support came to us delivered by helicopters from that site. The Battalion HQ and the Brigade were both located at Fort MacArthur, which is adjacent to the City and Port of Long Beach.
Special words on the circumstances surrounding my transfer to another unit in the Los Angeles Air Defense Sector: I had begun thinking about a military career while I was still in college. Those thoughts continued for the first year and a half of my active duty time. It didn’t take long after this transfer of units in the 47th Artillery Brigade for my thinking to be completely turned around. I had been assigned as noted earlier as the fire control platoon leader in a Nike missile battery located in Playa Del Rey, a suburb of Los Angeles. When I arrived at that battery they were in the process of training California National Guard troops to take over not only that site but others in the Los Angeles defense area as well. We completed the assignment after I had been in that battery for almost a year.
I was then reassigned, as I have already noted, to a battery located on the north side of the mountains surrounding Los Angeles. That assignment started wrong, beginning with a briefing I got from the Commanding General of the Brigade when he told me I was being assigned as the Battery Commander but he was not going to relieve the current Battery Commander who had been there for almost 2 years. This particular gentleman was a black officer who held the rank of Captain, and I was to work under him, but over him as well. I was a First Lieutenant at that time. He was to remain in the battery, but I was to be the Commanding Officer. That was not a good situation. The Captain had been found to be incompetent but was not about to be relieved of his assignment. Racial integration was just in its infancy in the military and this particular subject was handled very carefully. But the General had to do something with a Battery that was in terrible condition and needed to be made into an efficient unit. He thought I could do that even with my reservation about the conditions I would have to work under. I wasn't sure!
This particular battery was isolated not only from the city, but from all other Army installations as well. Our Brigade Headquarters was located in San Pedro, California, south of downtown Los Angeles. It was a two hour drive from our location to our Headquarters. That was also the location of the nearest commissary or post exchange, making it impossible for our troops, enlisted as well as officers, to take advantage of those two facilities. Our next best bet was to drive to Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert which again was about a two hour drive from our location.
Another feature of the location of this battery was the distance from the missile launch pads and the battery administrative area to the radar and fire control location which was on the top of Magic Mountain. The Administrative area was located just off the highway leading to Palmdale, CA, in Soledad Canyon. The route between the two sites was a difficult 45 minute mountain drive between the two locations. We were also located more than a one-hour drive from where the homes assigned to married personnel in the San Fernando Valley were located. This situation created all kinds of marital strife which in turn affected the operation of the unit. It affected me personally. It resulted in me having to send my wife back to her folks in Cicero, Illinois because I was never home once I got this assignment. I lived at the Battery and had my own room there. I did not have the time to go home.
We had sleeping quarters for about 20 people up on top of the mountain for those troops that had to stay there for extended periods of time during our alert status. We also had a mess hall at that location. We had sleeping quarters in the missile launch area in an underground area well protected where the troops that would be responsible for rolling out the missiles in an actual alert had to spend their time. In addition to these two locations we also had a large barracks area in the administrative area of the battery located in Soledad Canyon. LIving conditions were not very good for anyone.
We operated our own large mess hall in the Administrative area and I had a Mess Sergeant who was responsible for the purchasing and preparation of all the food fed to the battery. We took care of all the "kitchen police" jobs since this was before the Army decided to hire out this kind of work to contractors. The Mess Sergeant had to do the shopping in either civilian stores, at the Army mess supply at our Brigade Headquarters or at Edwards Air Force Base, so there was constant travel required by these people to keep the battery supplied with food. This alone was a major task!
We had our own supply room and this required a Supply Sergeant who kept every kind of supplies that could be used throughout the battery, including all the clothing worn by the troops. He was also responsible for all the small arms and ammo used for defensive purposes.
We ran our own laundry and that required troops to do that task. We contracted with a local seamstress to take care of all the adjustments to uniforms when they were required.
On payday we also took care of collecting the payroll from the central facility at Brigade Headquarters and bringing it back to the battery, and then paying all the enlisted personnel in cash. That was the way the Army took care of pay in those days. One of my officers was the Pay Officer who did that job as additional duty.
The Army had spent all kinds of time and money training me for very special assignments other than the one with the missile battery. Even though I had a full-time job managing 250 officers and enlisted personnel, the Pentagon still thought I should be able to fulfill some special assignments that needed to be done away from my full-time job. This created an intolerable situation for me! The Army had done away with all Ranger and Special Operations Forces after WWII, so the troops that were trained to be in those kinds of operations were actually members of regular army units, and they had to be recalled and retrained as required to perform special assignments. That is what happened in my case.
I was 23 years of age when I reported for duty with this missile battery. Even though I had had some management responsibility, what was required to manage this many people proved to be difficult! I had the total responsibility for the security/defense of both the administrative area, the missile launching area and the fire control area, and these three locations were defended by armed guards around the clock. They were all my people. And they had additional jobs besides being guards. We had as many as 60 surface-to-air missiles, their warheads, and all the fuel they required for the boosters and the main missile. Having armed guards on duty was absolutely necessary but that created all kinds of new situations on these remote units like mine that I also had to be concerned with. Shooting at coyotes at night was one of the most common problems. I even had a terrible experience of one guard committing suicide because he was despondent about having gotten a local girl pregnant. I was the one that had to go into the guard shack, identify the body, call the Army criminal investigation people and the local police. Then we had to take care of the clean-up after the investigation was complete. Having to contact his family was also my job.
We were located in a civilian community with the nearest homes to the administrative area and the missile launching area not more than 2 miles away. None of those civilians wanted a missile battery located in their backyards, a unit that had explosive warheads for its missiles, fuel for the missiles, and fuel for the vehicles of the unit. They imagined all kinds of serious situations taking place that would endanger their families. This created an untenable living condition between the Army and the local civilians. It was my job as the Battery Commander to conduct friendly briefings for the civilians in the community. It was a constant thorn in the side!
Having this many military personnel located right in the community created other situations that required extensive liaison with the civilian population. Parents with teenage daughters were concerned about military people mixing with their youth. The young soldiers in our uinit needed some recreation - they couldn't stay on site all the time, so problems ensued! Fights between the local high schoolers and our troops were common, especially when both sides were drinking alcoholic beverages in bars in the local towns. This was especially critical when it came to the mixing of the races. A black enlisted man trying to date a white teenage girl created some tense situations. And when a white teenage girl became pregnant with a black enlisted man, that almost created warlike conditions, and I had some of these to settle! As the Battery Commander it was my job to handle that kind of situation as well. I was all of 23 years old through much of this time. I had never been exposed to this type of thing.
Another distraction to having a missile battery located in the community was the boosterimpact area required if a missile were to be launched. If we were to fire a missile at incoming enemy aircraft, the two-stage rocket, which was boosted at takeoff by a large booster, would continue on to the target and the booster, by then having done its job and discarded would have to land somewhere on the ground. Whether or not that booster was going to strike a home was the question. When the Army was told to build these missile defense sites in the civilian communities, I doubt that the planners even thought of this situation, and if they did they quickly forgot about them. But we who lived in the civilian community and tried to operate the sites were made well aware by the civilians of the danger of this situation.
I spent a good bit of my time giving talks in the high schools and community centers on the aforementioned subjects.
I did not count on this being a part of my military career especially at this early stage. But I have to admit that I learned a lot especially about things that I would’ve never encountered in any other career.
I was fortunate to have been gifted with superb Non-Commissioned Officers and Warrant Officers that made my job much easier! My Executive Officer, another First Lieutenant was a West Point graduate and was super. I had a very sharp 2nd Lieutenant as my Launcher Platoon Leader and another sharp 2nd Lieutenant as the Fire Control Platoon Leader, so it made my job much easier having these competent people around me. And they were all very supportive. Some of these people had been with me in the Battery in Playa del Rey. At the end of my first year as the Battery Commander we were selected near the top of the batteries in the Los Angeles Air Defense Sector.
These three years of my life were very educational, and I don’t think I could have received that type of education anywhere else. For this I am thankful. If I had stayed in the military I would have thrown away my college education in science. I could not see this was a worthwhile trade-off! Now 55 years later, I think it was the best decision I could’ve made! God was with me even then and helped me with this decision.
The Door Opens for my future outside the Army
It was while I was on duty at this site that we were visited by a group from the Naval Missile Center at Point Mugu on the ocean next to Oxnard, California. The group was to do some testing with the Nike system at Point Mugu and wanted to know what our site safety requirements were and how we went about our business of firing these missiles. During this visit, the lead engineer, a senior manager at Point Mugu, offered me an opportunity to go to work at the Naval Missile Center if I ever decided to leave the Army. Almost two years later I was to take him up on the offer.
The fuel and explosives were the key to the visit. I am not really sure why my site of which I was the Battery Commander was chosen for this visit except that the Battalion Commander, Col. Vaughn was totally impressed with the site and what we had done to turn this once terrible site into the top battery of the 16 batteries in the Los Angeles Air Defense Sector. Col. Vaughn even came with the group on that visit.
The Navy was about to set off on a course to install a complete missile site for Nike testing at Point Mugu, and they wanted to see how the Army had done this at one of our sites. The purpose for the setup at Point Mugu was to establish a test area for Nike missiles shooting down ballistic missiles that were to be launched from Vandenberg AFB toward Guam and Wake Islands. I cannot remember if the purpose for the Nike's was for defensive safety or for some offensive role for these missiles. The Navy wanted myself and my key officers and enlisted staff to come to Point Mugu and help them establish the site there. That was my introduction to the Navy and its work in missiles, be they surface-to-air types or air-to-air.
Special Assignments outside of the Nike System
The special assignments that I mentioned earlier took me into locations and situations that I also had not planned on. I got to see up close and firsthand the Civil War in the country of Guatemala. I got to see firsthand the inhumanity of mankind, and how cruel one man could be to another. People were butchered in Guatemala by its own military, and this military was supported by the United States with both advisors and weapons and the ammunition for those weapons. The Guatemalan military was on a campaign to rid Guatemala of the Maya Indians who were accused by wealthy American businessmen of being communist and trying to take over lands and property that the Americans said had been given to them by the Guatemalan government. Both the Secretary of State and the Attourney General had been legal reps for the United Fruit Company at one time, and the President's secretary (President Eisenhower) was the wife of the Public Affairs Officer for United Fruit as well. Some tight situation, and they were all reading the same playbook. The same businessmen had bribed their way into this country, and other countries in Central and South America as well, and had become very wealthy at the expense of the common man in Guatemala. The name of the company was the United Fruit Company, primarily a banana growing concern, but also heavily involved in running many of the functions of the country. I got to see this firsthand, and didn’t like it. I got to see how treacherous the American government could be, especially our State Department. Anyone that cares to learn more about this situation can go on the Internet and asked Google to search on “Civil War in Guatemala”. Be sure to read this to get an idea of how these poor people in Guatemala were killed by the thousands and accused of being communists. They weren't!! Just wanted their land back!
The United Fruit Company which was involved in the growing and selling of bananas all over the world, was into the Guatemalan government in a big way. In return for large bribes given to the Guatemalan officials by United Fruit, the Government of Guatemala gave them the rights to grow their banana plants all over the country, at the expense of people who lived on the land. Those people were the poor Mayan Indians who were trying to survive. The Mayan people lost their land and were forced to live on land that would not support the growing of crops to keep them alive. A party to all of this was our own CIA. Another participant from the United States was the State Department. They brought in the Army of the United States to provide consulting services to the Guatemalan Army along with arms and ammunition of all kinds to carry out campaigns against the Mayan Indians. The Indians were slaughtered by the thousands. And entire villages were killed by the Guatemalan Army which was in turn supported by United States Army.
Someone in the United States Army was wise to what was going on and under the table unbeknownst to the State Department, special operations troops were assigned to assist the Mayan Indians in how to stay alive. I unfortunately got caught up in this operation. The story is long and very ugly and I don’t propose to repeat it on this website, but suffice it to say it was bad enough to cause me to make a decision to leave the employment of the United States Army. That came about at the exact time of the visit from the Navy engineers from point Mugu so the timing was not mine. I have often said that my life was full of many accidents during my professional career but I’m sure that this was no accident. God was working in my life without my knowing it.
What happened was the development of a resolve in my mind as a young man that I did not want to belong to a military that was under control of civilians in Washington that were greedy and seeking power at the expense of anyone else they could control. I changed my mind about becoming a career military man for the United States. This decision led me to turn in my resignation from the Regular Army of the United States, to complete my obligated tour of three years, and then to leave the service.
Click on pictures below for enlargement
Troops marching through a native village
The nation of Guatemala set between Mexico and El Salvador/Honduras