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Interview with Robert Brunckhorst [January 24, 2003]

Lori Varkony:

This audio cassette records the memories of Robert Bruckhorst as told to Laurie Varconi of Powell, Wyoming on January 24th, 2003 in Powell, Wyoming. Robert Bruckhorst was born September 20th, 1944 in Billings, Montana. He now lives in Powell, Wyoming. Robert Bruckhorst served with the Navy during Vietnam War. He obtained the rank as E-5, RD-2. Some of the locations associated with his service include West Pac Cruises three times, mostly in the South China Sea, and home port was San Diego, California. (Ms. Varconi (ph) questioner; Mr. Bruckhorst veteran.)

Lori Varkony:

Were you drafted or did you enlist in the Navy?

Robert Brunckhorst:

I enlisted in the Reserves when I was a junior in high school and then I reenlisted after my senior year at -- I went to boot camp in June 1963. And I went to RDA school after boot camp at Great Lakes. I went to the Fleet the first of May 1964. I went to the -- I went aboard the USS Barcel (ph) (DEA)-45 in May. We were at sea, went to West Pac in August 1964. I believe we were at sea, on the way over -- over to Viet Nam when the Maddox was -- was shot at. On our way over we were overflown by Russian aircraft. We were with the cruiser the USS Columbus and I can't remember how many destroyers. The first cruise to West Pac we lost two people, I don't remember the sail -- seaman's name. We lost second class bosun mate named Squatter (ph). What happened was we was operating with the carrier. The carrier came up on the RT nets. I worked in CIC. We manned the RT nets and all the radars and the scan equipment. Anyway, the carrier came up on the RT net, caught the man overboard. We immediately turned to starboard to turn around behind the carrier to pick the man up and it sent a wave over the top of the bridge with three bosun mates that were setting up the lifesaving equipment. One of them was grabbed by the lookout, and bounced around. He was -- he had broken bones. The other two went over the side, over -- overboard. We searched for 5 days, never found anything. That was -- that was at the beginning of my first cruise. That cruise we -- I remember being a screen for troop carriers. We operated in the Gulf of Tonkin. We were in the combat zone for 35 days, which gave us the expeditionary medal, which we received. We -- I do not remember doing any shore bombardment that -- that trip. We mostly worked with carriers.

Lori Varkony:

How did you get your medal?

Robert Brunckhorst:

We were in a combat zone.

Lori Varkony:

And that's why you got the medal?

Robert Brunckhorst:

For 35 days. If you're in a combat zone for 35 days, or you shoot, you have a shot, if you're shot at or you shoot at them, then you received at that time it was a combat medal. The -- we could trade -- and I went -- let's see. I did two other cruises. On both of those cruises qualified for Viet Nam service but you had to trade your expeditionary medal for the Viet Nam service. So what I should have is Viet Nam service with three stars, which means I was three times. However, what happened was someone stole several of the medals out of our compartment. I couldn't trade something I didn't have. I told the yeoman that I wanted the Viet Nam service medals, I never got them. I'd still like to have a Viet Nam service medal. I'm supposed to have a national defense medal also, which I never -- never received. Anyway, back to the -- what I did.

Lori Varkony:

And what was your job assignment?

Robert Brunckhorst:

CIC is where I was at and did -- we had -- the RT nets and contact with the rest of the ships. All your orders and everything came over the RT nets. We had surface search radar, we manned air search radar and vertical block for air. We had the RTs that we did. We had -- we had ECM equipment, electronic counter measures equipment, CIC. We did everything that the bridge wanted solutions for we did. We -- if we were in shore bombed and CIC is where we had the chart that pointed the guns. We also had a feed from the radar surface search I believe to the -- to the fire control. Sonar was just -- just behind CIC. CIC was directly behind the bridge. It was a room about this size. There was -- we had a complement of 28 radar men, that's what we had, which was a peacetime complement. A wartime complement was 33 to 35. Every time I went to South China Sea we worked port and starboard watches. We were on 12 hours a day, 12 off. Except if you're 12 hours off and it fell during the working day, then we worked on the -- then we worked also, so actually got about 4 hours a night sleep, or a day, whichever it may be. You're a walking zombie for about two weeks, and then after the two weeks you were then kind of got used to it and you knew better. (Chuckles) It was hard to function. The first cruise with the Barcel, I don't remember doing shore bombardment. We were in the Gulf. We had our radar pickup stations in the Gulf and we had -- one night we had a contact that was southeast of us, which we were sent to check out. And this contact moved away from us at a faster speed than we could go (chuckles) and so we called in an aircraft. It wouldn't answer any radio and the radio had nothing. So this aircraft come off, and it flew around this contact, and what it was was a Japanese freighter on a -- or a Japanese oil tanker which was on a shakedown cruise, but while the aircraft was flying around the tanker it got too low and it caught a wave and he went in and two, the copilot and the pilot got out alive and I think there was like three in the back and then we got one-half of a body is what we got out of the water.

Lori Varkony:

A half of a body?

Robert Brunckhorst:

The tanker just kept going. (Chuckles) He wasn't supposed to be in that area, I don't think. The second cruise, the highlights on it were -- well, the first cruise we were -- we went to the normal ports of call. We were in Subic Bay, Romapo (ph), the Philippines, we did Japan, Yakosuka. I don't remember if we had been to Souspoe (ph) or not. We went to Hong Kong, __, and other ports of call while we were there. The second cruise, the most dangerous thing that we did was that cruise. We were operating with a cruiser, and I don't remember the name, but we knew something was going to happen because there was a news team put on board our ship to take pictures and taken off when we went with a cruiser to just about the DMZ, North Viet Nam, and the cruiser shot at radar sites with the 12 inch guns, shore bombardment. We set between an island and the cruiser, __+ with the cruiser and there was a destroyer ahead of the cruiser, and there was a destroyer between North Viet Nam and the cruiser on the other side. And we set there and shore bombed them from 3 to 4 hours that they shot in that. When they went -- when we went to leave, the cruiser turned and went out and the inboard destroyer, the one that was ahead of it went out, and we turned and went to go. We secured from general quarters, and I ran back on the fan tail with several other guys to see what North Viet Nam looked like as a flight of Phantoms came in to bombard what the cruiser had just shot at and broke up, and they opened up on them. And this little island that we were setting next to looked like a porcupine for the guns. We set there for 4 hours. Alls they had to do was point the guns and shoot and they never shot a shot at us. One of the things that they -- we thought the reason that they didn't shoot was because armament or the steel they thought that the Barcel was a 22 50 series cannon, it had aluminum -- aluminum superstructure except for the front of the bridge was armored. They could shoot a shot through that aluminum with the 50 caliber machine gun. They didn't shoot at us, we were lucky. A lot of people thanked their lucky stars that day because we were sitting ducks. But anyway it didn't happen. So another thing in the second cruise that I remember, we were -- we were on a search and rescue. We were positioned south of Hi Pung Harbor, about 20 miles, 20 to 30 miles. We had -- we were in the line where the aircraft launched to North Viet Nam. We were to rescue pilots coming back that went in the water. We had two helicopters with us. We did that several times we were on that station. The helicopters usually picked up the pilots. But the other thing we were -- a lot -- another reason we were there, if the North Vietnamese came up, the helicopters, the rescue helicopters were not armed, and we were. Kind of slowed that down. There was a -- before we took that station there was a destroyer that had a person that emptied the garbage in the middle of the night and fell off and he ended up in Hong Kong, as part of the Hanoi Hilton. He was brought back, let's see, I think he was one of the flights that came in, he was like the second man that got off. He was -- he had to be in the Hilton -- he had to have been a prisoner of war for 6 years. He was a seaman with the crew. And one of the reasons I remembered that is because they decided that we didn't empty any garbage at night. (Chuckles) So -- but that's --

Lori Varkony:

Did you ever see him again?

Robert Brunckhorst:

Huh?

Lori Varkony:

Did you ever see him again?

Robert Brunckhorst:

It was not off our ship.

Lori Varkony:

Oh.

Robert Brunckhorst:

It was off the ship before us. But the warning was out, be -- be careful, if you fall overboard here, you end up in Hanoi.

Lori Varkony:

And you were never a prisoner of war?

Robert Brunckhorst:

No. No. No. No. No. No. We -- actually we -- we were pretty lucky because we pulled back. We'd go and shoot, you know, if we worked. We did have -- when we were doing shore bombardment in South Viet Nam we had three Vietnamese, Vietcong I guess, that tried to swim out to the ship with explosives, and we were just setting in the daytime, waiting to call in for -- to call for __ munitions or at night usually, and we just set there in the daytime just in case we were available for call. And these three guys were separated on the __ beach and came out, swam out to ship, and we called in a small craft and they went out. And I believe -- I heard later that they killed one and that they captured one. They had come next to us and they had seen the prisoner. He wasn't very big. (Chuckles) But we also worked with Australians on a shore bombardment trip. It was kind of a -- a normal routine. The third trip I went on I -- I had my choice, either I could sign on the Barcel for another trip overseas, or I could go to another ship, and I chose to go to another ship. So I went on board the USS Shelton New Year's Eve 1966 and we went to sea January 1st, 1967, and we spent 6 months over there. We did -- operated carriers, we did shore bombardment. The shore bombardment on the second and third missions made us eligible for a Vietnamese service medal, so like I said, I should have had three. The third mission I remember, one of the things that I remember is in the Gulf of Tonkin. The first cruise had had fishing nets that would come out, drift out in the ocean and that had three bamboo poles. The first cruise we went on we had went over these to destroy them. Then they thought that there could be a mine placed in those. (Chuckles).

Lori Varkony:

No mines.

Robert Brunckhorst:

So then we avoided those. It was kind of hard trying to catch those on surface search radar being three little poles sticking out of the water. Our minimum range was about 2000 yards. If they got under that, before they came, we didn't see them. That was -- that was interesting. We had a -- we had the VCM we had picked up make radar one time when they were in the Gulf of Tonkin. That was kind of a scare because, you know, they'd come out there and straight for you pretty rapidly if they wanted to. It never happened. We were -- we were pretty lucky.

Lori Varkony:

What about life on the ship, did you stay in touch with your family.

Robert Brunckhorst:

Yes. Let's see, I got married in -- when I was in service, November 16th, 1965, and I went overseas and wrote letters. My fam -- my mother and my father wrote letters back and forth constantly, and my wife and I corresponded. We got our mail sparsely. It depended on what we were doing. If we were doing shore bombardment we wouldn't get our mail until we worked with the carrier or we fueled, or something like this. And one of the problems that I had was my daughter was born May 10th, 1966 when I was in South China Sea. They were supposed to send you a radio message to let you know about the births. They didn't bother to send me a radio message. I was really upset because it was like 32 days when I got the letter from when they mailed it to me. And that was not cool (chuckles).

Lori Varkony:

What did your wife think?

Robert Brunckhorst:

Well, she knew I was where I couldn't reach her, you know.

Lori Varkony:

Oh, she probably wondered if you were okay.

Robert Brunckhorst:

Well, the worst was I got a letter asking for a divorce on that (third) cruise, when I was in the China Sea, I got that letter, too. And when I got back home in 1967, I got out of the service in June, I think it was the 28th, I went to Grand __, Oregon and got a divorce.

Lori Varkony:

Terrible. What about food on the ship?

Robert Brunckhorst:

Ah -- food was -- was fair. It was a lot better than the army (chuckles).

Lori Varkony:

Do you know this for a fact?

Robert Brunckhorst:

Yeah, I know that for a fact. We had -- well, both destroyers had -- they were pretty fair. We would have breakfast, have dinner -- lunch and dinner, and also mid __. If you were on a watch at midnight they -- you could get soup or -- there was usually soup that they served. I remember we had a cook on the Barcel for about 6 months, it was a chef. We ate good. Man, he was a cook. He was --

Lori Varkony:

For a hotel?

Robert Brunckhorst:

A hotel. The destroyer's squadron commander ate lunch on our ship (chuckles).

Lori Varkony:

Ah-oh.

Robert Brunckhorst:

He got transferred to his ship.

Lori Varkony:

Too bad. Too bad.

Robert Brunckhorst:

Then we got -- then we got a exboilermaker that was -- that was one of the cooks and he couldn't boil water in a boiler and he couldn't boil water and couldn't cook, either, I don't think, it was bad. (Chuckles) But he didn't last for a long time. Mostly the food was -- was fairly good.

Lori Varkony:

Did you get enough?

Robert Brunckhorst:

Oh, yeah. Yeah. Always had plenty to eat.

Lori Varkony:

Did you have plenty of supplies while on the ship?

Robert Brunckhorst:

You would run -- we never ever, I don't think, I don't believe we ever got supplies aboard from a supply ship. We got oil and ammunition is what we brought from the oil ships. We always restocked our supplies in port. And it was -- well, we had I can remember on some Sunday afternoons when we were doing shore bombardment, and we'd pull back and have a barbecue on the helo deck. (Chuckles). And I can remember one such barbecue when the captain invited the CO of whatever it was, the base or the division. It was -- you had the army there. He came out and he brought -- there was like several helicopters came out and -- and brought him and several more beyond those came for the barbecue.

Lori Varkony:

Nice.

Robert Brunckhorst:

We had steak.

Lori Varkony:

Wow.

Robert Brunckhorst:

It was good. I liked just about all the home ports -- or all the ports like __, __, the petty officers' club. They had gambling and they had food and they had (games). What?

Lori Varkony:

All the entertainment?

Robert Brunckhorst:

Yeah. We went to one of the few places that I can't -- I don't think, I don't remember any other destroyer going to, Veloelo (ph) in the Philippines, and we had to go up a river and we had to set and wait for the tide to come up so we could get over a reef to the river, and we went up there, and one of the things that I remember about that place was they had -- didn't have much refrigeration. We drank big red beer, Sam McGill, with tomato juice and ice. Because the beer -- they had no refrigeration for the beer. And we went to a movie in the movie theater, and I couldn't figure out what the noise was, the commotion was below us. And what it was was they had rats running -- now, the theater was like a bleacher inside, it was like a football game with bleachers and these rats were running back and forth taking, you know, things people dropped. And I'll never forget that. And we went to a -- a hotel there had a kind of a show and a singer. I remember that was really good. On the Barcel I managed a band that played at bars to different places when we were in port. They played -- they had, you know, several people who were musically inclined, and we did that for -- we did it in Manila Bay, and in Manila I remember doing it, we did it in Yakosuka (ph), and those were two places I know for sure they played.

Lori Varkony:

These were fellow shipmen?

Robert Brunckhorst:

American sailors that went out and played. Playing the guitars and drums is what we had.

Lori Varkony:

Wow. So it wasn't all bad.

Robert Brunckhorst:

No. We had -- we had some really good times. We were stationed shipped in Hong Kong a couple of times. We had __ shore patrol and in several of these places. I can remember doing the shore patrol in the Philippines, in Subic Bay when an Australian destroyer was there. And the Australian, we left them alone (chuckles), and they got drunk and stayed at one place and they got really drunk and we just left them alone there and __ (chuckles). They had a good time. So they weren't on -- that's what they were -- that's what I was told. I was -- I didn't draw the area that they were in, luckily.

Lori Varkony:

What about other soldiers or officers, did you get along with them well? Did you have any good friends?

Robert Brunckhorst:

We got along fine. Not a problem. We were a pretty close knit group.

Lori Varkony:

Do you still keep in contact with anybody?

Robert Brunckhorst:

I stayed in contact with a guy named Tom Dooley for, oh, a few years. He worked for TRW in Los Angeles and he was from Los Angeles, his parents both worked at Disneyland.

Lori Varkony:

Really.

Robert Brunckhorst:

And he got out of the Navy I think right after that second cruise or right thereabouts. I haven't stayed in contact with -- with the rest of them. I had a guy named Montelbono (ph) on my first ship that we were really good friends.

Lori Varkony:

You showed me a picture of him?

Robert Brunckhorst:

Yeah. And a guy named Phillips that was from Oregon that I was pretty good friends with. We were all good friends. As you can see in the book, we were a pretty close knit group there.

Lori Varkony:

Tell me about your book. It's almost like a yearbook.

Robert Brunckhorst:

It's a cruise -- a cruise book. I have misplaced the one, I had one from the Barcel, the second cruise that I took and I misplaced that one, but I have the one from the Shelton which pretty much tells the story of what we did. And has pictures of all the people.

Lori Varkony:

Actual pictures of everybody that was really there?

Robert Brunckhorst:

Yeah.

Lori Varkony:

Did you keep a personal diary?

Robert Brunckhorst:

No, I did not.

Lori Varkony:

Do you regret that?

Robert Brunckhorst:

No (chuckles).

Lori Varkony:

That's fair.

Robert Brunckhorst:

I didn't have time, we didn't have time then. By the time to get through writing through letters and communicating with your, you know, people and that, and how we were working. I called my ex, my wife from Subic Bay or from Japan after I had gotten the letter wanting a divorce. And that was interesting because it was in the middle of Shanghai where I called her. And it was good for her to get up.

Lori Varkony:

How long were you married to her?

Robert Brunckhorst:

We got married November of '65 and we got divorced in '67, June.

Lori Varkony:

Wow. Short-lived and you were probably gone most of the time.

Robert Brunckhorst:

Yeah. We got married and I went on a cruise, the second cruise. I went out right after that, and then we lived together when I came back, when I was back three -- three months before they transferred me to the Shelton.

Lori Varkony:

When you came back did you have to work at the base or did you actually have like all vacation time.

Robert Brunckhorst:

No. No. No, no, no.

Lori Varkony:

No vacation time?

Robert Brunckhorst:

You're on the ship, you've got your leave you can take, you got -- which is 4 weeks a year. But you -- if you're in port you have -- you have things you do in port. You have -- you stand watches. You have -- you're off two -- two days and you're on one. And then on the weekend, every third weekend you have, you're on -- you're on watch all the time for your duty weekend. You also go to sea and train. You have things like midshipman's cruises.

Lori Varkony:

And what is that?

Robert Brunckhorst:

Where the midshipmen come out, and you see how sea life is.

Lori Varkony:

And did you ever feel seasick or anything?

Robert Brunckhorst:

What?

Lori Varkony:

Did you ever feel sea sick?

Robert Brunckhorst:

My friend, Montelbono (ph) who was from New Orleans, they would pull the horn, beep, underway and he would turn green.

Lori Varkony:

Oh, gee.

Robert Brunckhorst:

He was terrible. (Chuckles). Packed a bucket all the time. I never ever got sea sick. Ever. The first -- the first cruise that we went on it was rough, we had all kinds of -- of typhoons and things that cruise, and one of the things that happened to us, I believe it was on the second cruise, we had -- we were on a storm evasion with a carrier steaming south and I came up with 14 radar contacts in the Gulf of Tonkin. And so they turned us around as soon as our -- our captain volunteered. The two destroyers turned around and went through the main part of the storm just to find out what these radar contacts were up in the Gulf, and they picked us up, we were steaming 500 yards apart, put us together, pulled us apart and we broke -- pulled a seam apart in our after boiler room, shut down two boilers. We came out of the, where it got -- got -- got better. They came with -- helicopters came up with structural engineers and they'd fly around and look at us but they wouldn't land (chuckles) on the helo deck. And we got to go back for Christmas. We were -- we were scheduled to be in for New Year's and out for Christmas, and the destroyer found that the 14 contacts were fishing boats. (Chuckles). And they turned us around and sent us back to Subic Bay and the other destroyer went with us, and we were in port for -- got in on Christmas Eve, so we got to spend Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year's Eve in -- in port.

Lori Varkony:

That's good.

Robert Brunckhorst:

And they decided that it wasn't that bad and they fixed it and welded it and -- and that was that.

Lori Varkony:

So it was an accident that got you home for Christmas.

Robert Brunckhorst:

Right. Got into port for Christmas, not home.

Lori Varkony:

Oh.

Robert Brunckhorst:

(Chuckles) A lot of difference.

Lori Varkony:

Yeah. Yeah.

Robert Brunckhorst:

And wound up going to the Philippines. It was different. (Chuckles).

Lori Varkony:

What about -- the day that your service ended, do you remember that day?

Robert Brunckhorst:

Oh, yes.

Lori Varkony:

What did you do?

Robert Brunckhorst:

I went and got a plane. (Chuckles) Got a plane and went to Grand __, Oregon.

Lori Varkony:

How did you feel?

Robert Brunckhorst:

Relieved. Good. One of the things that was -- you remember when Tet was in 1968? I was in -- I had been working for Xerox for less than a year, and I come into the office, I went to go to the office and went by my mailbox, the post office and my mailbox, and naturally Tet was all over the papers, all over, you know, all over the television. It had been going on. And in my mailbox was a big brown envelope, U. S. Navy and I was still in the Reserves. And I said uh-oh, I'm going to go back. Just as sure as heck that's what's going to happen, because they were short rated and they were able to pay us, we had a VRB 3, 3 times the normal reenlistment bonus.

Lori Varkony:

Wow.

Robert Brunckhorst:

If you signed over and were in a combat zone it would have been tax free. Well, anyway I didn't do that. (Chuckles). I got to the office and opened the envelope and it was my discharge, I was out, honorable discharge. And I was done.

Lori Varkony:

Wow. Did you go out and celebrate?

Robert Brunckhorst:

Oh, yes.

Lori Varkony:

So as soon as you got out of the military you pretty much went to work for Xerox?

Robert Brunckhorst:

I got out in June and I worked for my Dad for a month, he was a farmer. Partially. My friend that I grew up with from Columbus, Montana which lives in L.A. now, I go down to see him -- well, he lives in Chino, he had gotten out of the Navy a short time before, and we worked for my Dad for a month and then I applied for jobs in Billings and Xerox hired me and I'm still there.

Lori Varkony:

How many years have you worked for Xerox?

Robert Brunckhorst:

35.

Lori Varkony:

Wow. So you never went back to school or never went to college?

Robert Brunckhorst:

No, because I had child support. The other thing was, it was I was always going to go back but at the job I was making decent money, I was paid more than teachers were paid, so why should I go back and become a teacher for less money.

Lori Varkony:

But that's what you wanted to do was be a teacher?

Robert Brunckhorst:

No.

Lori Varkony:

Oh, you didn't want to be a teacher?

Robert Brunckhorst:

No. I was going into electronics. When I went into the Reserves way back when I was in high school my idea was to get into the electronics, and I was going to make that my career, which I did. And the R.D. school put me into my career and I've been there. I've done some college courses, in things I like, photography, (chuckles), things like that.

Lori Varkony:

Wow.

Robert Brunckhorst:

Anything else there?

Lori Varkony:

Let's see. Did your military experience influence your thinking about war or about the military in general?

Robert Brunckhorst:

Yes, it did.

Lori Varkony:

Good or bad?

Robert Brunckhorst:

Well, the military is -- got its good -- good points and its bad points. I was told by several people when I got out on the Shelton that I would be back, (chuckles) that I was a lifer at heart (chuckles).

Lori Varkony:

Wow.

Robert Brunckhorst:

They were wrong. I didn't go back.

Lori Varkony:

That was good, they liked you enough they wanted to keep you.

Robert Brunckhorst:

Well, they talked to me several times when we were overseas in the combat zone to ship over because that would have been like $10,000 tax free. And -- but I didn't want to do that. I wanted to be in electronics, work in electronics, and port and starboard watches got to me. Being at sea, you know, you're married and you pull out, even if you're in -- in your home port, you go out to sea for two weeks or three weeks and come back, you're gone more than you're home. You can't have any kind of a family life doing what I was doing. And it was -- it was hard. It wasn't easy.

Lori Varkony:

And your daughter?

Robert Brunckhorst:

Uh-huh.

Lori Varkony:

Did you get to see your daughter a lot?

Robert Brunckhorst:

No.

Lori Varkony:

While you were on active duty you hardly saw your child?

Robert Brunckhorst:

I came back from overseas, got married in November, she was born in May. In May she -- I came back, we moved -- I went and got her and __+, and moved her to San Diego, and we were in San Diego for about a month, maybe two. And the ship went to dry-dock in Maire (ph) Island, Bolayo (ph), California. And my brother came down and moved her, because I went up on the ship, and he went down and moved her up with a U-Haul trailer, and we lived in military housing then and I was -- while we were in the yards, I worked a lot of (?hard hat?) shore patrol.

Lori Varkony:

I guess that's hard.

Robert Brunckhorst:

You don't -- you don't -- it's not a family -- a family type life. My friend Phillips got out -- he got out, he was a three year -- a three year person, that was '93 on the Barcel. He got out after the second cruise. And we went into the yards. And about a month later, here he come, he was married, he had gotten married and reenlisted.

Lori Varkony:

Oh, no.

Robert Brunckhorst:

Yeah (chuckles).

Lori Varkony:

What about military organizations or veterans groups, are you involved in any of them?

Robert Brunckhorst:

I got the VFW, I'm a member of. I started a charter -- I was a charter member of a Billings post which my uncle, myself -- no, two uncles and myself became instrumental in getting it started. That was the second post in Billings.

Lori Varkony:

Wow. Are you still really active?

Robert Brunckhorst:

No. (Chuckles). My job has been such down here that I haven't had the real time. I was gone for two years.

Lori Varkony:

Do you belong to the VFW in Powell?

Robert Brunckhorst:

I belonged to the VFW in Powell for two years. My membership expired I think in I would. And I've got to go back and do it. The meetings are on a Monday night and it seems like Monday nights is when I'm traveling or gone so I have a real hard time with that.

Lori Varkony:

What about reunions?

Robert Brunckhorst:

What?

Lori Varkony:

Reunions? Did you have any reunions with your military?

Robert Brunckhorst:

No.

Lori Varkony:

People that you that you worked with --

Robert Brunckhorst:

I have never -- I have never heard of any. If there has been, they haven't gotten back to me. I would have __ that the two ships that we were on were probably scraped. They were both 22 52s, destroyers. Both were __. But they were out of date when we were on there. (END OF SIDE ONE, TAPE ONE; BEGIN SIDE TWO, TAPE ONE.) MS.

Lori Varkony:

Recorded on January 24th, 2003 in Powell, Wyoming.

Lori Varkony:

We were talking about reunions which Robert says he had never attended or heard of any reunions.

Robert Brunckhorst:

Yeah. I'm hoping they -- I'm going to start looking for on the Internet some of the people that I knew back then. I -- I associated with Gary Dooley which was another guy from the Barcel, served on the Barcel, and then I associated with him, oh, a few years after. I had been training in L.A. and -- and I got to see him. But then they changed our training at Xerox to Leesburg, Virginia, so I didn't get back there. There was a person I went in with, D'Horaira (Ph) was the guy's name, I went through boot camp with. He was a medic and before he was a medic he was stationed in Viet Nam, I don't know how -- how long, but when I got out, him and I got out together, and we spent two weeks there (chuckles) B.S.ing. We had a good time. He was married. He was from Idaho and I can't remember what town in Idaho. I'm going -- I'm going to try and look him up.

Lori Varkony:

Is there anything else that you'd like to share?

Robert Brunckhorst:

I think that should do it.

Lori Varkony:

Well, thank you for sharing all of your recollections with us. MS.

Lori Varkony:

That concludes the interview with Robert Bruckhorst.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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