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Interview with Alfred Robert Abboud [11/10/2017]

Thomas Sbertoli:

Well, today is November 10, 2017. And we're here for the Veterans History Project interview for the Library of Congress. And we're going to interview today A. Robert Abboud, A-b-b-o-u-d. So that's A. Robert Abboud. And my name is Thomas Sbertoli, S-b-e-r-t-o-l-i. I'm an attorney in Lake County, Illinois. I'm also a former Marine veteran. And our court reporter is Donna Urlaub. And Donna's husband is actually here too, David.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And he's a Marine.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And there you go, he's a former Marine, too; so we got this place cornered. And Bob was in the United States Marine Corps, served in Korea. He went in, I think as a lieutenant, but came out as a captain.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, I was commissioned a second lieutenant and then was made a captain in 1953.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. And he served -- how many months were you over in Korea, Bob?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

In Korea, and I'm going from memory now, it was either eleven or twelve months. Depending on the draft, it was either the -- I think it was the April '52 draft, the replacement draft that went over, and then I came back in May of -- late April or early May of '53.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And then, Bob, how did you get directed to the Marines Corps? When did you first join them and how were you trained initially?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, I went in the NROTC. In the NROTC, in your first year, you got naval history and so forth; and then I believe in the sophomore year you have to make a decision as to whether you want to go in the Marine Corps or stay in the Navy. And I chose the Marine Corps. I had served for 90 days on the USS Macon, and they had the ships there where you're eight hours on and four hours off, and it was all time night. And they put us over the side chipping paint on the ships --

Thomas Sbertoli:

This was during the summer.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

During the summer. 1948, summer; the summer of '48.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And you were attending Harvard University.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

I was attending Harvard University. And under the Holloway program, which was the NROTC program, you had to serve every summer between your freshman/sophomore, sophomore/junior, junior/ senior. And so you go for 90 days on active duty, and you go as a midshipman. And it was really great. We went to the Mediterranean. And my job was up on top of the mast up there where we -- there was a fellow beside me that turned the cranks that moved the 8-inch gun sideways, and I was the pointer that moved them up and down. And we'd get our orders, and we'd go out and we'd practice. And those 8-inch guns would go off broadside, and that whole ship would go 30, 40 feet sideways.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Now, would you have been able to have gone to college, university without this program?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

I could not. We could not have afforded it. And even though I had scholarships from -- I went to a school called Roxbury Latin School, which was founded in 1645.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Where was that at?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

In West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And that was your secondary school.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

That was my secondary school. And it's the oldest continuously functioning secondary school in the country.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Now, were you first or second generation?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

My mother came from Lebanon in 1920, but my father was born here.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay. Now, your father, in fact, didn't he attend MIT, I think?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

He went to MIT, and he also was the beneficiary of somebody who provided a scholarship there. And so he graduated from MIT in 1922.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Now, when you were at Harvard, I think you just mentioned to me you were also wrestling there too, right?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah; I was on the wrestling team both as a freshman and varsity, and wrestled varsity -- freshman one year and varsity three years.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And then in the summers --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And I played football, too.

Thomas Sbertoli:

You played football at Harvard, too.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

But during the summer --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Today I can't play that because I'm too little.

Thomas Sbertoli:

But during the summers, as part of the Marine training -- or, actually, the Navy ROTC, you were going off to different venues, and one of them, too, didn't you go down to North Carolina or South Carolina?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, the second year we went to Pensacola, Florida -- I believe it was the second year -- to Pensacola, Florida, for naval aviation.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. To try and expose you to that.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Exposed to naval aviation and how it could be integrated fundamentally both at sea and on land. And then, having chosen the Marines Corps, in between the junior and senior years, I went to Little Creek, Virginia, where we did amphibious training.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Now, upon graduation -- when were you commissioned? In college, or actually when you graduated?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No, no, when you graduated. That's what that picture is in the book.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. And today Robert brought with him a binder. And before we proceed any further, I want to tender something to you, Robert. There's a medallion here, honor coin, that part of the Lake County Veterans History Project is presenting to all of the people who partake in that. We'd like you to have that. We're very proud to have you as part of this. We hope that kind of strikes some memories. There was a lot of photos taken out there today. I'm going to send some of them to you from my phone. But you're going to get a formal copy of that photograph and the different ones that were taken out there also. So we'd like you to have this memorabilia. You've also received an envelope of numerous cards and letters from the local grade school kids. I think that's pretty moving, and I love handing that out every year. And on top of that, we're just proud to have you here, and thank you for taking it.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Thank you. This is a beautiful memorabilia here, this lovely coin, red white and blue. God bless those colors.

Thomas Sbertoli:

It's the minimum that we can do on this for your participation.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And it's an honor to be here, I've got to tell you, it's an honor to be here with all of those veterans. I mean, that's what makes America great. I mean, I am always in awe of the veterans and those who served in every period of our history. And I'm only sorry now that we don't have a draft so that everybody can participate or should participate.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Some mandatory service so they get exposed to the fact that, you know --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Absolutely. And do public service. I mean, go to the Peace Corps, go do medical help, or hospital --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

-- in neighborhoods that need it.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And community service or something. But you should -- to be a shareholder in this country, you should do service.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. I agree with that wholeheartedly. Now, after you got out of college, so immediately -- so how long after you graduated did -- what did you do immediately next for the Marines? What did you do?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No, no, we graduated, and in Harvard, in those days, we graduated in uniform.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And you got -- you walked over to the professor of naval operations, and they pin the bars on you, and then you go and you have two weeks --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Leave?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

-- leave, and you report immediately to Quantico.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay. And then how long were you at Quantico?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

So you go to Quantico, and I forget the number of days, but maybe it was 60 days or 90 days; and then from there I was assigned out to Pendleton.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. So you started at Quantico, Virginia, and that's where the Marine officers go.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

To the Marine -- basic school.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Basic school to get their infantry training as a platoon leader.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

As a platoon leader. And then to Pendleton, and where you would do -- had combat training.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Now, what year is this now?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And this is 1951.

Thomas Sbertoli:

All right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And this is the fall of '51. You go to Pendleton. And then, while at Pendleton, you go for two weeks up to your place, Pickel Meadows.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. And that was up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

That was in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. And the snow was eight feet deep.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. That's the winter warfare training camp for the Marine Corps.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Right. And at that time, the combat in Korea was that the North Koreans would come and attack in the middle of the night during the cold weather, and you had to learn to rip open -- they had these fast open sleeping bags -- and you had to rip them open, you had to sleep with your piece, your weapon with you, and so that you could do it. So at Pickel Meadows we practiced that where they would come in the middle of the night blowing their -- you're out there sleeping in the snow, and they blow the horns --

Thomas Sbertoli:

The bugles and the --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

-- and they'd come out and bang on the bells and stuff, and so forth. You have to jump up and do it. And so we were trained.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So that was two glorious weeks, and you had eight foot of snow there?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, we had eight foot of snow. And it was cold; it was wet. And at that time we did not have the insulated boots.

Thomas Sbertoli:

The Mickey Mouse boots?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

The Mickey Mouse boots, we didn't have those.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Mickey Mouse boots were these huge rubber boots, which you might remember, that when you put them on, you looked like Mickey Mouse. But they were warm.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

They were warm. We had the old leather boots. And you had basically two pair of socks, and that, you know, as you sweat and they got wet, and you took them off, and you put them in under your uniform next to your chest to dry while you wore the dry ones, because otherwise -- and everybody was getting frostbite when we were in Korea because we had leather boots and wet socks.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So they didn't have warm boots over in Korea.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So after you got done with that training at Pendleton and Pickel Meadow, which is up on the -- it's by Bishop, California, it's on the border of California and Nevada, then did you go right overseas, or what happened?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah. No, then they went down, and you joined the replacement draft April 1st or something of '52, and you sail. And it took about a week to go across the ocean. Of course, you were assigned a platoon on the ship.

Thomas Sbertoli:

That's the first time that you met your group of men that you were going to lead?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No, no. No, this was different. They just put together people who were going, because we were all different things.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

But on the ship. And then we'd do drills on the ship. We'd get out on the deck, and you put your poncho out, and you field strip your M-1 and you put it together, and you field strip the machine guns and so forth. And you did training. We did get -- some of the officers that had served in Korea came there and began talking to us about the terrain and about the characteristics of the enemy and what to expect and so forth. We landed in Japan I think overnight.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Do you remember what area?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

It was in --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Yokosuka?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, Yokosuka. And that I think we had leave for overnight or something like that; we went out and raised hell. And then we got on and went up to Pusan.

Thomas Sbertoli:

That's Korea. So they took you right up to the Pusan perimeter.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Took us up to Pusan. And then you got your orders, and my orders were to go up the line. And Pat Robertson was there with me, and his father was a congressman, so he got orders to stay in Pusan. But --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Fortunate man.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

But I went up. And so you go up, and you join -- you go to a division, and then you go to regiment, and then you go to battalion, and then you get assigned down to your company. And I remember walking up on line to join the company, and the captain was there, they were in the middle of a firefight. And, of course, as a young brand new shave-tail, Lieutenant Abboud reporting. He said, Get over in the corner and sit on that crate, and don't get shot.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Don't get killed.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Now, you say he was in a firefight. Were they actually in combat right then?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, they were there. Incoming was coming in, and he was there with his man, you know, calling in orders and stuff. So he said, Here, here's Sergeant Vergopia, who was a tech sergeant. He's your platoon sergeant. He'll take you out to your platoon along the ridge line there. So we get out, and Vergopia is about 6 foot 4, and I was at that time 5 foot 6, you know, and he's like this. And we get out there and we're walking, he shoved me down into a trench. He said, If I were the lieutenant, I would stay out of the way of incoming. I said, I think that's a good idea.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So he heard it coming in and put you down?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, he knew. He was an old -- you know, he was an old veteran with a big handlebar mustache and so forth. So then we got out to where our platoon was, third platoon, and he said, If I were the lieutenant, I would put the machine guns up on that draw. I said, Sounds good to me, Sergeant. He said, If I were the lieutenant, I'd put the second squad over here. I said, Sounds good to me, Sergeant.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So pretty good to have these grizzled old enlisted guys.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, listen, those guys run the place. And they were terrific. And then we --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Did you know what happened -- who was your predecessor? Do you know anything about him?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, I forgot. I did know, but I've forgotten the name.

Thomas Sbertoli:

All right. But you were brought in there, and your platoon company and battalion was what?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

It was the First Battalion, Fifth Marines, and it was Baker Company, B Company. And we were the third platoon of Baker Company, First Battalion, Fifth Marines.

Thomas Sbertoli:

All right. And this exact location was where now that you took that --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, I think -- because, you know, what we'd do would spend 60 days on line, and 30 days in reserve. And, you know, the Marine Corps is always two up and one back.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And so we'd be up 60 days. And we were up, and I can't remember, it was during that 60-day period that the company was on line. Now, whether we had 30 more days to go or 40 more days to go or whatever. But, anyway, it was during that period. And then --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Was it a particular ridge or area?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah. We were moving up -- well, I got the --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Yeah, let's do that.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

We got the maps.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Now, you've given me -- brought a binder here, too, and we can take this and make this part of the record.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, right.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And there is a photo here of you. Was that before or after you went to Korea?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No, no, that was 1951. That's just as I got my bars graduating.

Thomas Sbertoli:

I don't see much on the chest there. A little different now.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

That was graduating from Harvard right there.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And then we have your DD214.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah. And then, during the summers, when I came back, there are DD214s for the 90 days I'd go on active duty, '54 and '55, to train reserve units that came down to Camp Lejeune, and they spent two weeks.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And these documents have a very succinct and concise history of when you got in, when you got out, your awards, where you basically were stationed, et cetera. So that will be good for the Library of Congress.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And then I had to retire from the Reserves in 1960, and I was released from standby Reserves in 1964.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay. So that was when you were -- were you inactive Reserve right before, or active?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, I was active Reserve till 1960, and then inactive Reserves from '60 to '64.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And you basically got out because I think you got sent overseas by an employer?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah. Well, I was with the First National Bank of Chicago, and I was in the International, and they asked me to go to Germany to open a branch in Frankfurt, and I couldn't serve in the Reserves. So I went abroad. And then from Frankfurt, I opened the branch in Beirut, Lebanon, and served there. That's why I knew Beirut and The Middle East.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. And it does say here, there's a blurb, it could have been from a newspaper; however, it says: During the closing days of the war -- you were 1st Marine Division from '52 to '53. During the closing days of the Korean War, saw action in the western sector of the front line, specifically at the Hook.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

That was an area. Nevada Complex. That was another area.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

The Three Fingers.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And Bunker Hill. Is that correct?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, that's correct. And that picture is in Bunker Hill.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And here it says you served with Lieutenant Allen Dulles, son of Eisenhower's CIA director.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And there is a photo here of all of you there.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, Allen -- I have to call and see if he's still alive. Allen was number one in his class in Princeton. And I knew Allen; we had debated against each other when he was at Princeton, I was at Harvard. And so I was in the company exec of -- Baker Company.

Thomas Sbertoli:

You have also a map here, which is a nice one, even though it's not the one you probably used over there, you have those later, but it does show the areas, the Hook at the top; Vegas, I think you were involved in that; Reno.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Bunker Hill.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Yeah, Bunker Hill.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And these were -- it was like a whole consecutive line.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Hill 229.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. That you were involved in the whole time you were over there.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Then there's your award for the Bronze Star. And so let's go back to the time frame. So you take over your company, and you -- right away you guys are in action. You rotate -- was it 60 days up front and then 30 to the reserve unit?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, the whole company, you know, the battalion, goes up. I happened to join them in the middle of a period when they were up on line. And then we went back in reserve, and we'd spend our 30 days, and then we'd go back at a different location.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. But when you're on line, you're in actual combat almost daily.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, yeah. And you're running patrols and so forth. And we went back up on line in July, and I was wounded on July 5th; their July 5th, our July 4th.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Let's talk about that. What were the circumstances of that? What were you guys doing?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, I was up on the Hook, and we had an outpost about 300 yards out in front of the line. And I had a reinforced platoon with a machine gun detachment.

Thomas Sbertoli:

When you say reinforced, that means you also had probably some other weapons?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah. We had some larger mortars and --

Thomas Sbertoli:

And 81s, probably?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

We had 81s, and we -- well, the 81s and the 60s, and as the map shows, I had the concentrations. We didn't have them with us.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

We were out 300 yards out in front of the line.

Thomas Sbertoli:

But you could call them in.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

I could call them in, and I knew where the concentrations were. And we had the scopes at that time, the infrared, so we could see. And, of course, it was our holiday, July 4th. So we attacked them on May 1st, their holiday, they attacked us.

Thomas Sbertoli:

They reciprocated?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

They reciprocated. I mean, everybody is an equal opportunity reciprocator. So I called back to Captain Barrett, whose picture is in there, Jim Barrett; he's also a Harvard graduate.

Thomas Sbertoli:

What time of day was the attack?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, this must have been about midnight. You know, it was dark. Midnight.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Did they usually attack at night, or day?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, no, it was night always. And I said, Send out some stretchers with ammo, and you can take back the wounded, which they did. But I could see them coming. So I lined up the BARs out in front.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Did you throw up flares, or what did you do to try and illuminate?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No, no, we didn't want to do that, because I wanted to bust up the attack, because they were coming in, and we could fire enfilade fire right down the line.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And you'd already set up your line of fire.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

We set up the fire. We had automatic fire. We were up on a, you know, on a hill.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

On a knoll. And so they came across, and they were doped up. So they'd come and --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Was it a formation, or a herd, or what was it?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, it was just a --

Thomas Sbertoli:

A wave?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

A wave. And they were coming across. So we were firing down there and firing down there.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Left and right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Left and right. And this guy came up. And we had the flak jackets. And the flak --

Thomas Sbertoli:

They were cut off at the shoulders.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah. So I got hit with a bullet, and it splattered into my shoulder. And Jim Barrett, who was back on the MLR --

Thomas Sbertoli:

MLR, explain --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

-- he got wounded and evacuated --

Thomas Sbertoli:

MLR, explain that.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Main line of resistance.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

That's the main line. And also, we had Bud Walter, who was in Corregidor and on the Japan Death March --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

-- he got wounded and evacuated. And so I was treated in the field. You know, we got the guys back, we broke up the attack and we got back. And so then, just by dint of seniority at that particular point, I became in charge of the company until they could bring in.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. When you got wounded that night, how long did that battle go on that night?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, it went on till dawn, till, you know, till light came.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Daylight.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And then they go back.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Now, were these Koreans, North Koreans or --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

These were Chinese.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Chinese. So these are Chinese coming in. And this is going on. When you got wounded, did you get wounded right in the initial combat or ...

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, we got wounded when they were trying to take over, because they had to take over our outpost.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

But we didn't let them do that. So I didn't come back in until dawn.

Thomas Sbertoli:

That's what I was saying. So you were out there several hours at a minimum.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

We had to be there, yeah. So we came in, I didn't know that --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Did you have a corpsman? Did he treat you right there?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, we had a doctor -- and this is an interesting story. We had a doctor with the company called Doc Robbins. Now, back in 1956, when my wife, who I was in law school, we didn't have any money, my wife was basically in a clinic, and my son, he's always late, and he was late, he wouldn't come. And so I went home. And so -- and my wife didn't like the doctor she had at the clinic. All of a sudden, this doctor came in, and he said, Abboud? He said, Was your husband in Korea? And she said, Yes. He said, Well, I took the bullets out of his shoulder.

Thomas Sbertoli:

How about that.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And he delivered my son.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And this is where now?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

This is in Boston.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So you actually had a full doctor out there --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

-- as opposed to just a corpsman.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, and he was terrific, because the doctors had the whiskey.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So he gave you some medicinal whiskey.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Now, he didn't get all of that bullet out, did he?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No. Some of it had -- well, they couldn't get some of it.

Thomas Sbertoli:

It was fragments. You had a lot of fragments.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

The fragments stayed in there.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. So you still have those today, I think.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah. That's good. But I think that's healthy for you.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Sure. Everything else we put in our bodies.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So that morning, though, did they then -- how did they -- now, back then they didn't medivac you on a helo, just get on a truck or a Jeep, or what?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No, no. They patch you up. I couldn't leave because we were short officers at that particular time.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So he patched you up and you --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Patch up, and you stay there, yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay. So we're talking you might have taken a couple of hours to let him pull some of the metal out --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

We went in there, they had what they -- kind of a field -- I forgot --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Field hospital?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

-- I don't remember; it was all the things were going on. And we went in there, and they take you in and they, you know, do that, and so forth, and they patch you up, and they put on a thing, and they -- stuff, and then they say, okay, suck it up, get back out there.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So the next day -- now, how much longer were you on the front line with that group before you went to the reserve front? After you got shot.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, for some time. I don't know, it was a number of weeks, I think, and then we went back in to battalion reserve.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So periodically the doctor would check the wound; if it had to be drained, he drained it.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, yeah. Well, he was with us all the time.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Oh, good. All right. So that was that. How long had you been there before you got shot?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, let me see. I arrived in April, and this was July 5th.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Oh, yeah, right, 4th of July. How can I forget that?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And you still remained over there for another eight months or something?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And then you continued on there. How did you then --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, that's when I became, you know, a company exec, and we have -- these were my platoon squad leaders.

Thomas Sbertoli:

This is the photo with most of the -- or a lot of them in white tee shirts.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

You're there with your fatigues jacket on, your shirt -- blouse, I'm sorry.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And then -- but how long were you there before they made you the XO?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, I forgot, but here I'm the XO, and it says --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Oh, here's a photo that was in the newspaper with Dulles. Was he there?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Does it have a date there?

Thomas Sbertoli:

Let's see. Unless you got it on the back. No, I'm not seeing it. But it looks like now it says: Arlington Marine holds conference. Marine Captain Gene M. Hoover, and they talk about Arlington Marine holds a pre-battle with his platoon leaders, command bunker overlooking bunker -- 168 is that?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah. On Bunker Hill.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Bunker Hill.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

There's -- I'm trying to get all the different ones here. Allen Dulles was a second lieutenant.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And Robert -- Captain Hoover, and First Lieutenant Robert Abboud from -- back then you were on Roxbury Parkway -- that's a famous area -- Boston, Massachusetts, headquarters. So at this time, though, were you actually --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

I was the company exec. Do they say that there?

Thomas Sbertoli:

I don't think they really did. It said platoon commander.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, okay. 1st lieutenant. See, I was 1st lieutenant; I was company exec.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. Now, how long were you the executive officer before you ended up becoming the company commander?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, I was 1st lieutenant, I stayed all the time I was there; and then in February or March of 1953, they made me company commander of headquarters company.

Thomas Sbertoli:

All right. And then how long were you in that position before you left Korea?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And then I was there probably 30 days, 35 days.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Now, back then, was there a set time frame that you had to go over before they rotated you back to the States?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, it was usually 12 to 13 months, and they had the regular replacement drafts.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay. Now, when you were in the Marines at this time, are you a regular Marine, or are you a Reserve Marine?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, I had a regular commission.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So you could have stayed in for 20 years.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So then they rotated you back to the States. Now, during that time, so it was like 12, 13 months, how much of that time do you think you were in actual combat either in that, you know, front line, or right behind the front line?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

I was there the whole time.

Thomas Sbertoli:

The whole time. And of those other platoon leaders that you started out with, what happened to those guys?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, some of them got rotated out. Dulles was evacuated out. I sent him out to an outpost. I mean, you know -- and this story is basically in his father's book called Dulles. He came out, and he was the machine gun officer in our company. I was the company exec. And Hoover had just joined the company, so he was fresh. I was kind of the -- you know, I'd been around a while, so I was there. And so we had to have on this -- we had a reverse slope defense on this outpost. And we didn't have an officer sent out there. Lieutenant Dulles came to me and he said, he said, Bob, he said, it's my turn. I'm going to go out there. I said, Allen, I can't send you out there. Your father's head of the CIA. What happens if you get captured? And he said, I'm a Marine Corps officer, and it's my duty, and I'm going to go out there. And I said, Oh, jeez, okay. All right. But don't get hurt. So he goes out, and I'm up in the OP looking out --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Observation post.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

The observation post. And all of a sudden on the radio there's a corporal with him, and he said, Lieutenant Dulles has been hit. And then I uttered some expletives, and they went down and got a fire team. Now, this is in broad daylight.

Thomas Sbertoli:

A fire team would be five?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Four.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Four or five?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Four people. And this is in daylight, and we have to move out across a ridge line out to the outpost. And so we go out there, and I found him, and, God, you know, half his head in his helmet.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Was he hit with rifle fire or mortar or what?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, he came out that -- we at first said they had barbed wire out in front of the post --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Position.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

-- position, and the Chinese had ruptured it. So he went out to fix it, of all the stupid things. And then he got some -- drew some incoming because Nevada was sitting there right down -- looking right down our throat.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And they could see. And it's noon. And --

Thomas Sbertoli:

So they saw him come out of his position, they immediately called in fire.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, they called in fire, and he got hit. So we went out, we put him on the stretcher.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And he had a serious head wound.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, he got half his head taken off. I didn't think he was going to live. And we brought him in, and they medivac'd him out, brought him in the line, they put him on a helicopter, took him out. And the -- and his father, then I said, oh, my God, just --

Thomas Sbertoli:

I'm in trouble now.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

I'm in trouble now. I mean, you know, his uncle's Secretary of State, his father is head of the CIA, and here I am, a kid from West Roxbury.

Thomas Sbertoli:

You actually ended up getting a letter from him or something, didn't you?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

So the papers, of course, wrote this up, and I told them of the valor that Lieutenant Dulles had exhibited, and the commitment. And, I mean, you know, here's somebody who really didn't have to go, as a matter of fact, I was ordering him not to go. And he said, No, I'm a Marine Corps officer. I'm going to do my duty. And he did. And performed valiantly out there. And so -- and I reported that to my superiors, and to the newspapers, and they wrote it up, and then his father wrote me this letter.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. And it says 10 December 1952, it looks like. He wrote you a personal letter from the CIA at that time, thanking you, and giving you the progress of him. Did you ever run into him again, Dulles?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, I call him from time -- I called him from time to time. I haven't called him in the last couple of years. I probably should do that. But he was in the VA Hospital, you know, down in New Mexico, and Arizona, and he's --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Wasn't doing well.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No. And, I mean, what a waste.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. So then he -- then you -- how did you -- when you finally rotated out, did they have things like short-timers, or they said, hey, he's only got 30 days left, we're gonna push him back a little bit here?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, that's when I became headquarters company commander.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Oh, okay. They said, okay, you're going to headquarters company, you're not going to a line --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

It's like you going to Pickel Meadows.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Yeah, right. So instead of a line company that was in combat every day --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

-- you were back there, and you had the weapons company and stuff like that.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, we had the weapons, and so forth, and supplies. And there was another interesting thing that -- when I was there. And you know from your experience in the Marine Corps that when you come back in reserve, you put out your poncho. And the colonel signs for all of this stuff. And so you have to put out your tent pegs, and your shelter halves, and your helmet covers, and all the stuff you throw away while you're in combat because, you know, it's cold, and you're carrying ammunition and everything else, everybody ditches that stuff. So I took two 6-by's and two fire teams and drove 60 miles -- at night -- 60 miles back to Seoul, and we raided the air house --

Thomas Sbertoli:

The supply.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

-- for the Army, and so --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Got all the replacement stuff.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Got the replacement. And -- now, it takes all night because you're going 60 miles in the dark in a war zone.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

So we come back. So we got this new lieutenant who's officer of the day. Now I'm driving in. He says, Lieutenant Abboud, you're under arrest. You've taken personnel AWOL and stuff. I go up to see Colonel Gentlemen, whose picture is over here.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Yeah, I saw that. Is this it?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No. He was my platoon sergeant. He's here with the commandant of the Marine Corps.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Oh, was he giving you the medal that time?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

You know what? It is back here. Hold on. Yeah, there's a photo here of -- after you got your Bronze Star that -- here it is.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, it's Alexander --

Thomas Sbertoli:

There's two color photos, one of -- and who is this, General who?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Al Gray. He was commandant of the Marine Corps.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Commandant, giving you a replacement Bronze Star; is that correct?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And then the other one is the commandant's on the left, you're in the middle.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yes.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And this is your old commanding officer?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah. He's our battalion commander, Colonel Gentlemen, Alexander Gentlemen.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Gentlemen. So was he the one you were going to see -- oh, they took you to see him.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No. So we go up to see him, and he said -- you know, I was kind of his favorite because I had led all the patrols and, you know, the attacks and stuff.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

He says, Bob, what is this? And I said, Colonel, I have tent pegs. He says, You have tent pegs. I said, Yes, sir, for the whole battalion. And I have shelter halves. You have shelter halves.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And shelter half is one half of a tent.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

One half of a tent.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Every Marine back then each had a half, and you put the two halves together, you had one tent.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

You had one tent.

Thomas Sbertoli:

But you ditched those because you didn't have time to carry that stuff around.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, you're carrying ammunition, you're carrying medical supplies, you know.

Thomas Sbertoli:

But to check back out and get out of the Marine Corps to go home, you better account for that stuff.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

You better account for the stuff. So, anyway, he turns around and he tells the lieutenant, he says, Lieutenant, he said, you're under house arrest. Lieutenant Abboud was here with me all night long.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Took care of that. And did you get all of those to your troops and your other officers so they could check out?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, we put out there, and the inspector general came up, the colonel from division, and, you know, we passed muster and it was ...

Thomas Sbertoli:

Good. It got done.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

It got done.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Now, did you travel by ship on the way back or plane?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No, we came back by ship.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And then where did you arrive back here?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

We came in to San Francisco.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay. And then where --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

We left from San Diego, and we came in to San Francisco.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And then where did you end up -- where was your next duty station?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, the next duty station, of all things, was Pensacola, Florida, in preflight school.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And why did they send you there?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, I told them -- I had a regular commission. I went down there --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Now, by regular commission is this: You were right then ready to stay in 20 years in the Marine Corps.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And it's actually a very difficult position to get.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Most Marine officers are what they call Reserve officers, so it's USMCR. And they're trying to become regular so they can spend their 20 years. You already were a regular.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

I was a regular. So I went there, and I went through preflight and actually --

Thomas Sbertoli:

So you were going to become a pilot.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, I was doing pilot training. And so my time was coming up for the end of my service. And I said to them, Look, you know, I'll stay -- they wanted me to stay in. They said, You know, you've done very well here.

Thomas Sbertoli:

You're decorated.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Your record, you know, with the instructor and so forth is very good, blah, blah, blah, blah. I said, Look, if you send me to Indo-China, I'll stay in, because that's where the next war is going to come.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So you were already suspecting that Viet Nam or Cambodia or something was going to come.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, we had the free French -- or the French that were fighting down Indo-China.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Yeah, forever.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And I said, Okay, if I go down there, you know, that's a career move.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

But if I'm not going to go there -- I was kind of disgusted with Pensacola because we would get up early in the morning and we'd fly for a couple of hours, and then we'd come back and you'd spend the rest of the day at the Officers Club drinking. And I was used to being on line, you know, where it's 24/7 with something happening all the time.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So did they want you to sign another extension --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

-- to stay in, and you said, not unless you send me to Indo-China.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Not unless you send me to Indo-China. They said, No, we're not going to do that.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Now, did you get your flight wings?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No. I aborted, because just before I was going to do my solo, I had done all the training and stuff, my time came up, I got my acceptance to Harvard Law School.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Oh, okay.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

So I had to decide.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Did you get out a little early just to start school?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No, I got -- I started late.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

I started in late October, I think.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Instead of September.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay. I did the same thing. So then you -- now, had you been accepted in law school before you joined the Marines?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So you applied while you were in the Marine Corps.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And did they have the LSAT back then?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

I don't know. I don't remember.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay. That's the law school admission test. So then you get an acceptance letter. Even then you're going to start a month late or something.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah. I have to make a decision.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

I mean, I'm either in or I'm out.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So you made the decision.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, I made the decision because they wouldn't send me --

Thomas Sbertoli:

They wouldn't send you to Indo-China.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And at the time you left, you were a captain. And were they also holding over your promotion to major over your head, too?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No, I wasn't eligible for that because I'd just made --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Captain?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, I'd just made captain.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And then -- now, at this time -- you weren't married during this time, were you?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay. So you go back to law school. When you come back to law school --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

I come back, and then I become a proctor in the Harvard Yard for the freshmen while I'm going to law school.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Were there a lot of vets back there then going to grad school?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, yeah. And so I go to law school with a lot of my Marine friends.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And then I met my wife, and I became a proctor for a year.

Thomas Sbertoli:

What did a proctor do?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, the proctor is like the dorm master for the freshmen.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Oh, I see.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

But my year was up, so I decided an apartment, a place to stay. And there was this girl who lived across the street from my uncle, and she had an apartment, and she had a roommate. So my uncle said, You got to go see her. So I go up and I see her, and I said, you know, you've got an apartment. We got to -- you know, we got to have a relationship. And she says, I have a roommate. I said, You got to get rid of her.

Thomas Sbertoli:

That's the beginning.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

That's the beginning.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay. Now I want to back up a little bit. All those guys --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

We've been married 62 years.

Thomas Sbertoli:

There you go. And we're going to get to that. But the guys you were with over in Korea, have you kept in touch with them?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, yeah, yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Tell us about that a little bit.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Most of them are dead.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Yeah, but even afterwards, so from the '50s, '60s, '70s --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, all the time, yeah. All the time.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So did you have reunions?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, the unit had reunions, but these guys would come --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Back to the photo?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah. Would come, this guy and these guys, they would come and they would stay in our house.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Were they other -- these were other platoon leaders?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No. They were my sergeant and squad leaders.

Thomas Sbertoli:

All right. So these are your enlisted guys in your exact unit.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, I was the lieutenant and they were my enlisted guys.

Thomas Sbertoli:

But the one who stayed in, he ended up becoming --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

He became a major.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. So he went from enlisted to officer.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Did he get a field commission, or did he just go to --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No, he came up, and then he was chosen to go to officers training thing, and then he wrote this nice little note.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. He stayed in 20-plus years or something.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

All right. So then you guys would get together yearly, every other year, something like that?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, we'd have -- exchange Christmas cards, and when they'd come through, or we'd make telephone calls or something.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay. And then the -- have you ever gone back to Korea?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, many times. When I was at the bank, we opened a branch in Seoul, and I took my full board over there. We had a board meeting in Seoul. And I went up to the DMZ. And then we financed a steel company there, we financed the airline company.

Thomas Sbertoli:

All right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And so the -- now, when you got out, though, you go to law school, that takes two or three years, probably three years back then.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And then immediately after law school, what did you do?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

I went to business school.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And when you went to law school, was that on the GI Bill?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

That was on the GI Bill.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And would you have been able to go to law without that?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And I suspect that law school was a little cheaper back then than it is now?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah. I don't understand these tuitions. I think at that time it was something like a thousand dollars a year or something.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. And you were getting the GI Bill, so --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And I was getting the GI Bill.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. So you get that, and where did you go -- oh, and then didn't you go to get your master's too?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah. I got an MBA from Harvard.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So that was two more years.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Two more years. My wife was working and supporting me. That girl was --

Thomas Sbertoli:

When did you get married?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Got married in 1955. And then we went together to do my summer duty in Lejeune as our honeymoon.

Thomas Sbertoli:

When did you graduate from law school?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

'56.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay. So the year before you graduated.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Then you went to business school.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And then after business school, where did you go?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, I came to work for the First National Bank of Chicago. I told my wife I was going to go to medical school. She said, If you go one more school, we're getting divorced. So I had to get a job.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Nice try, Bob. Well, at least you tried -- you asked. What are you going to say? So then you start working for the bank. Now, ultimately you became president of this bank?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, I became chairman and chief executive.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So how many years were you working for that bank before you became president?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, I became -- in 1974 I was tapped to be the CEO. I was vice chairman in 1971, but I -- I went over, did the overseas thing, and then I became head of the international department in 1972, and then built the international arm of the bank. And we have something like 21 branches in some 30 countries.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And then when you left that bank, what did you do next?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, then I became president of Occidental Petroleum.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And how long were you president of that?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

I was president from 1980 to '85.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And then after that, where did you go?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And after that, I started my own company, A. Robert Abboud & Company. And then I became chairman and chief executive of First Citibank Corp. in Texas, which we -- it was kind of a salvage operation.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. They were already in deep trouble.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

They were -- the FDIC had taken them over and stuff, and we were pulling -- trying to pull them out.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Then after that, where did you go?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And then after that, I came back, and I've been running my own company.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay. And besides that, you've sat on numerous boards.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

You've been the trustee of numerous organizations, including, I think, University of Chicago --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

University of Chicago.

Thomas Sbertoli:

-- Harvard.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And my great friend there was Kay Graham. We were very close. She was the chairman of the Washington Post. And so we were very close there. And then I was on the Amoco board, you know, of Standard Oil of Indiana.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Amoco. I was on the board of Hart Schaffner Marx, or Hartmarx Corporation.

Thomas Sbertoli:

They were out of Chicago, too.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, they were out of Chicago.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Now, how did you get -- did you reconnect with Boston, get back out there, or what?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, we would go back and forth because we had family out there.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

But the -- in the late 1980s, Joan wanted to buy the old New Salem Academy, because it had been abandoned and was in disrepair.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And that was in -- was that in -- where was it?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

That's in New Salem, which is west of Boston. This is part of Old Salem. After they had gotten over the witches and stuff, to compensate the witches that they let out of jail whose land they had taken, they needed to give them land. So they got this land a hundred miles west of Boston, they call it New Salem, they said you go out there and look for Indians.

Thomas Sbertoli:

What a good deal.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

So that became New Salem.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And you bought this place.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

So we -- I didn't want to buy it because it had been abandoned for ten years. I have a picture of it here. And the --

Thomas Sbertoli:

How long have you owned this place?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, we bought it since, what, 1989 or something.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And this is where you have the --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

But it's on the Common. And we had to have the townspeople vote okay -- you know, to okay it.

Thomas Sbertoli:

That's like the city square, the Common.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah. And so the -- I was financing the opposition, because I didn't want to buy it, and Joan beat me three to one.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Nice touch.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, nice try. But, anyway, she won. So, anyway, we bought it. We had a budget. She met the budget. And --

Thomas Sbertoli:

So every time you threw up a roadblock, she jumped it.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, she was -- and now we're building an elevator there, four floors.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Smooth, Bob.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And it's --

Thomas Sbertoli:

How many kids do you have?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

We have three kids.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Boys? Girls? What?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

We have a boy and two girls.

Thomas Sbertoli:

All right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And we have five grandchildren.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And I have to -- the standard question is: How do you feel that time in the Marine Corps and especially in combat helped or hindered you with --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Absolutely. Because you learn to take orders, and that's why we were together for 62 years.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Well, that's in the marriage.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

I know.

Thomas Sbertoli:

I'm talking about business, Bob. You weren't taking orders then.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well --

Thomas Sbertoli:

So you could give orders, but you know how to take them, too.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

I knew how to take them.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Nice touch. All right. So it helped you both ways. It helped you learn how to give orders and take orders.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

That's right. Here it is right here.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Holy smokes, you own this whole building?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

It's a huge building. How many square feet is it?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, I don't know.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Looks like about 20,000.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No.

Thomas Sbertoli:

It's a school.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No, no, no. It must be 4 or 5,000.

Thomas Sbertoli:

You better have a lot more grandkids, Bob.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

But she fixed it up. And we got a lot of memorabilia there.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Oh, good. One of them is that letter that you talked, discussed --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

One letter. Now, her other uncle was General Hooker's orderly. And he was the one that got the girls that became hookers. That's where the name came from.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Wonderful. This is something I want to make sure your grandchildren know about.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, right. Well, what happened was we were in Boston going through -- they have these -- you know, you go on the whale boats, whatever they are. And so there's this young girl up front who's doing the scenic things, and we go by General Hooker's statue, and she says, Now, there's General Hooker, and his orderly was the one that went out and got the girls who were the camp followers that became hookers. And we're sitting in the back of the bus. Joan jumps up, she runs up to the front of the bus --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Takes the microphone.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

She captures this girl by the shoulders, she says, You're talking about my uncle.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Hope you got that photo of that.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

I was sitting there stunned.

Thomas Sbertoli:

All right. Now, the other thing is, before we finish this folder here, you've also included your maps that you -- copies of the maps you probably used over there.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

In Korea.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And I can tell because they're relief -- not relief, but they show your different elevations here. Elevation maps. And, as we all know, these little lines represent another 10 or 20 feet.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And then there's 229 and stuff. But I got to tell you, you know, we have the -- this is our house.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Take a time out. Show that to Dave.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Now, on the side there we have -- because the ceilings are 12 foot high, and they go from the basement to the attic, you know, at our age, and carrying stuff, we got to have an elevator. So it's now under construction.

Thomas Sbertoli:

All right. Now, Bob, you also have in here a copy, a transcript from an interview you did back in 2007 with Mark DePue?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yes.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And this again talks about even more things; there's a lot of history in here about your parents and how they came here.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

We're going to touch briefly on that, which is -- but that's going to be incorporated in your package going to the Library of Congress also. But let's talk about your parents a little bit. So you're of Lebanese heritage.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yes.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And so give me a little background on your grandmother -- in fact, we've got to put in the record here something. What did your grandmother say to you in Lebanese when she found out you got orders to go overseas?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, she said, Asat Drnar, which is, in Arabic is, don't you dare go.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And your dad, what did your dad say?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, that's -- that was my grandmother on my mother's side. But my dad understood because he was -- he had worked as a contractor with the Navy in Reykjavik in 1940, and when he came back in '41, he was torpedoed in the North Atlantic. And so when we went down to Quonset to pick him up in 1942, he came off, and he was in a T-shirt and jeans, and we said, Well, okay. Well, don't you have a duffel bag or something? And he said, No, let's go.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So he knew that you were going, and that was it.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

That what? No, no, this was in '42.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Oh, okay. When he was --

Alfred Robert Abboud:

When he was coming back.

Thomas Sbertoli:

All right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And so he's coming back in '42. You know, we had had Pearl Harbor.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

So he came back. And then we went, and we didn't know what happened until 1945, when he told us he was on the Wakefield, which had been torpedoed. Because in those days, they said a slip of the lip sinks a ship. You didn't talk. People didn't talk in those days.

Thomas Sbertoli:

A little different nowadays, huh?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, my God.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So you're what was Arabic -- you say it's Arabic, Lebanese? Is it the same thing?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, in Lebanon they speak four languages. My mother spoke four languages. She spoke English, Arabic, French, and Turkish.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

My grandmother on my mother's side, she ran the Quaker school in Brummana outside of Beirut in Lebanon during the Turkish occupation over there. And my mother was sent to the United States in 1920 to raise money for Near East Relief. And she was so successful, they told her to stay and keep raising money. And she went to Simmons and became a social worker, and she was a social worker and a partner of Amelia Earhart, and Amelia Earhart was my babysitter.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Oh, my goodness. Oh, jeez, Bob, 6 degrees of Bob Abboud. And then how did she meet your dad?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, he was, you know, another -- my dad, of course, was born in the south end of Boston, had gone to MIT, had his own company. And the Lebanese community was kind of --

Thomas Sbertoli:

Very tight.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

-- very tight. And so they met and they got married.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And then how many siblings did you have? Do you have brothers and sisters?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

No, I have one sister, Mona.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And she's six years younger than I am.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay. So that is -- and when your dad went to MIT, did he get any kind of financial help too?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah. He was the beneficiary of a scholarship. I'm trying to think of the -- I can't think of the name of the fellow.

Thomas Sbertoli:

You know what? It's in that transcript that you did.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah, I think so.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So it will be in there.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah. He got a scholarship, and he went in there. And he had his own company. And then -- he was doing very well. And then 1929 came, and 1930, and he needed to borrow $5,000 to carry receivables. And he went to the First National Bank of Boston, and they said, We don't make loans to people named Abboud. And so they, you know, couldn't pay the thing, so he had to close his business. And then he was out of work. My mother was a social worker. He was out of work. He was walking, you know, to Boston every day trying to get a job. And my mother was so frustrated, she then wrote to Betsey Cushing, who was married to Jimmy Roosevelt, and she said, My husband's an MIT graduate, he can't get a job, and so forth. So Betsey Cushing wrote back, she said, We've just formed this home loan bank. Tell your husband to go down and apply -- I've got the letter. And so he went down, he got the job, and so they began working. And the interesting thing was when I was at Occidental, and I was the president and I was buying City Service Corporation in a hostile takeover and we had Goldman Sachs as our investment banker, Jimmy Roosevelt was our account officer. And so we were related together.

Thomas Sbertoli:

That helps. Yeah, you do have a lot of different roots going all over the place.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

And now today you're very active still in Marine organizations.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Well, I'm with Tri-County Leathernecks, and last summer I called headquarters Marine Corps, and I said to them, If you give me back my commission, I'm ready to go. And they said, Well, when the Taliban gets to the White House, we'll call you.

Thomas Sbertoli:

At least they gave you an option. Or they gave you a response or something.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah. But my great friend is Peter Pace, who was former commandant in the Marine Corps, and, you know, he was chief of staff for Bush and stuff. And so he was on the board -- it was after I got off -- I was on the board of AAR Corporation, which I helped to get started, for 17 years. And so it was an interesting board. We had Ron Fogleman, who was chairman of the Air Force, and Peter Pace, who was commandant, and then chief of staff. Now they've got a bunch of young admirals and stuff up there. But they -- but, you know, I told him, I said, Look, you take guys my age, we all -- we know the territory. We all get killed, it's all Social Security and stuff.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Hey, it's a win-win.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

It's a win-win.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Bob, I can't thank you enough, especially for your speech today when you really pointed out the significance of all the veterans partaking in this, because all too often, just like every -- a lot of people you know, and our fathers before us were, they wouldn't share these stories. And that's a big loss for this country.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah. It's criminal.

Thomas Sbertoli:

No, but they -- that's just stoic, the way they were. And more and more are coming out. And it's important because, I forgot the number of World War II veterans, but I think we're losing well over a thousand a day are passing away, and Korea's getting right up there, too, the same thing.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So now this is going to be in the Library of Congress, and we're very happy.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

All right. Good.

Thomas Sbertoli:

All right. If you've got any final comments, lay it on her. Otherwise, I'm going to wrap this up and we're going to go get some cake.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Okay. Good.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Now I'm going to give this to her, which is your folder. And with that, that's going to terminate the interview. But we're also going to give that -- this is for you.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

I had some papers here.

Thomas Sbertoli:

You do. You have -- hold on.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Oh, and I've got my speech. You want a copy of my talk?

Thomas Sbertoli:

Now, what is this? Before we end the record.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

That's my talk.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Oh, I think that's in the back there, isn't it?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Is it?

Thomas Sbertoli:

Is this it?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Okay. So in the back, what is this, Bob?

Alfred Robert Abboud:

That's a copy of the talk I made today to the Veterans Historical Project.

Thomas Sbertoli:

Right. And it's marked that, and it's got the date on it and everything.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Yeah.

Thomas Sbertoli:

So that's excellent. That's in the back of here also. That's just some paperwork we have for -- you know, this is emergency contacts in case you needed a beer or something.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

Now, do you need this?

Thomas Sbertoli:

We don't need anything. You signed everything. You signed your release, she signed it. That's just my comments.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

I have that stuff.

Thomas Sbertoli:

This is yours, because that's the letters and everything from the kids.

Alfred Robert Abboud:

And I had a program here somewhere.

Thomas Sbertoli:

You do have a program. And that program is -- hold on. Oh, here it is. This is yours, Bob. This is cards. With that, we'll wrap it up. (11:40 a.m.)

 
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  October 26, 2011
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