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"I was an inside guy." (Audio interview, 13:58)

   Ralph Garcia
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War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Marine Corps
Unit: Company L, Marine Support Battalion, Marine Corps Headquarters; 3rd Marine Division
Service Location: Okinawa Island (Ryukyu Islands); North Carolina; Camp Pendleton and San Diego, California; Turkey; Germany; England; Vietnam; Laos
Rank: Staff Sergeant
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Growing up in the 1950s, Staff Sergeant Ralph Garcia was impressed by the sharp uniform worn by his cousin, a decorated Marine veteran of the Korean War. His enlistment in the Marines in 1959 led him to a career in intelligence, first with the Marines and then later for the Central Intelligence Agency. As a "spook" working covert operations in Vietnam, and in undercover assignments with the CIA, he drew on his multi-lingual skills and multicultural background to help him blend in with his surroundings.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (4 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (53 min.)
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»Vietnam War: Looking Back
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (4 items)
Taking tests to determine qualifications; sent to the Monterey Institute to study Farsi; assigned to intelligence collection outfit; sent to Turkey; transfer to Germany; transfer to England; helping British with cryptography and monitoring of Middle East situation during Six-Day War. (04:47) Working on covert operations (ops) in Vietnam; logistics of covert ops; collection of intelligence; meticulous planning. (05:49) Leaving the military; having a bad experience with rats in a foxhole, and the next day writing to the CIA to ask for a job; starting work at the CIA; using language skills and cultural awareness in undercover work. (05:46)
Scary incident with unexploded hand grenade; experience with his barracks being bombed on his first day in Vietnam, and having to run without shoes on; experiencing the same thing on his last night in Vietnam. (05:30)  

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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