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"I saw more casualties that day than the whole time I was there." (Audio interview, 25:46)

   Robinson Rodriguez, Jr.
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War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Marine Corps
Unit: K Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division
Service Location: Vietnam
Rank: Corporal
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Twenty years old in 1968, an unfocused student with the grades to prove it, Corporal Robinson Rodriguez decided to enlist in the Marine Corps when he lost his 1-S student draft classification. Arriving in Vietnam, he was advised on the golden rules of the bush: do as you’re told, pay attention, and don’t fall asleep on watch. Serving as a machine gunner with the 3rd Marine Division, he drew strength from the support of his comrades during his 12 months and 20 days in country. In his interview, he speaks honestly about the emotional toll of constantly facing snipers, mortar attacks, booby traps, and ambushes.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (6 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (53 min.)
»Memoirs of Corporal Robinson Rodriguez
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 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (6 items)
Basic training felt like a nightmare; eye-opening experience; went to school to train as a machine-gunner; necessary emphasis on teamwork. (02:55) Arrival in Vietnam; easing into duty; getting familiar with the countryside and weapons; using the M-60 machine gun; realizing that life in Vietnam wasn’t like a John Wayne movie. (02:33) Being helicoptered out into the bush; landing at a landing zone (LZ) that was taking incoming small arms fire; golden rules of how to survive life in the bush. (01:43)
Description of a typical patrol; dealing with snipers, mortar attacks, booby traps, ambushes; baiting the enemy; American advantage of tremendous firepower; camaraderie that developed within his unit. (08:40) Incident in which his unit was sent to rescue a platoon that had been nearly wiped out; what it felt like to witness casualties; walking back to the base and being hit with a mortar that did not explode. (05:32) Encountering "short-timers" when he first arrived; culture of counting down days left in-country; getting word of his flight date; feeling heartbroken to say goodbye to his unit; total elation on board his flight back to the United States. (06:24)

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  October 26, 2011
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