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"[The] culinary [arts] saved my life." (Video Interview, 02:23:30)

   Adolphus A. Stuart
Collection image
Adolphus Stuart at time of interview
War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Marine Corps
Unit: 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division; Special Landing Force Alpha; 9th Marine Regiment
Service Location: Parris Island, South Carolina; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Mediterranean Sea; Okinawa, Japan; Vietnam
Rank: Sergeant
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In search of an escape from a difficult home life, Adolphus A. Stuart joined the Marine Corps in 1964 at the age of 17. Arriving in Vietnam in May, 1967, he served as part of a Special Landing Force unit. Stationed aboard a ship anchored in the waters just below Da Nang, he went ashore on frequent combat missions. Death was omnipresent, and after losing a good buddy during his first few weeks in country, he learned to shut down emotionally in order to survive. He left the Marines in 1971, but his transition to civilian life was difficult. After receiving an official diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), he attended culinary school, and discovered his passion for cooking for others, particularly in support of charitable organizations and those less fortunate.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (10 clips)
» Part 1 
Download: video (166 min.)
More like this
»Veterans and the Arts
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (10 items)
Enlisting in the Marine Corps; journey to boot camp; had no issue with discipline after enduring strict stepmother. (02:06) Training at Camp Pendleton; learning discipline. (01:19) Receiving orders for his first combat operation; realizing he had no idea what combat was really like; first time being shot at. (02:39)
Losing a good friend during his first few weeks in Vietnam. (02:13) Death was all around; never went on a combat mission where he did not see death in some form; felt normal at the time. (01:33) Incident in which he witnessed a midair collision of helicopters; detaching from the stress. (01:59)
Hard transition to civilian life; in denial a long time about PTSD symptoms; did not speak of his experiences for many years. (03:21) Starting cooking professionally for organizations and charitable events; beginning a new chapter in his life; focusing on something other than himself. (02:08) Early exposure to gourmet and home cooking cuisine; experimenting in the kitchen. (02:06)
Wanting others to know how debilitating PTSD can be; asking the audience to extend sympathy and compassion to those who might be suffering from it. (02:44)  

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  October 26, 2011
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