Document Type

Oral History

Interviewee name

Elbert R. Brewster


Stephen D. Rees, Jr.

Interview date


Interview location

Waterville, Maine





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Rev. Mr. Elbert R. “Bert” Brewster, interviewed by Stephen Rees in Waterville, Maine, July 7, 1999. Brewster discusses his youth and being born a month following his father's death; his brother who was 16-years older, going into World War II; admiring his brother's service but still attempting to waylay being drafted himself; gimmicks used by young men to escape the draft including gaining weight and reporting while badly hung over in order to appear unhealthy; going into the service with a group of men from around New England; reporting to Fort Dix; becoming ill with pneumonia during basic training; handling fear during training; the importance of his religion and going through 12-weeks of medical training to become a corpsman and avoid having to kill; green underwear being an early indicator you were being sent over; being bullied by other recruits; running out of food and water on the troop ship General Blaxford on the way to Vietnam; landing in Saigon; setting up an aid tent in Vietcong territory; the lack of water for bathing and laundry; repeatedly losing his rifle in camp; becoming less religious but continuing to refuse to shoot people; his routine duties; PX supplies and working in the PX; the Black market; the impact of his friend Jesse Miller's death; mail and receiving a Dear John letter; and life after returning home. Text: 34 pp. transcript. Total time: 01:07:08.


Part 1: mfc_na4490_01A
Part 2: mfc_na4490_01B


Military History | Oral History | United States History

Birth date

March 29, 1941


Oakland, Kennebec County, Maine

Nation of origin

United States

Home state/Territory







Chaplain, Family therapist

Branch of service

U.S. Army

Service Unit

Medical Platoon, 1st Division, 2nd Infantry

Dates of service

1964 to 1966, Vietnam October 1965 - April 1966

Date of entry

May 17, 1905

Service entry


Location of Service

Phuoc Vinh, Vietnam

Wars & Conflicts

Vietnam War

Entry Rank

E-1 Private

Highest Rank

E-4 Specialist

Exit Rank

E-4 Specialist


Bob Bronto; Jesse Miller; George Sleeper


Owl’s Head, Maine; Rockport, Maine; Bangor, Maine; Fort Dix, New Jersey; Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Monterey, Mexico; Boston, Massachusetts; Oakland, California; Hawaii; Okinawa; Saigon; Phuoc Vinh; Bien Hòa; Da Lat; Washington, D.C.; Williamsburg, Virginia


Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Military casualties; Black market

Collection name

Maine Vietnam Veterans Oral History

Collection number


Item number


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Bert Brewster, interviewed by Stephen D. Rees, Jr., Part 2



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