Document Type

Oral History

Interviewee name

Ronald Paul Frechette


Gary Waters

Interview date


Interview location

Jay, Maine





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Ronald Paul Frechette, interviewed by Gary Waters in Jay, Maine on June 15, 1999. Frechette discusses his time training as a combat engineer at Camp Lejeune and jungle training in California, growing up fast in the Marines, being gung ho about going to Vietnam because he wanted to be patriotic, being assigned to the 1st Shore Party, 1st Marines, never forgetting the smell of Vietnam and odors that trigger memories, being at Hill 55 and Dodge City, seeing his first KIAs and WIAs, being unprepared and frightened, Vietnamese burial customs, slang terms used by soldiers. He talks about returning to the 1st Shore Party, then volunteering for a battalion landing team, deciding he’d never volunteer for anything again, Operation Allen Brook, coming under fire, returning to ship after a 30-day ground assignment with no hygiene or change of uniform and being told by an ensign that he couldn’t come aboard his ship in that condition. He describes sleeping conditions, morale, racial conflict between U.S. soldiers, the behavior of rock apes, his plan to deal with a gunnery sergeant and a captain at An Hoa, drinking and drug use by soldiers, the feeling he was a whipping boy and the hate he still holds. Frechette speaks about breaking his ankle and being sent back aboard ship, ‘losing it’ and being sent to the sick bay, and eventually ending up in the Newport Naval Hospital psych unit for three months, being discharged with no job and no place to go, learning about the VA from his father who was a WWII veteran, his father helping him get disability, learning his mental health diagnosis then about PTSD, feeling like “that kid that got slapped by Patton,” and his life after returning home. Text: 42 pp. transcript, 2 pp. supplemental. Time: 02:10:29. Restrictions: No restrictions.


Part 1: mfc_na4494_01A
Part 2: mfc_na4494_01B
Part 3: mfc_na4494_02A


Military History | Oral History | United States History

Birth date



Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts

Nation of origin

United States

Home state/Territory






Branch of service

U.S. Marine Corps

Service Unit

1st Shore Party, 1st Marines; 26th Marines

Dates of service

March 1968-March 1969, Vietnam

Date of entry


Service entry


Location of Service

Da Nang, Vietnam

Wars & Conflicts

Vietnam War

Battles & Engagements

Operation Allen Brook

Entry Rank

E-1 Private

Highest Rank

E-1 Private

Exit Rank

E-1 Private


Davis; Stevens


Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky; Parris Island, South Carolina; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; California; Hawaii; Okinawa; Da Nang, Vietnam; Hill 55 (Nui Dat Son); Dodge City; Freedom Hill; Hill 27; Hill 72; An Hòa (Đức Dục); Đại Lộc; Hải Vân Pass; Newport Naval Hospital, Virginia; Alaska; Bedford Air Force Base, Massachusetts; Chelsea


Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); Battle casualties; Military casualties; Vietnamese Funeral Rituals; Operational rations (Military supplies); Rock Apes; Race relations; Fragging; Military chaplains; Substance Abuse; Suicide

Collection name

Maine Vietnam Veterans Oral History

Collection number


Item number


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Ron Frechette, interviewed by Gary Waters, Part 1



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