I arrived at Carolina in January ’68 after serving in Vietnam from April ’66 to May of ’67 as a Marine foot soldier. The transition from Vietnam and the Marines to Chapel Hill was surreal. People were friendly and I was glad to be a student. When students took over the Law School during the Dining Hall workers strike, Governer Scott called out the National Guard, some of whom arrived on campus carrying flame throwers. I thought to myself, "I’ve seen this movie," and I retreated to the safety of my room in Craig Hall.
I also remember the night the campus exploded in cheers when President Johnson announced he would not be running for reelection and that he would spend the rest of his term working to end the war. Little did we know. Richard Nixon visited campus during the ’68 election campaign, promising "peace with honor." I still remember him standing in front of the computer center where I went each day to submit my programs.
In 2008 I wrote War Lessons (North Atlantic/Random House), the story of what I learned as a foot soldier. The book has also been translated into Vietnamese. I have been to Vietnam more than a dozen times since the war ended and have been able to apologize for the suffering and destruction I caused the Vietnamese people as a soldier in that war.