Oral History of George G. McGuire

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Title

Oral History of George G. McGuire

Alternative Title

Oral History, McGuire

Subject

Veterans--Florida
Orlando (Fla.)
Vietnam War, 1961-1985
Air Force
Army

Description

An oral history interview of George G. McGuire, who joined the U.S. Air Force in 1963 and served until 1983. He was born on Summit, New Jersey, on October 17, 1941. A veteran of the Vietnam War era, McGuire achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

This interview was conducted by Judy Scherer on April 1, 2014. Interview topics include McGuire's background and family, his college education, join the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC), Whiteman Air Force Base, McCoy Air Force Base, duties as a procurement officer and a contract administrator, the Defense Contract Administration Services, serving in Bangkok during the Vietnam War, the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (USAFOSI), the Rock Island Arsenal, military retirement, U.S.-Thailand relations, and his many travel experiences.

Abstract

Oral history interview of George G. McGuire. Interview conducted by Judy Scherer at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida.

Table Of Contents

0:00:00 Introduction
0:02:33 College years
0:03:06 Air Force Reserve Officers' Training Corps and Whiteman Air Force Base
0:04:42 McCoy Air Force Base
0:05:42 George Washington University, Defense Contract Administration Services, and Bangkok, Thailand
0:07:05 U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations
0:14:55 Assignments in the United States
0:15:33 Bangkok and Mom Rajawongse Seni Promoj
0:21:45 Duties as a Contract Administrator
0:23:24 Interesting people and stories from Thailand
0:28:06 Communicating with family
0:30:23 Communicating with Thais
0:35:50 Visiting South Korea with his wife
0:39:42 Closing remarks

Creator

McGuire, George G.
Scherer, Judy

Source

McGuire, George G. Interviewed by Judy Scherer, April 1, 2014. Audio/video record available. UCF Community Veterans History Project, RICHES of Central Florida, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida.

Date Created

2014-02-22

Date Copyrighted

2014-02-22

Date Issued

2014-09

Conforms To

Standards established by the Veterans History Projects, Library of Congress.

Has Format

Digital transcript of original 43-minute and 22-second oral history: McGuire, George G. Interviewed by Judy Scherer, April 1, 2014.

Is Part Of

Vietnam War Collection, UCF Community Veterans History Project Collection, RICHES of Central Florida.

Format

video/mp4
application/pdf

Extent

358 MB
257 MB

Medium

43-minute and 22-second audio/video DVD/CD
27-page digital transcript

Language

eng

Type

Moving Image

Coverage

Summit, New Jersey
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Fawley, England
Durban, South Africa
Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, New York City, New York
University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana
Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri
McCoy Air Force Base, Orlando, Florida
George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
Defense Contract Administration Services Management Office, Naval Air Station Sand Point, Seattle, Washington
Chokchai Building, Bangkok, Thailand
Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia
Washington, D.C.
Yokota Air Base, Fussa, Japan
Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island-Moline, Illinois
Warsaw, Missouri
Osan Air Base, Pyeongtaek-si, South Korea
Seoul, South Korea

Accrual Method

Item Creation

Mediator

History Teacher
Civics/Government Teacher
Geography Teacher

Provenance

Originally created by Judy Scherer and George G. McGuire and published by RICHES of Central Florida.

Curator

Cepero, Laura

Digital Collection

UCF Community Veterans History Project, UCF Digital Collections, University of Central Florida

Source Repository

External Reference

Herring, George C. America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975. New York: Wiley, 1979.

Transcript

Unidentified
We’re ready.

McGuire
Are you saying go?

Scherer
[laughs] Today is April the 1st, 2014. I am interviewing, uh, Lieutenant Colonel George G. McGuire. My name is [Rose Marie] “Judy” Scherer. Uh, please call me Judy. Um, his interview is being conducted at UCF [University of Central Florida] in Orlando, Florida. It is part of the UCF, um—the whole title is—is Community History Project—[Community] Veterans History Project. Um, so we are going to start with, um, the early days. I would like to ask you where you were born and grew up.

McGuire
Alright. Well, I was born in New Jersey—Summit, New Jersey. And When I was, uh, a few weeks old, my family moved on to Baton Rouge[, Louisiana].

Scherer
Wow [laughs].

McGuire
Where my father worked in the oil refinery at Baton Rouge during World War II, and where I managed to acquire twin brothers and a sister.

Scherer
Oh [laughs].

McGuire
Um, Shortly—well, not shortly. When I was about eight years old—eight or nine years old—we moved to England.

Scherer
Oh.

McGuire
Where my father was building an oil refinery at Fawley, near South Hampton, for Esso in England.  After we had been there about three years, we moved to Durban, South Africa.

Scherer
Wow.

McGuire
Where he was again a resident engineer for construction of an oil refinery—first one on the continent of Africa—and where I acquired a brother. I had acquired another sister in England, and now I had a brother in South Africa, so there are six children.

We sailed back to the United States. This is now approximately 1954 on a ship called the African Enterprise, which was a, um, freighter—combination freighter and passenger ship that carried a few passengers. And we were the only children, so we had the run of the ship.

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
And that was great fun. We got back to, uh, New York in the middle of the wintertime. And my memory says it was in February, but that may not be right. And of course, being good loyal little Americans who had been out of the country for so many years, we had to stand up on the ship and watch Miss [the Statue of] Liberty as we came into New York Harbor.

Uh, following that, we lived in New Jersey for a number of years. And then I went off to college at the University of Notre Dame. And shortly afterwards, my father quit his job and moved to Massachusetts.

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
And, uh, the bane of my life was that when I would go home for vacation to a place in Massachusetts surrounded by girls’ colleges, they all had vacation break at the same time as we did.

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
So there was nobody there.

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
And of course, Notre Dame at that time was all men, and there were no women there, unless we found some in the local community, which was a very difficult thing to do.

Uh, At Notre Dame, they had three R—all three ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps] programs. This is 1959 when I started there. There’s a shooting [Vietnam] War going on in Asia. People are being drafted. I had no interest in being drafted and being given a rifle and go shoot people, so I said Okay. I’d rather be an officer. And no, I don’t want to walk around in the mud, and I don’t want to sit on a boat bobbing up and down in the ocean. And since you have Air Force, I will go Air Force.

Um, so I did. And when I was graduating Notre Dame, I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force and promptly sent to Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.

So one of the first things I did was I bought myself a car. I didn’t have a car at that point, so I brought a brand new, shiny red Valiant convertible. And that was a neat looking car. I shaw—showed up on base, and went into my first assignment, and the people I’m working with—one of them takes one look at that car and says, “I give you one year.”

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
Uh huh. And, uh, he turned out to be right. Because a few months later, I met a young lady, and less than a year later, we were married. All fault is directed at that shiny red convertible, I suppose.

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
About a year or so after we were married, I got orders to transfer to McCoy Air Force Base, which, of course that’s a hardship tour to come to McCoy Air Force Base, which is now Orlando International Airport, where I was the base procurement officer here.

Now, they had assigned me to procurement when I went to Whiteman, and I didn’t know what “procurement” was. I only knew one meaning for the term, and it had more to do with what you did after hours than it did with buying anything the Air Force wanted. Anyway, I became procurement officer. “Procurement” just simply means that you’re the guy in charge of going out and buying stuff.

So I was stationed here in McCoy, and, um, about that time, is when what was then called “Orlando Air Force Base” is transitioning to the Navy. And the last Air Force unit to transition out from Orlando Air Force Base was the hospital. So my two sons have the distinction of having been born in an Air Force hospital on a Navy base.

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
From here, the, uh, Air Force sent me up to Washington, D.C., to go to George Washington University for a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, as my assignment for a year and a half. And then from there, to go to Seattle, Washington, to the, uh, Defense Contract Administration Services management area Office, otherwise known as DCAS.

Scherer
Excuse me. What was it known as?

McGuire
DCAS. D-C-A-S.

Scherer
S.

McGuire
Judy had a problem with this one earlier.

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
Which was at, um, Sand Point Naval Air Station, which was a little pimple on the side of the wealthiest area of ci—city of Seattle, a few blocks away from the University of Washington. Not very far from it. It no longer is a military installation. It’s now high-cost residential.

Um, let’s see. from there, the next assignment was to Bangkok, Thailand, to be the, uh—one of the officers assigned to the Air Force’s Procurement Center in Downtown Bangkok, which was supporting all of the Air Force and some of the Army units, uh, throughout Thailand and, uh, Vietnam. And this is at the tail end of the Vietnam War.

From there, I went back to the United St—came back to the United States to go to uh, Norfolk, Virginia, to the Armed Forces Staff College.

And then from there, to the, uh, Air Force OSI—Air Force Office of Special Investigations—in Washington, D.C., to act as an in-house consultant on procurement matters. Air Force OSI had been founded la—years before, in the very early days of the Air Force, because of scandal having to do with contracting. And then they had gotten away from that and they had forgotten had to spell “contracting.”

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
As they got mostly inter—interested in chasing drugs. But in, um—somewhere around 1970, there was another big scandal that came up that didn’t have anything to do with the Air Force, but it did with the Navy. And the Air Force decided that it would be smart to get back into that business and pay attention, because we are spending just huge sums of money. We ought to be paying attention to it. And the first thing they needed to do was to find somebody who knew something about the procurement system and could come in and act as an in-house consultant to them, and so they chose me.

Scherer
Really?

McGuire
So for two years, I taught OSI agents how to spell “procurement” and the kinds of things to look for. The big thing coming out of it was to find out just how honest the system really is at that level. There may be corruption at other levels, but at the level of the working people doing the job, it is a very, very honest system.

Um, now what did I skip? Somewhere in here, I skipped something. No. I guess not. When that was finished, they sent me to Japan to be the Deputy Director of the Air Force’s Procurement Center in Tokyo—actually, at Yokota Air Force Base,[1] which is just in the western suburbs of Tokyo—in which I had the responsibility for all of the, um, in-country support for Air Force and Army, and staff responsibilities towards the, uh, Army Center—similar to it in Korea, that took care of Air Force and Army in Korea.

And, uh, let me think for a moment. Oh, yes. One of the, um, cases that I had run in the OSI had been an accusation made against the Lieutenant Colonel who commanded the Air Force Procurement Center at Yokota Air Base—that he was corrupt, and that he was accepting bribes from, uh, one of the car companies , which the, uh, U.S had a contract with for small engines.

Well, the truth of the story—it turned out, that the man was an elder of the Mormon Church,[2] as well, as being a[sic] Air Force officer. And he had led a church group on a visit to the plant. Just a visit to go see what the plant looks like. And his big mistake: when he got back to his office was he had written the thank you note on Air Force letterhead, rather than on Mormon Church letterhead. And that had kicked off all of these accusations that he was, uh, a corrupt and on the take from this car company, which of course, he was not. But we had spent a bunch of time going and checking it out, so I knew all about it [laughs] before I got there.

Um, then that was followed by an assignment back in the United States to go to Rock Island Arsenal [in Rock Island-Moline, Illinois] to be the Deputy Director of the ammunition procurement division for U.S. Army Armament Material and [the U.S. Army Military Intelligence] Readiness Command, functioning as something called “Single Manager for Conventional Ammunition.”

Army buys all the ammunition used by the military—all production ammunition, not development, but production—ammunition used by the military, of whom the Air Force was the second largest consumer. And therefore, the Air Force, to help with that mission, sent six officers to Rock Island to participate. And at th—this point, I am a Lieutenant Colonel. And so I became the Deputy Director of that division. We spent in that one division—and this is 1980—one and a half billion…

Scherer
[gasps].

McGuire
Dollars a year. This is peacetime. One and a half billion. Buying bits and pieces of little things, most of which costs less than one dollar a unit, and the most expensive one was ten dollars a unit. All over the country. And then, the things we bought would flow to the Army load plants to be made up into rounds of ammunition—most of them. And they spent another billion and a half or so putting the stuff together as ammunition.

Okay. So I’m making decisions every day about how am I spending one and a half billion dollar budget. I’ve got a hundred people literally working for me. Uh, we are loading plants all over the country. We are making decisions about which factories we keep in business and which ones we don’t, and which communities stay in business because the factory’s there, and which ones don’t. And then I go home, and I have to be concerned if there was enough money in the checking account for my wife to go grocery shopping.

Scherer
Whoa. A great[?] contrast.

McGuire
This got a little bit mind-bending at times.

Scherer
Quite a contrast.

McGuire
Hm?

Scherer
Quite a contrast.

McGuire
Quite a contrast. Yeah. And then, uh, I retired.

Scherer
Yes.

McGuire
At this point. I had been in the Air Force for 20 years and three weeks

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
And I decided it was time to go. I had three kids that needed to go to college, and they weren’t going to do it on Lieutenant Colonel’s pay, so I had to go do something else.

And another interesting thing, to me at least, was that I had joined Air Force ROTC back there in college, because I had no desire to be anywhere near the Army or the Navy, but especially the Army. And so for my final tour of duty, I am winding up serving with the Army

Scherer
Oh.

McGuire
As one of their officers [laughs].

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
 
Anyway, so that’s it.

Scherer
What—when were you serving for the Army? Was that duty procur—procure—procurement, or was that when you [inaudible]?

McGuire
No. That was with the Army. I was Deputy Director…

Scherer
Yeah.

McGuire
For Ammunition Procurement.

Scherer
Yeah.

McGuire
Deputy Directory of Ammunition Procurement Division of that Army command.

Scherer
Well, it all is very impressive, and I’m sure it was most important, but it sounds to me like your career was drug[?] running and buying guns [laughs].

McGuire
Uh, no. actually…

Scherer
Just joking.

McGuire
I might have bought some drugs along the way.

Scherer
To find out where [inaudible].

McGuire
But they would have been legal ones.

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
Um, Never bought any guns. Never bought an airplane, but I bought just about everything else.

Scherer
Well, when you were doing procurement, the rifles—what were you actually…

McGuire
Oh, I didn’t buy the rifles. I bought the ammunition that went in the rifles.

Scherer
Oh, you bought the ammunition. Sorry. Yeah.

McGuire
Somebody else bought the rifles.

Scherer
Oh, you [inaudible].

McGuire
There was another group doing that.

Scherer
Yes.

McGuire
And there was another officer.

Scherer
Mmhmm.

McGuire
Other officers assigned to that.

SchererSo you said you were in Bang—so—so you said you were in Bangkok

McGuire
Mmhmm.

Scherer
And then you were in Thailand—I mean, Thailand is Bangkok.

McGuire
Yes.

Scherer
And other places, but um, did you—did you do anything in the states? How long were you in the states at the end of the career?

McGuire
Well, it was three years in, uh, Rock Island.

Scherer
Yes.

McGuire
It was three years at McCoy Air Force Base.

Scherer
Yes.

McGuire
So two years in Whiteman’s. So that’s at least eight years of doing procurement there. And it was two years in the OSI, advising the OSI people about procurement—participating in, uh—in their actions.

Scherer
Could you enlarge a little about your stay in Bangkok, and tell us more about what you did, and how difficult or easy it was? Because of the place, of course, it is always very hot there. [inaudible].

McGuire
Yes. As we were talking earlier, if you got a, um, weather report for Orlando and a weather report for Bangkok, for the months of July, August, and September, you could not tell the difference as to which city you’re reading the report on. It’s the same.

Scherer
Interesting.

McGuire
The difference is, of course, that Orlando does cool down—some. Bangkok doesn’t. The, uh—Bangkok only has, um, three temperatures—hot, hotter, and hellatious.

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
Uh, Bangkok was a very interesting and very, very different, uh, type of assignment. At that time, the Air Force’s procurement office was in a building in the center of Bangkok. It was called the “Chokchai Building,” and it, uh—it wasn’t terribly tall. My memory says seven floors, but it might’ve been more. Uh, the city was built on swamp, so the building was constructed such that it floated. And its basement was a big concrete barge, and it was floating. Now, the technology has progressed, and you go to Bangkok, and there are skyscrapers all over the place. It’s a fairly modern city, but at that time it was not.

And, uh, so I was there as one of the officers assigned to that position. My memory says there were four of us, at that point, and I was the fifth one kind of detached. And, um, we just bought all the goods and services that the U.S. Air Force required in Thailand. And at that time, we had several bases scattered all over Thailand. And we had, um, people working for us—enlisted, uh, men—working for us at each base, also during procurement, but they were doing it as our subordinates for the stuff that had to come really from the local community. But otherwise, uh, we would buy the stuff in Bangkok—things in Bangkok. And this would be stuff—oh, it would be food, it would be entertainment, it would be the gas for the propane heaters, uh.—you name it. We would be buying it in Bangkok.

Um, We lived in a, uh compound, which was very much like a park, that was a little ways away from the, uh—from the office. And, uh, you walked in there and it was a beautiful little park-like area. It was lined with houses, all of which are rented to, uh, foreigners, like ourselves. Either American or Australian or somebody else, or the, uh, members of the diplomatic corps. And at the front of the—of the property, there was a very old, interesting Thai gentleman, and at the back of the property was his son and his family. And the fellow at the front—named [Mom Rajawongse] Seni Pramoj.

Scherer
Seni Pramoj? [laughs].

McGuire
Seni Pramoj. Now Seni Pramoj is rather important in Thai-American relations. In World War II, the Japanese moved into Thailand, and Thailand declared war on the United States.

Scherer
I never [inaudible].

McGuire
Seni Pramoj was the ambassador in Washington, D.C. He refused to deliver the declaration of war. United States chose to ignore it. When WWII ended, the United States chose—says, “Thailand was not an enemy combatant. They were an occupied country.” Other Allies had different opinions, and there’s[sic] arguments about it. And so the United States agreed, “Okay. We would take a little, tiny bit of reparations. We ‘ll take one house.” And it became the residence of the American Ambassador.

Scherer
That’s a fascinating story.

McGuire
Seni Pramoj later was president of Thailand…

Scherer
Oh, really?

McGuire
At one time or another.[3]

Scherer
Oh.

McGuire
But at the time we met him, he is the landlord, sitting up at the front of the compound.

Scherer
Oh[?].

McGuire
And we didn’t see him very often, but we did—knew who he was. But, um…

Scherer
I thought you were going to say he was the watchman. You know, because [inaudible].

McGuire
No. We figured that the—there was very little obvious security in that compound. There was no real guard at the gate or noth—but there were gardeners all over the place, and we figured they were all Thai CID [Criminal Investigator's Department].

Scherer
[laughs]Well, one of them was very important.

McGuire
And, uh…

Scherer
And I—I think that’s a story that is well worth recording, because it shows how a war was, uh—was, um, avoided by simple, you know…

McGuire
Yeah, um…

Scherer
Simple contacts.

McGuire
So, America has been—had a treaty of friendship with Thailand since 1835, or something like that. It was the first one we signed with anybody in Asia.

Scherer
Oh, that’s interesting. [inaudible].

McGuire
‘Course, at that time, I think Thailand was probably about the only independent Asian country that we could get into. Japan was closed. China was, uh, occupied by several people. The—the British had Burma[4] and Malaya, And Dutch had Indonesia, and the French had Cambodia and Vietnam. And Thailand was in the middle. And we signed a treaty of friendship with those folks.

Scherer
Yeah.

McGuire
which I think has paid off very handsomely for us.

Scherer
Too bad it’s so unique.

McGuire
And it’s very unique.

Scherer
Yeah.

McGuire
During the, um, Vietnam War, Thailand actively participated in the war. And Thailand provided us with access to their facilities, and that’s the only time they have ever done that for anybody that’s not Thai.

Scherer
Yes[?]. [inaudible].

McGuire
So, um, [inaudible].

Scherer
I wish—wish they had done the same thing in Vietnam.

McGuire
Well…

Scherer
You know, after [Ngô Đình] Diệm [inaudible]. But I’m supposed to ask you questions, and you answer at length

McGuire
Yeah. So…

Scherer
And I ask very short questions, but you’re asking at length very well [laughs].

McGuire
One of the…

Scherer
So I don’t have to ask you many questions.

McGuire
One of the jobs I had, while I was there in Thailand, was to be the Contract Administrator for the Thai security guard contract. We employed…

Scherer
That sounds like a Chinese title. It’s so long.

McGuire
Almost.

Scherer
Can you say it again?

McGuire
Thai security guard contract. To be the contract administrator. We had a contract, and it was written as a regular Air Force Procurement contract, between ourselves and the [Thai] Ministry of Defense, whereby they provided, uh, Thai military reserves to act as the security guards for all of our forces—our locations, rather—all over the country of Thailand.

Scherer
Interesting.

McGuire
Every little—every U.S…

Scherer
[inaudible].

McGuire
Space. Now, some of those were big. They’re big air bases. There’re lots of people. And some of them were little tiny listening posts…

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
Out in the jungle…

Scherer
Wow.

McGuire
With maybe one or two Americans—well, usually more than that—maybe four Americans, and four or five Thai security guardsman to take care of them, to keep them safe, and literally keep the tigers from coming into the, uh…

Scherer
[inaudible].

McGuire
Into the post.

Scherer
Mmhmm. That’s unusual.

McGuire
Yeah, and part of my duties were[sic] to go and inspect every one of those installations all over that country to make sure people are doing the job right.

Scherer
Well…

McGuire
Which I did.

Scherer
Yes. I’m sure you…

McGuire
Which was a very interesting [inaudible].

Scherer
I’m sure you did it very arduously, but it sounds very interesting.

McGuire
It was. It was very interesting.

Scherer
Yeah.

McGuire
Uh, so where do we go next?

Scherer
I want to ask you if you, in all—in all these different places you’ve been, if you met any characters that stay—stayed in your mind as being particularly interesting, either, you know, um, good, bad, or eccentric, or whatever?

McGuire
Hm. Strange…

Scherer
Because your experiences are so different from other people’s in the military.

McGuire
Yeah.

Scherer
Usually[?], they’re in a unit, or they’re on some ship, and so on. But you were all over the place with all kinds of people, from the important ones to the not-so important ones.

McGuire
Yeah, but some of them were just ordinary folk. Uh, like[?] I was. [inaudible].

Scherer
But you had to find people who spoke English, I presume.

McGuire
Yes. And in most of the world, you can get by on English.

Scherer
That’s true.

McGuire
Most educated Thais could speak some English.

Scherer
Mmhmm.

McGuire
The, uh, officers on the Thai side, with whom I interfaced—one was an Admiral, the other was an Army Major, uh—spoke—spoke beautiful English.

Scherer
Yes[?].

McGuire
Um…

Scherer
That was—your stories are so interesting.

McGuire
That…

Scherer
Can you tell another story that—of interest…

McGuire
From that…

Scherer
[inaudible].

McGuire
Well, there is one other one of interest from that. I went to one of the bases, and the, uh—the guardsmen work on the base. They work for the American, uh, military police chief, whoever he is. And so, I was talking to him one day, and he was telling me about a young airman who wanted to get married. Now, before a serviceman can get married overseas, especially in a warzone, his, uh, bride has to be vetted through the American Embassy.

Scherer
Mmhmm.

McGuire
And most Americans, when they look at a Thai woman, cannot tell how old she is…

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
Until she is elderly, and then it’s obvious that she’s elderly. But as long as she is fairly young up through middle age, you’ve got no idea how old she is, when you look at her.

So there was this, uh, one young fellow, who wanted to get married and this—this is, um—now, this is 1974 time period—to, uh, his Thai honey. And when they started checking on her, they found out that she had been a prostitute for the Japanese forces, when the Japanese had occupied this particular base 30 years earlier.

Unidentified
[laughs].

Scherer
Very interesting turnaround[?].

Unidentified
[laughs].

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
[laughs] So our 18 year old—18 year old…

Scherer
Yeah.

McGuire
American G.I. couldn’t tell she was probably 45.

All
[laughs].

Scherer
Interesting. That’s interesting story.

McGuire
Yeah.

Scherer
Do you have friends around the world that you made at that time?

McGuire
We did have for a long time, but then, um, over the years…

Scherer
Yeah.

McGuire
They’re gone. The Admiral that[sic], uh, had been in charge from the Thai side—I kept in touch with for a long time, but then he died.

Scherer
I’m not supposed to add anything to this, but I have to say that a prostitute who was a prostitute for the Japanese was[?]—was, uh—was quite often recruited and kept as a slave for soldiers.

McGuire
Oh, more than likely.

Scherer
What did they call them? There’s a name for them. But anyway…

McGuire
Uh, comfort girls.

Scherer 
Comfort girls.

McGuire
Or comfort women, rather.

Scherer
She—that could have happened to her. I mean, but still, she was old.

McGuire
It might have been.

Scherer
[inaudible].

McGuire
But the point of the story wasn’t so much that she’d been a prostitute.

Scherer
That she was old.

McGuire
It was that she was at least 45 years old…

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
And our 18 year old airman couldn’t tell.

Scherer
[laughs] That would’ve been an interesting—or a—have made a rather easy decision for the superior to make [laughs].

McGuire
Yes. I don’t think she got her clearance.

Scherer
[laughs] So do you—yeah. Do you keep in touch with anyone that[sic] was posted in those places with you?

McGuire
No. By now, I have lost—well, with all, except one. I still keep in touch with the man I worked for when I was in Japan.

Scherer
Oh, yes.

McGuire
But, uh…

Scherer
[inaudible].

McGuire
The rest of them, time has gone by.

Scherer
Tell us about more colorful characters you’ve met.

McGuire
ike, I don’t, uh—Well, one of the most colorful characters was a fellow out there when I was a Thailand—American officer, who had lost the, um, first two joints of[?] one of his fingers, through some kind of accident. He cut it off with a saw or something. It wasn’t—it wasn’t particularly interesting. But the thing was he only had that much. Now in Thailand, you bargained at that time. You bargain for everything, and—but the currency is baht. So we would go and we would say, “Four baht,” and “Five baht,” “Ten baht.” whatever. Well, he could bargain in half baht.

Unidentified
[laughs].

Scherer
[laughs] I see why you remember him.

McGuire
That’s my main memory of him, is he could bargain in half bahts.

Scherer
I’m going to ask you a two-step question. Number one: did you ever keep a diary or make notes of what you were doing? Um…

McGuire
No.

Scherer
Oh, that’s [inaudible]—that’s more or less the answer then. Because, uh, it would be interesting, and you probably would have forgotten by now some of the things. Some of the [inaudible].

McGuire
Oh, I’m sure I’ve forgotten probably most of it by now.

Scherer
Yeah.

McGuire
But no. I did—never kept any diary. I got movies and slides and stuff like that, but…

Scherer
So what about your family, that were in the states whilst you were doing all this? Did you keep in touch with them fairly well?

McGuire
Well, my family was with me.

Scherer
No. Not your immediate family. I mean, your…

McGuire
Oh.

Scherer
Parents and siblings[?].

McGuire
My parents, and my brothers and sisters and siblings?

Scherer
Yeah.

McGuire
Oh, yeah.

Scherer
Yeah.

McGuire
I still do keep in touch with them.

Scherer
Yeah.

McGuire
Now, my parents are long gone, but yeah. My brothers and sisters and I still keep in touch.

Scherer
Well, of course, we didn’t have email or anything, so what did you do? Write to them?

McGuire
Yeah. We write—wrote letters. And every time you circulated that through the country, you would, um, go and see people. Um, yeah. My wife’s, uh, parents lived in War—in Warsaw, Missouri, which, uh, is kind of south and west of Kansas City[, Missouri]—a couple hundred miles out in the country at the head waters of the Lake of the Ozarks in the Missouri countryside—hill towns. And it was amazing how Warsaw became on the way to everything.

Scherer
Oh [laughs]. Via Warsaw [laughs].

McGuire
Yeah. It didn’t matter where we were going.

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
It was always by way of Warsaw…

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
Missouri. It could have been—it was Washing—Florida to Washington, D.C., is by way of Warsaw, Missouri. Uh…

Scherer
[laughs] Oh, that’s good.

McGuire
Seattle to Alabama for Squadron Officer School is by way of Warsaw, of course. That’s not too bad.

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
But, uh, everything was by way of Warsaw.

Scherer
Wow[?]. That’s funny.

McGuire
And then…

Scherer
Does your wife like traveling?

McGuire
Did she—yeah. She did.

Scherer
Oh, I [inaudible].

McGuire
She’s now passed, but, uh, yeah.

Scherer
Oh, I’m sorry.

McGuire
She did.

Scherer
I didn’t know. Um…

McGuire
Yeah.

Scherer
Well, you’ve had a very interesting life.

McGuire
Yeah, ‘cause that particular—That first wife died about six years ago, but then she sent along a replacement, who ordered me up off of Match.com as her souvenir of her visit to America—the United States. And, uh, she’s Thai.

Scherer
Oh, really?

Scherer
Well, how is your Thai? [laughs].

McGuire
My Thai is good enough…

Scherer
[inaudible] mai tai [laughs].

McGuire
My Thai—Yeah. I can order one of those. Um…

Scherer
Mai tai [inaudible] [laughs].

McGuire
My Thai is probably good enough to tell you “Hello” and “Goodbye.”

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
All of which is the same word: sà-wàt-dee. And to ask, “Hông náam yòo têe năi?” “Where’s the toilet?” in Thai.

Scherer
[laughs] Good one[?]. Good phrase [laughs].

McGuire
And I could say thank you: kòp kun mâak. And that’s about it. Uh, fortunately…

Scherer
[inaudible] If you were in procurement, people must have been saying, “Thank you” to you often.

McGuire
Oh, they were.

Scherer
Okay[?]. Were you bribed at any time? Or tempted to be bribed?

McGuire
No. No. Though, uh, some people had trouble with the U.S. standards on that. And in one particular instance in Thailand, uh, the contractors just could not understand when we said, “No. We cannot take anything.” So one Thanksgiving or Christmas or something, they showed up with a lot of turkeys and stuff. “No. we cannot take it.” “But I can’t take it.” “Well, okay.” we gave it to the orphanage.

Scherer
Oh, that was a good idea.

McGuire
But no.

Scherer
You must have come across a lot of interesting situations like that. That’s a—that’s…

McGuire
We came across a lot of things that were cultural differences.

Scherer
Yes, but I mean in the actual process of what you were doing. First of all, you had to find out who to start with to ask for what you needed. And then you had to choose between them.

McGuire
You had to choose between—yes. You have to define what you need. You have to find the people that can fill your need. And then you have to make a choice as to which one is going to fill it, and you have to pay attention to a whole long list of social things, as to which person can have this particular contract. Um…

Scherer
So you had to do a lot of hard work?

McGuire
Yeah. Yeah. Well, this is all goes with part of the job.

Scherer
The job. Yeah.

McGuire
Government procurement and commercial are not the same.

Scherer
Oh.

McGuire
And the big difference is the rules that, uh, the government person has to follow. And people that[sic] I was—when I was teaching at OSI, one of their frequently raised complaints was: “Well, it would be so much cheaper if we did this, or if we did it that way.” And I would have to explain to them that the, um, military procurement regulations, which fill a space like this, were not designed for the efficient and economic acquisition of goods and services for the military. They were designed to fill the social aims of Congress first. And after you fill the social aims of Congress, then we do things to make sure we get stuff.

But we have things like—you have Buy American Act [of 1933]. You have a, um, law that governs the amount of money that must be paid to the contractors on the job, which often is very different than the local prevailing wages. You have to procure from minority-owned businesses. You want to procure from women- owned businesses.

Scherer
They did that then? Back that far?

McGuire
Oh, yeah. They’ve done this for a long time. And it goes on and on and on. On certain type of business would be set aside, to be filled by only people who meet these social constraints. Whatever they were.

Scherer
Yeah.

McGuire
To fill the social aims of Congress. Um, I [inaudible]…

Scherer
Tell me what was your biggest disappointment during this time?

McGuire
Uh…

Scherer
Something…

McGuire
I can’t think of one at the moment.

Scherer
Go wrong after you went half way into it, or something like that?

McGuire
Pardon?

Scherer
Did anything go wrong after you went half way into it?

McGuire
No. The only interesting thing was I never intended to stay there.

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
I intended to do my first tour of duty, and then get out.

Scherer
Yes.

McGuire
But by the time that, uh, point came up, Air Force requirement is four years of service after commissioning. And the point I had four years of service, and I had three little children. And I knew I needed a Master’s Degree, and there wasn’t any way that I was going to be able to support four little children and a wife and go get a Master’s Degree on my own. And the Air Force says, “We will send you to, uh, George Washington University for your MBA [Master’s of Business Administration], if you would like. All you have to accept is an extended service commitment of three times the length of that year and a half of school.” And then every time I did that, or I got promoted, or I got sent somewhere, there was always a service commitment attached to it. It wasn’t until I had 18 years of service in, that I could’ve get out if I wanted to. At that point, I stopped accepting any offers for anything that had a commitment on it.

Scherer
I see. That’s understandable. And I think you [inaudible]…

McGuire
But by then, I was at Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois.

Scherer
I think—I think you’ve your judgments in order.

McGuire
Hm.

Scherer
Because I—I admire what you put first[?].

McGuire
[laughs].

Scherer
But you certainly had an intering—interesting career.

McGuire
Yeah.

Scherer
Tell me about something that—funny that happened whence you—when—when you were in one of these places.

McGuire
Well, alright. Well, uh, the one we were talking about at lunchtime. Military people on active duty, and as a retiree, are entitled to fly space available on military aircraft from one point to another. ‘Course you have last priority.

So we were in Japan, and my wife wanted to go to [South] Korea, which there were frequent flights between Yokota Air Base in Japan and Osan Air Base in Korea. So we went over to Korea, and on the way over we rode on a chartered airliner. And this just like riding in any other airliner, except this one is under charter with the [U.S.] DOD [Department of Defense].

And we went shopping in Seoul[, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea]. She bought all kinds of stuff. We got back down to Osan Air Base with the—almost a pick-up truck full of, um, things that she wanted to take, and found out there was no space available going back to Japan. There were lots of people like us and no space going back. And furthermore, there were no hotel rooms available in this little town outside Osan to spend the night.

So I called up my friend, who was the OSI boss in Osan, because this was shortly after my—my OSI tour, so I still knew the people. And he called around, and he called me back, and says, “Okay. Go down to this hotel,” [clears throat] “and they’ll take care of you and put you up for the night.” We did. And the next morning, I informed her that she had just spent the night in a whorehouse.

All
[laughs].

Scherer
And how…

McGuire
That’s what it was.

Scherer
And how did you get back? [inaudible].

McGuire
So we went back to the base to wait along with all of these other people, and the, uh, wing at Yokota sent a training flight over to Osan. The Air Force flies training flights all the time. They have to. To train the people. Keep their skills up. So they said, “Okay. Well, we got all these people waiting over there. We’ll send this flight over today to Osan to, uh—to pick these folks up.” And they did, in a [Lockheed] C-130 [Hercules]. The C-130 is a flying truck. You sit in the back end of this, and it’s like sitting in the back end of a big truck, on a canvas seat with very little in the way of heat or any sort of comforts whatsoever. So we all filed in there, put all of our luggage in there in front of us, and then…

Scherer
In front of you?

McGuire
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. This is a…

Scherer
All down the middle of the plane?

McGuire
Down the middle. This is the bay of a cargo airplane. This is not an airliner.

Scherer
Oh.

McGuire
You—you’ve seen pictures though

Scherer
Yeah.

McGuire
Now, they’re—they’re…

Scherer
In the movies.

McGuire
There—they’re about as—about like sitting in the back of a dump truck. Now, you load over the rear of that airplane. That’s how its tailgate goes down. And they can drive tanks, and trucks…

Scherer
Oh, I’ve seen

McGuire
And things like that. So everybody’s in there. We’re all sitting down, and the loadmaster goes to life the tailgate, and it won’t shut. Can’t get the door of the airplane shut.

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
So he takes a piece of wire, wraps it around the door, holds it in place…

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
Take off to go back to Japan.

Scherer
All wired up [laughs].

McGuire
And my brother-in-law, who is a—at that time, a paratrooper in the Army—uh, standard joke people ask him, “Why would you want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane?” And his answer is “Because the Air Force doesn’t have any.”

Scherer
[laughs] Oh, really?

McGuire
This was…

Scherer
Very interesting.

McGuire
A perfectly good airplane by Air Force standards. You could wire the door shut and fly.

Scherer
Is there anything else you would like to tell us before we end?

McGuire
Oh, I guess that’s probably about it.

Scherer
Well, you’ve been an easy person, because I was supposed to tell you at the beginning, that this is for you to tell your stories, and I’m just…

McGuire
Okay[?].

Scherer
Just there to ask the questions. But it was, uh—I didn’t have to do that, because you had so many stories, and you told them so well, and it was really interesting, and I’m sure everyone who reads veterans’ stories will like this story.

McGuire
If we’ve got time for one more quick[sic] one…

Scherer
Yes. We do.

McGuire
This is a funny one—to me, a funny one. Seattle is bordered on the eastern side of the city by a 20-mile long fresh water lake called Lake Washington. And One particular day, one of my friends up[?] there and I decided to check out some sailboats, because we had a—a sailboat, rather—as the Navy base had sailboats, and do sailing on Lake Washington. And we did. And we promptly knocked the sailboat down.

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
And we got it back up, and then we promptly knocked it down again. Now, the big lesson that I learned about doing that was that a can of beer, if it has not been opened, will float.

Scherer
[laughs].

McGuire
Because the beer we had, we can’t—that hadn’t been opened yet—all of it just floated every time we knocked the sailboat over, and so we got it back up, and we got out beer back on board.

Scherer
Oh, really? That’s interesting. Is it because there’s air in the can?

McGuire
Sure.

Scherer
Or because there’s not very much in it? [laughs].

McGuire
There’s air in the can, and a can of beer is sealed. It can’t get out, and it floats. And I…

Scherer
[inaudible].

McGuire
Didn’t know until then that a can of beer will float.

Scherer
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us…

McGuire
 
No.

Scherer
We conclude?

McGuire
Now that I’m thinking about it, I could go all afternoon.

Scherer
Yes[?]. Well, you were the easiest person to interview, I must say. Um, let’s see there was something I wanted to say to you, as well. Well, we—we thank you very much for being part of this program,

McGuire
Sure.

Scherer
And, um, I certainly enjoyed listening to your story, so I think you’ll be a great contributor. And…

McGuire
I hope so.

Scherer
So thank you very much.

McGuire
You’re welcome.

Scherer
Good luck.

McGuire
Thank you.


[1] Correction: Yokota Air Base.

[2] Officially the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).

[3] September 17, 1945-January 31, 1946.

[4] Also known as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Scherer, Rose Marie "Judy"

Interviewee

McGuire, George G.

Location

University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida

Original Format

1 audio/video DVD/CD

Duration

43 minutes and 22 seconds

Bit Rate/Frequency

157kbps

Locations

Categories