Media is loading


Oral History interview of Kathy Neilson. Interview conducted by Kessler, Justin at Orlando, FL.


0:21 Birthplace, Parents occupations, siblings; 1:01 What she did before the service, tried the Coast Guard, why the Navy; 1:44 Education prior to joining, continue education after her service; 1:54 Family in the service, local newspaper did article on family; 2:36 Families reaction to her service, length of service; 3:09 First night at Recruit Training Command, reactions when given uniform; 4:29 How she felt after her first day of training; 5:05 How was physical training like; 5:39 How much classroom training she had, etiquette class; 6:09 Advance training with language, sent to Defense Language Institute in D.C.; 6:59 Average day of training in Recruit Training; 7:49 Break during training; 8:29 Day that stood out for her: Chores; Leader: not at full potential due to Navy; 10:24 Expectations going into the Navy, didn't get job she wanted; 11:09 Adapting to Navy life; 11:54 Inspections; 12:38 Thoughts on Company Commanders, Company motto; 13:29 Free time, staying in touch with fellow RTC trainees; 14:27 The Grinder; 14:43 Most significant thing she took away from training; 15:45 Swim training at RTC; 16:51 Barracks accommodations; 17:33 What it was like being the first woman at RTC Orlando; 18:22 Difference between man's and woman's training; 19:10 First duty station: Norfolk; 20:30 Becoming a Yoemen; 21:19 Reenlisted; worked for Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon; 22:00 Duty while working with Secretary of Defense; 22:25 Medals she earned; 23:17 Being called up to active duty during Operation Desert Shield; 24:28 Role as Chief Petty Officer, most memorable moment; 25:08 Becoming a Chief via secret initiation; 27:00 Final words; 9/11; 29:29 Ending the Interview; final note about being thanked for her service.

Date of Birth


Place of Birth

Savannah (Ga.)





Home State


War or Conflict

Vietnam Era



Begin/End date of Service - 1st



Entrance into Service


Branch of Service

U.S. Navy

Unit of Service

Russian Language School, Washington, D.C.; Air Wing Norfolk, Va.; Sec. of Defense Staff, Pentagon; Flag riders, Naval Academy; Akron Ohio, Antilles defense; State Department; Naval Personal command, Washington D.C.; Naval Command Center, Pentagon.

Location of Service

Washington (D.C.); Akron (Ohio); Norfolk (Va.)

Highest Rank

Chief Petty Officer; CPO

Prisoner of War


Service Related Injury





Navy Achievement Medal; Navy Commendation Medal; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Meritorious Service Medal; Expert Marksman Badge


See video for details.


Make-up classes; not allowed to participate fire drills or handle weapons; walked through protesters at the Pentagon. Established New Command supporting Navy Historical Unit. Received Good Conduct Medal four times and National Defense Medal twice.

City of Birth


Country of Birth

United States


Kessler, Justin

Interview Date

Fall 10-13-2016

Location of Interview

Orlando, FL.


Nielson, Kathleen; Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Personal Narratives; Women and the military -- United States; United States. Navy

Collection Description

Contains logs, audio and video recordings of interviews with Central Florida's veterans as part of a history class project for the students at the University of Central Florida (UCF). The UCF Community Veterans History Project(CVHP) started in fall 2010. It collects, preserves, and makes accessible to the public the experiences of Central Florida's veterans so that future generations will better understand the realities of conflict. It is a collaborative endeavor supported by multiple departments and offices at UCF. The veterans' histories are archived and made digitally available through the UCF library and selected materials are contributed to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.

Contributor Affiliation / Organization

RICHES University of Central Florida


Kessler, Justin

Length of Interview

30 Minutes


Department of History, University of Central Florida


Video; MovingImage


All rights are held by the respective holding institution. This material is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. For permission to reproduce and/or for copyright information contact Special Collections and University Archives, University of Central Florida Libraries, (407) 823-2576. http://library.ucf.edu/about/departments/special-collections-university-archives/


University of Central Florida Libraries, Special Collections & University Archives

Contributing Project

UCF Community Veterans History Project

Document Type