Oral history interview of Richard Sommerfeld. Interview conducted by Karen Kelly at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida on March 21, 2017.
0:01 Introduction; 0:27 Birth Place; 0:37 Parents Occupation; 0:50 Family and Education; 1:45 Reason for Enlistment and Enlistment Process; 3:28 Sent to Great Lakes for Boot Camp; 4:00 No Expectations for Navy but Wanted Education; 4:58 Parents Felt Proud About Enlistment; 5:37 Boot Camp Not What He Expected; 6:30 Average Day at Boot Camp, Training; 7:34 Adaptation to Life in Boot Camp; 08:15 Differences Between Recruits from Different States Was Educational; 10:58 Free Time, Going to Visit Family in Milwaukee; 11:50 Further Training After Boot Camp: Defense Language Institute, Other; 13:42 How He Ended Up Working For the NSA; 14:08 Worked on Submarine Off Coast of Russia, TIME Article About It; 15:08 Advanced Submarine Tech Meant They Never Got Caught; 15:35 Also Worked on Destroyer Following Russian Ship From Cuba; 16:38 How He Felt Working in Security; 17:52 Process For Getting Security Clearance; 19:10 Everything 'Need to Know' Basis, Knew Capabilities of All Russian Ships; 21:12 Initial Impressions of NSA, Secrecy and Cutting Edge Tech; 23:05 Working for the NSA in the 60s and 70s, Focus on Russia; 24:28 Translated Russian Communications: Anti-Submarine Warfare; 25:25 Info On Russian Anti-Submarine Warfare Techniques; 26:44 Russian Language Classes, 9 Months of Total Immersion; 29:00 Being Mistaken for a Native Speaker; 29:48 Keeps up with Russian by taking classes at UCF; 31:45 Story About His Sub and British Sub Being Spotted by Russians; 34:40 Not a Part of Regular Crew, Listening to 4 Radio Channels At Once; 36:32 Thoughts on Cold War at the Time, "Us Against Them" Mentality; 38:08 Thoughts on NSA Now; 40:56 Changes in the NSA After He Left, Influence of Politics; 42:02 Fascination with Language Because of His Career; 43:13 Why He Decided to Leave the Navy, Didn't "Get Along" with Military; 45:50 Transition Back to Civilian Life, His Experience Vs Others; 47:57 Life After Navy: Managed a Bar, Contractor, Felt Direction-less; 49:00 Move to Central Florida; 49:53 Taking Russian and Portuguese Classes; 50:28 Past Security Work Restricted Travel; 52:28 Using Language Skills in Civilian Life; 54:48 END OF INTERVIEW.
Date of Birth
Place of Birth
War or Conflict
Begin/End date of Service - 1st
Entrance into Service
Branch of Service
Unit of Service
Naval Security Group
Location of Service
Fort Meade (Fla.)
Prisoner of War
Service Related Injury
Was a Russian Language Military Interpreter.
City of Birth
Country of Birth
Location of Interview
University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL.
Sommerfeld, Richard; Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Personal Narratives; United States. Navy
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
Length of Interview
Department of History, University of Central Florida
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
UCF Community Veterans History Project
Richard, Sommerfield, "Sommerfield, Richard interview" (2017). Veterans Oral Histories. 540.