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Oral history interview with Samuel Rivera. Interview conducted by Andrew Ortiz in Orlando, Florida on April 24, 2017.


0:38 Birthplace, growing up, siblings, parents occupation; 1:45 Family service in the military; 2:18 Education before joining the service, thoughts about the Vietnam War; 3:05 Thoughts on the Draft then and now, how drafted affected friends; 4:43 How he ended up enlisting, uncles advice and military background; 6:28 Uncles reactions, how he needed civilian skills after his service; 6:58 Basic training: Lackland Airforce base, going in, adjusting to military life; 7:57 Memorable Drill Sergeants, their job, memorable trainees; 09:06 Memorable moment in basic training; 10:12 Graduation from basic training, memorable moment with Drill Sergeant; 11:32 Advance Training: Weapons Supervisor School, Crew Chief: Armament; 12:32 Stationed at Vietnam, reactions there, first experience there; 13:50 Experienced Veteran's advice; 14:33 Constant mortar shelling, shift schedule; 15:25 How they stayed entertained, drinking; 16:25 Staying in contact with his family; 17:45 Bomb and weapon loading, types of aircraft he loaded; 19:28 Restricted to De Nang Air Base, going to the MACV clubs; 20:21 Tet Offensive, duty during the Offensive; 21:40 Memorable moment in Vietnam, death, drug abuse, coping; 23:29 Pulled from Vietnam, while in Saigon, R&R in Bangkok; 25:15 Put together a G.I. Band, played congas, still loading bombs after treaty; 26:42 Last day in Vietnam, stationed to Edwards Air force Base, climate shock; 27:35 Story of bad experience heading to Edwards Air force base; 33:00 Situation with Colonel when he finally got to base, First Sergeant helps; 35:05 Affected by time in Vietnam, still coping with anger; 35:57 Duty at Edwards: Standardization and Evaluation Team; 37:12 Change of profile due to eyesight, applied to biomedical school; 38:05 Reenlisted, married, biomedical school in Texas, not what he expected; 40:12 Challenging course, part of Medical repair team, going around the U.S.; 41:39 Training he received helped in greatly in civilian world, NASA; 43:00 G.I. Bill and family, getting a trade, youth today; 44:20 Biomedical technician till 1978, got out, Honda and motorcycles; 45:09 University of Colorado Medical Center maintaining equipment; 45:19 Medals and citations earned; 46:06 Reactions to the fall of Saigon, not the people but government/politics; 47:13 Reflecting on service: staying in the service and patriotism; 47:53 Difficulty readjusting to civilian life still, advice to youth wanting to join; 50:01 Paying the price for our countries freedom; 50:30 Working for NASA: multiple jobs and works done there; 53:17 Ending the Interview.

Date of Birth


Place of Birth

New York (N.Y.)




White - Hispanic

Home State

New York

War or Conflict

Vietnam Era



Begin/End date of Service - 1st



Video; MovingImage


Entrance into Service


Branch of Service

U.S. Air Force

Unit of Service

20th Tactical Air Support Squadron, 366 Tactical Fighter Wing

Location of Service

Lackland Air Force Base (Tex.); Vietnam; Edwards Air Force Base (Calif.)

Highest Rank

Staff Sergeant; SSgt

Prisoner of War


Service Related Injury



Tet Offensive


Southeast Asia Service Medal; Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross; Vietnam Campaign Medal; Good Conduct Medal


See video for details.


Not applicable

City of Birth

New York City

Country of Birth

United States


Ortiz, Andrew D.

Interview Date


Location of Interview

Orlando, FL.


Rivera, Samuel; Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Personal Narratives; United States. Air Force

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


Ortiz, Andrew

Length of Interview

53 Minutes


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

Contributing Project

UCF Community Veterans History Project

Document Type