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
War or Conflict
Begin/End date of Service - 1st
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.)
Staff Sergeant; SSgt
Prisoner of War
Service Related Injury
Southeast Asia Service Medal; Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross; Vietnam Campaign Medal; Good Conduct Medal
See video for details.
City of Birth
New York City
Country of Birth
Ortiz, Andrew D.
Location of Interview
Rivera, Samuel; Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Personal Narratives; United States. Air Force
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
Samuel, Rivera, "Rivera, Samuel interview" (2017). Veterans Oral Histories. 542.