Streaming Media


Oral history interview of Howard McCain, conducted by Sharon Rodriguez in Orlando, Florida on April 5, 2018.


0:40 Introduction and family background; 0:47 Parents employment history; 1:07 Elementary education and brief stay in college; 1:59 Family members in the military; 2:56 Working with TWA at Kennedy Space Center before the Navy; 3:30 Joins the Naval Reserves to avoid the Draft; 4:00 Talks about how he became a Seabee; 6:15 Memories of Basic Training; 7:20 His time at the U.S. Navy Steelworkers School; 8:40 Advanced training as part of the Navy Seabees; 9:19 First Tour in Vietnam during 1967; 10:15 Building a compound for South Vietnamese forces near Chu Lai; 10:30 Interacting with nearly 70 Vietcong POWs while constructing the compound; 11:30 First impressions of Chu Lai; 13:50 Working with Vietcong Prisoners; 15:00 Experiences working with South Vietnamese; 15:56 A typical day in Vietnam; 16:39 Advantages of having an ice-maker in their barracks; 17:12 Communication with home while in Vietnam; 18:29 Leave in Hong Kong and Hawaii, while in Vietnam; 19:50 2nd tour in Vietnam attached to a welding crew near Hue city near the DMZ; 23:09 Memories of his time near the Demilitarized Zone; 24:00 Receiving close air support from a Douglas AC-47 "Puff the Magic Dragon"; 24:37 Most memorable experience while stationed in Hue City; 25:40 Experiencing combat in Vietnam; 28:02 Most Memorable aspect of his time in the Service; 30:00 Talks about the Seabee motto, "can do" and its importance to him; 32:39 Wounded by shrapnel during a firefight but failed to report it or seek aid; 33:00 Interactions with the Veterans Affairs Administration and reviving benefits; 36:20 Post war employment as an Insurance salesman; 36:40 Recollections of the Tet Offensive of 1968; 37:30 Why he ultimately decided to leave the United States Navy; 38:50 Life returning to the United States after Vietnam; 40:20 Readjusting to Civilian life after the military; 41:33 How did your friends, family, and community welcome you upon your return; 42:09 Discusses his feelings on the Vietnam War; 44:15 Remaining in contact with fellow vets from your service; 44:50 Relating aspects of your military experience to your civilian life; 47:26 Volunteering at the VA Hospitable in Orlando; 54:25 Conclusion.

Date of Birth


Place of Birth

Chattanooga (Tenn.)





Home State


War or Conflict

Vietnam Era



Begin/End date of Service - 1st



Entrance into Service


Branch of Service

U.S. Army

Unit of Service

Artillery BTN; Infantry BTN; CAV Squadron; Infantry Brigade; Tech Escort; UCF ROTC

Location of Service

Germany; Fort Wainwright (Alaska); Fort Leonard Wood (Mo.); Fort Lewis (Wash.); Fort Leavenworth (Kan.); Fort Leonard Wood (Mo.); Orlando (Fla.)

Highest Rank

Lieutenant Colonel; LTC

Prisoner of War


Service Related Injury



Presurge Iraq; Surge Iraq; Operation New Dawn


Bronze Star; Meritorious Service Medal; Army Commendation Medal; Army Achievement Medal; Joint Meritorious Unit Award; Valorous Unit Award; Navy Unit Commendation Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Iraqi Campaign Medal; GWOT Medal; Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal


Please see video


Lieutenant Colonel Ramsey was enlisted first in May 1997, and later he was commissioned on May 27, 1999.

City of Birth

Aransas Pass

Country of Birth

United States


Grande, John

Interview Date

Spring 1-23-2018

Location of Interview

University of Central Florida


McClain, Howard E.; Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Personal Narratives; United States. Army

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


Grande, John

Length of Interview

72 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.


University of Central Florida Libraries, Special Collections & University Archives

Contributing Project

UCF Community Veterans History Project

Document Type