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Mr. Daly: 2006
Mr. Daly remembers Roger Brown whose name was added to the Wayland memorial. Mr. Daly prefers to forget about the Vietnam War.

Michael Daly was born in Natick, Massachusetts near the end of World War II. Most of his family was war veterans; his father was a World War II veteran and both of his brothers were involved in the Korean conflict in the 1950s. His family moved to Wayland, Massachusetts in 1959 where he entered his sophomore year in the brand new high school. When Mr. Daly graduated in 1963, he and his nine friends decided to volunteer for the Marines. During his tenure in the Marines, he went to school in Memphis Tennessee, then was placed in the Air Wing sector of the marines in North Carolina. Mr. Daly was never sent to Vietnam; he stayed in the U.S. His primary job was to forecast Vietnam’s weather which the officials used when creating flight plans and deciding when and where to send their troops. Mr. Daly spent a total of five years in service. At the end of his term he had the chance to serve four more years over in Vietnam, but he decided to leave the Marine Corps.

All of Mr. Daly’s friends that went into the Marines were sent into Vietnam, and all but one returned alive. The one that died was his best friend Roger Brown. Mr. Daly was very emotional when we touched upon this subject in the interview. The recent memorial put up near the Wayland Town Building commemorating fallen soldiers from Wayland did not have his friend’s name on it. Roger Brown’s parents had moved to Natick during the war, so he wasn’t a registered citizen of Wayland when he was killed. Mr. Daly fought the Town of Wayland to have Roger’s name engraved on the statue, and just recently he succeeded. Roger Brown along with two other names will be engraved on the statue. Mr. Daly’s experiences show that even when you are thousands of miles from combat, the effects of war can be just as great as if you were in the front line. The letters from Mr. Daly friends in combat made him want to be there right beside them. Although Mr. Daly didn’t get the chance to fight along his friends in Vietnam, he should be very proud of the work he did for our country.

Daly Gallery


Q: When you were growing up, were any members of your family in the service?

Mr. Daly: Well, I had two brothers who were in the military just after World War II and during the Korean conflict. My father was also in the service. I grew up in Wayland and I was born in Natick. I was raised in Wayland my whole life. Actually, when the school was built I came in as a sophomore in 1960, and actually, this was quite a school when it opened up. It was on the life magazine cover, you know the history of that? But my younger days I loved sports, I think that was the number one thing for me, and I happened to be gifted at it, so it was even better. I also enjoyed young ladies and cars.

Q: When did you first learn about the Vietnam War Conflict?

Mr. Daly: Well it was on the news, and I graduated in ‘63 and went straight into the marine’s right after graduation. They were starting to get advisors in there in ‘59 and ‘60, and it was on the news all the time, and the people got involved in it. A lot of people started to turn against the war, you know here at home. It was always on the news…. So that’s how I heard about it.

Q: So before you even came of age to join, was it a negative feeling in the country?

Mr. Daly: No, I don’t think at the time it was a negative feeling, but I think it grew in time because it turned into a war were a lot of young men were being killed, and we were not making much headway. We had peace activists back here that got involved and eventually in the late ‘60’s early ‘70’s the country turned, by ‘75 we were out.

Q: Were You Drafted or were you a volunteer?

Mr. Daly: No, I volunteered and I actually went in with a good friend of mine. We actually joined February of our senior year. It had a 120 day delay period where you could join, but you didn’t have to go until July, so we actually were in before we graduated. I had had a cousin who was in the marine core and had gotten out. I’m really a history buff and war type, and it seemed like something I wanted to do. I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone at the time, but it was good for me.

Q: Do you remember any specifics of the Korean War or President Eisenhower, did anything really strike you?

Mr. Daly: Well, the Korean War my brothers didn’t go, but they were in at that time, and we had a good friend of the family that fought in the war, which was a pretty bad battle. I was aware of it, and people talked about it a lot. I was still pretty young then, so I mean you don’t really, you know, realize what’s going on at that age.

Q: When John F. Kennedy got into the White House how did you view him, were you in favor or were you not old enough to make that decision?

Mr. Daly: It was in 1960, so I was 16, but kids didn’t think about politics back then, and I think today you guys are much more advanced and involved in the world than we were. We were kind of Naïve. We lived in a small town and we didn’t get out of here very much, so I mean it was just something we didn’t really think about. We liked Kennedy naturally because he was from Massachusetts. My family was a democratic family; at least my father was so we were happy when he came in. We thought he had a lot of good ideas with the peace core and all that stuff, but it was too bad that he was assassinated. He would have bettered this country.

Q: You were in the service at the time of the Gulf Of Tonkin (1964) incident?

Mr. Daly: Yes I was, I was probably going to school in Memphis. And when you were actually in, I was still in training; you didn’t really get much outside information. I mean you could have if you really looked for it. You got up in the morning, went to school, you came back and you studied, and then you went back to school. You didn’t have a lot of free time during the training years. So I was in, but I really wasn’t thinking about what the ramifications of it were.

Q: How long was training?

Mr. Daly: About 18 months total. What they did was everyone goes to boot camp and they screen you. I was going to go into the Air wing. They have different schools. They have the Navy Schools in Memphis and they screen you there. And they have another school in New Jersey.

Q: When Lyndon Johnson announced that they were going to start sending troops to Vietnam how did you feel? Were you still in training when you heard the news?

Mr. Daly: No, actually I had volunteered a couple of times, but fortunately for me, they did need my particular M.O.S. And then at the end, just before I got out, they cut me orders that I could go, but I would’ve had to sign on for another 4 years, and I didn’t want to do that.

Q: Once you became a soldier did your views on Vietnam change as you were in boot camp and your friends were being sent in the war?

Mr. Daly: Near the end in ‘67 when I was getting ready to get out. I mean, if I was asked to go I would have still gone gladly and done my duty, but you could see that it was becoming a politically fought war, and there was no end in site, especially in a positive manner for us, so people started to change their minds why were there, and if we should have been. I had my doubts at that time.

Q: How many Soldiers close to you left for Vietnam? A good number of your friends?

Mr. Daly: I was looking for my yearbook, but I know that there were 10 goods friends of mine that went into the service at about the same time. They all came back except for one and his name was Roger Brown. Ill tell you a little story about him in a minute, but in boot camp, too, there was some guys in (that I) became friends with that didn’t come back, but as far as good friends that I knew growing up, there was about 10. Most of them went into the Air force, one went into the army, and one went into the marines, and all but Roger came back. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the memorial they just put in last year at the old high school. Rogers name was left of that because Roger graduated in ‘63 and he went to college at Babson. While he was going to college, his parents moved to Natick and the same time he was shot down in the Air Force, so when they looked for the names for that memorial, they state has him listed from Natick and not Wayland. So I have gone to a few meetings, and now they are going to put his name on the memorial.

Q: What were your responsibilities while you were at school and in camp?

Mr. Daly: Well, when you are in the marines you are always riflemen, basically, even though you have your main job. When the fighting starts they give you a rifle and tell you to go. But I was in a weather office in the air wing of the marines, and when they fly they need to have a flight plan filled out. On the flight plan they need to have the weather: present weather and forecasted weather. That was my job as far as forecasting for the flight plan.

Q: So you forecasted the weather? You were the weather man in a way?

Mr. Daly: Yeah, we put one out at six O’clock every morning.

Q: Did you pursue that profession after you got out?

Mr. Daly: No, I probably should have, but I didn’t.

Q: When you were forecasting the weather and such, was there a hierarchy?

Mr. Daly: No, I was a sergeant. There were nine enlisted pay grades. When I got out of high school I was a lance corporal, and so when I got to my first duty station I was low on the pole, but by the time I got out I was a commander.

Q: Were you ever allowed to leave. Like you would go down to Memphis, but when were you allowed to come home?

Mr. Daly: Well, you had 30 days leave a year and you could request certain times, but you didn’t always get it depending on the situation. For school you could pretty much get leave anytime, but when you were actually at the station and depending on how many people wanted to go, it became a pecking order as far as your rank. The high rank had priority first. According to particular office; the highest rank was first lieutenant. But everyone got along pretty well so there wasn’t usually any problems getting leave when you wanted. At certain times we were frozen, meaning that you had a scheduled date to get out and mine was July ‘67, and certain times in ‘65 my enlistment was frozen and the time didn’t count towards my service. By ‘67 they had rolled that back.

Q: Was it ever hard for you to go out on leave and then come back?

Mr. Daly: I mean, I had a lot of friends. I spent a lot of time with friends at UMass (the University of Massachusetts), but it wasn’t difficult. I never thought about not going back, but I wasn’t excited about it because it was a drag.

Q: Did you visit your parents?

Mr. Daly: Yeah well I saw my mother. My father had actually passed away when I was going through my freshmen year, so just my mom. I visited her every time I came back.

Q: How did she react towards how the war was going? Each time you came back did she become more worried?

Mr. Daly: She didn’t want me going. She had to sign for me because I was only 17 when I signed up. She wasn’t going to do it, but I had my brother’s work on it and she agreed.

Q: Were you the youngest child?

Mr. Daly: No, I am not the youngest; I have a younger sister. It was like two different families because I had a sister about 4 years younger than me and two brothers 15 and 16 years older than me.

Q: Oh I just figured if you were the youngest sometimes it’s harder for a mother to let go?

Mr. Daly: No, she was getting old, and when you get older it’s a painful experience (sarcasm) and you are bothered by a lot of things that you wouldn’t have thought about when you were younger. She knew what was going on over there, and she really took it to heart because her son was in the fight.

Q: Was your mother Anti- war?

Mr. Daly: No she supported the country, she stood behind it. She was very patriotic. Patriotic in a manner that she would support the president because the people who were protesting were patriotic too, although, I didn’t think so at the time.

Q: Your views have changed now that you’re older?

Mr. Daly: Yeah you do. You have much more respect for those people.

Q: Did you look at the Anti- war protestors as traitors to the Country?

Mr. Daly: At the time I did, Jane Fonda especially. I didn’t like it; I mean it was one thing to protest, but to be there was another.

Q: The Democratic National Convention?

Mr. Daly: No, she went to Hanoi and had peace rallies there. I thought it was a little bit over the top.

Q: Did most of the people in the forces feel the same way?

Mr. Daly: Yeah, I mean I was in a volunteer force. The Marines had volunteers. Most of the Army was drafted; and most of the guys in the Army were more negative toward the war because they were forced to be there.

Q: What do you believe we were fighting for?

Mr. Daly: The fight against communism. It was a great evil at the time.

Q: You believed it would spread to other countries?

Mr. Daly: Yes that was what everyone was saying, and why we were there. As an 18-year-old guy at the time, I certainly wasn’t going to say that our leaders were wrong, and so I decided they were probably right, but as it turned out they were wrong.

Q: Did you see both the N.V.A. and the VC as trying to spread communism, or trying to defend their country?

Mr. Daly: The propaganda was that they were spreading communism, They wanted to take South Vietnam and make it communist; and naturally that’s what I thought; the spreading of communism.

Q: Looking back on it now would you see these two groups as nationalists rather than communists. Trying to gain their independence?

Mr. Daly: Yes, that was just the way it was. Again, because where China was involved backing them, it made it seam like they were trying to spread communism. Ho Chi Minh was definitely doing it for his country. I don’t think he was an evil person.

Q: During your training were you taught of Vietnamese culture or history?

Mr. Daly: Not at all. We were taught nothing. I think when you went over there, the marines went through the Philippines, and when you got to the Philippines, you went through 3-4 weeks of a crash course of what to expect.

Q: What is your viewpoint on the My Lai massacre and the Tet offensive?

Mr. Daly: Well I was out. I was still in the reserves, but I was out of active duty. Well, My Lai was a black eye for our country. I’m sure your talking about the Lieutenant there who killed the kids? I would never agree to that no matter what, he was wrong. This is not to justify it, but a lot of those women and children would kill you if they had the opportunity. Once you walked by they would blow you up, so it was total frustration rearing its ugly head. It should never have happened.
As far as the Tet Offensive, it was a holiday and a truce. Although they were soundly defeated militarily, it was a great political victory for them. It showed that they were still able to reach us at the most secure places. It also made people think back here, that we might not be able to win this war.

Q: After the troops were brought into Vietnam and the civil rights movement was on the front page, did you think that there were differences among the troops either racial or just plain separations?

Mr. Daly: Being born and growing up around here, we never saw a black person. Really, my first experience with black people was in the marines. It never bothered me; one of my best friends in the service was black. He was really someone who mentored me. I didn’t see any of that at all. There was no problem with racism at all.

Q: That was in Memphis too, right?

Mr. Daly: Well, I was in Memphis for school and even if there was racial tension you wouldn’t see it because you were disciplined; they would say do this and you did it. When I got out on to our doom station in North Carolina, it was a helicopter station mainly; there was still no racism that I saw at all. It was just never a problem for us. Although I did hear that there were problems in the Army.

Q: I know you said that most of your peers didn’t agree with the protests, but as these efforts had escalated was there an increased anger going on among your peers or an acceptance that these protests were going on?

Mr. Daly: We were angry at those people at that time. We felt that they were not giving us the support that we needed. That was generally the feeling where I was. Now I suppose I just accept what people thought.

Q: When Jimmy Carter allowed all the people who ran up to Canada citizenship in 1980 were you offended?

Mr. Daly: No. It didn’t really affect me at the time.

Q: You had been out of the services long enough?

Mr. Daly: Yes.

Q: You were out of the marines by the time of Kent State. How did you feel about that whole situation?

Mr. Daly: That was a tragic operation; I think that taking National Guard people, who were probably not trained, and putting them in any kind of situation with live ammo was a mistake by those who were in command. Again, it was just stupidity.

Q: Did your friends in the war write you from the front, telling you about their experiences?

Mr. Daly: Oh Yes, the kid that I went in with, I sees him all the time. Another kid that I knew, I still see him. We wrote back and forth, they brought pictures back and stuff. They wanted to come home, but they were glad to do their duty.

Q: You don’t think that it changed them as much? I mean I know there were people who were Pro-war until they got there and then changed their minds?

Mr. Daly: Well, if you asked them today they probably would say they have changed, but they were still, especially my buddy, gung- ho. If he was talking to you hear today, he would probably be negative towards the protesters, but most of them were glad that they did it. I’m sure that they would have rather not been there. They were all fired at, but they were glad they did their duty.

Q: When you wrote to them, did you write things to try and keep up their moral?

Mr. Daly: Oh yes, I mean I was eager to go. I never wrote anything derogatory back to them, or that they shouldn’t be there.

Q: You friends are writing to you and they’re saying how awful it was and how they wished they could be home?

Mr. Daly: Well no, they said they missed home, but they wanted to do their duty. They would talk about missions they had gone on, and more or less operations, rather than if they liked it there. They didn’t like it there, but they didn’t say they hated it. They were going to do their duty and then come home.

Q: Was there anything you heard that was different from your training or what you expected?

Mr. Daly: Most of them were in the air force, so they didn’t really go out into the bush, and the three kids that were in the marines were in the Air Wing like myself. They were what you called Parachute regulators, which means they worked with helicopters, so they were never in the bush. They would deliver troops and take them out, and deliver supplies. They really weren’t in the hand to hand combat.

Q: Have you ever read anything of the Tim O’Brien books or watched Vietnam Movies? Did you feel that they were accurate?

Mr. Daly: To be honest with you, I haven’t watched any movies of that era or on the war.

Q: Are you just trying to leave that behind you?

Mr. Daly: Yeah. I’m a war buff; I love watching the history channel on World War II or Korea, but Vietnam I really want to get away from. I feel like it was a mistake, and a lot of good kids got killed just like today in Iraq. How do you guys feel about that?

Matt: Well I think that I am sort of like you; if my number was called to go to Iraq I would go without protesting, and willingly fight for my country. A couple of years after I got out I might have said we were fighting for nothing, but I would go in and fight for my country.

Mr. Daly: I would like to see them succeed, but as far as the history of that region…

Dana: I agree with being loyal and everything, but they haven’t found what they were looking for.

Mr. Daly: Well they have secured the evidence they needed to go, but they weren’t able to present enough to the public, and that is too bad.

Q: Do you see a lot of parallels between Vietnam and Iraq?

Mr. Daly: Oh yes, there is no question about it. As far as the fighting, it’s not the same because you were actually out in the jungle back then, and now we are in the cities, but politically I think you can draw a lot of similarities.

Matt: I also think that in Iraq they are fighting something that will never end. There is always going to be someone who is trying to terrorize, especially in the Middle East, which we will never understand.

Mr. Daly: Not only for us, but for each other. There are three religions there that can’t stand each other, and they have been fighting since before Christ. We aren’t going to put a stop to that. I mean, it would be great if they could have a Democracy there and succeed, but I just don’t see it.

Q: Do you think that it may be time to pull out if we don’t see a change?

Mr. Daly: I would like to see us pull out, I really do. At the beginning I thought it was a good idea after listening to what they said, but now that everything has come out, and we don’t have their mass destruction weapons, Why are we there? Well, we are there for the oil. Do you think that we would be fighting in that region if there was no oil? No way.

Q: What do you think would happen to the moral of the soldier’s in Iraq if we decided to pull out?

Mr. Daly: Well, I am sure they would feel it was a let down for all of the people that died there, but the soldiers are there doing a great job, and they want to be there. Unfortunately, in the long run I don’t think they are going to be able to accomplish their mission. It’s a shame because there have been a lot of good men that have died, now I think it’s for not.

Q: Do you think that’s how the soldiers in Vietnam felt when the United States decided to pull out?

Mr. Daly: Yeah, I think the guys thought that for sure. I mean hindsight is 20-20. When you can think back over it, you can have a better understanding of what transpired and you views would change.

Q: When you left at the end, did you feel the public viewed you differently?

Mr. Daly: I never experienced anything derogatory. I have heard stories about other soldiers. I used to fly a lot because of my job, and we used to be able to fly on the commercial airlines for free, as long as we wore our uniforms, and I never heard any derogatory remarks. Good things more or less.

Q: In the 2005 election between Kerry and Bush, Kerry basically played his soldier card because of his days on the swift boats. What did you think about that?

Mr. Daly: There was some controversy there, but I mean the man was there and he served. He was wounded three times and I believe it was a good thing; there was no reason to think otherwise. There was some speculation that one of his injuries didn’t deserve a purple heart, but if he didn’t fit the criteria he wouldn’t have got it.

Q: Once Kerry got out of the forces, he switched his point of view. Do you think he was alone, or do you think more soldiers had changed their minds?

Mr. Daly: Again, I think a lot of the guys as they grew older thought that it would have been better if we hadn’t been there.

Q: When the soldiers got out of the war and formed the “Vietnam Vets against the War,” what did you think of those men?

Mr. Daly: I was very negative towards those men at the time, but I wouldn’t be today.

Q: Any lessons that you have learned from your experience in Vietnam?

Mr. Daly: Well you know the military, for me, was a good thing. I needed the discipline at that time in my life because I was kind of a wild kid and getting in trouble, and it straightened me out. For me, that was the thing that I needed. I needed discipline and it was good for me. I saw some kids who just couldn’t handle it. They had to send them home because they just couldn’t handle the discipline. It is not for everybody, but for me it was good.

Q: I know that Wayland has a Historical Society. Is that something that you’re involved in, or is it just a meeting every now and then?

Mr. Daly: No I am actually no longer in Wayland. I do march in the Memorial Day parade in Wayland, but I don’t belong to any committee.

Q: Have you ever made it down to the Vietnam memorial in Washington D.C. and how was that experience for you?

Mr. Daly: Very touching.

Q: Do you feel they did a good job?

Mr. Daly: Oh Yes. It will bring a tear to your eye when you see guy’s names up there that you know.

Dana: I was recently down in D.C. and our leader told us that there is some controversy over the design of the memorial because it is just the wall and no other monuments. Do you believe they left anything out?

Mr. Daly: No, I think it’s perfect, I really do. I think the young lady that designed it did a wonderful job.

Matt: I went down to Washington when I was 11 and I was very ignorant in a war sense, but when I saw the Vietnam memorial it just overwhelmed me.

Mr. Daly: Yes I think it is a lot more personal that the other memorials. It just really brings emotion out of you. Much more than World War II and the Korean memorials they have.

Q: You said that you needed the discipline, but do you think there are any lessons the nations either learned or should have learned from the Vietnam conflict?

Mr. Daly: I don’t know if they learned. The political leaders aren’t doing anything particularly bad, but they ought to have more foresight when making decisions; not just going in there, but after we are there, how are we are going to win this, and how we are going to get out. They haven’t done this since Vietnam. I mean World War I and II we had to fight those wars, and once the enemy was beaten you went home; and Korea it was a stalemate at the end. When they went into Vietnam they didn’t really give it any thought, other than we are going to stop these guys here and that’s it. They didn’t think of the consequences. Can we change their views? Can we make it a democratic country? They didn’t really think about that, they just said we were going to do it. It’s the same that we are doing here today.