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.
Q: When you were growing up, were any members of your family in the
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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