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Collection Michael Ely
WVM ID Number OH 1508
Object Name Oral History
Title Oral History Interview with Michael Ely
Date 2012
Event Vietnam War
Narrator's Name Michael Ely
Interviewer's Name Sam Driscoll
Description In this oral history interview, Michael Ely, from Madison, Wisconsin, relates his military experience that included his time with the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War as well as his twenty years in the Wisconsin National Guard (1974-1994).

Ely enlisted in 1962 after leaving school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He discusses his signing up at the recruiter's office. He then comments briefly on his training at Camp Pendleton in southern California. Upon shipping overseas (for a total of 13 months), Ely joined the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines as a radio operator based on Okinawa. He participated in trainings and maneuvers in various locations in the Pacific, including Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines. Ely relays that at the time of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, his battalion was deployed in moving up and down the coast of Vietnam for almost two months at the ready. After a short break, his force resumed this duty for another month, with a planned amphibious landing being canceled during this time. Ely then reflects on how he is officially considered a Vietnam veteran although he never set foot in-country. Ely left the Marine Corps in December 1964. The interview continues with his explaining his involvement in the supply section of the 13th Evac Hospital as part of the Wisconsin National Guard beginning in 1974. He comments on his inability to become an officer due to his being over the age of thirty and having family commitments. Ely outlines the 13th Evac Hospital's activation in November 1990 after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, which included training at Fort McCoy. He was part of an advance party that deployed to Saudi Arabia in December 1990. By January 1991, the hospital was established near the Iraqi border and began to receive casualties when the First Gulf War began in February. Ely notes that most of those treated were Iraqi prisoners of war.

Ely returned home in early May 1991, with his unit being formally deactivated three years later. He explains that he could have transferred to another Guard unit at this time, but decided to be discharged. Ely goes on to say that there continues to be annual reunions for those involved in his unit. Ely describes his occupation at the Evac Hospital, which entailed obtaining and distributing water. Ely concludes by relating a humorous story from his time in boot camp.
Extent and Medium of Description Digital audio recording: 1 wav. file (approx. 1 hour)
Transcript: 14 pgs.

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Biographical Record Ely, Michael
Search Terms Vietnam War
Gulf War