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Collection Bo Ryan
WVM ID Number OH 1107
Object Name Oral History
Title Oral History Interview with Bo Ryan
Date 2007
Event Vietnam War
Narrator's Name Bo Ryan
Interviewer's Name Jim Kurtz
Description In this oral history interview, William "Bo" Ryan, a Chester, Pennsylvania native, describes his stateside experience as a military police officer in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

Born in 1947, Ryan relates growing up always knowing the possibility of military service as his father received a Bronze Star in World War II veteran and his uncle was an Army Ranger in the Korean War. Ryan details how prevalent the Cold War was; relating a story of a neighbor who built a fallout shelter. After graduating high school in 1965, Ryan describes attending Wilkes University. While there he strived for good grades in order to avoid being drafted out of college and because he would be the first in his family to obtain a four year degree. Upon graduation in 1969, Ryan describes obtaining a high-paying job with ARCO only to be drafted several weeks later. Ryan recounts that he took his draft in stride; trying to make the best of the situation. Ryan explains completing basic training at Fort Bragg (North Carolina) where he achieved the highest PT test scores and becoming a platoon guide. Ryan describes several ways to evade military service; such as eating peanut butter to affect blood pressure. He also mentions playing basketball at night with special operative members after most in his platoon had gone to sleep.

After completing basic training, Ryan was assigned to the military police at Fort Gordon (Georgia) where he attended Advanced Individual Training and won a pistol as the top graduate of his class. Ryan tells that he was assigned to work with prisoners as a correctional specialist to provide counseling and perform guard duties. He tells of transporting some "bad characters" to prison at Fort Leavenworth (Kansas) via commercial airline. Ryan describes Army prisoners; saying some had done tours in Vietnam, but that most went AWOL or deserted before they went over. He claims the biggest reason for desertion was their perception that their wife or girlfriend was cheating on them. He speaks to the time as "trying to be a kinder, gentler Army;" in that somebody who went AWOL or deserted a little bit could still serve and receive an honorable discharge if they completed their assigned duty while in prison. Ryan addresses going to town to take care of the drunks who were "over served." He speaks of being on alert on "the day the eagle dropped"(payday) and several encounters he had with the neck of a broken beer bottle.

After completing his service duties, Ryan speaks of his decision not to return to ARCO, but to go back to school for coaching and teaching. Ryan then tells of using government funding to go back to school and also his use of the GI Loan to purchase a home in Madison, Wisconsin. Ryan describes his experience in the military as positive, as well as feeling that it was his responsibility as an American citizen.
Extent and Medium of Description Analog audio recording: 1 audio cassette (approx. 41 minutes)
Transcript: 20 pgs.
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Biographical Record Ryan, Bo
Search Terms Vietnam War