Interview, Travis Piper, USMC
Travis Piper (b. 1945) is originally from Southern California. He attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and enrolled in the Marine Corps option of the school’s Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program. Piper was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1967. Within a week of his graduation, he went home, got married, and was on his way to report for duty in Virginia. Piper studied engineering at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and then learned to speak Thai in Monterey, California, in preparation for his deployment to Thailand. His orders changed and Piper was sent to Vietnam for one year. He was in the service for a total of three years and was honorably discharged on June 15, 1970. He found a job at Xerox, in Rochester, New York, immediately after leaving the Marine Corps. Piper later served as the president of CAI Hosting, Inc., also in Rochester.
In this interview, Piper describes the social conditions among American soldiers in Vietnam and his experience coming home from the war. He recalls the prejudice that African Americans faced in the military and remembers once defending a black soldier in court. He reports seeing discipline break down among American soldiers and notes that drug use was a big problem for many men. He feels that he had a good experience in the service and thinks that the military would be beneficial to everyone, although he acknowledges that he saw less combat than most men. Piper recalls the warm welcome from his family when he returned from the war and reports that he had little trouble readjusting to civilian life.