Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Samuel C. Thompson, April 13, 2022

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries


Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:00:45 - Childhood / Growing Up

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania--

Segment Synopsis: Samuel Thompson gives a brief description of his childhood. He shares that his father’s service as a lieutenant in a Buffalo Soldier regiment who fought in Italy during World War II inspired him to join the Marines and serve in the military.

Keywords: Buffalo soldiers; Programmable logic controllers; Quantico; Rathskeller; WW2; WWII; World War 2; World War Two

Subjects: Italy; Military families; Steelton (Pa.); United States. Army Reserves.; United States. Army--African American troops.; United States. Marine Corps.; West Chester (Pa.); World War II

GPS: Steelton, Pennsylvania, where Thompson grew up
Map Coordinates: 40.23557451090313, -76.84146651121613
00:07:51 - Training to be a Marine, going to law school, and the end of his military deferment.

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So you're in college or about to graduate, or just graduated?

Segment Synopsis: Thompson describes what his plans were after finishing college. He mentions getting ready to take exams in order to go to law school. He discusses how he had also already joined the Marine Corps and attended Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) training at Quantico, but they gave him a deferment so he could pursue graduate studies. He says that his draft determent expired after his first year attending the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and he attended basic school at Quantico and prepared to go to Vietnam.

Keywords: Collegiate football; Devereaux Foundation; Military draft deferment; Platoon Leaders’ Class (PLC); Rathskeller (West Chester, PA); Recruitment; ​​Monfort Point (N.C.)

Subjects: Affirmative action programs.; Basic training; Camp Lejeune (N.C.); Law schools; Millersville University of Pennsylvania; Quantico (Va.); Racism; School District of Philadelphia, Pa.; United States. Marine Corps; University of Pennsylvania. Law School.; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

00:18:15 - Facing racism and discrimination

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So while you were in your training, were there any other instances of, like, racism or injustice?

Segment Synopsis: Thompson discusses what it was like facing discrimination in the military. He identifies the lessons and advice he learned from his dad on how to handle discrimination and racism. He also describes what it was like attending West Chester University as a black student and how he was only one of the two black players on the West Chester football team.

Keywords: Collegiate football; Dutch Wokowski; HBCUs; Jim Bonder; Racial Equality

Subjects: Affirmative action programs.; Historically Black colleges and universities; Holt, Jim; Lowe, Ralph; Powell, Colin L.; Racial justice.; United States. Marine Corps; West Chester (Pa.); West Chester University of Pennsylvania; Wilberforce University

GPS: West Chester University, where Thompson attended and played football.
Map Coordinates: 39.95240813606758, -75.60252454253342
00:26:05 - Involvement in Vietnam

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, can you tell me how you got involved in Vietnam?

Segment Synopsis: Thompson explains what it was like going to Vietnam and why he decided to go. He mentions his battalion, his role as a supply officer, and the people he met as part of the process.

Keywords: 3rd Battalion; 5th Marines Unit; Lieutenants; Marine Corps Guards; Sergeants; Supply officers

Subjects: Basic training; Belleau Wood (Aircraft carrier); Phú Bài (Vietnam); United States. Marine Corps.; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

00:30:09 - Thoughts on the war

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, before you left, what did you think about the war?

Segment Synopsis: Thompson reflects on his own thoughts about the war. He talks about the places he was sent, which included Da Nang, Chu Lai and the Phu Bai Air Base. At Phu Bai he says his job was to be a supply officer, until his promotion to Captain. He discusses having to coordinate and organize supplies that were coming in from Da Nang and Hue which were key points in the war effort.

Keywords: 3rd battalion 5th Marines; DMZ; Da Nang; Hue City; Huế City; Logistics officer; Supply officers; Tet Offensive

Subjects: Chu Lai (Vietnam); Huế (Vietnam); Phú Bài (Vietnam); Tet Offensive, 1968; United States. Marine Corps.; Vietnam Demilitarized Zone (Vietnam); Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Đà Nẵng (Vietnam)

00:37:43 - A day in Vietnam

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, can you take me through a day in your life in--when you were in Vietnam?

Segment Synopsis: Thompson describes what it was like in Vietnam. He specifically mentions conditions during the Tet Offensive, his job as a regimental logistics officer, and the obligations that came along with it. He also talks about his role defending the Phu Bai air base.

Keywords: CO Headquarters Company; Infantry officers; Marine officers; R&R (Rest and Recuperation); Regimental logistics officer; Senior officers; Tam Ky

Subjects: Artillery.; Mortars; Phú Bài (Vietnam); Tam Kỳ (Vietnam); Tet Offensive, 1968

00:44:23 - Race in Vietnam

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And speaking of the Vietnamese, what was life there?

Segment Synopsis: Thompson shares a story of his encounter with a half-African half-Vietnamese orphan named Charlie who he had wanted to help, because he could not afford to go to school. Thompson explains his desire to end him to school and his offer to pay for his tuition to get an education in Vietnam.

Keywords: French army; LST; Platoons

Subjects: Catholic schools; Education; Orphanages; Tet Offensive, 1968; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

GPS: Hue, Vietnam was one of the places that Lieutenant Thompson experienced the Tet Offensive.
Map Coordinates: 16.470170550946918, 107.55960078369944
00:50:56 - Serving in the Marine Corps

Play segment

Partial Transcript: How was that different from other branches--

Segment Synopsis: Thompson breaks down some of the different branches in the military. He explains the principle function of his own unit while serving in the Marine Corps, which was to pursue infantry type of actions, as well as his own experiences while in the military. He mentions getting to leave Vietnam after 13 months after being ordered to report to the Philadelphia Supply Activity in South Philadelphia. He talks about his interest in economics, which led him into a program at Penn called "Business and Applied Economics," which he eventually graduated from.

Keywords: 5th Marines; Applied Economics; Graduate studies; Infantry-action; Marine Corps Supply Activity (Philadelphia, PA); Secondary studies student; Stationing

Subjects: Law School Admission Test; Law schools.; Philadelphia (Pa.); United States. Marine Corps.

00:59:17 - Law school and family

Play segment

Partial Transcript: After law school, what, what did you do?

Segment Synopsis: Thompson gives a detailed description on what he did after law school. He says one of his professors at Penn had recommended Thompson to go into teaching, which is what he did at North Western Law School. He describes working in a law firm in New York for one year as a teaching position as well as the relationship that he has with his family. He describes having a son who is interested in both football and basketball which he is very supportive of.

Keywords: LSAT; North Western Law School; Northwestern University; Professors; Publishing

Subjects: Careers; College teachers.; Davis, Polk & Wardwell; Law School Admission Test; Law firms.; Law schools; Teachers

GPS: Davis Polk and Wardell LLP, NewYork was where Veteran Thompson went to law-school.
Map Coordinates: 40.753934885094644, -73.97655908721673
01:02:10 - Career

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So looking back, especially at your military career--

Segment Synopsis: Thompson describes what he could have done better looking back on his career, although he is very happy with how his career turned out. He mentions the book that he is currently working on as well as what he likes to do on a daily basis. He also mentions some of the problems that the country is currently facing like civil protests and segregation.

Keywords: American Citizens; Book publications; Civil protests; Military careers; Political debates

Subjects: Affirmative action programs.; Authors; Chronicle of Higher Education, Inc.; Segregation.; United States

GPS: Penn-State was another location in which veteran Thompson had attended.
Map Coordinates: 40.79870871302628, -77.86175376207967