Goroskop Maia 2012
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People World Events Advisors
“The adults [were] talking about Vietnam”

Colonel Frank Castagneto (center), Fort Slocum commander and commandant of the Army Information School, with Taiwanese officers and Information School staff in circa 1963.

 In the aftermath of the Second World War, the United States abandoned its isolationist tendencies for an active military and diplomatic presence worldwide. Many in America feared the rise of international Communism. U.S. policies sought to contain and isolate the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China and other nations of the Communist bloc. The U.S. military built ties with the armies and navies of foreign allies through direct aid, joint training and advisors.

 

Foreign officers occasionally trained at U.S. service schools, and delegations of officers sometimes visited American installations to gain first-hand knowledge of U.S. military organization and methods. A publicity photograph taken at Fort Slocum in about 1963 records the visit of a group of officers from the Republic of China, the U.S. ally in control of Taiwan (Formosa) off the coast of Communist mainland China.

 

By the early 1960s America was slipping into war in Southeast Asia. Vietnam was at the center of these developments. At the time and for long afterwards American policymakers viewed the unfolding war there as a simple conflict between Communism authoritarianism and Western-style democracy, a perspective that ultimately proved to be naive and costly.

 

Fort Slocum's commanding officer, Col. Frank Castagneto (right), with a group of visiting West Point cadets in front of a map of South Asia, ca. 1963.

Another publicity photograph taken at Fort Slocum around 1963 documents the visit of a group of West Point cadets. The cadets visited the post to learn about the activities of the information school. One photograph depicts cadets standing with two of Fort Slocum’s officers. Behind them is a map of South Asia. Within a few years, many of these cadets would be serving in the Vietnam War.

 

During an interview in 2007, the daughter of a warrant officer who served at Fort Slocum around this time recalled the growing awareness among Army families of the conflict in Vietnam:

 

...I remember the adults talking about Vietnam... And it wasn’t long after that my father was, they wanted to transfer him to Korea, something to do with training troops for Vietnam.”

 

-Rivka Olley, resided at Fort Slocum with her parents and brother from 1956 to 1962.