Arlan Roll - King High Remembers



Arlan Roll - King High Remembers
Angela Hwang, Addie Naegle
Period 4
Arlan Roll
Branch of Service: Army
Years in Service: 1 year, 10 months, few days
Year Interviewed: 2016
Arlan Roll
Arlan Roll is a veteran of the Vietnam War and was born in the city of Denver, Colorado
on June 3, 1947. He moved several times, but he lived majority of his childhood in Orange
County. Mr.Roll went to college for two years before he was drafted into the army for a two year
active duty service, at the age of 20, in July of 1967.
In the first few days of service, Mr.Roll was tested for things like language skills and
given shots. Then he was assigned to a unit for eight to twelve weeks where he began basic
training. He stated, “Every decision was made for me and I had no choices whatsoever.” The
training consisted of physical training, first-aid, rifles and grenades. He did a lot of target
shooting as a kid, so he had already developed shooting skills and was able to ride back to base
rather than walk back to base. Mr.Roll then began infantry training in Fort Polk, Louisiana, in
which they referred to as “Tigerland” because of its swampland and rigid grounds. He learned
things such as setting up trip wires, getting on and off helicopters, firing weapons, and using
explosives. In 1968 he was sent to Vietnam, and in the same year, he was given the position as
“Every soldier’s experience is different. It’s an individual thing.” For Mr.Roll “he [I] didn’t want
combat, but he [I] wasn’t scared of it.”. While they were along the Cambodian Border, he
experienced the “biggest battle he [I] had been in.” Each squadron was accompanied by a tank
company, 17 tanks a company, and 52 men were killed in that battle. “Adrenaline took over a lot.
It got to the point that I enjoyed it, the thrill. It’s a hard concept to express.” The soldiers were
given day missions or night missions and Mr.Roll was given a night mission, along with other
soldiers, to block a road and prevent mines from being planted. However, even though they were
spread out along the road, mines would be planted every night. He was also given a task to patrol
a rubber plantation, where they stood at the border of the plantation and guarded it. These
plantations were so big that the soldiers got lost as they went through.
Free time was mostly spent writing letters, resting, cleaning weapons, taking care of
personal hygiene, and occasionally washing clothes, When Mr.Roll first left home, he only took
addresses with him, so he could write letters and stay in touch. He even wrote letters to Sally, a
friend of his friend’s girlfriend, for about four months or so just because she wanted someone to
write to. She ended up asking him to her high school prom and Mr.Roll said she only
embarrassed herself because he had nothing to wear except his uniform. He also wrote to his
parents three to four times a week. His parents passed away when he was visiting home, but his
father kept all the letters that Mr.Roll sent them. While in the military he created close
relationships with Hatch and Mosley, who became his best friends. Hatch was a young African
American gentleman and the military did not allow any tolerance of racial discrimination.
Unfortunately, racial discrimination in public was one factor as to why Mr.Roll never saw Hatch
again after the three friends separated. What he liked about Vietnam, is that there were local
villages close to their base and the soldiers would often go and help these villages and eat with
them. There were often curious children outside running around and playing with the soldiers. If
there were no children out and about, the soldiers had to be cautious and aware of their
surroundings because that meant that the parents were hiding their children from them.
Mr.Roll was given an early release to go back home. After he picked up his last
payment and gathered up his belongings he was supposed to land in Oakland, but their pilot
became sick and they had to land in Alaska. The problem was that they were in their uniforms
and were not planning on facing ten degree weather. Once the whole mess was cleared up, he
returned to Oakland, California and was now “back in the world” where culture shock was
“something he’ll [I’ll] never forget”. What he was looking forward to the most was eating
McDonalds and what confused Mr.Roll the most was an advertisement for pantyhose and he had
no idea what they were. He went back to two different colleges before he received a degree in
chemical engineering from Cal Poly Pomona. There were many protestors so Mr.Roll never
mentioned being a Vietnam War Veteran. He had a difficult time with his short temper after the
war. “That’s one thing combat does for you, teach you to react.” He had certain situations where
the experience of being in the war helped him with real life. There is a big difference between
the military years ago and the military today. “When I served, I was drafted. Now no one is
drafted, they want to be there.” Mr.Roll also said that, “the training is better, technology is much
more advanced and less costly in human life.” “I think they’re the best trained in the world.”
Arnold Roll feels that the military has benefited him in many ways. “I feel very good
about my service. I don’t regret anything. It’s shaped me mentally and taught me a lot of positive
things, like discipline and respect. And I would never make someone go to the military if they
don’t have to.”

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