Paul Gassner Interview

Dublin Core


Paul Gassner Interview


Vietnam 1967-1970


55 min


Paul Gassner served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 1967-1970. He came from a military family. His father was a World War II veteran, and his grandfather, a World War I veteran; Paul is third generation military and second generation cavalry. He enlisted in the army, hoping to avoid being drafted into the infantry. Paul entered into a chemical platoon, chemistry being his best subject in high school and later in college as well. Upon his arrival in Vietnam his base at Cam Ranh Bay was rocketed by the VC. At this point in the interview he said “welcome to Vietnam.”
As part of a chemical platoon of the 1st Calvary Air Division, Paul worked with several different chemical agents, primarily tear gas. Spraying chemicals around the bases to prevent the growth of vegetation etc. He notes the use of Agent Orange, and many of the long term health consequences associated with these chemicals. Paul, also talks about feeling unprepared for the war in terms of the training he was given. Despite this, he was till promoted to Sergeant.
He felt as though there was a lack of a clear strategy in Vietnam. He, like many other soldiers, felt abandoned by the politicians, and blamed for the war by their peers at home. Leaving Paul, and thousands more to feel completely isolated from society. Paul discusses how relieved he was to leave Vietnam. “Happy to have survived.” He said. When he returned home, he hung up his uniform, and kept quiet about the war for over forty years. He discusses his experiences with nightmares, and battling PTSD; also how counseling has helped him deal with this.




Recorded Interview

Alternative Title

Vietnam War Interview

Date Created

October 19th, 2016

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Time Summary

0-5 min: Family History; Branch; Rank; Time of Service; Volunteer; Chemical Platoon;
5-10 min: Arrival in Vietnam; Jungle Rot; Cam Ranh Bay Naval Base; Base is Attacked; Welcome to Vietnam;
10-15 min: Chemical Platoon; 1st Cavalry Air Division; Chemical Agents; Tear Gas and Agent Orange; Training; "I'm in over my head.";
15-20 min: Promotion; Rank; Waste; Responsibilities; Claymores;
20-25 min: Use of Chemicals; Agent Orange; Birth Defects; Beer; Free Time;
25-30 min: Rocket Attacks; Combat Instincts; Government Abandonment;
30-35 min: Leaving Vietnam; Happy to Have Survived;
35-40 min: Hanging up the uniform; Wife's Sickness; Pressure/Stress; Dreams and Nightmares; Counseling;
40-45 min: Lack of clear strategy; Government Opinion; FTA; Censorship;
45-end: No regrets; Combat life to civilian life; Coming Home; de-segregation;




Florio, Alec and Cody Clark. “Paul Gassner Interview.” Vietnam Oral Histories. WCSU Archives, 10 Apr. 2019. Accessed on the Web: 22 Jan. 2020.


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