Freddie Hoover, a close family friend of mine, served our country for almost ten years. He fought in the Vietnam War from 1965 to 1975. The Vietnam War was one of the major wars that happened from the year of 1959 to the year 1975. The War was fought between Nationalist and Communist in attempt to unify the country of Vietnam under the communist’s new government. Not only was he a part of the Vietnam War, he also helped to end the Vietnam War.
Q: Did you have a positive outlook going into the navy?
A: Uhm, overall yes. Going into the navy I thought I would come out with a better future and better education because of the things you learn. I knew I would gain experiences and knowledge that I wouldn’t have experienced if I wouldn’t have enlisted. I always wanted to work with diesel engines and vehicles and they said that I would learn about all that stuff when I was done with training.
Q: What was it like for those of your family members that stayed behind?
A: Well as far as I know, all of my family was proud that I wanted to enlist and fight for our country. Although they were scared for me to go, they kept telling me that I was gonna be the big one in the family and go places. The only person that wasn’t excited for me to leave was my sister Dottie. She was sixteen at the time and we were extremely close. She would tell me everything. (Gets emotional)
Q: What was your life like before you decided to go into the navy?
A: Well, uh let’s see, I was twenty-two years old when I went down to enlist. I had a daughter named Angela and she was about two years old. I was working at a factory near my house just trying to make a living and support my family. In about, well, August to be exact, I had gotten laid off. I had to move my family back in with my parents and they didn’t like that too much. So I decided to enlist because I had heard about the amount of money and the benefits it would provide my family.
Q: How did it feel to have a part in ending the Vietnam War?
A: Winning that war was the biggest accomplishment of my entire life. I was so proud to say that I was part of and that I fought for this country. My whole family was really proud and it felt good to be a part of the victories that came toward the end and after the war.
Q: What were some of the scariest moments you had in the navy?
A: In honesty, every minute being in the navy was terrifying. Every time you woke up, ate, fought, and tried to sleep you were worried about surprise attacks, bombs, and getting shot. We were always in danger and worried. The one thing that always went through my mind is if I was going to get to see Angela and Staci again. I was terrified of never going home and having my little grows up without her daddy. I was also really scared for all my buddies out there. We became like family and every time we fought, not only was a scared for myself, but I was scared for my buddies.
Q: What did you all do for enjoyment while in the navy?
A: There wasn’t much to do there. Most of the time, when we weren’t training or fighting, we would sit around in the lower deck and play some cards. We would play lots of Crazy Eights and Rumi.
Q: What was your main job in the Navy?
A: I mainly did some working as a boiler technician. The boiler technician runs the bottom of the ship which is really hard work. It was always really nasty and harsh down there. It uses to get really hot and cramped. What I basically did was fix all the engines and all of the things that made the ship run. The boiler of the ship was always called the “heart” of the ship. That was all in the time of the ship. Aside from that I fought alongside with all of the other naval forces.
Q: Did you enjoy traveling to all of the countries that you went to while in the forces?
A: Although we were fighting against a lot of the other countries so it was very scary to go there, it was life changing to see how they lived and travelled a lot. In some of the countries, it was fairly nice for the war time. In other countries, there was such poverty and sick kids. It was absolutely horrifying to see some of those people knowing they didn’t live as well as we did.
Q: If you ever had to do it again would you? Why?
A: (Clears throat) um, well that’s a hard question. In some ways I would and some ways I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t because of the scare that you always went through. There was never a moment when you felt truly safe and I could never wait to be home, although, I would because it was such a great experience. I got to fight for my country and do something I loved for years. I met a lot of great family and after a while they all started to feel like family. We always fought with and for each other and protected each other.
Now, thirty-eight years after the war, Freddie Hoover is now sixty-one years old and currently one of the healthiest men alive. He now lives in Des Plaines with his youngest daughter Haley (17) and next door to his oldest daughter Angela. He is currently retired and lives a very happy life.
Post Interview Reflection
One of the highlights of my interview was learning about what the navy is like and what they do not only fighting for our country, but also in their free time.
During the interview, I learned why he went into the navy and what he thought it would be like. I also learned how it really was and how he felt going into it and coming out of it.
During the process, I learned that before you conduct an interview, you need to do a lot of researching and planning. The planning process is the most important part and can make your interview run a lot smoother.
One unexpected thing that happened during my interview was when he became emotional talking about how he had to leave and own his family felt. He got extremely emotional talking about his younger sister and how bad he leaving affected her.
As a result of this interview, I learned that not only I but everyone should learn to have more respect and honor for what the people do to protect our country. I learned about how they put their life in danger every single day just so we at home can feel safer.
Next time, I would probably come up with a couple more questions to ask. Although I feel like the interview lasted a significant amount of time, I think if I were to ask a couple more questions, it could have been a little more interesting.