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Interview with Bill Lord, May 3, 2008 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Bill Lord, May 3, 2008
May 3, 2008
Interview with U.S. Army Colonel Retired Bill Lord, Chaplain.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Whiteside, Bill Interviewer:  Zarbock, Paul Date of Interview:  5/2/2008 Series:  Military Chaplains Length  60 minutes


Zarbock: Good afternoon, my name is Paul Zarbock. I'm a staff person with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington's Randall Library. This video tape is sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Today is the third of May in the year 2008 and we're doing this taping in Kansas City, Missouri. Our interviewee today is Bill Lord, Colonel, United States Army Retired and a chaplain. Good afternoon sir.

Lord: How are you doing Paul?

Zarbock: I'm doing well. What individual or series of individuals or event series of events led you into selecting the ministry?

Lord: The ministry selected me, I guess. I can not recall not feeling called to be a minister.

Zarbock: As a child?

Lord: As a child. I made that public as part of a public announcement to my local congregation. I was southern Baptist, raised in Louisiana. And one summer following a summer camp where, of course, the evangelists and the preachers and all that was going on, one evening there I decided that this was serious, that I was 13 years old, so I declared to the public that I had felt for a long time that the ministry of preaching was what I was going to be and going to do.

Zarbock: What was you family's attitude towards this?

Lord: They're very supportive. I was a-- you know we were hard shell Baptists, go to church four times a week, be in the choir Dad was a Sunday School teacher was a really solid-- we had the roving preacher over for supper or for dinner every Sunday, so I had a real good understanding of what made good preaching and what did not make good preaching. It's strange that you'd ask, because years later I found out from my father, I didn't know it at the time, actually my dad's nickname was Bullet. So he was a tough oil field man. And he was tough on his boys, but I found out later, that he as a young man had felt so called. But felt that because he was the guy that he was, the toughie, that he wasn't worthy to be a minister and so rejected the call. And that he saw that in me was a sort of a second chance. And I didn't know this for years afterwards, but that's my story about that. I ended up going to, as a 14-year-old, to a Baptist Academy in preparation for being a minister. I was a boy evangelist in south Louisiana, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 years old--

Zarbock: Saw dust trail, the whole thing?

Lord: You bet. I had white suit, red socks, red tie, red handkerchief, long flowing blonde hair, you couldn't tell it now, and my major competitor was a fellow named Jimmy Swaggert, who's from Baton Rouge about 80 miles away.

Zarbock: I believe I've heard the name.

Lord: He had a tent on one end of town; I was in a tent on the other end of town. And I learned how to raise a crowd, raise guilt, and raise money. When I was about 19 in college, I realized that I was very different. I felt different from the other ministerial students. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I felt different. The kind of things they felt and talked, I couldn't identify with.

Zarbock: What school were you in?

Lord: I went to, initially, to a Baptist college in Louisiana. Louisiana College in Alexandria, Louisiana. And then transferred after a year to Baylor University in Texas. So I had advantage of some wonderful, wonderful education in the field. And this was a disturbing thing for me at the time. Because all these years before I saw myself being a minister and then I started questioning that because I very frankly didn't really like the guys that were my fellow ministerial students.

Zarbock: Why Chaplain, what . . .

Lord: And so the G.I. Bill was coming up, I was working to pay my way to college, and my folks couldn't afford it. So you know, I was kind of eking in a semester at a time. I worked in the oil field as a roustabout doing very dirty nasty work with some pretty rough people and very proud of it. I liked being dirty. I really did. I felt like I had done a days work when I came home dirty. But when I was running out of money, my dad-- this is one of the times, the only time I saw my dad cry until years later. He called me in and said, with tears in his eye and said, "Bill", he says, "I can't help you anymore." He says "I've got other obligations I've got to take care of." I said "Dad, I didn't expect you to help." But the Army, the Korean War had been on for a while at that time and I had fully expected to get drafted and didn't for whatever reason. So I went down to volunteer for the service for these two reasons. One was I felt that was my patriotic duty. Part of my history here was I was very involved as a young boy in World War II. I had maps on the wall, I had patches, my heroes were 101st Airborne Paratroopers and I knew a lot of-- that was sort of the, I guess a hobby on the other side, the other side of myself. So I enlisted in the Army in June of 1954, right at the end of-- the Korean War had just ended. I had mixed feelings about the fact that combat was over with, but I was glad to be doing my part. And I volunteered for the paratroops, hoping to go to 101st Airborne Division, and did, went to the 101st. I was hoping to be able-- by that time I had about two years of college and I expected to be able to move on in to advance to get chosen to go to Officers Candidate School. I had been briefed on that, that my scores were high enough and all that sort of thing when I entered the service, that I could probably make it.

Zarbock: How old are you when you entered the service?

Lord: 19 going on 20. My 20th birthday came that fall, later. The next fall rather. So that's how-- two things-- to answer two questions, one the ministry call, I don't recall not-- just like I don't recall not believing in Jesus Christ, my personal savior. I don't recall not wanting to be a preacher or feeling like that was where I was going to go. But I had this transition period of time where I was rejecting it. Okay, went into the Army, golly I found a home. I loved being a soldier. Gee, at Fort Jackson South Carolina, the-- because of my time in the academy where I was living in a bunk, it was just like an Army barrack, so I knew how to do all that stuff. How to make a bed, and how to work on a wall locker and you know, I'd do what I was told and being an oil field guy, hard work and dirty work didn't bother me. And having played football a little bit in college there, you know I was in great shape so pretty soon they recognized that and gave me some leadership roles and I loved that. They found out I had a loud voice so I'm calling cadence for the company and I just loved it. And I'd found a home in the Army, right off. Didn't have any problem with that at all, couldn't wait to fall out of airplanes, aerial fright, you know. Drive through the countryside and I'd figured out the tactics of how to defend that hill, it's a wonderful time. So I thought I found another home and another calling. And I was going to be an infantry officer, paratrooper infantry officer. Well, God has his way of doing things contrary, as we know, in whatever we plan. And through several circumstances, said I got on the wrong side of several sergeants because smart young men, who've been to college, were people they loved to pick on at that time. Most of those guys had maybe an eight grade or ninth grade training, that's it. World War Two veterans, heroes of the 101st, 82nd, 187th Airborne Division, guys that had been there, been shot at, had ribbons up to here, and I loved them but they thought I was a smart ass . . .

Zarbock: And you were.

Lord: . . . which I was, looking back on it, which I was. Always had another way of doing it other than the way I was told. So I ended up having run into some roadblocks and some hard times. And, but I was convinced that this was still where I was going to go, that kind of kept me from going immediately to OCS. Didn't get the company recommendations and that sort of thing. One night I was on maneuvers, we were down at Rucker, Alabama, back when it was Camp Rucker, 1955. I had gotten a dear John from my girlfriend, I had been in trouble with the guys-- some of the officers still kind of recognized something in me because I was the point man in our battalion as we maneuvered, I was a scout. I loved being a scout, I could sneak in around in the woods and finding the enemy and all that stuff. So, also it kept me away from the sergeants. But long story short was is because of this dear John and a little trouble with company, and just lonesome I guess, been a long time, and other guys were drinkers. I didn't drink, the other guys were out at the beer parties doing that kind of thing, we had this R and R period and I stuck around with them as long as I could, got dark and I started back at the barracks and came upon this wooden chapel kind of thing, church kind of thing with a steeple on it. And it was an old military Army component chapel and the door was locked, but that was a minor inconvenience. The organ was locked, that was also a minor inconvenience. Smart ass (inaudible). So I'm up here in the dark playing on this organ every sad song I know. I didn't mention another one of my skills was I was a pianist, an organist and song man too. See I told you Jimmy and I were competitors, we did it all. So I'm playing every sad song I know and even some classic stuff best I could on the organ. I look up and I see, I see a Majors leaves coming floating through the dark out up the aisle. And I said oh my gosh, six to ten, breaking and entering. And he stood there for a while and he said, I finished what I was doing and he said, well son, that's pretty good. He says can you play any hymns? And I said yes, sir, what would you like to hear? And he says, do you know the Old Rugged Cross? Yes sir, (inaudible), he said you know Amazing Grace? Yes sir, Amazing Grace. So then he walked in and introduced himself, he was the regimental chaplain, whom I had not met up to this point, been in regiment for about five months. And he was an interesting guy, his name was Art Estes [ph?], Arthur J. Estes [ph?] the third actually, and Chaplain Estes talked to me a while and then found out what company I belonged to and asked if I would be his organist for his religious services. Now you have to understand in the infantry, particular at that time, the chaplain's assistant was the lowest form on earth next to a second lieutenant. You know, so I didn't want to have anything to do with it, nothing at all. So I didn't want to be chaplain's assistant, but I was six and ten, breaking and entering, playing the organ on Sundays, you know, so I said sure. Yes, sir, I'd be happy to play your organ for you. So he came around with a little jeep and this trailer and picked me up at the company where I was at on Sundays and we drove around the countryside--

Zarbock: Let me interrupt long enough to applaud your sage selection in these alternatives. Six to ten, I guess I'll be the organ player.

Lord: That was a no brainer.

Zarbock: Congratulations, I would have done the same.

Lord: I could put up with the ragging, but I sure couldn't put up with six to ten. Yeah, so that's what happened. I ended up playing this guys organ and I didn't like, I didn't want to have anything to do with it because I had rejected all of that, you see. And I was going to be this macho paratrooper lieutenant kind of guy and a hard charging soldier. And, but that's what happened. So we were on maneuvers about-- this went on for about three months, so regularly he came looking for me and we went out. Went back to Fort Campbell Kentucky, where we were based, I had leave coming up. So I-- that's when my 20th birthday came, by the way, you asked. I went home, I was home for my 20th birthday. Went back after a week or so, whatever it was and I found a set of orders. And they said, okay, pack your bags Lord you're going to be going up to head Division Headquarters Company. Division Headquarters Company? Yes you're going to be going to Division Headquarters Company and you're going to be a chaplain's assistant. Oh man, oh how angry, I pulled every string, what few I could, and I had to go to be the assistant division chaplain's assistant, because Chaplain Estes had been chosen to be the assistant division chaplain, which is the number two guy, the major that supported the lieutenant colonel up there. So here I am. He had discovered in the meantime that I knew how to type as well. And finding a fellow who'd been to college, that could type, who could play, who could sing, who could drive a jeep and jump out of airplanes, I was in trouble. And that's what got me into this start. So I'm a chaplain's assistant. I'm typing the guy's bulletins, that's a piece of cake. I'm driving around in a jeep, that's a piece of cake. We're not doing the field stuff anymore, we've got a regular church, he needs a choir. So I'm choir director and directing choir. And really enjoying the people and all this, but this was not what I wanted to do. A few months later summer came and the guys started saying, Bill said Betty Ellis [ph?] be coming home from school, she's down at Morton College, she'll be coming home from school this summer, says you guys get together so we could double date and I says I can get my own girlfriends, thank you. And one Sunday morning, I'm up there directing singing and I look out and I see the Ellis family sitting out there in church and there's this beautiful young lady sitting there with them, and I says, that's the Betty Ellis they were talking about. And after church service was over with, I'm speaking to the choir arranging whatever it is we're going to. And she knew all these young people, came walking up and dropped her keys right at my feet. The oldest trick in the world Paul, just about--

Zarbock: Yes, whatever happened to handkerchiefs?

Lord: Yeah, dropped her keys right there, you know. Picked them up, said I believe you dropped these Miss Ellis, and she didn't know I knew who she was, and she says, thank you very much, and went on to do her thing. And oh about nine months later we were engaged, I got shipped to Germany, she came over, we were married in Germany, had a child over there--

Zarbock: What was your rank?

Lord: Well when we met I was a P.F.C., Private First Class. I worked real hard after that, I actually was a chaplain's assistant for a short wind because once we decided to be married and wanted to get married, and again I was ambitious, and I was locked into a position, so I ended up leaving the chaplain's business and became an administrative specialist because I could type and I could spell. And they sent me to Division Headquarters Adjunct General's office and so I was the guy that was in charge of making sure that all the paperwork that flowed through the division was spelled correctly. And I had put my proofreading marks on them and that's hard stuff. And where I learned so much about how the Army really worked, you see, and it was a great benefit, and some wonderful people. It was during that period of time we became youth leaders for the chapel--

Zarbock: By the way were you promoted?

Lord: They got around to it sooner or later, yes. I stayed an E-4 an awful long time.

Zarbock: But you ended up as a corporal?

Lord: I ended up as a sergeant. In 1958 I was promoted to E-5 and about four months later I was gone. My enlistment was up. I went back to college, went back to Baylor University. The idea would be to get a teachers degree. I kind of found that I'm kind of good at this. I like teaching and I have to go back a little bit. The group of chaplains that we had in that unit during the four years, almost four years I was with them were all heroes. Guys who had jumped into Normandy, jumped into Italy, jumped into Market Garden and Holland. Several who had made the combat jumps, two combat jumps in Korea. And they were holy men as well as tough, hard soldiers. And the soldiers respected them, and I kind of, I did. I fell in love with all these guys. And we were baby sit-- we'd baby sit their children so they could go to affairs and so forth, and got very close to quite a number of these men. And they all encouraged us, you know, a great deal. My wife Betty who wanted to be a religious education director, one of the guys got her National Methodist Scholarship so she'd go to school to get her Masters degree in religious education. They all once, somehow or other they all had a-- I'd say out of the 12 chaplains, at least six had written letters of commendation and support for me when I was making my bid to become a chaplain later on. It was just unbelievable. I owe so much to those guys. And the specific hero, there are two. The division chaplain himself, the fellow I drove for when I wasn't working with Art, was a fellow named Francis Sampson [ph?]. Chaplain Sampson was the paratroop padre, jumped with the 101st, everybody who has ever seen Longest Day saw the chaplain who had to dive for his chaplain's kit. That was Frank Sampson, won a distinguished service cross. Natale [ph?], Father Natale, another Catholic chaplain. Great man died of a heart attack in chaplain school-- while he was at the chaplain schools instructor a few years later and then Holland Hope [ph?]. Holland jumped into Korea, broke his back, carried two pearl handled pistols with him on either side when he made that jump. Stayed with his troops, after that particular operation was over with they evacuated back to the-- he healed up enough that he kept it so that he could stay with his troops, went on the second parachute jump with a broken back made the second parachute jump to be with his troops. And in that operation, a platoon got separated and was surrounded by the North Koreans. The battalion commander asked for volunteers among his officers to form a party to go get them. He didn't get any volunteers for whatever reason at that time. Holland said, I'll do it, Holland won a silver star being a good soldier, taking the radio, going finding these guys, calling in artillery so that they could get back and they made it back. One of those men is now a retired Army Chaplain. One of 17 men that he rescued is now a retired Army Chaplain, Ike Clanton [ph?]. This is my hero. He's the guy that got Betty the National Methodist Scholarship. And he's a man that I, later on when I became a chaplain, said this is they way it's got to be. So these are the people who had influence on me. But I wasn't going to be a minister you understand. I couldn't do that.

Zarbock: I think I remember you saying that.

Lord: So I'm going to go back and be a school teacher, maybe a college instructor. History was great, I loved history. But I stayed in reserves. I kept my NCO rank in the reserve unit as Administrative NCOIC so I stayed in reserves. The Army came up with their seminarian program, the second lieutenant program for people who have finished college and either have been accepted or in seminary, they commissioned as second lieutenants during the period of time of their seminary. And that that period of time counts like reserve time toward your (inaudible) and your pay and all that sort of stuff. So this gives a guy not only a chance to be in the reserves and perhaps attend basic chaplain school while he's in seminary sort of afterwards. But also if he goes on active duty, he's got three years at least already in service. So it's a wonderful program, still exists, and it's one of our best recruiting things we've got. That had just started, and I heard about it, called a few chaplains I knew, one thing led to another and sat there and typed up my T papers and sent them in, and I hadn't graduated from college yet, sent them in. I got the dean to sign the letter saying I will graduate from college. I got my commission the day that I left college. I still hadn't graduated by the way, that's another story. One unit short, so they said I had to-- I did it by correspondence later. Went on to New Orleans Seminary, big back up, I'm in the reserves. One night I kept up my subscription to Army Times, I kept up with my friends who were still on active duty and one night, I said to Betty, sweetheart, what would you say if I told you that I think I ought to go to seminary, and be an Army chaplain? And Betty says well it's about time you figured it out. I called a couple of people like Art Estes and some of the people I named and said, hey guys what do you guys think? And they all said the same thing; well Bill we knew it all along. So--

Zarbock: You're kind of a slow learner aren't you?

Lord: Well, I was resisting my mighty bad. I really was. I loved being in the Army, I didn't see myself being a minister anymore, because-- that's a whole another story about the manipulations and the things that go on in Evangelism. But, so I ended up getting the 2nd lieutenant commission. I mean it went through within weeks. I was promoted from sergeant to second lieutenant in the reserves, before I went to seminary. Transferred to New Orleans, went to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and was one of five guys there who were a little group of seminarians who were planning on doing, going into the military. One went into the Navy; the other guys were all, because of the war that followed, ended up in the Army. So we had all kind of support for that. That's kind of how I came a minister, a long story about how I ended up being an Army chaplain. I stayed a reservist after graduating seminary. A pastor of rural church in Mississippi, near Meridian, about eight miles from where they found the bodies of the three guys that were buried out there, that was a period of time I was there, "Mississippi Burning," the movie, I was a pastor in the midst of all that, teaching homiletics, would you believe Paul, homiletics to black preachers at National Baptist Seminary in Meridian Mississippi. So, you know, I'm part of that because even though I was a boy from the south, my time in the Army that had not had the same feelings about the blacks that my peers did, you know, I was just out of that entirely. So I was in trouble.

Zarbock: Again, for the purpose of this tape, paint me a word picture about what was the emotions that were flowing back and forth at the time you referred to it as Mississippi burning. And you also, again for the tape, you mentioned three people who were murdered, start off with that and then paint me a word picture.

Lord: Okay, back it up. We were in New Orleans when they integrated-- the first integration of black students into school. If looking at the history, there's one little girl that her family supported and a group of us served as security for her to go to school and start elementary school in New Orleans. And that was of course national T.V. stuff and a whole bunch of stuff and people screaming and hollering and throwing things, it was a terrible time. The beginning of the change based on the Civil Rights laws. The high school students up in Little Rock later on, integrated Little Rock schools and of course over in Mississippi and Mississippi University, so that was the period of time that this was happening. The Civil Rights Movement, getting itself started and of course the resistance that it ran into and--

Zarbock: These feelings were not casual, they were deep and separating.

Lord: Oh people-- let-- I carried a loaded shotgun in my car in Mississippi at all times. I mean I--

Zarbock: And so did many others.

Lord: Yeah, after the first three months. I went to my first pastors meeting, you know, I don't know about the rest of them, Baptist preachers in the countryside out there. They get together about once a week or something like that, you know, to have a pastor's conference, and pray for each other, and lie about how many people were in church and all that sort of stuff. So I went to my meeting, first time I was there, and I'm the new guy, and there's a room full of pastors from the county, all there, mostly rural pastors, several fellows from Meridian, big Baptist church in Meridian. And you could smell the fear, I could smell the-- these guys were afraid of something. And they're talking about this and they're whispering among themselves. And finally I got it out on the table what was, you know, the-- what are we going to do when they integrate the schools? What are we going to do? And they're doing that, well I don't know, and somebody's, you know, going around the table and got to me and I says, fellows to me it's real simple. We're going to preach grace and we're going to do what we can to make sure the gospel is alive, what's the problem? And they treated me like I was, you know, from outer space, which of course I was. Even though I've got this southern accent I was raised in Louisiana, you know. It was weird. It was, for me, a very strange experience because of again my life up until this point didn't include any of this stuff. But to the guys in Mississippi were absolutely frightened because of the Klu Klux Klan, the murderous, the murderous things that happened as you know, later on there was bombings of churches in Alabama. And boy did my chaplain people give a sermon that day. It was a scary, frightening time for the people of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, as that transition went away.

Zarbock: Life was really frightening in those days.

Lord: Paul, I tell people. God called me from Mississippi where I was being threatened and shot at by my friends and sent me to Vietnam, where I shot at my nation's enemies and I was happy to be there. It was a tough time, it was a tough time. And we did the best we could. I got in trouble with my church because one of the things I did when I first got there, going through the thing I found a whole room, closet full of old Sunday school curriculum. Just old stuff we don't use anymore, just started to put it in there, put it in there, put it in there, years of them, three, four, five years worth of Sunday school books for children, for adults, whatever. Oh, what are we going to do with this? Oh we just thought it'd be a good thing to save it. Well I'm driving around trying to figure out what's in my little parish that I've got, and finding the road driving down the country roads, seeing who lives where, trying to get oriented, trying to discover this little piece of the world to which I was called to minister. And I found a little black Baptist church down the road about two miles. Poor looking thing, needed white washing or paint, you know, if you photograph poverty and no grass on the ground, and a house out in back, and a little church white church, that once upon was white. It's got the little steeple on top. And looks like its sad and dilapidated and lonely, that's what it was. And then I found the pastor, lived on a little farm down the way, and so I went looking for him. And we're peers as far as I'm concerned. Fellow ministers in the fullness at this garden that we were at and so we made friends with each other and it became obvious that these people of course were poverty stricken and most of them worked for my parishioners, you know, and farms. Parishioners have all owned, most of them owned farms but they themselves actually they earned salaries in Meridian in various sundry businesses and so forth. They had these family farms, they had to keep going so they hired-- generations of this had gone on in Mississippi and all over the south. Poverty, absolute abject poverty, and yet such wonderful, wonderful, warm people and they accepted me just with all the grace that could possibly be given. So this is one of the reason I was really confused about what all was going on in that particular area. I said hey I've got something you could use out back. What do y'all use for Sunday school books, well we use the Bible. Well that's great, do you have any other curriculum? He said, well, he said yeah but we can't afford very much, we get them for our teachers. I says have I got a deal for you. I had a Volkswagen bus, that's what I'm driving around in, old Volkswagen bus. So I putted up to the church and, my church and we loaded all that stuff, sorted it all out according to age and took them in this church and put them on the pews and I didn't ask anybody, I just did it. And boy did I catch trouble from the Board of Deacons about that. How could I do this, you know, I didn't ask anybody what I could do and it's, what's the problem here? Well they were afraid of what other people might think. These were good people, but they didn't want to show any hint that they had some love and compassion toward the blacks of the area. Because somehow or other that might be seen as being supportive of the Civil Rights Movement which was started, you know, and giving these people a chance to do what they hadn't been able to do before. And there were powerful forces of darkness, that's what I call them, that were opposed to any change of course, and wanted to keep things as are, are. Very powerful forces, I mean, and if you don't know who your enemy is, everybody is your enemy, you know. And then the safest thing is that don't rock the boat and all that stuff. I rocked the boat, too dumb to know better.

Zarbock: As a result of that you, tumble head you, you ended up in the military as a genuine chaplain.

Lord: In July of 1963, I wrangled my way to Fort Benning as my two weeks reserve assignment at the airborne school. Funny thing Paul, the guy who was-- the chaplain in charge was named Arthur J Estes Jr. III, so I got to go to the chaplain school, well I was a chaplain then, first lieutenant chaplain and spent two weeks doing what I loved, working with paratroopers, falling out of airplanes you know, and all that other stuff. And they asked me to teach their Care cadets [ph?]. You've heard of Care cadets? We had this mandatory monthly thing; well the chaplains had to have a training session before that so they'd have their materials straight and all that. And so somehow or another I got invited to, as a new guy on the block or whatever, to present the next months Care cadets [ph?]. I'd forgotten what the subject was, but I pulled out the stops, you know. I had videos, I had flip charts, I had this, I had that, I had them laughing in the-- we just had a great time doing it. And evidently it made quite an impression. The guys all told me that I did good, I says I think-- I'm glad, I appreciate you thinking I did good. That was rewarding to a young man. Didn't think anymore about it, two weeks was up, I went away. I had an application for active duty sent in, got the denomination to say well okay, we would like to send you on active duty, but we have too many fellows who've been applying for you. So it will probably be two to five years before you see active duty. Went to Southern Baptists convention in May and I saw the man himself who told me this, to my eyes, just take it easy, be patient Bill, stay to reserves, keep doing your thing. And you know, you're time will come. But we have a whole lot of fellows who are ahead of you. I said, well I understand that, but I want to let you know we're ready to any time. God's calling me out of Mississippi. That was like the middle of May. The end of May in the middle of the night I get a phone call and it says, are you Chaplain Bill Lord? Yep, that's me. They said, well this is sergeant so and so from the Chief of Personnel, Chief of Chaplains Office Personnel Division and we wanted to alert you that we'll call you on active duty if, and you have to be there by the 24th of June. We've got a chaplain space opening up at Fort Benning in the new 11th Air Assault Test Division, and we need a paratrooper chaplain. And I says I'll be there June the third. So what happened was that the big hand came out of Fort Benning, talked to Washington about the skills that I brought to that. Again I think Art Estes and some of those other people I talked of knew me as an assistant, and not as a young chaplain, were the powers that pulled even the Southern Baptist, say okay let him go. So I ended up with the, with what became the 11th Air Assault Division Test, where we developed all of the tactics and equipment for air mobile division. Use of helicopters instead of trucks for transportation, and which meant that infantry, which is my love, went to be light infantry. And light infantry meant you got what you could carry, that was it. So it was using helicopters for transportation at one point to another or you carried it from one point to another, that's it. So we got rid of our jeeps and our chaplain's kits and our organs and all the other paraphernalia that chaplains were accustomed to using. We didn't have it anymore, so you can't do this. Well so what else you going to do instead? And it was a great experimental time for about two years as the Army; there were a group of people who were in the Army who said this would never work. And the Air Force just said, wait a minute, what do you mean flying around in the air? This is our field. And visionaries who were on the ground at that time were wonderful God fearing men, everyone of them who were trying to bring the Army into the next era. And getting to be as part of that was just a pure thrill.

Zarbock: How successful or unsuccessful were these changes in the military when you arrived at Vietnam?

Lord: Extraordinarily successful, we couldn't have done it other (inaudible). The unit that I just referred to was deactivated and reactivated in the next sentence. They loved their assault test, it was deactivated, disappeared. Flags were folded and put away. The 1st Calvary Division flag was flown down from Korea, and on one day, three divisions changed colors. Which meant something like 40,000 soldiers had to change patches on that same day, somebody made money, I think. But we became the 1st Calvary Division, (Air Mobile). The unit I was assigned to which is made of paratroopers, had been the 187th, which is the old 11th Airborne Division unit, and the 187th Infantry Regiment that had jumped in Korea, that had a history of it's own.

Zarbock: That's a regimental combat team, right?

Lord: That's right. Had a history of it's own as a separate combat team. We were a separate combat team, we were organized to do that. So that if for any reason, the First Cav was cause-- okay we need to take this airfield out here someplace, or whatever the mission would be, airfields capture would be one of our primary missions, you'd have all these paratroopers ready to go and we'd work, we had our own materials, we had our own cops, we had our own everything, medics, everything. So this unit could separate itself and function. Just like the old 187 did in Korea.

Zarbock: What did they have you doing?

Lord: What they'd have me doing? Breaking the rules. At that time the Army doctrine was a chaplain's responsibility in combat is to be at the brigade headquarters or the brigade forward clearing station, your job was-- during battle, it would be to comfort the enemy, the enemy-- comfort the wounded as they were brought back to the clearing station. Now that's based on, of course, World War II, World War I, World War II, Korean practice, where we had medical company with stretcher bearers who-- and ambulances, and they'd bring the guys back. And so the chaplains there, and they come back on the ambulance, get them off, you know, do what you needed to do. Put them in and they go to surgery and then you go visit them. And that was kind of the doctrine. And there were always mavericks who would go out on the line and say screw that, I'm going to go where the soldiers are. But the doctrine said this is what you're supposed to be doing during a combat operation. Well, we didn't have any ambulances, we didn't have any stretcher bearers--

Zarbock: Didn't have a jeep even.

Lord: Didn't have a jeep, that's right. And we, the Army, the test people were using the Huey. Everybody know what the Huey was in the 1960's, you know, the thump, thump, thump, you could hear them flying. The Huey was authorized to be an air ambulance. The way they got the-- the Army got the permission from Congress and got the money, is because the little bell chopper there I remember seeing in M.A.S.H, that could carried two guys on the side was so successful that they made this flying ambulance so that the, instead of putting them on the side, you could stack six patients, one on top of each other on stretchers and fly them in this air ambulance. Well we turned an air ambulance into an object of war. So we put guns on it, and we flew infantry men in and out and all the other stuff, it was a work horse of, of course the Vietnam War as it turned out. But for us, for the Army, we had it first and we did all the doctoring. We were blessed to have some leaders, as I've said, so that what we did was break up the team. So instead of having four chaplains at the brigade, we were privileged to be able to take a chaplain and put him in each battalion. So we had one priest and we had three Protestant chaplains-- no, two, we had three, three. We had one priest and two Protestant chaplains, okay. We had three maneuver battalions, so Roger went over as a priest and he lived with the second of the eighth, for instance, infantry, Air Calvary Squadron. My other Protestant chaplain was with the first of the eight, he lived with them and maneuvered with them. And the priest would rotate around when he could. And I would cover his battalion when he was rotating around so I could cover two battalions, mine first of the 12th mostly. This is what we worked out among ourselves. Gave our poor division chaplain an ulcer, because he never knew where we were, never knew what we were doing, always was worried about us. You know, as I grew up I understood what he was going through. But at the time I didn't care, I was out there having fun. But we started functioning that way and pretty soon that model was picked up by the other two brigades and so pretty well that's what happened. I went down to an Army Navy store and I found me a little canvas bag. I took the steel chaplain's kit that they had issued us with the Bible and the patent, and all the things, paraphernalia you'd normally put on an alter and put on a jeep or whatever, it was common for all chaplains to use, beautiful little thing, so I took the altar cloth, I got it folded up and put it in a little plastic sack. And I could get it on the bottom. I took my two candlesticks and little did I know what a candle would do in Vietnam after they've been sitting for hours. I took my two candlesticks I got them and I put them in there and a little Bible stand and I figured how to put it in there, so and a Bible and I stuck a little Bible in there that I could use as a symbol, whatever, and that was chapel, me and it.

Zarbock: What was the morale like?

Lord: Oh our guys were just, they were wonderful.

Zarbock: Now tell me what year is this?

Lord: This is 1965. 1965, we had not quite gotten to Vietnam yet, we were ordered there in July. Fellows were-- we were all volunteers, one you were a volunteer paratrooper you see. So, that automatically means that guys are pretty committed to doing whatever it is they're going to do, even go to war here. And they were all trained together for a year or two, they knew each other, the moral was terrific boy, couldn't wait to go over.

Zarbock: Chaplain, tell me a soldier story a happy one, tell me a soldier story a sad one.

Lord: A happy one.

Zarbock: Happy, funny.

Lord: Yeah. Let me tell you a sad one first. When I'm at reunions with the troops, we get lots of happy stories, I'll come up with one perhaps, but most of them are pretty poignant. Oh well, hmmm. . . One of the funniest things I'd never. . . and it didn't have to do with this era, it was later. One of the funniest things personally that I got involved in, you're talking about a military faux paux or something like that, you know? Some poor captain did this, God bless him. You know, I gave him a hug at the time, I don't know who he is or where he went, but I was on the, I was on a joint maneuver task force, headquarters. I was responsible for the chaplain coverage for Air Force, Army Rangers, and all these people, essential people. We were working the plan that they used to go into Grenada later on, if there is somebody who knows what that means a little later. And we were going to do the largest mass parachute jump since World War Two. We had all three brigades of the 82nd Airborne Division, plus some rangers and assorted others that were going to fly in mass from Fort Bragg, go down around Florida, come back up over the, along the Florida coast, and drop into North Florida into an area in North Florida. And that was going to be the biggest thing. We had our heavy equipment, we had our tanks, we had our guns, we had trucks, we had, you know, I mean it was a biggie. I had no telling how much this cost the Federal Government. I guess every airplane the Air Force and Air Reserves could find to fly, because it was a lot of the-- so it was a big deal. And then of course it was going to maneuver on ground and play soldier after they got on the ground. Again I wasn't on the jump, the 82nd Airborne Division chaplain and his staff were up there, I was with the 18th Airborne Corps at the time, at the Airborne headquarters. I got a three star general and his staff, that's where we were working. It was joint so I had Air Force and Marines and Navy as well. All this planning, months of planning, writing report, got them doing all this stuff. Came time, they had an area for his drop zone. The drop zone was six miles long and three miles wide. It's a plowed area, they prepared it so that, you know, we'd make sure there are no, not many bad things would happen when the soldiers hit the ground. It was going to be planted in pine trees after we left. It was part of the National Forest up there. And we put up stands, we had dignitaries from most every NATO country in the world, half of Congress was down there, all the big shots you could imagine were there. It came time where the poor young man standing there announcing what's happening, and says that now the forces of so and so have done such and such and the force of the United States Forces are preparing for an air drop, the aircraft are now over the ocean and they're maneuvering to confuse the radars and anti-aircraft fire so the airplanes are doing this and then they're doing that. And not trying to give the enemy and idea of where they're going to be landing. Oh, and in three minutes we'll begin to see the lead aircraft, listen, correction, in five minutes we'll be able to see the aircraft. Correction, the lead aircraft is-- they dropped that whole outfit five miles to the south right into the middle of newly planted pine trees about that high. I mean the whole outfit, plane after plane, thousands of soldiers, trucks, tanks, guns, tore up the forest, for the Federal Forest Service, tore it up terribly. Not only that, but they didn't know where they were, they thought they were where they were supposed to be, so they come out there and charge and the poor guys who are running the war are on the radio saying, hey the enemy's over here. So it was one of the big screw ups I ever saw in my life. Everybody jumped into their staff cars, all the stars, you know the Air Force guys, charge off the stand, got their stuff, dusted. . . taken off you know. And well, pretty soon we got things squared away there and I was able to get my car and go over to the headquarters and you'd never heard such roaring going on. It sounded like the ocean inside this building. These three and four stars are yelling and pointing at each other. And then pretty soon it got really quiet, the door opened, and in walked the captain in his flight suit. His eyes were about that big, and he was shrunken with fear. You could see it, it's like he was going to be executed, which I think probably happened in some way or other, but this was the lead navigator, the guy who lead that whole group five miles off. I never heard the real story about it, why he did that. But I'm told that what happened was is he got distracted as, because of the turns that they were making and he got distracted, so he looked down at his map to double check his, where he's supposed to be, and he looked up and he saw this huge clearing in front of him, and so he made the, probably natural assumption that that was it. When over here five miles is where the real clearing was. I understand that's what happened, but to me, of all the 30 years I've spent with the military, the one thing that I always think of is so funny, so sad, but funny. My gosh, it must have cost you and me as tax payers millions of dollars--

Zarbock: You've spent 30 years in the military?

Lord: Well from 1954 to 1984. Well, I'm counting also the reserve time while I was in college and seminary.

Zarbock: So my final question, you probably heard me. Large stone tablet, I've got a hammer and a chisel, and I chisel across it, here in is written, the credo as developed by Chaplain Lord. He said--

Lord: Love the troops. Love the troops. Love the troops. And if you talk to any of my students out there they'll tell the same thing, that's what-- love the troops.

Zarbock: Thank you, Chaplain.

Lord: Thank you. I've enjoyed this, thank you Paul.

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