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Interview with Bill Whiteside, May 2, 2008 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Bill Whiteside, May 2, 2008
May 2, 2008
Interview with retired Chaplain Bill Whiteside.
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 Wilmington's Randall Library. Today is May the second, in the year 2008 and we're recording in Kansas City, Missouri. This is part of the Military Chaplains Oral History Project supported by the University of North Carolina Wilmington and the FedEx Corporation. Our interviewee today is retired chaplain, Mr. Bill Whiteside. Good afternoon, Chaplain.

Whiteside: Good afternoon, sir.

Zarbock: How are you?

Whiteside: I'm doing fine, thank you.

Zarbock: Chaplain, what individual event or series of events lead you into selecting the ministry as your professional occupation?

Whiteside: I think it was probably two things. One, when I was very young I received, what, I guess you would say, the call to the ministry. I felt a need to go into the ministry. It had something there that I really wanted to do. And I've enjoyed the ministry, but when I, I think it was in 1974, attended a psychological conference down at San Diego, San Antonio, Texas and one of the presenters was talking about various psychological needs that causes people to go into various professions. One of the things was that he was talking about the policeman and the surgeon, they had a big tendency to be, sort of, masochistic, you know, in their personality traits. And he went on to all the other professions, but when he came to the pastorate or the ministry, he said that normally clergy go into ministry because of three reasons. One, need for love, a need for power, a need for how-- external boundaries to control their passions and I, when I heard that, I said I just wiped it all-- couldn't be. But as I think back now, when I was a young man going into the ministry, I thought, you know, he has a lot to say there. And I think really, perhaps one of the basic reasons why I went into the ministry was probably for a need for love, a need for power. Because through that, you know, as a way of really handling rejection. You can reject me, but you couldn't reject a man of God, so that made rejection a whole lot easier. Because if I felt rejected by you, it was your problem rather than mine. But and then I realized, too, that I think until a person really works through those things and after he works through them, he becomes a far more effective minister. So, you know-- and I'm glad I went to that conference and realized that.

Zarbock: How old were you, Chaplain?

Whiteside: Oh, goodness, I guess I was probably in my 40s then.

Zarbock: By that time, you had...

Whiteside: By that time, I was far into my chaplaincy. But several things-- you know, to me ministry is a growing thing and a changing thing and I think, you know, we need to grow and change as we go along. And, you know, I guess back in the '80s, again, in the mid '70s and '80s, I was there for approximately eight years as the chaplain for the Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth. And I found out, you know, again, there's a lot to what that psychologist was saying because the whole time I was there, we had at least one or two chaplains as inmates and each one of them, all of them, except for one were there because of sexual misconducts ____________. And the other one, of course, he kind of misappropriated funds, what brought him there. But, you know, it's that need for external boundaries to control our passions. And you see that in some of these, don't mean to criticize the evangelists, but, you know, versus when I hear a person preaching against sex and everything is against sex and adultery, my antenna's go up to say, that guy is probably having problems or some unresolved sexual problems. So that's kind of two things that come to me when I think about why I went into the ministry. One I think I was kind of naive, you know, thinking, you know first that call and not realizing where that call was coming, but later, I think, finally determining and recognizing what that call was and how that call to the ministry fulfilled those needs.

Zarbock: Why did you go into the military chaplaincy after you graduated from seminary?

Whiteside: Well, I had the retired Navy chaplain, Admiral Thomas, Chaplain Thomas, who had retired as the Chief of Navy Chaplains and he attended my church there in western North Carolina, and he attended quite frequently. And every time he'd attend, he'd encourage me to go into the chaplaincy. He wanted me to go into the chaplaincy. And too then, the church was asking young clergy to come into the chaplaincy because it was during the Berlin build up, and Cuban crisis, and they wanted young chaplains to come in just to serve for a three-year obligation.

Zarbock: And what denomination were you, sir?

Whiteside: I'm United Methodist. And so, I talked to my bishop and my district _____________, and because I had a lovely parish there in western North Carolina and I didn't want to leave it. But they said, "Well, if you go and stay for three years, serve your obligation, I'll guarantee that we'll keep the parish for you and you can come back to the parish when you get out." So, I went ahead and signed up for three years. When, after 18 months, I was at Fort Eustis, Virginia for 18 months, then I got orders to Germany. And the stipulations were that you can take your family to Germany, but you have to stay there three years, or otherwise you can go, you know, unaccompanied, stay a year-and-a-half and have your obligations over with. Well, my youngest son was only about 3-months old and I didn't want to leave my family behind, so I called my bishop and said, you know, "I really would like to take my family, so could you give another year -and-a-half?" And he said, "Well, yeah, we could manage that." So I took my family to Germany and we stayed there.

Zarbock: What year was that, Chaplain?

Whiteside: That was in 1962 to 1965. And then in 1965 I got orders back to Miami Homestead Air Defense. And I thought, boy, Miami, that'd be a nice place to serve, and I'm sure I couldn't get to Miami on my salary as a pastor. So I thought, well, let me talk to the bishop again. He said, "Well, you know, you can't save your church much longer, but we'll try." So I went down to Homestead Miami Air Defense and served there from 1965 to 1967 and then I got orders to Vietnam. And then I said, "Well, you know, I've had the good stuff so far and I just bail out now when I'm facing the bad stuff."

Zarbock: You had a very flexible bishop, by the way.

Whiteside: Well, yeah, a very good bishop, I really did. But when I told him I had to go to Vietnam, he said, "Well, I don't think we can save your church any longer." So I went to Vietnam and then...

Zarbock: How old were you when you went to Vietnam?

Whiteside: Let's see, that was in '67, so I must have been, '33, '67, 43 I guess. No, let's see, born '33 and that was in '67, so I'd been 34. So went to Vietnam and some incidents there really, you know, affected my life, affected my ministry and had some real terrible experiences there that really caused me to really seriously consider getting out of the Army, resigning my career, resigning my endorsement, my ecclesiastical endorsement. I guess it was because I'd gotten so close to one of the group of men that I went by each week, every other week and once a month I'd serve them communion. And this one time I served them communion and I was, sort of, like a traveling, iterant minister, you know, except I used a helicopter. Well, when I get back on the weekends, out there at Phu Bai [ph?], I would have services there at Phu Bai and then I-- Phu Bai's south of ____________ in Vietnam. I was conducting my services and I heard the helicopters coming in and some of them landed pretty close to the chapel. Other's were going down to the MASH hospital. And I was just thinking as I was conducting the service, boy we're taking in a lot of casualties today. So, you know, during the service and after the service, my assistant came in the back door and said, "They're wanting you over at the morgue as soon as possible." So normally, I went to the end of the-- or the rear of the chapel to say hello and good-bye to the people and the congregate, but this time I slipped out the back door and went over to the morgue and there was three of those young men that I had just recently served Holy Communion to. And the communion service was a, kind of, a unique communion service. And, you know, because that day I went on that trip, my chaplain assistant and I usually travel together. But this morning was a real hot morning and a guy was on there from the AG and had big stacks of pamphlets and everything, which weighed the helicopter down, and there's a chopper [inaudible]. Anyway, he revved his engine up and he just couldn't get off the ground. So the military way was that the pilot would look back and take the junior guy and say "okay, off." So he told the guy to get off and the guy jumped off and got just a little bit off the ground. but the chopper was just shaking, so he looked back and another guy got off, and then the third guy to get off is my assistant. So we arranged, real quick like, to get the other chopper and I'll meet you up at Dang Ha [ph?], that's where we were going to rendezvous that evening. And that was right up on the DMZ. So, when I got to my unit that I was going to serve communion to that day, we talked and they, you know, talked about things back home, things that was going on. One had showed me a picture of his little girl that had bene born since, you know, he came to Vietnam. Another one was getting out in about, I think, about three or four weeks and his little boys was talking about, "Hey, dad it's going to be good when you get back home because...," he was from Mississippi and said, "the crappy are really biting now." Out here was call them croppy, but down there they call them crappy. And then the other one showed me-- well, he didn't show me, but he was so excited because he'd been accepted to Ohio State University, in the graduate program there. And so I started to leave, you know, and they said, "Well, today's the day to have communion." And I said, "Well," you know, my assistant had the communion kit that had my communion-- the chaplains get to obtain the communion kit. So I said, "Well, you know, I know we do, but...," and I started to say, "but I don't have a kit, let's wait until next week." But for some reason, I'm not sure, unless it was a working of the spirit, something, I said, "Well," you know, "yeah, we do have-- supposed to have communion today, but we can make a makeshift and...," about the term I used. "But anyway, we'll do it a different way this time." And so we got an old-- back then we had the old c-rations. So we got an old can of c-rations and we took an old P38, that's the can opener, open the can of crackers. And I used the old can, I rinsed it out with my canteen, we used water, served the, used the crackers for the wafers. And so went ahead and, you know, and pretty much I botched the prayer of consecration from memory and then we started the communion. And it was a real, you know, neat communion service with the wine and the crackers. And I was thinking, boy, if the bishop knew how I was serving communion, he'd probably excommunicate me. (laughs) But it was a real meaningful communion service. And so then I got in the chopper and we went on up. And I guess it was either the following Sunday or the Sunday after that, that's when they told me about the morgue and I went in and here were three of those five young men that had just, you know, (coughs) excuse me. It just kind of gets to me yet. But, you know, really, I just, you know, kind of lost it. I went into rage, but I went ahead and did my thing and performed, you know, the service for the dead, because it was-- and I have to admit, it was really a performance. And I found myself becoming very, very secluded, (coughs) withdrawing, becoming very depressed, very angry. And that's when I struggled, you know, with whether I should stay in the Army, stay in the ministry. Because I, you know, I was struggling with that idea. I cannot proclaim a God of love when I do not feel His love. So I was just getting ready to just brush it off. And what made it even worse is that some of the my chaplain peers, I would, you know, relate to them and say, "You know, I'm really struggling with this anger, with this hatred, with this bitterness. You know, I don't feel any love, I don't feel the love of God, I don't feel love of anything." And the common response was, well, you know, "As a chaplain and as a Christian, you shouldn't feel that way." And one of them, I told them that, I said, "Damn it, don't tell me how I should feel. Just listen to my core of being just yelling out, hear how I'm really feeling." So, but I came back to the chaplain school to the career course and there I met an old friend of mine, Joe Jones [ph?]. And Joe had been an old tank commander during World War II. And Joe had gotten out of the Army and gone back to seminary and came back as a chaplain. And I knew if anybody could understand my feelings, it had to be Joe. So I sat down one day and talked with Joe and we had lunch together. And I guess we talked for probably an hour-and-a-half or two hours. And I realized, after it was all over, it was just like a big weight off of my shoulders. And yet, I realized too that Joe hadn't said probably a half a dozen words, but I became keenly aware that for the first time I felt understood. And that was kind of the turning point in my ministry because I am aware now, I strongly believe that unless a person feels understood, ministry or healing does not take place. And so that was the, kind of the turning point in my ministry. And it really upsets me today when I see people who are suffering and who are dealing with some real tough issues, and somebody comes up and puts their hand on their shoulder and says, "I understand." That really, really bugs me because, you know, there's no way we can understand. And in fact, when I was at the VA Hospital, I was in a conference with the staff members, several doctors, several nurses and social workers and so on, (coughs) and the session had to do with how to manage unmanageable patients. And this one doctor said, "I manage them, I get good results when I go up and put my hand on them and say I understand. So just like the other day this lady had her ovaries removed and I went up and she was really torn up and everything, and I put my arms around her and said I understand." And again, something just kind of clicked in me and I said, "You know, doctor, that to me is the worst put down anyone could say." I said, "Have you ever had your ovary removed?" And he thought I was a dumb cluck that didn't know anything about bodies, and he said, "No, I'm a male." I said, "That's exactly right. But until you can have an ovary removed, you will never know how it feels to have an ovary removed. So, you know, don't tell me that you understand." Then the other doctors started picking it up saying, "You know, that's absolutely right. Unless you've been there, then you can never fully understand." And then that also began to kind of change my theology because I realized that the more-- even though I cannot understand, the more I try to understand, the less need I have to judge that person. And then I realized one day that, you know, forgiveness presupposes judgment. And if I don't judge, I have no need to forgive. Then I asked myself, does God judge? If anybody understands, it should be God, the all-knowing God. Then I came to the conclusion, (coughs) at least for me, I don't think God judges. I think he puts us here to, as Jesus said, "He came that we may have life and have it abundantly." And I think that's what life is about, just living life to its fullest. And that little episode, you know, there with that communion service when I started to say, well, we'll have to wait. But instead I said, "But we can improvise," and we used old sandbags there for an alter. And I can't remember, we probably used some Playboys for an altar cloth, that's mostly the magazines you'd find around there, but it was a real significant communion service, it really changed my life. And I'm still growing in that, you know, philosophy. I still don't have all the answers, but I'm comfortable in knowing a God that, I think, understands enough to say "it's okay." Does that kind of summarize everything?

Zarbock: Very well. When you came back from Vietnam, was that when you were assigned Leavenworth or had you been at Leavenworth before you went to Vietnam?

Whiteside: No, I left Miami Homestead Defense to go to Vietnam and I came back to the Chaplain School. Then from the Chaplain School, I came down to Fort Mead, Maryland and was signed with the 6th Armored Cav. And then after that in, let's see, that was '69 to '71, '71 I was assigned to Asmara, Ethiopia for two years.

Zarbock: What was that like?

Whiteside: Oh, that was just like stepping back into history 2000 years.

Zarbock: I think if you grabbed up 100 people and asked them where Asmara, Eritrea is, 101 wouldn't know. It was an Old Italian colony, wasn't it?

Whiteside: Right, in fact, when I got the orders, I called the Chief's Office and I said, "Where is Asmara?" And they said, "It's in Turkey." And I looked and I said, "Do you mean, Anchorage, Kentucky or Turkey?" "No," he said, "It's in Ethiopia." And I looked and I said, "Oh, you mean Asmara, Ethiopia." And so we went and of course I could take my family and it was just like going back into history about 2000 years. The weddings would last anywhere from three to five days and everyone was invited, you know, they didn't send out invitations. The only thing, the first time I went, you see-- and we were 7,600 above sea level and you looked down the ravine, you know, just miles down in the black and you see the ladies coming up, carrying what's called Angara bread sack on top of their head. And Angara bread is a real thick, kind of like a big, thick pancake. And they end up-- the wedding area, you'd have a big pot and they call it a Zigani [ph?], and everyone would sit around and break off a piece of bread and stick it in the Zigani and just eat, you know, out of the same pot. And then they had something like rice wine. And I drank, you know, just a little bit and I didn't know that this particular kind of wine would affect you until you would stand up. And boy, the first time I stood up I had to sit right back down. (laughs) It just knocked my feet right out from under me. But it was so nice and then one day coming back we had three tracks there. We lived on one track and [inaudible] and everything lived on another track. I noticed that...

Zarbock: What do you mean by a track?

Whiteside: Well, they called them tracks, I never could figure out why their called them tracks either. But track A was a housing area, track B was where we had the headquarters building and the chapel and the PX and all that. And then track C was where we had all the telescopes and listening devices and all that kind of thing. Because, if you notice, Asmara's almost due south of Moscow and that's the reason-- it's not classified anymore, but that's why we were there so we could listen and see what was going on up there. But one day I was going from one track to another and I noticed them building a corral out there and I had no idea what they'd build a corral for. But then they would get these sickles and they'd cut the wheat and the oats and they'd throw it in that corral, and then they'd get a couple old cattle and they'd drive around and around until they ground all the wheat out. Then they'd sit out there and they'd just throw it up in the air and let the wind guide the shaft away and then they'd end up with the wheat. That's the kind of things you read about in the Bible. And then, of course Haile Selassie was there, and Haile was the 42nd descendant of King Solomon. And it was, you know, just so historical and everything.

Zarbock: Your family was with you?

Whiteside: Right.

Zarbock: How old were the children?

Whiteside: My youngest son was in the fourth grade and I guess my oldest son was in the eighth grade.

Zarbock: Well, what a learning experience.

Whiteside: Oh, yeah, and you know, they cherish those memories to this day. They still tell their friends and their children about what it was like to live in Asmara.

Zarbock: What were your duties there?

Whiteside: Mine was chaplain. And of course we had, at that time, approximately 3,000-- we had Army, Air force, Navy personnel and I was the protestant chaplain. We had one protestant and one Catholic chaplain, and we just ministered to the whole community. My first month there we could not get outside the city, except-- and then down on the Red Sea we had a rest center down there. But you could fly out on the weekends and take a helicopter and go down to the Red Sea. But then after about six months they opened it up where you could drive the convoys from Asmara down to Masalam ]. And it was 76 miles down and it would talk you four-and-a-half hours to drive that 76 miles because the road was so crooked and so narrow. But the weather, you know, Asmara was perfect. It was 70 and 80 degrees year round. In the winter it get a little cool and the nights would get a little cool, but he days would be 70 and 80 degrees. But you get down on _____________ and my goodness, it would be 110 and the humidity was probably another 110. You could hardly breathe.

Zarbock: What sort of problems did the military personnel bring to you as a chaplain? Was there drinking? Was there drugs?

Whiteside: You know, probably, each assignment had its own unique problems. In Ethiopia one of the big problems we had was local labor was dirt-cheap. For instance, our-- you could hire a maid, we didn't hire one, but you could hire maid for like $12 a month. And, you know, and those maids just worked 10, 12 hours a day, seven days a week. And particularly for the enlisted men, it became sort of a status symbol. So they'd have a maid to keep the kids, a maid to clean house, a maid to do this and some of them would have three or four maids. Because that left the wives with absolutely nothing to do and what they would normally do is end up at the bars, you know, they'd go from one club to another and so we ended up having drinking and alchohol problems, that was the major one. And strangely enough, you could go downtown to the drugstores, the drugstores were wide open and you could buy any drug you wanted to buy, opium, I don't know about marijuana, but any of the drugs, you know, it was wide open. And we never had a drug problem. That was the most, you know, unusual thing. Of course there was a penalty to pay and maybe the guys knew it, you know, if they got caught with drugs, it was an overnight trip home. (laughs) I thought it was so amazing that you could just walk in the drug store and buy any kind of opium or anything you wanted to buy, it was right there. And then, you know, you go to another unit, like in Vietnam, we had a lot of drug problems there. And back in that time we had some racial problems and generally we had racial problems. And those were always difficult problems to deal with. That's where I didn't know if I had ruined my career or not because we had a, I call it a dumb executive officer who-- it was in it was Fasching season, you know, and Fasching comes kind of like Mardi Gras, right before Lent. And...

Zarbock: This is in Germany?

Whiteside: Right. And this was back in '62, '63, '64, I guess. And I know I had just followed the big episode in the Watch, you know, the rising Watch. And the commander had left to go, I think, back to the States for some virtual leave, and the Executive Officer had taken over. And he didn't order the people but he desired his staff to come to the Fasching Show that night at the Officers Club dressed as Ku Klux Klan's. So I went to him and I said, you know, "I think this is trouble, I think it's ridiculous." And I said, "Even though we have no black officers in this unit, I have several black officers in the community that I'm very close to and I will not do it." And of course his word was, "The hell with you, Chaplain, get out of my office, I don't want to hear anything about it." I went from there to the Commanding General, we had a one-star there, and told him what was happening. I said, "You know, I will just not tolerate." So the one-star called his major by phone and forbid him to come dressed as a Ku Klux Klan. And the guy was so dumb he had some of his staff members showed up anyway dressed as Klan (laughs). Came our carrying a candle or something, a cake with a candle on it or something. So the Commander General met him right there and, kind of, had him disrobe and dismissed the whole deal, you know. Well, that was on a Saturday night, I think. And Monday morning the Seventh Army and the User [ph?] IG and the Seventh Army Support IG, everybody was right there on the post. This guy was my rater and his comment was to me, when he gave me an OER, "You know, because of you..."

Zarbock: What is OER?

Whiteside: Oh, that's an Officer-- Efficiency Report. He said, "Because of you, you know, my career's down the drain and I'm going to make sure your career goes down the drain." So I talked to the general about it and was the battalion commander and he said, "Well,"you know, we can rebuttal and kick it out." And I said, "no, you know, that was the stand I took and if I'm...," and I was just a young guy, a young officer in the military. I said, "If I'm not willing to stand up and be responsible for the decision I make knowing what the cost is going to be, I don't need to make those decisions. So, no, just leave it there." But years later when I went back and saw those old OERs, the general had also written a note in there about what happened and, you know, don't pay any attention to the major's Efficiency report.

Zarbock: That's terrible, Chaplain.

Whiteside: Yeah, well, it was just stupid.

Zarbock: Yes. I mean, eaten up with stupid.

Whiteside: Yeah, but it happened. But I felt good about what I did. So that's what I didn't want to change the OER and kick it out. I said, "No, that's part of me, that's part of my career and if it ruins my career, so be it." But that was one of the times, but otherwise, you know, it always seemed that commanders respected chaplains. In fact, I never had a commander other than this idiot that didn't respect their chaplain and really looked to the chaplain for moral guidance and moral support. And really supported the chaplain because my position was that hey, you know, to the commander, the religious program is your program and I'm here to run it for you as best I can, but in order to do that I need your support. And if you don't want to support it, you know, maybe we should look at something else, maybe look for to getting someone else. But it always worked out and I had a great career. I said, you know, looking back I wouldn't change a thing. So I got out of the Army in 1991 and took a job in a hospital as a chaplain. And then I wanted to get back to Kansas here, we had a house back here since we-- ten of my 30 years here at Fort Leavenworth. And then I worked part-time and filled in at some churches and I became a Licensed Clinical Family Therapist and set up a Pastoral Counseling Center. And, you know, really enjoy that. So up until two years ago I was still very active. But I encountered my prostate problems and my wife had the heart attack, I said it's time to put everything on the shelf and let's just cool it for a while.

Zarbock: What was your rank at the time you finished your military career?

Whiteside: I was a Colonel 06. At the time I met that Major with the Klan, I was just a newly promoted Captain from a First Lieutenant.

Zarbock: You had no idea what ever happened to him, do you?

Whiteside: I heard a rumor, I can't say for sure, but I think he got out of the Army and stayed in Germany and lived the rest of his life in Germany. I never did hear from him anymore.

Zarbock: You told me and therefore you've told the world a painful soldier story about the three young men. Do you remember a soldier story of something funny that happened?

Whiteside: Oh mercy.

Zarbock: If not funny, maybe warmhearted?

Whiteside: For some reason-- you know, I always tried to create programs that would inspire and entertain the troops. And I was there in _________ with the Air Defense, we had four batteries. And of course, there was this choir in, the church had a choir in the area, had a fantastic choir. So I wanted to have them come out and sing some, you know, some of the songs, some of it was The Sound of Music and this kind of music, but we need the piano. So I went down to the USO in Homestead and they allowed me to borrow their piano. So the guys from the battery to a pickup truck, went down, got the piano, brought it down and I don't remember if we ever had it tuned or not, but we had a great performance with the local choir there. Then the next day when they were taking the piano back down to Homestead, for some reason or another they put it in the back of the pickup truck, but they didn't put the lid up on the pickup truck. So as they moved out and took off, the piano just rolled out of the truck and just went into a thousand pieces. But there was a little guy there from Brooklyn who worked in a music shop and lo-and-behold, that poor kid worked, I know, 24 hours, with glue and everything else and glued that thing, piano back, the way you actually could not tell it fell at all. And I didn't have the heart to tell the USO down in Homestead what had happened. But they took the piano back and the meantime they did get a tuner try to tune it and they said the tuner wanted to know what in the world happened to this piano. So they took it back. And when I talked to the people at the USO later, they said, "Yeah, you know, the piano sounds different, but we don't know what happened to it." I think eventually before I left I had to tell them, you know, what happened. They laughed about it. But, I don't know, it's just things like that, you know, that made life interesting.

Zarbock: Chaplain, I'm going to ask you a question I have to ask all other interviewees. During your military career, was there ever a time or times in which you were ordered, or it was suggested, or you got a sort of a wink and a nudge to do something that may have been in violation of your personal belief and ethic or of military regulations and rules? Were you ever told to do something that you couldn't do or didn't want to do?

Whiteside: No, other than that Ku Klux Klan deal I was telling you about, which wasn't an order, but a suggestion, which, you know, back in that day would be almost determined as an order. No, I'd have to say I never did. And I think, probably, it could have been because I tried to keep my characters in such a way that I think a commander would know it would be, you know, the wrong thing to do to ask me to do something like that. So I was never asked to do anything, I was never asked to attempt to cover up anything or never asked to violate a regulation because that would be very, very serious, not only with the commander, but also to me. So I'd have to say in my whole 30 years, I was never asked to do anything like that.

Zarbock: In the six or seven dozen interviews I've done with chaplains, only three reported a situation and all three later said that the person who tried to influence them apologized and changed the request on the basis of haste in a comment. In one case, it was the general's wife who ordered a chaplain to do something and he said he couldn't do it. And she said, "Well, I'll fix that before dinner tonight." And the phone rang and it ws the general that said, "Fix nothing."

Whiteside: (laughs) Yeah, because, you know, all the chaplains I ever knew, I think, I'm sure there were always excepts as indicated by the ones there as the inmates in the DB. But all in all, you know, their character was unquestionable. And I think because of their character being so unquestionable, no commander would even dare asking them to do something that would go against their belief or, particularly, go against regulations.

Zarbock: You're the only person with whom I've ever spoken that had access to the military person at Leavenworth. What was that experience like?

Whiteside: You know, when I was there it was a great experience. Things have really changed since then because when I was there I think in order to be an inmate at the DB, you had to have, initially, a six-month assignment or six-month tour and then it went up to a year. You had to get a-- be sentenced to at least a year. Now it's much longer than that and usually it's just those who are in there for life. But when I was there, it was-- I guess, the average age was probably in the early 20s. And it was such a creative group. Most of the crimes they committed was probably drugs, or drug related. Of course, we had some very heinous crimes too. We had some on death row. But they were such a creative individual that the main purpose at that time, at least for me, was to create a rehabilitative program that would rehabilitate them rather than just confine them. And so before I left, we had an educational program for them that they could actually get 12 hours of college credit for the course that the chaplain's section itself offered. And if they didn't have the money to pay that, we had various funds and various churches around that would pay the tuition for the college. Since we did the teaching, the only charge the college would make was to the rest of the tuition, which was a very minimal cost. So they could get at least 12 hours of education just through the chaplain section. So, you know, that was a way, really, to get them started in an educational program and reduce the recidivism rate to almost nil. Times have changed since then, I'm told. But while I was there we also integrated the prison and brought in the females. And it was kind of a unique experience because the big fear was, particularly from the commandants and the guards, how are we going to keep the males away from the females. Well, when they suddenly realized it wasn't so much a job to keep the males away from the females, but how are we going to keep the females away from the males? (laughs) And the other thing (coughs) that really amazed me was when I took a look at the crimes among the officers, and we had officers all the way from lieutenants up to 06s, (coughs) never had any general officers and never had any JAG officers, lawyers, had chaplains, doctors and everything else, but no lawyers. I don't know what that says.

Zarbock: Well, let's not touch that.

Whiteside: But you take your officers, you take your enlisted and you take your females and the percentages of type of crimes were almost identical between the real, the murders, in each case, even the females had some real heinous murder cases. Sticking tissues down an infant's through, you know, to strangle the infant. And the percentage, you know, was so much identical, it really surprised me. It...

Zarbock: It really was homogenous in this group.

Whiteside: It was, it really was. Some of them, you know, they were so creative, that's what amazed me and amused me sometimes because they were, in many cases, much smarter than the guard. They revise the status where you had to be at least an E5 to be a guard there in the Disciplinary Barracks. What it is now, I have no idea, but fortunately they've moved the grade up to E5 before you can be a guard. Because you've been a E2, E3, E4 and as a guard, you've got senior enlisted over here, senior officer. They would just manipulating the fire out of those little guards. So it was quite educational for me also. But it was amazing that the amount of effort that went through to attempt to rehabilitate these individuals through screen-printing. We had, at that time, had a nice farm where they raised pigs and cattle. And that was one of the choice places if, you know, to build themselves up, to what they called A custody. They'd go down and they'd work on the farm. They loved farm work and they just loved animals. In fact, they'd really fall in love with the animals, just hate to see them slaughtered, you know, because it would really cause them a great deal of grief. I guess too, you know, working with the inmates and having them to realize-- you could almost follow their progression as they went through. Normally those who came in with the real serious crimes, say, for instance, like murder or attempted murder, after about six months they would go through a real religious experience, have a real conversion experience. And then they couldn't, very well, amalgamate that because their thoughts then was, now that God has forgiven me, why can't society, why can't the Army forgive me and let me out? So you had to, kind of, get them to work through that and see, well, you know, now that you've been forgiven, what does that mean? So it also taught me too, that one of the basic things we have is the need for approval and the need to be recognized and the need to have our value affirmed. And I think if we do not get it through rational, normal channels, we will turn to irrational abnormal channels.

Zarbock: Chaplain, the last question, if there was a large stone tablet and you chiseled on that stone tablet what do you believe in, what would you like to have chiseled on that stone tablet and remain forever for people to say, "That's what Bill Whiteside believed in."

Whiteside: Probably if all could be understood, all would be forgiven. I think that would sum it up.

Zarbock: Thank you, Chaplain.

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