USS Upshur, December 1966

Aboard the USS Upshur, en route to Vietnam with 4,000 of my closest Army pals.  City boys.  Country boys.  From all over the nation – California, Nebraska, Kansas, Alabama, New York.  Most fresh out of high school, like me.  Class of ’65, hoo-rah.  Everybody antsy, sweltering in the heat, crammed below-decks playing cards, writing letters, trading paperbacks, listening to Armed Forces radio.  

We shipped out from Oakland, California.  It took a month to cross the Pacific.  To kill time and tension, I taught Jon Sugden, my buddy from Fort Gordon, how to play bass on a pair of guitars we borrowed from the ship's chaplain, a former musician.  Sug's not in this photo, but you'll see him in some others.

Rock 'N' Roll Soldier: A Memoir by Dean Ellis Kohler with Susan VanHecke, foreword by Graham Nash  •  © 2023