John Schweich of Beaver, Pennsylvania served in Vietnam as an army intelligence officer. He later served with the CIA as a civilian and retired from the Army Reserves as a lieutenant colonel.
One of the most profound problems we faced in Vietnam, John recalls, is that military and political leaders often wanted to hear certain things, despite differing evidence offered up by “the spooks.”
Intelligence officers–and their credibility–were always at risk of being dismissed if their reports were at odds with certain expectations, especially toward the end of the war when it was obvious that the American military strategy was failing.
The top brass wanted to hear that “things are going well or that there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” John says. It was very frustrating for us. As John’s intelligence boss would say after meeting with military leaders, “This is not going to work. The outcome is not going to be pleasant.”
During 2015, we conducted monthly oral history interviews at Seven Oaks Country Club, located in scenic western Beaver County, Pennsylvania. As part of his community outreach effort, manager Joe Strauss graciously provided assistance and space for us to set up our mobile recording studio so that we could meet with local veterans and preserve their stories.
On December 21, 2015, we invited two area veterans to Seven Oaks Country Club to share their stories with the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative. First to be interviewed by Kevin Farkas was John Schweich, who served as an army intelligence officer in Vietnam, and then we sat down with Bob Rupert, a Vietnam veteran who flew spotting planes throughout the war.