When Lee Corfield graduated from high school in 1967, the Vietnam War was heating up and the military needed young men. So Lee wondered when the draft would catch up to him. It was a matter of time before we was ordered into the Army or Marines perhaps, where ground forces were desperately needed.
But it was Lee’s mother who got things moving. After badgering a local draft board official as to when her son’s number was due, she got word that the young man “better hurry up.” Better volunteer now and choose the branch of service he wants or get placed wherever he was needed most. Hedging their bets, Lee and a buddy joined the Air Force; they hoped it was a safer choice, with no combat action like the Army or Marines. Maybe they’d miss Vietnam altogether.
Three weeks later, while already in Air Force boot camp, Lee’s draft notice arrived. Then in 1969, as a highly trained aircraft mechanic, Lee Corfield was in Vietnam—along with the Army and Marines.
When Post Chaplain Joe Mavero called to invite us to interview veterans at VFW Post 128 in Rochester, PA, we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to preserve more Beaver County stories. After Commander Tom Crawford and the Post’s executive board generously reserved a quiet space for us in the building, we set up a two-day recording event July 21-22, 2014. Over two days we captured the stories of three veterans representing Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War.
VFW Post 128 sits on Rochester’s Virginia Avenue, high above the Ohio River valley. It is a spacious location, with reception hall and meeting rooms. In addition to being the home to the Rochester VFW Ladies Auxiliary, the Post hosts Chapter 862 of Vietnam Veterans of America, the largest VVA chapter in Pennsylvania and second in the nation.
“We’re thankful that Post 128’s leadership recognizes the importance of preserving the stories of their members,” said Kevin Farkas, director of Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh. “They understand the historical significance of what their members experienced and the importance of giving each veteran a chance to tell his or her story in their own words so that future generations of Americans will better understand and appreciate their service.”
Listen to Lee Corfield’s complete audio interview with the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative, recorded in July 2014 in Rochester, Pennsylvania.
Operation Ranch Hand
Listen to Lee Corfield explain his duties as an aircraft crew chief, recorded live on September 3, 2014 at a Veterans Breakfast Club event at Robert Morris University, Moon Twp., Pennsylvania.