Interview with Bruce Boedker

Bruce Boedtker was born 1950 in Glen Cove, Long Island, but spent much of his early life moving from place to place, preventing him from establishing firm roots. Bruce felt most at home on his grandparents farm in Springfield, Vermont, where he eventually lived full time and attended school. 

His rebellious streak led him to volunteer for the Army after dropping out of high school and receiving a low lottery number in the draft. He served from during a period of US troop withdrawal in the Vietnam War. Bruce began his basic training on September 14, 1970 at Fort Dix, New Jersey, then completed Advanced Infantry Training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Initially enlisted to serve in Vietnam, his orders changed and he was deployed to Wildflecken, Germany. There he served as an Infantry Private with the 3rd Infantry Division as part of the US’ Army’s presence in the NATO alliance to defend the Czech border and act as a symbol of strength.

During his service, Bruce began using drugs to deal with the lack of stimulation he found from his duties, nearly leading him to the stockade or un-honorable discharge. He was saved by his company Commander offering him a job as his driver. Bruce describes this opportunity as a major turning point in his life as it gave him a greater sense of purpose through his responsibility of leading drills. 

His main connection to the Vietnam War was through the Vietnam veterans sent to Europe to finish out their tours and the stories they told. They often described the lack of discipline and strategy that caused the chaos and unrest in Vietnam.

Bruce was discharged on April 18th, 1972. He returned to Vermont where he received a degree in engineering from the University of Vermont and eventually ran his own business. Today, he lives there with his family. 

To listen to the full interview, plese click here. Audio will open in a new page. The full transcript of the interview can be found below.