The Forgotten Fight Oral History Project
Interviewee’s name: Carl Pollard (CP)
Interviewer’s name: Kelsey Glander (KG)
Transcribed by: Nicole M. Headlee, DVM
KG: And we’re rolling. Sorry about the wait. So, Let’s start. What’s your name and can you tell me a little bit about yourself and where you grew up?
Carl Pollard: My name is Carl. Carl Pollard and I grew up in Arlington Va. That’s where I grew up at. Arlington, VA.
KG: What brought you to Richmond?
CP: Actually, I used to live in Richmond, but what brought me to Richmond was a marriage that is…that didn’t work out and I have family that’s near here also and I’d be excited to come back to Richmond and to start over.
KG: Ok. When did you join the military?
KG: What lead to your decision to join?
CP: Well actually I had a best friend that basically talked me into going, but after I got in I was happy that I had joined.
KG: Why do you say that?
CP: Because, they taught me discipline and they helped me to…with survive (?) it and made me feel important.
KG: Can you tell me a little about your training?
CP: Yes, training was very tough. The first time that I ever did boot camp it was a little scary, but after a while I adjusted.
KG: Do you have any memories that stand out to you about training?
CP: Yes, I have memories that stand out. I mean, you can’t forget most of it anyway. When I first arrived, they greeted us and everything. Seeing how strict things were, you know, and how…I don’t know, basically was just a very, I mean, everything had to be basically in order, so I remember all of that.
KG: How old were you when you joined?
KG: What did your friends and family think?
CP: My friend and my family thought that was a good thing for me. I think my grandmother told me once that it’s going to make a man out of me. My grandmother said that. And I guess one of my cousins, guess he tried to, I don’t know what he was trying to do. But he told me, ‘you know who goes to war first don’t you?’ I said ‘yeah I know’, but you know, I guess he thought that was going to make me scared or something about going in, but it didn’t bother me because he was in the Army, I was in the Marines.
KG: Where were you stationed?
CP: I was stationed in NC. Camp Lejeune, NC and I was stationed at Cherry Point, NC. Then I went overseas to Okinawa.
KG: What were your experiences that you remember the most out of each of those places?
CP: The convoys because I was in motor transport. We went on convoys. And walking guard duty, and what else, you know the working part of it, you know, keeping up the equipment making the deliveries. Delivering different machinery to different bases. All the crazy guys I was around. I remember all of that, yes.
KG: Did you like your job in the military?
KG: Did you pick it?
CP: No, I didn’t. It was chosen for me before we got to graduate from bootcamp
KG: Tell me a little bit more about what you did? So you were in motor transportation, what did your day entail?
CP: I wasn’t a mechanic but I had to make sure that the jeeps and 65s (?) and 5 tons, make sure that they was, you know, serviced with the oil and stuff like that. Changing tires, by hand. (laughter) You know the experience. Wasn’t hard, but it was hard enough, but you know changing tires by hand and once in a while they give me the ammo (?) duty to go the rifle range and somebody got hurt there and had to rush him to the hospital. But other than that, it wasn’t a lot that we did, except for, make sure that the vehicles was ready for action.
KG: What was it like going overseas?
CP: That was different, I mean, first time going over there. I think they had some type of parade or something, the Japanese. All you could see was red, white. I don’t know, there was some kind of a celebration they was having. I don’t remember that. I don’t know what kind it was. Overseas was pretty nice, it was hot. It was very hot over there. It was actually pretty nice. I mean, we didn’t do (?) what we did when we was in the states, it was all the same.
KG: Tell me about the friendships you made when you were in the military.
CP: When I was in the military I had a lot of friends and we didn’t do a lot of partying or nothing like that but the guys they liked me a lot. They thought I was more like a laid back guy, so. And they nicknamed me. (?) It was something. But, I had a lot of friends over there, I mean, when I was in the military. We hung out every once in awhile and in the town of some part of, (?) don’t remember the name of it, in Okinawa, and we would go out there at night and come on back. You know go out there, shop, and do things we shouldn’t be doing. (laughter) And that was it, you know. Just every day regular routine actually. Nothing all that different. Stayed there for just one year.
KG: Do you keep in contact with any of those people?
CP: I was, I started keeping in contact with one particular guy, but I lost all their contact numbers. I don’t know what happened to the book every body signed. I mean, if I find it I’ll start calling them, but I haven’t. I mean, my number has changed and half of them has probably changed from them moving from place to place. Probably kind of difficult to get in contact with some of them.
KG: When you came home from Okinawa, how did your family or community respond to your homecoming.
CP: You mean, when I came out? Or when I came home?
KG: When you came back to the states
CP: They was always glad to see me. I guess they were proud of me. They, I don’t know, didn’t get a whole lot of response from that. I couldn’t tell. I mean, because There was a lot of stuff going on, too (undistinguishable)
KG: Do you think your military experience changed your world view?
CP: Yes, it made me more of an alert person and it Makes me look at things a lot different. Made me tough, really. Really tough. I’m not an angry person, but sometimes it depends on the situation. I guess when I feel like I’m being pushed or threatened, stuff like that, Other than that, I’m an easy going person, but yeah it changed my life, I feel like it made me a better person. I appreciate all the respect that people give me for being a veteran, that means a lot to me. Other than that, it taught me to cope with, you know, cope with situations that people can’t normally cope with, you know.
KG: When did you exit the military?
CP: I exited around ‘75, somewhere around there.
KG: What was it like returning to civilian life?
CP: Not good.
KG: Not good?
CP: Hated it. I didn’t really want to come out as early as I did, but it happened.
KG: Why did you leave if I may ask?
CP: Medical reasons.
KG: What types of challenges do you feel like you’ve faced since leaving the military?
CP: The challenges is, I guess the challenges would be survival, being able to survive overall, no matter what it is and taking risks. It’s all a challenge. It’s a challenge, it’s trying to figure out where you’re going in life. Every day is a challenge.
KG: How did you become homeless?
CP: I became homeless when I lost my home and I told my wife that if we lost the home, we probably won’t be able to stay together and that’s not good because a house shouldn’t keep nobody together. I didn’t like the area we lived in and I made a mistake moving to that area that we moved to and I just had a struggle when we moved there. The only reason I bought the home there, it was a nice home and it was cheap. Homes was cheap there and the reason is because there was no work. The economy was, somebody once called it a depressed area, but I’m not there anymore and I don’t plan on going back there, so I let it go.
KG: What year was that?
CP: Last year.
KG: Tell me about the places you’ve stayed since losing your home.
CP: I’ve stayed with my family, my daughter, my grandkids, my first wife, and that’s what, that’s where I’ve stayed at for awhile, the last few years, few months.
KG: What’s the hardest thing about not having your own home right now?
CP: I guess the hardest thing about not having my own home is, I guess, not having my own home means that I just have to, I mean, starting over I guess. Not having my own home means starting over. That’s hard, but I’m capable of starting over somehow.
KG: How did you get hooked up with LFS?
CP: Through the VA.
KG: What was your experience like with the VA?
CP: It’s good, I mean, they care about me. They’ve been showing me that. They’ve been trying to help me for the last, I don’t know how many years. Ever since I came out of the military actually.
KG: You said trying to help you, what do you mean by that?
CP: They’re trying to help me cope with all my problems.
KG: What’s your daily life like now? What do you do every day?
CP: I read. I write. I like to write. I’m working on a journal. I’m going to have to redo it though. I’m working on a journal. When I have time I put models together. Jets and stuff like that. I go to Barnes and Nobel a lot and I read. I listen to music. Jazz music. Relaxing music. That’s the type of music I like. I…that’s all I do. I don’t hang around people. I mean, I’m around people when I go to the bookstores and places like that but other than that I’m always alone.
KG: By choice?
KG: Do you ever feel lonely?
CP: Yeah, sometimes. I know, my first wife is very supportive, so she stays, I always talk to her a lot. Every day. Every once in a while I feel a little lonely. I just like being alone a lot, I guess.
KG: Nothing wrong with that. What types of barriers do you feel like you’ve faced as a homeless veteran?
CP: Staying away from places that I shouldn’t be like bars. Drinking you know? Or going in bad neighborhoods. Staying out of those areas. That’s a barrier, I mean, it’s not a barrier for me because I don’t go. But it would be a barrier if I went there, but the bar could be a barrier, but I don’t go there now. Just being, that’s the barriers for me.
KG: How do you think your veteran status affects the way people think about you?
CP: I’ve noticed that because of my caps and things they notice I’ve been in the Marine Corps, and everything like that I get a lot of respect. A lot of people like getting to know me from different places. They see me all the time. I go into department stores now and shop, you know, and after awhile they get to know me, they. A lot of them know my name. I don’t try to make it my business for everyone to know me. And I don’t want everyone to know me. I mean, it’s alright.
KG: You’re just a private person.
KG: What do you think civilians particularly don’t know about the experience of veterans?
CP: They don’t understand the things that we’ve been through. They don’t understand us. I think they look at us as somebody that’s been through a lot. They just don’t quite understand. They don’t really understand us. They don’t ever really figure us out. A lot of times I think that they look at us as being really crazy in the head, something like that. I notice that a lot of them stay out of our way.
KG: What would you want them to know?
CP: I would want them to know that we’re just individuals that not only served our country but we’re not bad individuals, we just got problems like anybody else that we’re trying to work though and we’re very nice people and very helpful. I know I am.
KG: Can you expand on that? Being helpful? What do you mean?
CP: If I, I mean, if I see anybody that’s having a hard time with, you know, broke down on the road, anything, or having a problem getting around. Just, you know I just try to be a help to somebody if I feel like they need my help. A lot of us veterans don’t like nobody doing something for us. I know I don’t. It is what it is, I guess.
KG: How do you feel about charity? Like when people offer charity?
CP: That’s very much appreciated. I think that that’s good. That there’s people out there willing to help others, like that. And because if it wasn’t, for me, everyone can’t afford this and that you know and don’t have enough money to buy food and clothes, stuff like that. I think that’s a good thing.
KG: Do you ever feel the need to give back.
CP: Yes, I haven’t exactly been in the position to do that, but hopefully I will one day.
KG: Is there anything in life that you regret that you’re comfortable talking about?
CP: First of all I regret being in this position. I feel like I did this to myself. My childhood wasn’t the greatest of all and that helped me to be strong, too. I regret mostly, being in the position that I’m in right now. I regret it, but I’m thankful that there’s, I’m thankful for this place, I’m thankful for the people here, because if it wasn’t for them or any other organization a lot of us would probably be, somewhere we wouldn’t want to be.
KG: What are you most proud of?
CP: I’m proud of…what am I proud of…there’s lots of things I should be proud of. I’m proud of my…I can’t say accomplishments, because I haven’t really accomplished a lot yet, but I’m proud that I was able to buy a house. I’m proud of that. I’m proud of my grandkids. I’m proud of my, I’m proud of them. I’m proud of, I don’t’ know what I’m supposed to be proud of other than them. I can’t think of anything.
KG: What are your goals for the future?
CP: My goals for the future is to have my own place again. I already set a goal, I got myself an automobile. My goal is to be in another healthy relationship one day, whether it’s with my first wife, we plan on getting remarried, but whether it’s with her or anybody else. My goal is to, just to, be able to live independent and to be happy. Happier. I don’t know. I mean, I don’t have a lot of goals right now. I mean, I already set one goal by getting my own automobile or my own place, I guess. I don’t know if I’m going back to my first (?), I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t have too many goals right now.
KG: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience or your story?
CP: No, I don’t. I don’t have anything else.
KG: If you don’t have anything for me, then I’m through.
CP: Thank you
KG: Thank you.