A Screaming Eagle on Vietnam, Family, and Leadership in the Face of Tragedy

Harry E. Rothmann Jr.


COL(R) Harry Rothmann grew up hearing stories about his father and uncle serving in WWII. As a boy, he visited Gettysburg and realized that military service was in his future. In High School, he set a goal of attending West Point. As a Cadet, Harry Rothmann played both baseball and sprint football, and those experiences helped shape the type of leader he became. Upon graduation, he got married and joined the 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Germany, the unit his uncle served in during WWII. After a year in Germany, he redeployed to the states, settled his family in New Jersey, and on April 15, 1969 he deployed to Vietnam where he joined 3rd Platoon, B Company, 3rd Battalion of the 506th Infantry Regiment in the 101st Airborne Division. After serving as a Platoon Leader, he assumed command of D Company, 3/506, and participated in an amphibious operation. Returning from Vietnam in 1970, he served in the 9th Infantry Division, and experienced the growing pains of transitioning an all-volunteer force. He was then selected to return to West Point to teach in the Department of History and attended grad school at UNC from 1974-1976. After West Point, he was stationed at Fort Campbell from 1980-1983 and again from 1985-1988, with a stint at the Pentagon in between. After leaving command, he became a fellow at the Naval War College. He returned to the Pentagon two days after Iraq invaded Kuwait, and was one of the planners for Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In this interview, he discusses some of his operations in Vietnam, including discovering a tunnel containing a North Vietnamese Battalion Headquarters and Medical Center. He also discusses the Gander tragedy, in which a plane full of Soldiers redeploying from the Sinai Multinational Force and Observers mission crashed in Gander Newfoundland, killing everyone on board. LTC Rothmann immediately took command of that battalion and was responsible for rebuilding it


name Harry E. Rothmann Jr.
institution USMA
graduation year 1967
service Infantry
unit 3/506th Infantry, 101st; 3/101st; 3/502nd Infantry, 101st
service dates 1967 1996