“Dreaming In Russian”: Service In Vietnam And In East Germany With The USMLM

Michael Crutcher


COL(R) Mike Crutcher graduated from UC Davis in 1967 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Russian History. Branching Infantry, his first assignment was in the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry, where he participated in summer training for Cadets at West Point. He then completed a graduate school fellowship and earned his Masters’ Degree in Political Science in 1968. He joined the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam in June, 1969. He flew to Vietnam the day man landed on the moon, and joined 1st Squadron, 5th Cavalry in Phuc Vinh. After returning from Vietnam, he attended Russian language school at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, followed by the US Army Russian Institute. In 1975, he was assigned to the United States Military Liaison Mission (USMLM) for two years, including fifteen months of touring behind the Iron Curtain. While working with the USMLM, he participated in Operation Larkspur, observed a SCUD Brigade, and was chased around Eisenach. He discovered that Soldiers are the same everywhere, whether they are American, East German, or Soviet. In this interview, he talks about the Detroit Riots, his deployment to Vietnam (including a 64 helicopter mission in Cambodia), and his time with the USMLM. He discusses his interaction with East German Soldiers and citizens, and with Soviet Soldiers. He describes being the first person to capture photographs of the new T-64 tank. He explains that working for the USMLM was “the next best thing to being in combat without being shot at.”


conflicts Vietnam War Cold War
topics USMLM United States Military Liaison Mission Courage Leadership
interviewer David Siry
date 29 April 2017


name Michael Crutcher
institution UC Davis
graduation year 1967
service Infantry / Military Intelligence
unit 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry; 1st Squadron, 5th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division; USMLM
specialty United States Military Liaison Mission
service dates 1967 1997