“Go With Your Heart”: Strike A Balance And Find Your Path In The Army

Christopher Needels


COL(R) Christopher Needels grew up in a Military Family and enlisted in the Army right after high school graduation. While he was stationed with the 2nd Armored Division, he applied for, and was accepted into, the United States Military Academy Prep School, and the West Point Class of 1965. After graduating, he was assigned as an Infantry Officer in the 82nd Airborne Division. By 1966, he was in Vietnam as a Platoon Leader in the 1st Infantry Division, and participated in Operation Amarillo before becoming the aide to the Assistant Division Commander, BG Bernard W. Rogers. Following a tour at the Ranger Training Brigade, he returned to Vietnam as a Company Commander in the 101st Airborne Division. After returning from Vietnam in 1970, he completed the Infantry Advanced Course and then commanded the Army Parachute Team. After serving in the 3rd Infantry Division in Germany and attending Georgetown University, COL Needels was assigned to Special Operations Command with duty at the Pentagon. His final assignment was at the National Security Council as Director of International Programs on the White House staff. In this interview, COL(R) Needels talks about the variety of assignments he had in the Army, and how that broadening experience helped him develop. He describes his experience as an Aide de Camp in Vietnam, and how helicopters shaped the battlefield. His time on the Army Parachute Team was a highlight of his career, and his love of skydiving has continued to this day. Finally, he discusses his time at the White House and his interactions with President George H.W. Bush, which led the president to call upon COL(R) Needels when he wanted to try skydiving.


conflicts Vietnam War Persian Gulf War
topics Leadership West Point History Patriotism USMA 1965
interviewer Fredric Laughlin
date 12 April 2016


name Christopher Needels
institution USMA
graduation year 1965
service Infantry
unit 2nd Armored Division, 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Infantry Division (RVN), 101st Airborne Division (RVN), 3rd Infantry Division (FRG), USASOC
service dates 1965 1992