“People Died Because We Tried To Save Face:” Disillusioned With The Vietnam War, But Not With West Point

Fredric Laughlin


Fred Laughlin grew up in Port Huron, Michigan in a family of educators. After high school, Fred decided to enter West Point, while his brother, who was a year older, selected the Naval Academy. Their younger brother eventually obtained a commission through ROTC. At the Academy, Fred roomed with Art Hester, one of the four African Americans who graduated with the Class of ’65. By his firstie year, Fred was selected to be the Company Commander for I2. Upon graduation, he attended Airborne and Ranger school before joining the 82nd Airborne Division, where he served as a Company Commander while still a 2nd Lieutenant. In January, 1967, he deployed to Vietnam, where he joined 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, in the 1st Infantry Division. He served for three months as a Platoon Leader before being reassigned as the Executive Officer of B/2-2 Infantry in May 1967. In October, 1967, he was seriously wounded when the M-113 he was riding on hit a mine. He was evacuated to Vung Tau, and remained hospitalized for three weeks. Upon returning home from Vietnam, he found that he had become disillusioned with the war, and he testified at a Congressional Hearing on war crimes in 1971. After leaving the Army, he earned an MBA and PhD from George Washington University before embarking on a civilian career as a consultant. In this interview, he talks about his childhood and his experiences at West Point. He describes his deployment to Vietnam, and testifying before Congress after leaving the military. He explores his post-military career, talks about coaching youth sports, and reflects on his three near-death experiences. He explains why discipline, honor, integrity, and faith are important to him. Finally, he talks about his son attending the Military Academy, and what West Point means to him.


name Fredric Laughlin
institution USMA
graduation year 1965
service Infantry
unit 2nd BN, 2nd IN, 1st ID
service dates 1965 1970