Shoulder To Shoulder With The Locals: A Military Intelligence Advisor In Vietnam

Dale Hansen


Dale Hansen was born in Queens, New York, but grew up in Sacco, Maine. His father, who was born in 1894, died when he was eight, and he was raised by his mother, who was a school teacher and waitress. Two older half-brothers served in World War II, and one was killed flying a B-25 in China with the 490th Bomb Squadron. The other served in the Acorn Division in Europe. As a boy, he spent a lot of time outdoors, and one summer rode his bicycle over 300 miles across Maine. Staying with friends and relatives, he called his mother frequently to keep her from worrying. Once, while flipping through the World Book Encyclopedia, he saw an article about West Point, and decided that the Military Academy was for him. His mother and grandmother brought him to the academy, but had to leave before the swearing-in ceremony. He did well academically and enjoyed the military training, which he felt prepared him well for the Army, but struggled with the Indoor Obstacle Course. He remembers the community and camaraderie of the mess hall. As news about the Vietnam War intensified, he notes that they took their training seriously, paying close attention to discussions with faculty members such as Pete Dawkins, Dana Mead, and Norm Schwarzkopf. When it came time to select a branch, he picked Military Intelligence. 1968 was the first year Cadets could pick a non-combat arms branch out of West Point, but they had to also select a branch detail, and he chose Signal. After attending the basic course, he was assigned to the 24th Signal Battalion at Ft. Riley, Kansas, where he encountered racial issues, but also learned to rely on his NCOs (Non-Commissioned Officers) and recognize their expertise. After Kansas, he was stationed in Germany with the 32nd Signal Battalion. He observed fewer racial issues in Germany than he had seen in Kansas. At the end of his Signal Branch assignment, he was able to transition to the 165th Military Intelligence Company in the 66th Military Intelligence Group, where he worked with personnel security and investigations. After his time in Germany, he returned to the States for the Military Intelligence Advanced Course, followed by Ranger School and the Military Assistance Security Officer Course at Ft. Bragg in preparation for a deployment to Vietnam. Arriving at Tan Son Nhut Airport in Saigon, he processed through the 21st Replacement Detachment before being assigned to MAC-V Advisory Team 31 in Military Region II in the Central Highlands, working with the Montagnards. He was responsible for coordinating the local Phoenix program, the Chieu Hoy (Open Arms) program, and the RF/PF (Regional Force / Popular Force) units in the Area. By the time he deployed to Vietnam in 1971, “our departure was on the horizon,” but he still gave his best effort. Returning to the United States, he remembers receiving no welcome home, and he quickly transitioned to his next assignment at the Headquarters of the Intelligence Center, where he worked for the U.S. Army Personnel Security Group, conducting security clearance investigations for the FAO (Foreign Area Officer) program and the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), which was transitioning into the Regular Army. He found this to be a rewarding assignment and felt that he was making an impact. In 1975, he transitioned to the Army Reserves with the 259th Military Intelligence Company in Cincinnati, Ohio, which allowed him to simultaneously work for Procter and Gamble from 1975 to 1984. In 1984, when he took a job in New York with NUI (National Utility Industries), he was able to transfer to the 481st Military Intelligence Detachment in Queens, New York. In 1998, he retired from the Reserves as a Colonel, and also became the Vice President for Operations in the Command Line Corporation, a software provider for the maritime industry. He then transitioned to working for the Raritan Valley Technology Group for Ship Serve from 1998 to 2011. After retiring from the corporate world, he decided he wanted to earn a degree as a Veterinary Tech, and from 2012 to 2014 he worked for the Manhattan Veterinarian Group. In this interview, he talks about his childhood, his West Point experiences, his active duty service, his time in the reserves, and his civilian career. He describes his deployment to Vietnam, and provides insights into operational aspects of being a Military Intelligence Advisor. Finally, he discusses what West Point means to him, and addresses his work with his class and the Association of Graduates.


conflicts Vietnam War
topics Military Techniques Leadership Camaraderie West Point History Vietnamese Business Character Counterinsurgency
interviewer David Siry
date 15 November 2019


name Dale Hansen
institution USMA
graduation year 1968
service Signal Corps / Military Intelligence
unit 24th Signal Battalion; 165th Military Intelligence CO, 66th Military Intelligence Group; MACV; 259th Military Intelligence CO; 481st Military Intelligence Detachment
service dates 1968 1998