LTC(R) E. George Rivers was born in Manila, Philippines, in 1936 to his British father and American mother. Once WWII broke out, he moved to California with his mother. After attending college at the University of Oklahoma and Lehigh University, he eventually graduated from Brigham Young University in 1959. After graduation, he was notified he was being drafted into the military, but instead enlisted in the Marine Corps. He was commissioned through the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School in 1959. During his career, he served three tours in Vietnam and one tour in Germany. In 1962, as a member of the First Force Reconnaissance Company, his pathfinder team was placed on stand-by during the Cuban missile crisis. In 1965, he served his first tour in Vietnam as a MACV advisor to the 2nd ARVN Battalion, a highly effective fighting force eager to fight for their country. During his second tour to Vietnam, LTC(R) Rivers served with the Marines’ 3rd Recon Battalion, and noted the difference in race relations in Vietnam as opposed to what he witnessed once they re-deployed to Okinawa, Japan. While in Vietnam, the attitude was “same mud, same blood,” but once they left Vietnam race relations worsened. He advised the Vietnamese Marines during his third tour, and describes them as highly motivated and well-trained. He retired from active duty in 1979 after a twenty-year career, and worked in the mining, agricultural, and meat industries, holding a variety of positions from CEO to USDA consultant.
In this interview, LTC(R) Rivers discusses his time in Vietnam, PTSD, race relations, and leadership. He credits his time in the Marines for building the foundation of who he was throughout his military and civilian careers, and who he is today.