James Ferguson grew up in Dwight, Illinois, along Route 66, and his wife Karen is from Lawton, Oklahoma. James was first introduced to the idea of “West Point” by the popular T.V. series in the mid-1950s. He was impressed by the parades and discipline depicted on the show. At the Military Academy, James did well academically, and personally thanked some of his high school teachers for his quality education. One of the highlights of his Cadet experience was singing with the Glee Club, including memorable broadcast performances on the Ed Sullivan Show and in Boston. He commissioned as an Artillery Officer. He met his wife Karen, who worked in the civilian personnel office on Ft. Sill, at a party, and the two quickly became inseparable. They were married on September 2, 1967. When James was slated for deployment to Vietnam, he was assigned to the MATA course (Military Advisor Training Academy) at Ft. Bragg with additional language training at Ft. Bliss. Arriving in Vietnam on July 2, 1968, he was assigned as a District Advisor in Phuoc Vinh and Song Be. His job was to convince the District Chief to do his job, and to mitigate the tensions between the South Vietnamese and the Montagnard tribesmen. While James was in Vietnam, Karen returned to her job at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. During his tour, James was working with a Mobile Advisory Team near Núi Bà Rá (White Virgin Mountain) when he was wounded by shrapnel while coming back to the camp from the jungle. He was evacuated to Bien Hoa, Japan for three weeks, Travis Air Force Base, and finally to Ft. Sill. He was wounded on September 17, and arrived home on October 15, 1968. After graduate school, James taught in the Department of ES & GS at the Military Academy, and he loved teaching and living at West Point.
In this interview, James and Karen talk about their upbringing, meeting each other at Ft. Sill, their experiences during his deployment to Vietnam, and attending reunions. He describes working with the South Vietnamese, and acknowledges that some may have been “riding the fence,” supporting both sides. Finally, they describe why they attend reunions, and discuss what West Point means to them.