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Michael J. Carley (Class of 1962) oral history and papers relating to the Vietnam War

Scope & content

This collection contains biographical information about Michael “Mike” John Carley (1940-1967) (Brown University Class of 1962), who was killed in action (KIA 670227) while copiloting a helicopter mission in the Vietnam War. Carley had flown 320 missions, entitling him to 16 Air Medals (20 missions/Air Medal). A large part of the collection is in the form of an oral history and other recollections by his widow, Connie Worthington (Brown University/Pembroke Class of 1968). Worthington talks about their days at Brown University, Carley’s pilot training, his experiences in Vietnam and his memorial services, as part of the Vietnam Oral History Collections. There are also recollections about Mike Carley from his U.S.M.C. comrades from military-related sources and from a reunion with Connie, son Michael Carley, Jr. and the surviving members of Mike Carley's [Sr.] squadron. It also includes a published book by Mike's brother, Richard Carley, titled "Growing up on the farm: a Sharon Mountain story" which contains historical recollections of the town of Sharon, Connecticut, and a remembrance of Mike.

Series 1. Oral history: This series contains the audio recording, typed transcription and an edited typed transcription of the interview conducted by Professor Elizabeth Taylor of Connie Worthington, widow of Mike Carley, on July 13, 2010 as part of the Brown Vietnam Veterans Oral History Project. The interview begins with Connie Worthington describing how she met Mike Carley (circa 1963) in Rhode Island. Recollections in the interview include Mike's friendships with Alpha Delta Phi fraternity brothers and others, family relationships and history, and their wedding. Connie briefly touches on Officers Candidate School at Quantico, Virginia where Mike received his 2nd Lieutenant rank then recalls experiences of traveling south to Pensacola, Florida for helicopter training. This was in the summer of 1964, where they, as "Yankee" Northerners, felt discrimination from the locals and sensed the locals' aversion to differences like religion and skin color.

Mike Carley is sent to Ky Ha, South Vietnam (near Chu Lai, in QUang tTin Province, I Corps, South Vietnam), Connie recounts their conversations of the danger he was facing and her Rhode Island and Brown experiences with their son, living with her parents, and their R&R in Honolulu three weeks before he was killed. Connie shares some war stories she heard from Mike and describes letters written by Mike and some photographs of an airstrike she used to have. She describes being notified of his death by the Marines, the way she and others grieve, and the effect of his death and how becoming a Vietnam widow has shaped her life. She wanted their son, Michael Jr., to know his father's friends and family and now that he is an adult he maintains those relationships including attending reunions and arranging meetings. In a specially arranged meeting, Connie and Michael Jr. hear eyewitness accounts of Mike's death. Through Mike's surviving veteran friends, called the Ugly Angels, Michael Jr. becomes involved in the Veterans for Peace.

Connie ends the interview describing her involvement in the Junior League, and her writings and feelings about the war protests of the time. She expresses the parallels to and her sympathies with the families involved with the current wars (Afghanistan, Iraq).

Series 2. Articles: This includes text from articles and websites about Mike Carley: Article from Brown Alumni Monthly about the "Brown Club" in Ky Ha, Republic of Viet Nam (sent to Brown by Carley weeks before his death); postings from the Ugly Angels and the USMC Combat Helicopter Association about the death of Mike Carley; and writings about Vietnam Moratorium protest and civil rights by Connie Worthington.

Series 3. Photographs: Includes photographs of Mike and Connie Carley's wedding party (b&w), an aerial view of Ky Ha Vietnam (color) where Mike was stationed during his time in Vietnam, and a photo of Mike in a transport plane (color). Military portraits of Mike are in the collection as digital objects only. Photographs downloaded from the Pop-A-Smoke (USMC Combat Helicopter Association) website (www.popasmoke.com) include images of Mike and several of the Ky Ha installations and related areas and military experiences of the “Ugly Angels,” HMM-362.

Series 4. Memorials: This series contains programs for the Commencement Morning Worship and Alumni Memorial for Mike Carley and correspondence from Chaplin Charles Baldwin. The service program lists the deceased members of the Class of 1947 and also honors by name and class, "those Brown men who have given their lives during the Vietnam conflict."

Series 5. Supporting Materials: This series contains follow-up email communications among the interview participants for clarification of terms referenced and to arrange for copies of the materials shared during the interview. It also includes an exchange with squadron mate David Taylor who relays his perspectives on the history of some of the names and provides visual identification of aircraft used in the 1st Marine Corps aviation unit in Vietnam. Mike's brother, Richard Carley contributed his book "Growing up on the farm: a Sharon Mountain story" which includes historical recollections of farming in the town of Sharon, Connecticut, circa 1942-2010 and a remembrance of Mike.