The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Chet Houser Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Mike Dicianna.

July 16, 2015


“A Military Experience of Turbulent Times”  July 16, 2015  Location: Houser residence, Albany, Oregon.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In the interview, Houser details his family background and upbringing in Albany, Oregon, noting the impact that was made upon him by his parents' divorce and also commenting on his experience of school and of major world events that occurred during his adolescence. He then discusses his transition to college life at Oregon State University, recalling the obligations set forth by the scholarship that funded his education, reflecting on his academic progression as a student in Agricultural Economics, and recounting his experiences as both a member and as president of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity.

Of particular note are Houser's memories of his years in Army ROTC during the escalation of the Vietnam War. In speaking of this time, Houser shares his thoughts on student protests of the era, noting in particular the Anti-Military Ball and the Black Student Union Walkout at OSU, as well as the Kent State shootings in May 1970.

The session then turns its attention to Houser's military career, including his multiple assignments at home and abroad, the advancement of his training as a war planner, and a few particularly interesting projects to which he was exposed, including early work on GPS as well as weaponized lasers. Houser concludes this section of the interview with thoughts on changes in military tactics since the Vietnam War.

The primary focus of the remainder of the interview is Houser's work as a civilian public employee. In this, he details his activities working as a trainer for Oregon OSHA, the Vocational Rehabilitation Department, and the Oregon Parks Service. The session concludes with notes on family, activities in retirement, and words of advice for students of today.