Major (Ret.) Roger K. Kugler was born in Mott, ND, Oct. 22, 1938.
He is a graduate of the United States Army Armor Basic and Advanced Courses: the United States Army Command and General Staff College: United States Army Special Warfare School, Military Assistance Training
Advisor Sector/Unit Course, and Department of State Foreign Service Institute, Civil Operations and Rural Development Support Course.
Roger received his undergraduate education over a period of seven years. He went to college for one year then had to quit to work. During that time he had one year of ROTC. In 1960 he started his second year in the ROTC. There was a rule that all ROTC juniors had to go to camp between their junior and senior year. It took some persuading but he did not go to the camp until the summer after his senior year. This happened because he had to work that summer if he was going to graduate. He did that in the spring of 1963 and was commissioned Aug. 2, 1963.
In December of 1963 he went to Germany and served there until April of 1964. He was Platoon Leader, Property Book Officer and Squadron Supply Officer in Fulda. In August of 1977 he was Battalion Operations Officer in Bamberg. In March of 1978 he was Community Coordinator, Executive Officer and Chief, Training and Evaluation Division in Vilseck.
He then was sent to Fort Polk, LA where he was Company Commander, Committee Group Personnel Officer and Brigade Operations Officer from May of 1966 through December of 1967. From January 1968 through September of 1968 he was in Fort Knox, KY taking Armor Advanced Course. At Fort Bragg, NC he was attending the military Assistance Training Advisor/Sector/Unit Course at the United States Army Special Warfare School Doctrine Division, and US Army Armor School.
Major Kugler was then sent to Vietnam. He was in Ghia Nia, Vietnam from January 1969 through April of 1969. There he was Intelligence and Operations Officer. Roger coordinated all Air Assets ( Air force and Army planes and helicopters) that came in.
The housing for the Americans was pretty good at this place. They were in a French style barracks which mean there were rooms, not just one long open space. There were two men for each room.
In Pleiku, people were brought in from the Philippines to help them. Traditionally, they had been getting only one crop of rice per season. The Philippines had developed a way to get two crops per season, which is one example of helping them economically.
There were 44 provinces, which are like our states. Each one has a province chief like a governor. There were Regional Forces, somewhat like our National Guard, for security, under the province chief and Major Kugler was sent to the district somewhat like our counties, with villages and hamlets. They also had an Internal Security, the PSDF, Peoples Self Defence Force, which was like arming civilians and training them with a Thompson machine gun, carbine and shotgun. This training program was 13 weeks long and ended with a graduation ceremony.
The Mountain Tribes people, known as the Montagnard, were in this territory. There were many tribes and every tribe had their own dialect, and no one knew any other dialect but their own. Fortunately, Roger worked with mainly three different tribes the Rhade, Bahnar and Koho tribes, and his interpreter knew all three of them.
In May of 1969 through December of 1969 Roger was in Duc Lap, Vietnam. He was district senior advisor He also had 15 soldiers under him who worked in various areas. Roger and these men were working in an advisory capacity because the Vietnamese were in charge, to help the community development programs in such areas as the economy, finance, agriculture, fishery, and animal husbandry, public health, education, social welfare and many other areas. Of these 15 men, five were involved with security, one was a medic, and the others worked in the community where needed.
Roger was then sent to Fort Knox, KY for two years and then on to Washington, DC from January 1972 through May of 1972. There he was in training to be district senior advisor, and language, and customs.
Pleiku, Vietnam was his next assignment where he was district senior advisor. This lasted from June of 1972 through January of 1973. This time there was only two of them, Roger and Captain James Parker. Of course the Paris Peace Treaty ended the war for the United States at the end of January, 1973.
The treaty stated that a Four-Party Joint Military Commission be established to investigate cease fire violations. There were 825 in the delegation and one of them was Roger. South Vietnam was broken down into seven regions in which they were all scattered with four men to a team. Roger was assigned to the team in Bao Loc, Lam Dong Province. They also helped in the Binh Dinh Province to the south of them.
During the 60 days while investigating cease fire violations, they reported their findings to the International Control Commission, which included representatives from Canada, Indonesia, Hungary and Poland. They were to give their findings to the members from Canada and Indonesia. The problem was that the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong stalled and did not send their teams to the field. Therefore there were no investigation findings to be turned over to the representatives from Hungary and Poland. This went on until noon on March 29.
We were picked up by helicopter and taken to Phan Thiet for the night. The morning of the 30th we were taken to Saigon and boarded our plane about 7:30 p.m. Saigon time, Roger said. I remember it was very quiet at the airfield, not much was said. The plane took off at 8 p.m. and as the plane left the runway there was a loud cheer throughout the plane. We were the last ones out. Remaining behind were members of the Joint Recovery Team recovering POW's and missing in action.
After he finished his graduate work, he was an assistant professor of military science, University of South Dakota from September 1974 through July of 1977.
Major Kugler's award and decorations include the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster; Meritorious Service Medal; Air Medal; Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters; National Defense Service Medal; Vietnam Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal; Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star; Vietnamese Staff Medal, Vietnamese Presidential Unit Citation and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
Major Kugler retired from active duty on Sept. 1, 1984 after completing 21 years of active service.