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Chalmers Archer, Jr.

Combat medical technician, author and education administrator Chalmers Archer, Jr. was born on April 21, 1928 in Tchula, Mississippi to Eva R. Archer, a teacher and Chalmers Archer, Sr., a farmer. As a child, his father and uncles rented a hilltop of more than four hundred acres known as the “Place”, where they farmed, cultivated orchards, raised livestock and built smokehouses. The land was sold when Archer was twelve years old and his family moved to Lexington, Mississippi. After graduating from Ambrose High School, he attended Tuskegee University for one year before volunteering for the United States Army Air Corps.

Archer was in the United States Army Air Corps for one year and then transferred to the Army. He served on a medical crew as a master sergeant technician during the Korean War, where his unit’s job was to retrieve wounded soldiers. In 1952, Archer began training at Fort Bragg’s Psychological Warfare Center as part of the newly formed United States Army’s Special Forces. His unit was one of the first to enter Vietnam where he trained original Special Forces teams of the South Vietnamese army. On October 21, 1957, Archer’s unit was ambushed and he witnessed the first American combat deaths in Vietnam, as well saving the lives of American and Vietnamese soldiers. He did not see action in Vietnam again, however, he did see action in Cambodia and Laos. Archer went on to serve in the Philippines, Hawaii, Korea, Taiwan, and Panama, as well as in Southeast Asia. He ended his army service in 1967 and went back to school, receiving his B.S. degree from the Tuskegee Institute in 1972. Archer earned his M.Ed. degree in 1974 and his Ph.D. degree in counseling and psychology from Auburn University in 1979. He then completed a twelve month, post-graduate study at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. In 1983, Archer became a professor of counseling and psychology at Northern Virginia Community College. He later served as assistant to the president at Saints Junior College in Lexington, Mississippi and assistant to the vice president at the Tuskegee Institute.

Archer wrote two memoirs, Growing up Black in Rural Mississippi published in 1991 and Green Berets in the Vanguard published in 2001. He received the Afro-Achievement Award in 1994 for distinguished lifetime achievement in education from the Dale City Afro-Achievement Committee. Archer also served as president of the Jennie Dean Project.

Archer passed away on February 24, 2014, at the age of 85.

Accession Number

A2012.147

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/12/2012

Last Name

Archer

Marital Status

Single

Organizations
Schools

Tuskegee University

Auburn University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Chalmers

Birth City, State, Country

Tchula

HM ID

ARC11

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

Let's get with it.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

4/21/1928

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish (Fried), Vegetables

Death Date

2/24/2014

Short Description

Soldier and psychology professor Chalmers Archer, Jr. (1928 - 2014 ) joined the newly formed United States Army’s Special Forces in 1952 and was one of the first units to enter Vietnam in 1957. He was the author of two memoirs, 'Growing up Black in Rural Mississippi' and 'Green Berets in the Vanguard'.

Employment

Northern Virginia Community College

United States Army Special Forces

Tuskegee University

Saints Junior College

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Chalmers Archer's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Chalmers Archer lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Chalmers Archer describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Chalmers Archer describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Chalmers Archer talks about his mother's education and employment, as well as where he grew up

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Chalmers Archer discusses the book he wrote and how he was not permitted to have a book signing in Tchula, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Chalmers Archer describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Chalmers Archer recalls a story about his paternal grandfather from slavery that is in the book he wrote

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Chalmers Archer remembers the stories his father told him about growing up, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Chalmers Archer remembers the stories his father told him about growing up, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Chalmers Archer talks about how his family came to live at "The Place"

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Chalmers Archer talks about his grandparents and his father hearing Booker T. Washington speak

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Chalmers Archer discusses his father's service in the military, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Chalmers Archer discusses his father's service in the military, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Chalmers Archer talks about his siblings and how his parents met

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Chalmers Archer talks about his brother, his father's restaurant and his mother's cooking

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Chalmers Archer describes his parents' personalities and college plans

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Chalmers Archer describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Mississippi, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Chalmers Archer talks about his uncles

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Chalmers Archer describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Mississippi, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Chalmers Archer talks about the barn fire at his family home in Lexington, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Chalmers Archer discusses the differences between growing up white and growing up black in Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Chalmers Archer talks about blacks' rights in Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Chalmers Archer talks about the schools he attended as a child

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Chalmers Archer talks about his elementary school experience

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Chalmers Archer talks about leaving "The Place"

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Chalmers Archer talks about his father's involvement with the U.S. Federal Housing Administration program

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Chalmers Archer discusses his high school experience, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Chalmers Archer discusses his high school experience, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Chalmers Archer talks about a gunfight he was involved in Lexington, Mississippi, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Chalmers Archer talks about a gunfight he was involved in Lexington, Mississippi, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Chalmers Archer talks about the summer he spent in Detroit, Michigan after being involved in a gunfight

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Chalmers Archer talks about attending Tuskegee University, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Chalmers Archer talks about attending Tuskegee University, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Chalmers Archer talks about leaving college to join the U.S. Army

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Chalmers Archer talks about the Tuskegee Airmen and the prejudicial evacuation of blacks from the Philippines

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Chalmers Archer talks about his basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Chalmers Archer talks about becoming an army medic and his combat experience in World War II

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Chalmers Archer recalls the integration of the U.S. Armed Forces and the Korean War

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Chalmers Archer discusses his experience with integration in the military after President Harry Truman's desegregation order

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Chalmers Archer talks about being a member of the U.S. Special Forces, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Chalmers Archer talks about being a member of the U.S. Special Forces, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Chalmers Archer discusses his first mission with the U.S. Special Forces

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Chalmers Archer talks about his missions in Southeast Asia and Japan

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Chalmers Archer talks about his service during the Vietnam War, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Chalmers Archer talks about his service during the Vietnam War, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Chalmers Archer talks about his involvement with the civil rights protests in Mississippi

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Chalmers Archer talks about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the students killed at Jackson State University

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Chalmers Archer talks about his experience at Tuskegee Institute, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Chalmers Archer talks about his experience at Tuskegee Institute, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Chalmers Archer talks about his experience at Auburn University and the University of Alabama

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Chalmers Archer talks about his book, "Growing Up Black in Mississippi"

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Chalmers Archer talks about working for Northern Virginia Community College and publishing his second book

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Chalmers Archer talks about his second book, "Green Beret's in the Vanguard"

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Chalmers Archer talks about school desegregation efforts in the U.S. with the King of Thailand

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Chalmers Archer talks about his first book, teaching career and interest in farming

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Chalmers Archer talks about his legacy and his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Chalmers Archer talks about his parents

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Chalmers Archer talks about his relationships with his siblings

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Chalmers Archer speaks about social changes for blacks in Mississippi and in the military

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Chalmers Archer talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Slating of Chalmers Archer's interview

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Chalmers Archer describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$7

DAStory

1$8

DATitle
Chalmers Archer talks about the summer he spent in Detroit, Michigan after being involved in a gunfight
Chalmers Archer talks about his second book, "Green Beret's in the Vanguard"
Transcript
So let me ask you about Detroit [Michigan]. Now--$$Oh okay.$$--you said this is your first time in a major city right?$$Yeah, it was the first time in a major city.$$So what did you do all summer in Detroit?$$Oh, I think I went to Canada but I'm not certain so if anybody ask me if I ever been to Canada, I say I'm not certain because I don't know whether I went--it's right across the river you know. But I went to Bell Island, that's the first one of those things that I'd ever gone to. I really enjoyed that back and forth. And they made a big to-do over me. You know I was the littlest and all of their children were grown you know and so I had a wonderful time. It was only three months. But I got a job shining shoes. That's the only thing I could find fairly quickly you know and I did well. Whatever, of course whatever I tried to do, I did the best I could. And, but going to Bell Island and--oh, I also, I went from shining shoes to pressing clothes. They taught me, I was the only young boy there, young person there and they taught me how to press clothes and how to clean clothes. I thought I, said I just might want to be a, have, start a business you know some day. But that never materialized, but--$$Now who did you stay with, your--?$$Huh?$$Who did you stay with in Detroit?$$Oh, my cousins. They were my cousins but they were like my father's sisters. They were cousins so--in those days though people were close you know, sisters and brothers. Two steps backwards, it was twelve people in my father's family and two of them were adopted and adopted in those days mean they just took them in you know and made certain, and made no distinction between the one they took in and their natural born ones you know. One got drowned and they never did get over that the people in papa's family, immediate family. He talked about that. He's just like you, he didn't talk much. (Laughter). She claims I don't talk much.$$So did you get a chance to experience any of the entertainment in Detroit?$$Um-um.$$No? Okay.$$No, I don't think so. I don't remember. Oh, I had been to Chicago [Illinois], you know maybe I went to Chicago later and a lot of entertainment. I think that was later though.$$Yeah.$$It was.$$I think all your brothers and sisters moved to Chicago at one point, right? So well, so you spent a summer in Detroit and you came back to--and went to Tuskegee [University], right?$$Yeah, almost kept going.$$Okay.$$Almost.$Well just to summarize it. I mean it's about the Special Forces, the beginning of the Special Forces--$$Yeah.$$--being formed in the early 50s [1950s] and--$$Then we went to--$$--then their use in Southeast Asia prior to the Vietnam War, right?$$Yeah. And we went to Hawaii for a year. Why I do not know. Why the Pentagon sent us to Hawaii for a year to do nothing and no particular training. We did some parachute jumping and we went hunting boars. I think that's the way they pronounced it, boars--the hogs, wild hogs.$$Right.$$We went hunting them. I didn't want to kill any so I just took it easy while the other, the rest of us hunt for boars and gave it to the local people you know the ones you kill. And, which was a good idea I guess. And we left there and we went to Thailand. Thailand was one that the president thought that from what was it, the--you told me the other day, the game that the whole game went--$$Oh, domino.$$The dominoes, yeah.$$Domino theory, right.$$He was afraid that they would you know fall under that and that was Thailand and two or three more. Vietnam was one.$$Cambodia, Laos and--$$Cambodia and Laos and maybe some more.$$Burma yeah.$$But we went to Thailand and we put them through a complete Special Forces training that, same as we had but not quite as rough as ours was. So--I don't think. But unless it was just easier for me since I had gone through it not too long ago. Maybe that was it, I don't know. But we put them through jump school and we also put them through ranger school, a brief, lack of a better road--a better word, put them through there in less time than it took them in the infantry school, about half the time. But it was rough. And we got to know all of the dignitaries and most of those dignitaries, some of them got to be premier and all of them were top dignitaries that we dealt with. They felt it was important if [Dwight D. Eisenhower] you know sent us over there and Colonel Manning talked us up, you know said the president sent us and so on. And I got a chance to meet the King. The King sent for me and he wanted--$$This is the king of--?$$I've forgotten his name. It's in the book ["Green Beret's in the Vanguard"] though. It's in here. He sent for me because I was black and I think--but he was educated in the United States and he was interested to talk particularly about the music, Woody Herman and all of the black--Woody Herman of course wasn't black but all of the black--$$Musicians?$$Musicians, yeah.$$Okay.$$And he seemed to--if he was--what I couldn't understand was if he was educated in the United States and--but he seemed to have thought all black people played music. He seemed to, he asked me which instruments did I play you know?