HOME

S.E. Michigan
Vets List

Library of Congress
Vets Web Site

Paulo Pereira
War: Vietnam
Branch: U.S. Army
Unit: Signal Corps
Highest Rank: First Lieutenant

SEE VIDEO BELOW

Paulo Pereira was born in Passos, Minas Gerais, Brazil. He got a scholarship to go to school where he learned English. After school, he traveled to Italy where he met Americans who, in 1964, convinced him to go to the United States. In order to get a permanent resident visa to live in the U.S. he needed a job. Paulo made a connection with the foreign student advisor at the University of San Francisco. He got a job because he knew Spanish and Portuguese. However, part of his permanent visa meant that he could be drafted after living for six months in America.

Paulo's job was to teach Portuguese at a Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. Eventually, he was drafted into the Armed Forces. He was sent to Oakland, California for induction. In February 1967, Paulo was ordered to Georgia. A recruiter offered him the choice of his duty if he promised to stay an extra year in the service, increasing the term to three years. He agreed and chose to pursue chemical, biological, and nuclear warfare. He was approached to apply as an officer, but forgot about it. Paulo then got orders to go to Vietnam.

Paulo chose to visit his family in Brazil before going to Vietnam. He decided to inform them of his tour in Vietnam after he was three months in. He then returned to Fort Hood, Texas. Upon arrival, he was promoted to Lieutenant. His orders to go to Vietnam were cancelled by President Nixon, and so Paulo missed the Tet Offensive. He was ordered to restart training with a year of service and was sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Consequently, his salary went up considerably.

Paulo was assigned to the Signal Corps and learned about communications. He also chose to undergo airborne training. He was given new orders to Vietnam as a tactical communications officer attached to an artillery unit. After arriving north of Saigon, a colonel recognized his ability to speak Portuguese. His orders were changed and he joined a group of Portuguese speaking officers in headquarters. Paulo became a part of a one star general's staff and was in charge of communications.

Eventually, Paulo was sent to Saigon to replace a lieutenant. There, he learned about the country and the war from the local people and became fascinated with the ideological struggle against Communism. For rest and recreation, he went to Japan. While in an Army hospital for minor health issues, Kris Kristofferson visited the facility. After about a year in Vietnam, he was sent home.

Because of laws at the time, Paulo had to lose his Brazilian citizenship in order to become an American citizen. In order to work in his native country, he had to get a permanent visa. Paulo worked as an English teacher in brazil for five years. He married an American woman and moved back to the United States. He began studying the flaws in Communism and was hired as an interpreter to go around South American governments to promote the "don't fall for Communism" ideology. He is grateful for his service in Vietnam mainly for how he learned about Communism. He lost contact with his fellow soldiers. He also used the GI Bill to get a Master's Degree in linquistics.