Myron Goldman before Vietnam

Myron GoldmanUnlike a lot of the characters, we are given a bit more background on Myron throughout the series. We know who his father is, and in fact Martin Goldman appears in two episodes. (Ep #17- Blood Brothers and Ep #46- I Am What I Am). And there's his mother's suicide, which plays a major part in Myron's life. Even so, Myron's life before he came to Vietnam is pretty much an open book, and the conclusions drawn here are not necessarily canon, but my conclusions based on the information provided within the series. In addition, Lee Russell has provided a series of key dates and places where Myron may have been while his father served in the Army.

Since Myron is 21 when he comes to Vietnam and Firebase Ladybird in 1967, he was born in 1946, in New York City. His father, then Lt. Colonel Martin Goldman, would have been away, possibly attending the Army's Command and General Staff School at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. (Please see Martin Goldman's conjectural biography, contributed by Lee Russell, for a list of his assignments.)  His mother, not in the best of health and possibly struggling with a difficult pregnancy, would have gone home to her family in New York City. Myron arrives in what is already a strained and troubled marriage and, in the end, is the only child the Goldmans would have.

Being born an Army brat would never be easy for Myron. His father's career keeps the family on the move, and his father away for long periods of time. Myron is never really able to feel he belongs anywhere and friendships made last only as long as his father is stationed in any one place. Few things are a constant in his young life- his mother and her possible health problems, and the unhappiness of his parents' marriage.

He is especially attuned to this as he grows older. It would be almost impossible for him to ignore his mother's unhappiness and sorrow, and his father's confusion, distance and bitterness. It would not be an easy life, being raised Jewish, yet the son of a career military officer. The combination of a troubled marriage and his father's career would often leave Myron feeling alone and isolated. Needing to fill those empty periods of loneliness, he would become a voracious reader of just about anything he could get his hands on. His love of literature would certainly be encouraged by his mother.

Myron's memories of his mother are not happy ones. He told his father he remembered her as a lonely woman. It's a possibility that she was ill a great deal of the time, suffering from some long-term ailment. It would certainly take its toll on her, and the woman that Martin married is not the woman that Myron remembers. What he remembers is a quiet, and often sad, if not distant, woman who had little in her life that made her happy.

Martin, however, had plans for his only son to be a career military officer like himself. When his son was of age, Martin would have placed him in a military academy. This likely was more than Mrs. Goldman could handle, as she finds herself completely alone now without even the comfort and company of her son. She sees Myron heading for the same future that had been her past. This and her illness leaves her feeling lost and ultimately isolated and she makes the decision to end her life. Myron is sixteen when this happens.

Myron GoldmanIt can be inferred that possibly Martin did not tell his son, who was still away at school, of his mother's death for a period of time. But after his mother’s burial, Martin comes to Myron’s school to tell him of her suicide. (Myron knows his mother committed suicide and how, so we can assume that his father told him this.) Myron is devastated by news not only of her death, but that she is already buried. He feels betrayed by his father's actions, and ripped apart by his mother's death. The two argue and finally Martin strikes his son. But Myron retaliates and Martin in sorrow then realizes that he didn't just lose his wife, but his entire family. Myron turns away from his father and doesn't look back. The two men don't see each other again until Martin, on a fact-finding tour in Vietnam, meets Myron at Ladybird five years later.

Myron makes the conscious decision to not be his father. He doesn't go to West Point, but instead enrolls in college with the idea of possibly becoming a teacher. The military and the life it had shown him were the last things he now wants for himself.

Vietnam changes that for him. For despite his resolve and determination not to follow in his father's footsteps, Myron is unable to turn his back on the events going on. Rather than stay in college with his S-2 (student deferment) classification, he instead takes himself out of college, notifies his draft board and volunteers for the draft.

In the end it seems Myron is unable to escape a destiny already determined for him.

 

The following dates and places are NOT canon, but comprise what would have
been a very real possibility for Myron's life before Vietnam.

From Lee Russell, advisor to the writers for the first two seasons:

This conjectural biography reflects the realities of military life for dependents. (For example, in 1916, Mamie Geneva Doud married a young 2LT named Dwight Eisenhower. In the next 37 years, she would move their family 27 times. She and her husband would not own their own home until 1955. The longest time they spent in one place was the eight years he was President of the United States.)

Also, in this conjectural timeline, we also see the apparent conflict between Myron's parents over his upbringing.

 

April 1946 Myron born in New York City.
Summer 1946-
Spring 1948
West Point, New York. (age 1-2)
Fall 1948-1950 Occupied Germany. (age 2-4)
Fall 1950-1952 Camp Chafee, Arkansas. (age 4-6) Kindergarten.
1952-1955 Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia. (age 6-9) Jewish Private School. 1st-3rd grade.
1955-1958 Killeen, Texas. (age 9-12)
4th-6th grade.
1958-1960 Queens, New York. (age 12-14)
7th-8th grade.
Bar Mitzvah at age 13. (His father is in Paris, France at this time, and thus the reason he is not there for his son's Bar Mitzvah.)
1960-1962 Military school. (age 14-16)
9th-10th grade.
1962 Mother commits suicide (Myron is 16).
1962-1964 Queens, New York. (age 16-18)
11th-12th grade.
Myron leaves his father and military school and returns to Queens, where it's likely he stays with his mother’s family and finishes high school.
1964 Registers for the draft, on turning 18. (Receives S-2 Student Deferment classification while enrolled in college.)   
1964-1966 Queens College, New York. (age 18-20).
Freshman-sophomore.
This is a likely solution for Myron - it's tuition free for residents. (His father wanted him to go to West Point.) Myron mentions to Anderson that he imagined himself an English Lit teacher, so it’s reasonable to assume he’s in a Liberal Arts program.
1966 Leaves college and volunteers for the draft. 
July 1966 Enters US Army as a private. Completes BCT, Basic Combat Training (eight weeks), then volunteers for OCS- Officer Candidate School.1
Begins Infantry OCS, Fort Benning, Georgia. (21 weeks.)2
1967 Graduates from OCS.
Note: the day Myron graduates from OCS begins his 24-month commitment as an officer.
3
Training officer for BCT Company (2nd Lieutenant), Fort Lewis, Washington.4
Most likely meets Lt. Nikki Raines here.5
August 1967 Takes thirty days leave before departure for Vietnam.  Apparently spends some of this time with Nikki Raines, herself apparently on leave or on orders to Vietnam.
September 1967 Arrives in Vietnam.

 

Footnotes:
1BCT or "Basic" is the initial military training given all Army personnel on entering the service. (All the armed forces have something like this. The Marines call theirs Boot Camp. Anyone even REMOTELY considering using this term, in reference to the Army, can now drop for twenty push-ups. Plus one for the Airborne and one for the Drill Instructor.)
2OCS is divided into three phases. The first, eight weeks, is a repeat of Basic Training, but under more stress. The second, also eight weeks, is Advanced Infantry Training, but under much more stress. In the third phase, the Candidates take turns filling the command positions in their training class, now under stress as commanders. The instructors for all of this are not Drill Sergeants, but Tactical Officers, "TACs", 2LTs who have the authority to drop them from the course at any time. OCS is stressful 24x7 training. There is NO time off.
3During the period of the Vietnam War (this is no longer true) the Army regarded OCS graduates as "temporary" officers ONLY. At the end of 24 months, if they wished to continue on active duty, it would often be as an NCO. (In Myron's case, probably a Sergeant E-5.)  So, even without the stigma of the Phu An affair, Myron's career as an officer would be at an end.
4It was usual to assign newly commissioned officers first as Training Officers to Basic or Advanced Training units through several eight week cycles. This was to get them used to their actual administrative duties. These units had only two officers, the Company Commander, a captain or 1LT, and the Training Officer, a 2LT. The duties of the Training Officer were mostly administrative, although he was nominally also supervising the DIs in their work.
5Myron's assignment to Ft. Lewis is purely arbitrary. In their photo together, Nikki Raines wears a 6th Army patch on the sleeve of her uniform. Only three posts in the 6th Army conducted Basic Training: Ft. Lewis, Ft. Carson, Colorado, and Ft. Ord, California. I selected Ft. Lewis, as I was there during this period.

 

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