Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Richard N. Viets
The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project
AMBASSADOR RICHARD N. VIETS
Interviewed by: Charles Stuart Kennedy
Initial interview date: April 6, 1990
Copyright 1998 ADST
Q: Today is April 6, 1990. This is an interview with Ambassador Richard N. Viets on behalf of the Association for Diplomatic Studies. I am Charles Stuart Kennedy. I wonder if you could give me a little about your background—when your were born, where you come from, etc.?
VIETS: I was born and raised, Mr. Kennedy, outside a tiny village in northern Vermont, a place called Hyde Park.
Q: Is that in the Northeast Kingdom?
VIETS: It sits in the underbelly of the Northeast Kingdom. It is sort of midway in the northern part of the State of Vermont between Burlington and St. Johnsbury.
I was “educated” in one of those classic schools where there were three grades to a room. You had the benefit as a first grader of doing third grade work and as a fourth grader doing sixth grade work. I remember once writing a brief autobiography claiming that my principal education had taken place in a one room school house in Vermont, which was a slight elaboration on the truth. But it was a great way to...
Q: I know. My wife comes from Sheffield, Vermont.
VIETS: Well, things have changed since then, but that was the way I started. I subsequently had an appointment to West Point and was going to be a West Pointer. About a month before the plebe summer started I was involved in a bad accident and the Army, or at least, West Point wouldn't touch me. I went home to recuperate from this accident in Vermont. After a couple of months I enrolled as a special student in the University of Vermont...part time because I couldn't go to school full time at that point.