Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Paul H. Tyson
Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project
PAUL H. TYSON
Interviewed by: Charles Stuart Kennedy
Initial interview date: July 11, 2001
Copyright 2007 ADST
[This interview was not edited by Mr. Tyson]
Q: Alright Paul, let's start at the beginning. Could you tell me where and when you were born, and a little about your family?
TYSON: I was born in Fort Lee, Virginia on February 1, 1950. My father was a career army man; at that point I think he was a private or a PFC (Private First Class). He was stationed down there. My brother came along about fifteen months later. Then we went up to live in Toms River, New Jersey, with my grandparents while my father went off to fight in Korea. We joined my father in Tokyo and I had a sister who was born there. This would've been about 1953; she was actually born in 1954, and late 1954 we returned to the U.S. (United States) and went to Fort Eustace, Virginia. I started school there in a private kindergarten which many, many years later I realized, was both private and segregated, but it wasn't the sort of thing that occurred to me at the time.
My father got orders and in 1956 we were transferred to Nuremberg, Germany; we actually lived in Fuerth at 44 Eisenstrasse. I remember that because it's the first phrase I ever learned in German. My sister, Marcia, was born there, and we were in Fuerth until something like 1957 when there was some sort of major transfer involving different army units, both in the States and in Europe. Suddenly we were sent to Mainz, Germany, just across the river from Wiesbaden, which was an Air Force patch. We were moved into some housing quarters that were about the worst I had ever seen, and this is even as an eight year old. I think French-Moroccan troops had been in there. They were a shambles.
We stayed in Mainz and we left in September of 1958 when my father was transferred with his unit - he was part of the advance party - to Fort Riley, Kansas. There wasn't enough housing on base, so we ended up living in a town called Wakefield, Kansas and I went to school there, which was sort of the quintessential Midwestern experience. My dad managed to get transferred to Fort Dix, New Jersey because my mother is from the Jersey shore, he's from eastern Pennsylvania, and we lived in the town of Pemberton, which we'll come back to because that's where my mother still lives.