Edit: Thank you everyone! I'm sorry we took off without saying a proper goodbye, but we just got word that my great-grandmother (grandfather's mom) is being sent back to California because she's on her way out at the age of 93. Happy Veteran's Day and thank you for your questions!

Second Edit: A lot of these are great questions, and I'll be getting back to most of you tomorrow with his replies.

Hi Reddit,

This is Joseph B. Barcelon, hanging out with my grandfather, Joseph J. Barcelon.

He's one of my heroes and inspirations in life, and I figured that it would be beneficial for the community to have this AMA on Veteran's Day.

He was born in 1938 in Manila, Philippines, and lived in an internment camp for less than a year at around 6 or 7 years old.

He served two tours in Vietnam with the 1st Marine Regiment, and then took a job as a Folsom prison guard from '72 to '98. Oversaw some "celebrities" including Charles Manson.

My grandparents are in town doing their bi-annual checkups, and they're about to head back to the Philippines where they live on the first hole of a golf course. He plays golf 6 days a week, and Civilization V and Solitaire almost every day.

My Grumps seldom talks, but he's excited to go through this interview process. There's a lot of gaps in between each time period of his life that I don't know about, so I'm also excited to see what info we can dig up.

AMAA: "Although tell them I can't talk about any of the secret stuff."


Comments: 932 • Responses: 46  • Date: 

OutOfBounds111005 karma

Did living in an internment camp influence you as a prison guard?

boogdd1127 karma

Nope. Not at all.

You know, I've always wondered this... but I guess it really isn't much of a problem for him. After I asked him this question, he looked at me in a puzzled way, and I guess he never made that connection.

Daguvry677 karma

How many of those damn kids get on your lawn to fetch their golf balls? Do you get all military on their entitled candy asses and scare them off?

boogdd1447 karma

Hahaha! A lot. I don't have to. I let my dog out!

......my grandparents have pugs.

that_one_sqoosh597 karma

Did growing up in the Philippines give you any foresight to jungle combat in Vietnam, were you more at ease than other soldiers who have never been in that climate? thank you for your service :)

boogdd745 karma

Oh yeah. The weather and all that. I understood what that is. I wasn't really at ease, but... I'd say that uh. It was reassuring to be there.

guiltycitizen451 karma

How do you feel about the theory that there is a lack of assistance for soldiers that return home and endure a great deal of emotional and mental difficulties?

boogdd757 karma

Not much, really. I don't feel that the government gives them enough help right now. They've been released too early from treatment. They aren't being helped for long enough to get back to society. That's a major reason why I think they're having a lot of problems getting back to the streets.

I think the most important issue is to address the emotional and mental needs of the person, ESPECIALLY those with families. I think there should definitely be more government programs, but there needs to be a lot of community. I think there's a lot less community support.

I mean... I'm not saying all of them. But I notice this especially from the ones coming from big cities. New York, Chicago, San Francisco. Everyone seems to ignore the fact that these guys just came back from combat zones less than 48 hours ago.

Side note factoid here; both my grandfather and I earned our BA in Sociology from CSUS.

guiltycitizen170 karma

Thanks, that is interesting. It's a concern of mine. I'm from MN and we have a very high rate of veteran suicide, and it's always a tragic case where a person can't get the help that they need. They always seem to be family folks also, which just makes it worse.

boogdd266 karma

Yeah. That's what I'm saying. It's the people with families. It's even worse with the [Native-American] vets, where there's a higher rate of them turning into alcoholics.

Streiger108166 karma

What word did he use for native americans?

boogdd294 karma

Indians. I just felt it needed clarification.

SerLava17 karma

address the emotional and mental needs of the person, ESPECIALLY those with families.

Can you elaborate on why this is the case?

boogdd36 karma

Hey. Grumps is off but I'll definitely ask him this question tomorrow and get back to you. Good question, by the way. I'd like to know his reasoning, as well.

Daguvry423 karma

What piece of technology really blew you away in your lifetime?

boogdd1095 karma

Ohh, uhh... my laptop!

Four years ago I set my grandpa up on Steam. He plays Civilization IV, V, and Solitaire almost every day. I message him late at night when he's on, but he can "never figure out how to reply".

EnVinoVeritaz394 karma

Can you tell us a good prison story?

boogdd841 karma

HAHAHA! Okay... I got one... When Charlie Manson tried to "voodoo me"!

Voodoo you!?

Oh, yeah, man he said he was going to put a hex.

WHAT!? What else did he do!?

Oh he would tell me he talks to God. Oh man... There's a lot of prison stories but you're going to have an ear full of it.

Well what's another good one?

Okay well there was Charlie... and... what the hell was his name. OH! When Hugo Pinell. He was the one running that, uhh... thing [Black Guerrilla Family]. The last riot I was there for. There was a big lockdown where they were shooting all over the place. There was a Mexican mafia guy and a BGF and I can't really share the details but the whole yard was involved.

OH! And there was this escape right down in the sewer... and then he ended up in the river! We found his stuff, but they grabbed him in Mexico. I didn't plan that escape though, hehhheh.

shaunc380 karma

When and how did you come to the US? Were you drafted or did you enlist? Happy Veterans Day!

boogdd884 karma

Back in '56 or '57. I flew... and boy my arms are tired!

Oh geeze.

I came by myself to see my family.

I enlisted. I just wanted to do my duty. Yeah. I was 20 when I enlisted, and wanted to adventure.

He "nodded" with his eyebrows to give you thanks for the greeting.

Daguvry270 karma

What was the first color TV playing when you saw it for the first time?

boogdd408 karma

Color TV show!? Oh man. I think it was Ed Sullivan or "Turn on the Bubble Machine"... the one that my mama always wanted to watch. LAWRENCE WELK! My grandma always liked that. Man when that turned on - you better go to your room and you better like to read, because man you were out of luck.

Jrizzy85253 karma

Happy Veteran's Day! Do you feel the military of today is the same as it was when you were serving? Do you think it has gotten easier with technology and equipment? Or is it always going to be along the same lines as you go into battle?

boogdd371 karma

Negative. They got it easy! Haha! Yes, yes, yes... definitely easy. I think that soldiers going into battle today definitely have the same mindset. I would think so.

He came back to this question after I showed him the format I replied with; I think anyone going into battle has the same mindset. You're there to fight for your country, and then come home to family.

ClintHammer202 karma

As a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, we always heard stories about how when you Vietnam era guys were not on patrol you always had beer and BBQs, fraternized with local women constantly, while we had to go the whole year without alcohol, women, or fresh food.

I always thought, knowing the Army that was all bullshit because the army can ruin anything, even fun stuff. Hell, once I was annoyed to get ice cream on thanksgiving they're so good at messing things up.

How much of that was true and how much of it was people watching Platoon and Apocalypse Now and making stuff up?

boogdd309 karma

HAH HAH! The whole thing was made up! I was up there humpin' the hills. I was in the dark, in the hills, doin' a 5-yard spread. There was partying back in camp, but not on patrol, and not on the field. Nobody smoked, nobody talked, and everyone hated to draw point.

See... when we went on patrol we took turns. No, you didn't go out all the time. But I was in patrol on 1st and we went out A LOT. Each platoon, battalion, company, regiment... each had areas of responsibility. When the commander made decisions... That was it. We were out humpin the hills a lot.

But, yeah. I remember one time we got a full load - a trailer of beer and ice in it. I don't know what else, but it was no BBQ.

ClintHammer179 karma

But, yeah. I remember one time we got a full load - a trailer of beer and ice in it. I don't know what else, but it was no BBQ.

So it happened once. That sounds about right. You guys probably spent the rest of the tour talking about it too.

"Hey Smith remember that one time we got a truckload of beers"

"Sure do, wish we were back there right now"

boogdd220 karma

Hahaha! Not only once. But not all the time. That's just the time I think about because it had ice.

boogdd222 karma

fraternized with local women constantly

One story I remember that he told me about this point, and a neat factoid that makes me very proud. Grumps got into an argument with a guy who was married but "used the local women for entertainment". Something came up along the lines of involving my grandpa and grandma which sparked an argument when the other guy threatened my grandfathers honor. He clocked the dude, brawled, and had some disciplinary action as a consequence.

CarrollQuigley188 karma

What is the most disturbing thing you ever saw?

And what event has done more than anything else to restore your faith in humanity?

boogdd438 karma

In 'nam... there was several disturbing things that I saw that definitely changed my life.

Can you say a couple for the reddit dude?

Okay. Guys getting blown up... and one time I saw a guy that got his throat cut, and his tongue was pulled out through the cut. Quite a few things. I seen a whole squad went down in the drink on a helicopter. Man. I never saw them again.

Humanity, huh!? Humanity... Oh my God.

He's packing and throwing stuff around.

Oh. I'd like to say when the Pope and Catholic Church admitted some of their faults. That restored me and my faith, as well. Nobody is above the law. You agree on that, don't you?

CarrollQuigley125 karma

Oh. I'd like to say when the Pope and Catholic Church admitted some of their faults. That restored me and my faith, as well. Nobody is above the law.

To be clear, he's referring to the ongoing global scandal regarding the sexual abuse of children, correct?

boogdd138 karma

Correct, yes.

dsigned001163 karma

Hey there! Thank you for your service!

Have you been back to Vietnam since the war? I grew up in Hanoi (96-03 which is when I graduated), and I see pictures of what it looks like now and I don't even recognize it.

My parents moved to the Philippines (Cainta, outside of Manila) in 04. So I'm somewhat familiar with both places. So my next question is :Vietnamese food or Filipino food?

boogdd260 karma


And food? Definitely Filipino food!! Is there really such thing as Vietnamese food? It's mostly French and Chinese stuff anyways. I prefer Filipino food over American food unless you use a bunch of ketchup on it.

For the record, I love Vietnamese food.

dsigned001104 karma

Any faves? I'm partial to adobo (pork) and lumpia. Oh and pancit.

boogdd188 karma

Pork adobo! Yeah!

My dad actually makes some killer pork adobo. Freaking fantastic - which actually spawned from my grandfather requesting it so often.

madmax21st56 karma

Is there really such thing as Vietnamese food? It's mostly French and Chinese stuff anyways.

WHOA WHOA WHOA! It's shit like this that'll get you lynched, whether by Vietnamese diaspora or the commies.

boogdd80 karma

Hah. Yeah, I didn't censor him, but after this question he really got into this deep conversation with me about Vietnamese food and Filipino food.

PottsAndPanz139 karma

How tough was it living in the camps?

boogdd209 karma

I can't remember, to be honest. It's one of those things that just happened and I couldn't do anything to change my situation.

HalfAnP120 karma

Semper Fi Devil dog! From a boot ass devil pup compared to you!

How would you describe your and your fellow Marine's attitudes the first day of deployment vs. last day?

boogdd93 karma

Hey. Grumps is off but I'll definitely ask him this question tomorrow and get back to you.

Tucana66120 karma

Semper Fi, Marine. Thank you for the freedoms that the U.S. enjoy. On this U.S. Veterans Day, your service isn't taken for granted.

You've seen amazing changes in technologies over the decades. As a Marine, which changes in military equipment, gear, uniform, etc. was most helpful to you?

boogdd228 karma


Sinj10166 karma

I want to know the story behind this kind of response!

boogdd115 karma

Grumps is off now, but I'll get back to you tomorrow. One thing I know that happened is that a grenade exploded right by his head. He lost most of his hearing in one ear, and I think he earned two or three Purple Hearts.

ScorpionBlue1989109 karma

Ever try any other games besides civilization 5?

boogdd164 karma

Grumps is off, but I can answer this.

I've tried hooking him up with Total War, Sims, a lot of RTOs and slower games - Civ is the only game that he likes and will play despite my best efforts. Any recommendations?

EnVinoVeritaz85 karma

Old Folsom or New Folsom? What section did you work in?

boogdd139 karma

Old Folsom. Which was just Folsom back when I started. I worked in the Security Housing Unit. High-risk prisoners.

SeshSki82 karma

Thank you for your service! I'd love to hear a story from the internment camp? A short rundown, something that pops out in your mind, either crazy or just interesting to you that happened?

boogdd151 karma

Uhh... hm... It seemed like everyone was really confused. Not just confused. Scared. It was the start of the internment. Every white man - women, children were taken in. Confused. I think it was both scary and confusing.

Crazy...? Oh. When the Americans entered the city. Entered Manila, and uhh.. everybody was shooting on the streets! Everybody was looking out of the windows, but I was out on the sidewalk! Asking for chocolate and chewing gum during the fight! The soldiers were in the 7th Cavalry, the men who liberated the internment camps from Santo Tomas. Our house was actually 10 blocks away from the camp.

5YearSailPlan77 karma

Thanks for your service.

I just started learning Doce Pares eskrima. Did you train in any Filipino Martial Arts? If so, any tips you can give me?

Did Johnny Cash ever play at Folsom Prison while you were a guard?

Is there anything you wish you would have done during your life, but that is now out of reach?

boogdd133 karma

Yeah I did. But only did a little bit. I don't know about tips, man! I did Kendo for about 10 years.

Johnny Cash? No... that was waaay before I was there. Well, they made a few movies while I was there. Captain America was in Folsom! He jumped the wall with his motorcycle. And... that one movie... the last mile? I don't know. Something. All went on mostly on the outside.

That last question... What do you mean by that? Well... I should have continued with Kendo. Oh yeah! I wanted to be a lawyer for a long time. I guess it's too late for that!

Something to take into consideration; my grandparents live on the first hole of a golf course, he plays golf 6 days a week, and now they have a maid, a driver, and a houseboy for their dogs. It's. Nuts. I actually lived with them for 6 months while I went to school in the PI.

DaneLimmish76 karma

What is it like watching a mass bombing like happened in WW2? I've seen close air support, IED, and grenades explode, but never seen a city bombed.

boogdd107 karma

Hey. Grumps is off but I can answer this because that was actually the first question I asked him before I started this AMA. I had no idea he was there when they bombed Manila. He was young - around 5 years old - but what he remembers was the sound of the first spread, then going outside and watching the Japanese planes fly overhead. I bet that must have been eerie.

Daguvry57 karma

What's your favorite meal? Favorite stiff drink?

boogdd113 karma

SCOTCH! Goooood scotch. And.. uhh.. meat and potatos!

kutNpaste53 karma

I think I may remember meeting your father, I worked at the US Embassy in Manila from 2006 to 2009, did he ever came in for Tricare or DOD ID related business during that time?

boogdd38 karma

Grumps is off now, but I'm curious now - my grandfather or his father? If you're talking about my grandfather, I'll definitely ask him tomorrow and get back to you.

KungPaoSucks47 karma

What was your favorite and least favorite part of serving?

boogdd111 karma

My favorite? Oh man. My most favorite part was that I was with my buddies. Nothing like being with your buddies. I was infantry the whole time, and I liked it pretty good which is why I stayed there [for both tours].

Least favorite!? DOING KP*!! Hahahah! Gettin' up too early in the mornin', man... But I didn't do to much of that. We were mostly aboard ships, so it was the Navy that took care of that.

*KP = Kitchen Patrol.

I had to ask him myself and my whole family turned and looked at me like I was dull. I'm 28. Maybe a bit dull, but I've never heard that initialism before.

GOTradeAutoMod43 karma

If given the chance, would you kill baby Hitler knowing what he would do as an adult?

boogdd230 karma

I'd kill Hitler, but not the baby. If he's a baby - he's innocent. Can't make his decision. Just like Saddam and all them, you know?

BloodyAdmin39 karma

Happy Veterans Day! What is the best thing that happened to you in the Philippines when you were there?

boogdd84 karma

Well I live there now so I play golf every day. That's pretty good.

Note: The true answer is 6 out of 7 days.

bozobozo37 karma

What is your favorite dinosaur?

boogdd95 karma

I don't know. I'm not with the dinosaur thing. Hehheh heh heh. HO HOHO HA!! I don't even watch that uh... Jurassic thing. Heh.

bozobozo27 karma

Well hell. Thanks for the reply either way, devil dog.

Ps- You should make your grandson show you the Jurassic park thing.

boogdd42 karma

I asked him if he's seen it, and he has but just didn't really like it.

finest_pirate31 karma

What made you want to join the marine corps?

boogdd52 karma

Because I grew up with them. My uncle was a marine, my cousins were marines.

finest_pirate18 karma

Was he born to Americans? Or did they enlist during and after WW2?

boogdd51 karma

My great-grandfather was a Filipino man who married a white American woman. My grandfather was born in Manila, and used to be a Filipino citizen by birth.

Xendarq30 karma

Thank you for your service! Do you retain any bitterness toward Japan, and if not how did you achieve forgiveness?

boogdd92 karma

Grumps is off, but I can answer this.

My cousin, his youngest grandson, is adopted and Japanese. I think we're good.

justanotherhank20 karma

Happy Veterans Day! I'm an OIF and OEF vet and was wondering who you were with in the 1st Marine Regiment? Did you have an opinion on the Combined Action Program and if it was successful?

boogdd6 karma

Hey. Grumps is off but I'll definitely ask him this question tomorrow and get back to you.

wawalemontrees17 karma

Can you recall your first day ever in Vietnam? Even though you enlisted was there a reality shock, sort of like an "oh damn, this is serious." What is your favorite movie?

boogdd16 karma

Hey. Grumps is off but I'll definitely ask him this question tomorrow and get back to you.

Daguvry14 karma

Do you listen to any new music on the radio? If so, what do you like?

boogdd27 karma

Noo. Haha. I listen to old folks.

castmemberzack6 karma

Did he ever come in contact with Charles Manson? What's that dude really like? As psycho as he makes himself look on TV?

boogdd6 karma

Grumps is off, but he answered this earlier in the IamA.

Robby3rd2 karma

You have lived an incredible life! Reading the comments so far, it's amazing to see how you have grown from a boy in a war zone to where you are now.

Are there people that you looked up to along the way? Is there anyone you want to give a special thanks to?

Also, what do you take in your lumpia?

boogdd4 karma

Hey. Grumps is off but I'll definitely ask him this question tomorrow and get back to you.

There is a part of this question I can answer, myself. He looked up to his grandfather. His grandfather always told him - if you don't have something nice to say, then keep your mouth shut. My grandpa is one of the most quiet and humble people I've ever met in my life. He's always amazed by things he doesn't know about, appreciative of any and all gifts that he gets, and I've never once heard him speak ill of anyone that we know. Not once.