I left Vietnam in 1971 and took a job at Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. I hated the spit and polish of being an administrative officer at the prestigious post, so it didn't take long to ruffle the feathers of my superiors. I found no joy in presiding over summary court martials. I liked the smell of gunpowder and volunteered to return to Vietnam, but those days were over.
In order to relieve the doldrums of barracks life, every weekend I'd drive 2½ hours to Valley Forge to volunteer as a docent. I taught the scheme of drill, tactics, and the spirit of the bayonet that General Von Steuben perfected on the grand parade grounds at Valley Forge in 1778. He turned a rag-tag militia into an army. There, on May 6, Von Steuben presented his creation to General George Washington.
The tour buses would drive to the parade grounds. There, I would meet the visitors adjacent to Von Steuben's statue. My initial remarks were typically along these lines: “If you want to understand the miracle of the revolution, you must know who George Washington was and what he did at Valley Forge.”