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CENTRAL VIEW for Thursday, November 30, 2023

by William Hamilton, Ph.D.

Dr. Henry Kissinger remembered

In 1965, this young captain was assigned to the Infantry School staff. One of my many duties was to arrange for the speakers for the Infantry Schoolís celebrated guest-speaker program.

One day, in 1965, my boss, Lt. Colonel Don Lanier, told me to arrange for Dr. Henry Kissinger to speak to the Career Course captains about Professor Kissingerís book: Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy. When my calls to Dr. Kissingerís Harvard office got nowhere, Colonel Lanier suggested that I contact Kissingerís mentor, Dr. Fritz G.A. Kraemer.

In Germany, at the end of WWII, Lieutenant Kraemer headed an intelligence team that included buck Private Heinz Alfred. Kissinger whose work was so brilliant that Lt. Kraemer had Kissinger promoted to Sergeant. After the war, Kraemer saw that Kissinger was enrolled at Harvard and the rest, as they say, is history.

Fortunately, I already knew Dr. Kraemer who offered a deal: If the Infantry School would pick up the tab, Dr. Kraemer, Dr. Kissinger, and Dr. Helmut Sonnenfeldt (a State Department expert on the USSR) would all come to Ft. Benning and spend three days lecturing to the Career Course captains.

Unfortunately, after their flights merged in Atlanta, they waited in the bar for their connecting flight to Columbus, GA. About midnight, when Colonel Lanier and I met them at the Columbus Municipal Airport, they were feeling no pain to the point that they could barely speak English.

Fortunately, Colonel Lanier (whose wife was German) and I (fluent in German due to the Army Language School and three years in Germany) were up to the task of getting the tipsy threesome to the VIP quarters at Marshall House.

Unfortunately, Dr. Kissinger had taken a shine to Colonel Lanier and to me. He produced a bottle of Napoleon Brandy. He insisted that we stay into the wee hours to hear them tell tales about the JFK Administrationís military misadventures. Kissinger could have had a career as a stand-up comedian.

Most challenging was my task to get the three of them up and fed in time to be on the speakerís platform at 0900 hours. Believe me, a hungover Henry Kissinger you donít want to meet. I feared my well-laid plans were turning into a tour-de-farce.

Amazingly, the three of them put on three hours of absolutely brilliant discourse about the relationship between nuclear weapons and foreign policy. The Career Course captains were enthralled. That afternoon, the threesome split up to conduct individual seminars. They filled the next two mornings with more plenary sessions. In all, the three days were a tour-de-force. Whew!

On stage, the trio spoke German-accented English. In private, Dr. Kissinger spoke to me in German. I quickly learned that being aide-de-camp to Henry Kissinger means loss of sleep. He was a polite, but demanding boss, keeping me busy placing phone calls and typing up an endless stream of faxes back to Harvard.

As he was leaving, I apologized that the honorarium was only $100 dollars. He said, "Bill, no problem. Send it to the USO in Saigon." Why Saigon, I wondered? As Dr. Kissinger waved auf Wiedersehen, I realized where I would be in 1966.

©2023. William Hamilton..

©1999-2024. American Press Syndicate.

Dr. Hamilton can be contacted at:

Email: william@central-view.com

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