The Autobiography Project

Your Autobiographies

William Coles's Autobiography (submitted 5/8/06)

My name is William. I was born in Philadelphia, the fifth of six children. We were raised in Savannah, Georgia. Our family was very religious--in fact, growing up I intended to become a priest. When I was in my teens, I developed an interest in the field of architecture. After graduation from twelfth grade I studied architecture at Drexel University.

I have always had the desire to travel the world, however, lack of financial resources has limited my opportunities. In order to accomplish my goal of seeing the world, I joined the military during the Vietnam war. For several months I attended Officer Candidate School in Virginia, initially focusing on military occupation services, which deals with communications. While training in the military, I became a coordinator of communications, (Communications Chief).

In 1966, I was assigned to Vietnam. That same year, while traveling along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, 2,700 of the 10,000 to 15,000 men in my outfit were captured. While in captivity we were constantly moved around, blindfolded, and tied up. Every day was a challenge to survive the horrible conditions and treatment. Of the 2,700 men who were captured, only 700 survived.

After the war I got married and had three children. Additionally I finished my degree in architecture at Drexel University. My experiences in the military in Vietnam have had a tremendous impact on the way I view world issues today. I do not take anything for granted, and I appreciate what I have.

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