Partial Transcript: We were on a trip.
Segment Synopsis: Peleuses recalls Rusk drinking a traditional brew during a diplomatic trip to Fiji. He remembers having plane trouble and leaving behind James Lloyd Greenfield, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. Peleuses mentions that because Rusk could not receive secured communications during flights, that was his only time for relaxation. He explains why Rusk always had Haig & Haig Scotch on hand.
Keywords: Ernest Lindley; Jim Greenfield
Partial Transcript: After that detail was finished was when I came on the detail with your father...
Segment Synopsis: Peleuses tracks his career with Rusk, mentioning that Rusk asked for more advice in the beginning, as in the case of the 1961 Flight 54 hijack. He claims that during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Rusk said the only good advice he could get was from Peleuses and security detail Leo Crampsey, who offered a retort that made Rusk laugh. Peleuses talks about Leo Crampsey and tells a story about Rusk's bridge-playing and betting.
Keywords: Dean Acheson; George Ball; Leo Crampsey; cards; leisure
Partial Transcript: This is an event that really surprised and caught him completely off guard.
Segment Synopsis: Peleuses tells a story about a time Rusk was unexpectedly taken into a sauna by the Finnish president, and he relays an accidentally crude statement by Gromyko. He shares a story about a Russian commander drinking too much and falling on Russian emergency phones and about rusk playing ping-pong after Test Ban Treaty meetings.
Keywords: Khrushchev; classless society
Partial Transcript: We're talking now about the flight to Japan at the time that John [Fitzgerald] Kennedy was assassinated.
Segment Synopsis: Mossellem and Peleuses recall receiving the news of Kennedy's assassination on a plane, noting the single tear Rusk let out and discussing other officials' reactions.
Keywords: Luther Hodges
Partial Transcript: We went to Vietnam.
Segment Synopsis: Peleuses discusses how powerful Henry Cabot Lodge, the ambassador to Vietnam, was during the war. He tells an illustrative anecdote to critique Lodge's secrecy as dangerous for security, and he notes that no reporters recognized the U-2s they passed. He recalls a speech during which the Viet Cong advanced toward Rusk, a flight lined by choppers to absorb fire, and Rusk's decision not to risk others' lives to visit Vietnam.
Keywords: U-2s; helicopters; safety; security detail
Partial Transcript: We went to Athens and I did the advance in Athens.
Segment Synopsis: Peleuses tells an anecdote about Rusk's trip to the Acropolis. He talks about the need to escape reporters to relax and some officials' bad behavior on trips. Peleuses recalls President Johnson's use of obscure idioms, and he contrasts Johnson's modus operandi with Rusk's homegrown appeal and concerted efforts to connect with GIs and contact each of their families.
Keywords: Labouisse; Manila
Partial Transcript: It was early on when he [Henry Alfred Kissinger] came in and I had been asked to be his personal assistant.
Segment Synopsis: Mossellem contrasts Kissinger and Rusk as Secretary of State. Peleuses recounts a tale about traveling to Jamaica with Kissinger. Peleuses notes that Kissinger preferred Secret Service to State Department security and often complicated things by bringing his dog along. Mossellem recalls her husband's wrangling of the Kennedys' dog.
Keywords: JFK; official travel; trips
Dean Rusk Oral History Collection
C. Jane Mossellem and Gus Peleuses interviewed by Richard Rusk
RICHARD RUSK: I'm talking with Gus Peleuses, who was the security man for my dadback in those days, and Jane Mossellem, who used to be Jane Rothe and was secretary to my father 1961 through '68. There are written notes that precede this tape recording.
PELEUSES: We were on a trip. Ernest [Kidder] Lindley was with us. Do you00:01:00remember him?
MOSSELLEM: Yes, very well. He was a speech writer.
PELEUSES: He was a speech writer who used to be a writer for Newsweek.
MOSSELLEM: Several magazines, but I think primarily Newsweek.
PELEUSES: We stopped at the Fiji Islands. We had come all the way across fromIndia or somewhere like that. We stopped in the Fijis and they had a ceremony there. That I'll never forget because they cooked up this brew of some sort that looked like thin clay. They served it in coconut shells, and they all sat in a circle and did their thing. I thought Lindley was going to die when he drank that stuff. He was pretty old at that time. Your father sort of looked at it and blinked and gave it a shot. He blinked again. And the rest of us who weren't party to this were really glad we weren't party to this ceremony. We were on the fringes.
MOSSELLEM: We were watching.
PELEUSES: But he took it down.
RICHARD RUSK: What was this brew again?
PELEUSES: I don't know what it was. It was some kind of a native brew, anexchange of friendship, I guess akin to smoking a peace pipe among American 00:02:00Indians or something like that.
RICHARD RUSK: Give me the story about Jim [James Lloyd] Greenfield and the planetaking off.
PELEUSES: The plane lost a fuel pump on one engine and they were going to fixit. Bert Bennington was down there. He had been in the Air Force. He had been a mechanic. Bert was down there talking to these guys and the mechanics were really getting upset about it. We were going to leave, then we weren't going to leave. They had to fly a part in from Honolulu before we could leave. We were trying to make hotel arrangements. At any rate, Greenfield left the party and went off to the beach and went swimming. This was kind of funny in itself. The mechanic took a ballpeen hammer in disgust and just smacked the fuel pump as hard as he could and the thing started humming. It started. And so everybody said, "Okay, it's fixed. We're ready to go!" In a 707 if you can get off with four engines, if you lose one [after take off], it doesn't make any difference. It keeps going.
RICHARD RUSK: Each engine has its own fuel [pump]?00:03:00
PELEUSES: Yeah. So here we are waiting. And Greenfield isn't around. And yourfather finally said, "Let's go." And we closed the doors and we took off and left him behind. This is the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. Off we went.
RICHARD RUSK: Did it cure him?
MOSSELLEM: It did cure him. He was never late again.
PELEUSES: Your father felt that the only time that he could really relax, ever,while he was in office, was when he was on one of these planes going across the ocean. He was locked in this metal tube and nobody could get to him. We could relax. He could relax. And everybody did relax. And that's when he enjoyed playing bridge. He'd grab anybody who was around and sit down and play bridge. He loved to play bridge. And he would say that this is the only time that he had to himself that was real. 00:04:00
MOSSELLEM: No phones on the airplane.
RICHARD RUSK: And the radio communications would not be secure?
PELEUSES: No. No way. So these were the few times while he was in office that hefelt that he could really relax. And he did. And we all kind of respected that. We left him alone if he wanted to be alone. When he was here at home at night, that really didn't mean anything.
RICHARD RUSK: No, that's true. As a matter of fact, he had a hell of a timerelaxing around the house.
MOSSELLEM: That's because of the phone.
RICHARD RUSK: He came home and the phone and the pressure.
PELEUSES: On the first trip that he made overseas, somebody asked what he wouldlike to drink--you know, in his room or in his quarters or wherever he was. And he said, "Haig & Haig pinch," just sort of off the top of his head. From then on, for the next eight years, not matter where in the world we went, and I mean this literally, there was always a bottle of Haig & Haig pinch there. And he said, "You know, I can drink any other scotch just as well, but people keep 00:05:00insisting on bringing me this." Just offhand remarks will set precedents for as long as a person is in office.
RICHARD RUSK: I see. When you're holding a job like that, the outer links pickup on whims and quirks, then it's policy.
PELEUSES & MOSSELLEM: Oh yeah.
RICHARD RUSK: How do you spell that scotch?
PELEUSES: The same way as the Secretary: Haig & Haig. It's the pinch bottle.It's got caved-in sides.
MOSSELLEM: I don't know whether it was all pinch bottles, but we always had apinch bottle wherever we went.
PELEUSES: That's right. And the reason was because the first time somebody askedhim, the first time he went on a trip, what he would like to drink he just said that off the top of his head.
--Blair House and watching Alan [Bartlett] Shepard [Jr.] go by in the paradebecause Shepard had just gone up for the first time with the Mercury astronauts and sort of blooped into the ocean. He was the first one to go up. And that's when [Habib] Bourguiba was here. After that detail was finished was when I came on the detail with your father, whenever that was: spring of '61. 00:06:00
MOSSELLEM: Your first trip may have been the presidential trip to Paris andVienna and London.
PELEUSES: It well may have been. Yeah, I made that trip.
MOSSELLEM: And then right after that in August the Secretary went to Paris forthe Prime Minister meeting on Berlin.
PELEUSES: From then on I was with him for six years except when I got married.
There was a father and son team that hijacked a plane in Houston and they wereon the ground making demands. Your father and I had just been to the White House and we were coming back. And he said, "Get in back. I want to talk to you." He used to do that once in a while with all of us. And up went the divider window. I didn't know what was happening. They'd gotten the word. And he said, "This and this and this has happened. Do you have any ideas on how we can handle it?"
RICHARD RUSK: So he would ask you folks for a little input now and again?
PELEUSES: Oh yeah. And my immediate reaction was, "Who's on board the plane?"This sort of thing.
RICHARD RUSK: Well, look, you'd have as much insight on it as he would. You're00:07:00security and that's definitely a security question.
PELEUSES: But it was at the beginning of the administration. As theadministration progressed then they weren't floundering as much. But every administration does this.
RICHARD RUSK: He would approach you and others around him more initially as hefirst came into office?
RICHARD RUSK: And later became more institutional, more channeled?
PELEUSES: Yet, later on he would still talk to us about things.
During the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was in the middle of theafternoon. We were coming back from the White House. We pulled into the basement and were coming up through the elevator. It was deathly still, as the elevator is. It was cruising up there. And on the elevator were George [Wildman] Ball--. 00:08:00
RICHARD RUSK: You wouldn't recall when during that thirteen-day period?
PELEUSES: No. It was before the relief. The tension was really mounting.
RICHARD RUSK: Had the president given his speech?
PELEUSES: Not yet. I can't put it in perspective exactly. In any event, as wewere coming up the elevator, it was George Ball, Dean [Gooderham] Acheson who had been called back as an advisor, your dad, Leo Crampsey, security, and myself. And your dad said, apropos of nothing, "The only halfway decent advice" or something like that "that I'm getting is from these two fellows."
RICHARD RUSK: And he pointed to you and Leo Crampsey? He was a security man?
PELEUSES: Right. And without even a breath, Leo popped up and said, "That'sbecause you've surrounded yourself with dumb-fucks, Mr. Secretary." And your dad 00:09:00just came apart. He just started laughing so hard. And that was the first break during this period where your father started laughing. Well, needless to say, Ball and Acheson were extremely uncomfortable. I was hoping that the floor would drop out and I would get swallowed up. I thought, "Oh, we're going to get fired." But your father really took it in a good way.
RICHARD RUSK: Do you recall what Ball's and Acheson's reactions were?
PELEUSES: They sort of turned red, but didn't say anything else. Leo left hereeventually and went over to Vietnam as the regional security officer. He and Bruce Furie ended up being decorated heroes when the Cong attempted to take over the Embassy on the night of the Tet Offensive. The two of them and one Marine guard held off this entire effort by themselves and ended up getting medals and all this sort of good stuff. Leo was a pretty tough guy. He was an ex-pro football player. He's as big as that darn door. Everything he said he prefaced 00:10:00with "Duh." He was from the coal mines of Pennsylvania, and everything was "Duh." He played football with the Los Angeles Dons, a defunct team now. He was a lineman of some sort. As a result of his speech habits people sort of wrote Leo off, but he was sharp as could be. We were coming back from Europe 00:11:00somewhere, I don't know where it was. I was sitting back in the back of the plane, sort of half dozing, and I got a tap on the shoulder. I looked up and there was your dad. And he said, "Come on." Do you know how he used to do that? He'd beckon you with his finger and sort of a twinkle in his eye. And so I jumped up and said, "Yes, sir." He said, "We're going to play cards." So I went up. There was Llewellyn [E.] Thompson [Jr.] who was then ambassador to Moscow, Paul [H.] Nitze, your dad, and myself playing bridge. And here I am, a young punk kid, playing bridge with these heavies. And we were changing partners. We're flying all the way across the Atlantic. And finally the steward came up and said, "Mr. Secretary, we're landing in about twenty minutes." And your dad sat there and he started totaling. And he said, "Paul, yours is so much. Tommy yours is so much." And he sort of laughed and he said, "And mine's only so much." And they started digging in their pockets. He handed me thirty-two 00:12:00dollars and I almost fell out of my chair. We were playing for money and I didn't know it. I said later, "Don't ever do that to me again." I was playing well, relaxed and pretty wild, and it turned out that we were playing for money, and I didn't know that.
This is an event that really surprised and caught him completely off guard.Effectively you could say it caught him with his pants down. We went to Finland. The Fins were having this black tie dinner for the American delegation, the president of Finland and so on. I can't remember his name. We arrived in the car and the president came out and greeted him in black tie and everything. We had 00:13:00gone out and scouted the area first and we knew that the dining hall was straight ahead. And he took him by the arm and they made a turn and they went in and they all took a sauna before they went to dinner. And your father was completely caught off-guard by that. He simply didn't expect that.
RICHARD RUSK: Stripped down? Sitting there in the buff?
PELEUSES: Yeah. Chatting for about twenty minutes. Then they all got dressed andwent in in their black ties and went to dinner.
RICHARD RUSK: He was a good sport about it I take it?
PELEUSES: Oh yeah. He was very good. And the Fins fell in love with him.Someplace at home I've got a collection of pictures. Your father and your mother went to the flower market. Anybody who goes to a flower market is okay by the Fins. This made the news, you know.
RICHARD RUSK: He must have been tipped off by one of his aides.
PELEUSES: Well, you know, your father has a sensitivity for this sort of thing.He picks up very quickly on what the right thing is to do.
Do you know the story about after the Cold War got really cold. We weren't00:14:00talking to each other for a long time. Finally, [Andrei Andreevich] Gromyko came to the General Assembly. And you know, your father is alleged to have said during the Cuban Missile Crisis, "We've been eyeball to eyeball and I think the other fellow just blinked." Okay, time and a half goes by. Now we're at the U.N. [United Nations] in New York and the Russians invite us for dinner. We go in to dinner and at some point in the dinner there is the exchange of toasts. And Gromyko stands up and says, in his inimitable accent, "Mr. Secretary, I want to welcome you where once again we are balls to balls." And it goes on and they 00:15:00exchange the toast and everything and the dinner is over with. And we get in the cars and head back to the Waldorf. And I take your dad up to the suite. And he said, "I want everybody who was at that dinner up here right now." So Bert and I grab the phones and start calling everybody who was there.
RICHARD RUSK: How big a delegation was it?
PELEUSES: Oh, there were probably eight or ten of them, something like that. Sowe get everybody in there, and he turns to Bert and me and says, "I want everybody to have a drink." Everybody got a drink. And your dad said, "I want to tell you all how much I appreciate the fact that not one of you laughed." Everybody kept their cool. But that's a story that's never leaked out.
RICHARD RUSK: Balls to balls?
PELEUSES: Yeah, instead of eyeballs to eyeballs. And you know, we were neversure whether Gromyko knew what he'd said or not, whether it was intentional or not. His English is not that bad.
We were talking about how newsies [sic] can build on something. We were talkingabout the spitting incident in Uruguay and how that was misreported and 00:16:00exaggerated. Okay, we went to Moscow for the Test Ban Treaty. A couple of things happened. I really got involved in this thing. I don't remember the newsy's name, but sometime before the Cuban Missile Crisis he did a show. It was a collection of stills, of paintings in Moscow, and he did them beautifully. It was about an hour long. And the person he interviewed was General Vizdyenen [?]--I can't spell it for you--who was the commandant of the Kremlin. And as it happened, the Test Ban Treaty came along and we went over there for that. And General Vizdyenen [?] was still there and very active, and I recognized the name. I can't remember who all was there. They all went in for the formal 00:17:00sit-down luncheon and the rest of us, the gunslingers--
RICHARD RUSK: Who were the gunslingers?
PELEUSES: Security people.
RICHARD RUSK: They called themselves gunslingers?
PELEUSES: Yeah, various security people.
MOSSELLEM: They had lots of other good names!
PELEUSES: You know the French were there; the British were there; and they allhad their own security. And so, Vizdyenen [?] had an interpreter. He didn't speak English. This was fascinating to me. You know, the classless society--this is what I'm talking about. Vizdyenen [?] invited us all to have lunch with him. 00:18:00He had this humongous big table with gorgeous crystal and china and silver, and it was all Czar's stuff, and we sat down. The first thing you do is you have oodles and oodles of brandy, and you don't need that sort of stuff, but not much choice. We'd all decided we had to go along with--as the Russians put it, it was mir i druzhba. Every time you saw one it was "Mir i druzhba, Amerikanski:" peace and friendship. We go in and have the actual signing ceremony. Everybody had their clerical types handing them the pens and switching pens and switching papers. And the cameras were going to beat hell. And then they make speeches. General Vizdyenen [?] got so smashed at lunch that he went over sideways like a felled tree in the middle of [Nikita Sergeevich] Khrushchev's speech. And what he hit was a table that was like a card table. It was full of colored telephones: a red phone, and a green phone, and a black phone. Who knows what 00:19:00they were! And these phones were everywhere. And all any of us could think of was, "Oh my god! The balloon is up! So much for the Test Ban Treaty." Well, they picked him up and sort of carried him off. And the interpreter from the foreign office came over and he said, "You must excuse Comrade Vizdyenen (?). After all, you know, he's only a peasant." This is in the classless society! All right, we're walking down this grand staircase afterward to get in the cars and go to our respective embassies. And I was feeling pretty good myself, no question about that. I was walking with your father and I looked up and I said, "Well boss, we did it." And he looked at me and he said, "It was a long time coming." He'd had this bothering him for a long time.
I was going to tell you about how the newsies exaggerate things. From Moscow, as00:20:00guests of the Russian government we went down to Sochi on the Black Sea. Gromyko met us at the airport and we got in the car with him to go to Sochi. We were pulling up into this dacha where we were to stay, to be the guests, this fantastic estate-like place in Sochi, after the Test Ban Treaty. As we're pulling in the driveway, I'm sitting in the front seat riding shotgun. Gromyko is in the back with your dad. And he said, "Mr. Secretary, this once belonged to Comrade [Lavrenti P.] Beria. But don't be afraid, there are no ghosts in Russia." Subsequently, we went over to Khrushchev's dacha. Khrushchev had a 00:21:00ping-pong table. and the newsies posed your dad and Khrushchev for pictures. Your dad held up a ping-pong paddle and Khrushchev held up a ping-pong paddle. No more than three times did they hit that ball and the story came out that Khruschev had trounced your dad in a game of ping-pong. This idiotic stuff started coming out like this. It was always like that. It was not done to be funny. It was just, "The Russians are still beating us in every way" sort of attitude.
RICHARD RUSK: That was the slant of the coverage?
RICHARD RUSK: You're not referring to, by any chance, instead of ping-pong, alittle short match of badminton on a Persian rug? I think that might have been it. 00:22:00
PELEUSES: Now that you say that, there was a Persian rug there. You're right.
RICHARD RUSK: It was badminton they played without a net and they just hit itback and forth a few times.
PELEUSES: Just for the newsies sake. A photo opportunity. And they made a bigthing out of it in the papers here that he lost the game and all this sort of garbage.
RICHARD RUSK: I think Khruschev hit one, my dad missed it, and my dad said tohim, "You play a very good game." And Khruschev beams and says, "It takes practice." Something like that.
We're talking now about the flight to Japan at the time that John [Fitzgerald]Kennedy was assassinated.
MOSSELLEM: Right. We were just out of Honolulu, one hour.
PELEUSES: Because I can remember we turned the plane around and it took usanother hour to get back.
MOSSELLEM: And I'm sure Gus described that to you as vividly as it was. I dothink in the files downstairs I will have a verbatim record of what the Secretary said at that time. 00:23:00
RICHARD RUSK: On the plane or on the ground?
MOSSELLEM: On the plane. Because he received the first phone call and talked toeveryone. And then that's when Gus told you that several of us were going to get off in Honolulu and fly directly to Dallas because we had no idea--
RICHARD RUSK: You remembered it as being something like, "The king is dead andwe have a new king. Long live the king."
PELEUSES: "The king is dead; long live the king," is the traditional thing. WhatI recall him saying is something like this--Jane will have it--"Our president is dead. We have a new president. Long live the president." [At this point President Lyndon Baines Johnson had been sworn in and we had been advised.]
MOSSELLEM: That's probably very close to it.
RICHARD RUSK: If it's going to be a chore digging it out, forget it. I'llparaphrase it.
MOSSELLEM: That's very close to it. That was after the second phone call.00:24:00
PELEUSES: Everybody was deathly still. And I told you, we were scared stiff
that [Luther Hartwell] Hodges was going to have a heart attack because
he looked like he was about to have one.
MOSSELLEM: He was sitting right across from us.
PELEUSES: He lost his color, and we were really concerned. I was concerned aboutyour father, but your father handled it very well. Nobody said anything. Your father left the [general passenger compartment of the] plane and he went and sat in the chair in the little compartment.
MOSSELLEM: Right across from your mother, back in his compartment.
PELEUSES: And he was just sitting there and a tear came down. You know, youasked me about whether your father felt these things. Yeah, I'll tell you he felt them.
MOSSELLEM: He put his head back, because I could see him. Gus was sitting nextto me and I could just see him. That's when we became a little more concerned. He was releasing his own feelings. I noticed a single tear.
PELEUSES: There's no question that it affected your father. It affected your00:25:00mother. It affected all of us.
MOSSELLEM: There was not a dry eye on the plane.
PELEUSES: I told you the story of the night of the funeral, after the funeralwhen we were all upstairs on the eighth floor [the diplomatic reception area of the State Department]. I was standing next to the guy from Arizona, the Secretary of the Interior, [Stewart Lee] Udall. I coincidentally happened to be standing next to him. Johnson had the receiving line going and all the heavies were there from all over the world. And she [his wife] said to him, "Oh, Stu, we'll never laugh again."
He said, "No, you're wrong. We'll never be young again." And I think that wasit. It killed our youth. There was a whole generation of Americans who just lost their youth overnight. There's no other way to describe it. It affected all of us.
RICHARD RUSK: He really appealed to the desires and dreams, the vision of country.00:26:00
MOSSELLEM: The entire country, young and old.
RICHARD RUSK: That's why Vietnam was such a bad thing in a sense, because wewent from that to this other thing which was just awful. And it happened in a matter of three or four years. The unraveling of the country, we went from a position of a vibrant, hopeful--
PELEUSES: I don't know if you can use this, but you just triggered another one.We went to Vietnam. The first time we went--
RICHARD RUSK: Did you go to Vietnam?
MOSSELLEM: I wasn't on the first trip, no. I went later, but I didn't go on thefirst one.
PELEUSES: Henry Cabot Lodge, who just died a week or two ago, we had a nicknamefor him. We used to call him Henry Cabbage Cod.
RICHARD RUSK: He was a little bit stiff and formal, I take it?00:27:00
PELEUSES: Yeah. He had an Army colonel working as his security officer. Therewas a lot of informal institutionalization that took place in Vietnam, because of Vietnam. It wasn't like any other embassy. An ambassador in Vietnam was pretty darn powerful and could run things the way he wanted to, and got what he wanted because we were deeply committed. Well, we learned from the colonel that we were going to visit an area, and we were concerned. It wasn't fun and games. There was some shooting going on. And we were concerned. And we were told that we were going down to the delta. So we had made all our arrangements through our security channels with the other guys and the military to insure that there was 00:28:00security where we were going. And Lodge's idea of security was not to tell anybody what he was doing at all. So we got in the cars in the motorcade. And we had, I think, a military bus or two of newsies. And we drove to Bien-Hoa. Do you remember the temporary buildings that were down here on the mall? Bien-Hoa airport was surrounded by two-story old military tempo-type buildings. And you drove through the building. It had a cut-out on the first floor and you drove 00:29:00through it. And we drove through and made a turn and down a line there were about fifteen very long-winged, droopy-winged airplanes. And I almost dropped my teeth. It was full of U-2s. Publicly we were saying we didn't have U-2s over there. That had become an issue. And I turned back and looked at your father, and he sort of moved his head from side to side. And I didn't say anything. What stunned me is our fantastic newsies. Not a one of them recognized a U-2 when they saw it because obviously they would have blown it sky high. It never came up. They're very recognizable. Here we were, driving down a line of these damn things.
RICHARD RUSK: These were for reconnaissance flights over China, the Soviet Union?
PELEUSES: No, we were using them over Nam and North Vietnam, that area, in aneffort to control. We weren't militarily totally committed yet. We got in the plane and took off--
END OF SIDE 1
BEGINNING OF SIDE 2
PELEUSES: We got in the plane and took off and we got up to altitude and we were00:30:00cruising along. They were the old DC-3, C-47s, whatever they're called. They were groaning away there. Bert and I were sitting together. Your dad and Lodge sitting together talking. I was looking around. I'd never been in Vietnam before. Something was bothering me and I didn't know what it was. I said, "Bert, there's something wrong." He said, "What do you mean?" I said, "I don't know. I can't figure it out. There's just something wrong." To make a long story short, we suddenly realized that the sun was coming in the wrong window. We were going north, weren't going south to the delta. That was the first we knew that we weren't going to the delta. We had all these security arrangements down in the delta and here we are going north. This was Lodge's idea of security, not to tell anybody, including the Secretary, where we were going.
We landed at someplace. I don't recall where. Everybody got into helicopters.That was up to that point the largest helicopter operation in the Vietnam business. We all went up to this [montagnard] village up in the side of a 00:31:00mountain. Your dad is making a speech through an interpreter; Lodge is making a speech through an interpreter. All these villagers are no more than--maximum height, probably the tallest guy in the gang was probably five feet two inches or five feet three inches. And your dad was over six feet. They were smiling at this fantastic white person who was towering over them. I know it kind of bothered your father as to what were these people really getting out of this sort of stuff. It was a performance for the newsies. Well, there was an Army major standing there who was assigned to the area apparently. He came up to me and he said, "Are you with Dean Rusk?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Boy, I really admire that man." I said, "I do, too. I work for him." He said, "You know, I really admire him." And I said, "Yeah, Major, I do, too." He said, "No, I mean I really admire him."
And I said, "Major what the hell are you talking about?" And he pointed down theside of the mountain and here about six hundred yards away were a bunch of these little people with those little funny cone-shaped straw hats that I had never seen before. And he said, "Do you see those guys down there?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "That's the Vietcong." I went over and grabbed Bert; we grabbed your father; and I said, "Mr. Secretary, it's time to go." Your father was really 00:32:00super this way. If we said, "It's time to go," he would go. And that was it. We had no idea where Lodge was taking us. He did things like this that really threw us for a loop.
RICHARD RUSK: Were those guys armed at all?
PELEUSES: I don't know. But I wasn't going to hang around to find out withresponsibility of your father. It was interesting. I did the advance when he went to Athens for the NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] meeting, obviously. [I'm of Greek descent.] I couldn't wait to do that advance. Your dad arrived at the airport and they had the little ceremonies.
RICHARD RUSK: Did you tell my dad who that was down there?
PELEUSES: Maybe it's something he blocked out. But, boy, we got out of there. Wecut that short.
RICHARD RUSK: Incidentally, and I meant to tell you a little follow-up. He madehis one trip to the field in Vietnam. I think that he never went out in a field 00:33:00situation again. But while he was flying in this great big helicopter formation someone told him, or he asked, how many men it took to make these kinds of security arrangements for his visit out into the countryside. And he was told something like thirty battalions were drawn off the line for his security. And then he looked down from the chopper. There were choppers all the way around him and he saw two choppers skimming low over the trees down below and he asked what the purpose of that was. And those guys were down there to draw fire. When he put all that stuff together, he said, "No more trips to Vietnam if people are endangering their lives for the sake of my security." And that's why he didn't make any more trips.
[Jane Mossellem enters conversation]
PELEUSES: I was telling them about Nam and--
RUSK: Did you hear that story, Jane?
MOSSELLEM: No, I didn't hear that story.
RUSK: It's such a good story I'm going to tape it twice.
PELEUSES: We had been told we were going down to delta. Bert and I madearrangements with the other guys and through the military and everything for security. And we drove down to Ben-Hoa, and the first thing that happened was we 00:34:00went by a line of U-2s, and we were saying that we had no U-2s in Vietnam. Back then we had two busloads of newsies behind us who accompanied us, and not a one of them recognized the damn planes. It never came up. It never came up.
RUSK: They're very recognizable.
MOSSELLEM: Oh yes.
RUSK: A U-2 is a U-2.
PELEUSES: We got in planes and we took off and we flew away in the old DC3-whatever- C47s or whatever they're called, and we're going away there and Bert and I were together and your dad and Lodge were together or and something was bothering me and I didn't know what it was, and I called Bert. I said "there's something wrong." We kept discussing it, and we finally realized the sun was coming in the wrong window. They're going South of the delta, we were going North, and this was Lodge's idea of security not to tell anybody, including the secretary, where we were going.
MOSSELLEM: You're kidding.
RUSK: Listen to this story.
PELEUSES: So we arrive at this airport- I don't remember where- and we allload up into choppers, a bunch of choppers. This was the biggest chopper operation up to that point. And we get in these helicopters, we take off, and we go up to the side of the mountain to this mountain yard village. And these little guys--the biggest one of the bunch was maybe 5"2'--are there 00:35:00with no teeth, smiling at this fantastic white person, you know, who's towering over them. Then your dad made a speech and Lodge made a speech, and this army major was standing there who's assigned to the area apparently as an adviser, and he said, "I really admire Mr. Rusk." I said, "I do too." He said, "I really admire him," and he kept saying this, and I said, "Major, what the hell are you talking about?" He said, "Look down there." About 600 yards down the side of the mountain were a bunch of these little people, you know, with these straw, cone-shaped hats. He said, "Do you see that?" I said, "Yeah, I see that." He said, "That's the Viet Cong!" And I went over and grabbed Bert, and Bert and I went up to the Secretary and said, "Mr. Secretary, it's time to go." And he was super that way! When you'd say something like that--boom! on a plane he'd get. Okay.
PELEUSES: One of the things that happened on the chopper is Lodge leanedover--there was a gunner on the chopper--Lodge leaned over and grabbed this machine gun and wheeled it up, barrel first, across everybody's face. And the 00:36:00gunner yelled, "No, no, no!" And he grabbed the gun and pulled it away from him. And I looked at him and said, "What's the matter?" He said, "Man, all you've got to do is touch that thing and it's going to go off." He had it all armed and ready to go, and Lodge is picking it up trying to demonstrate it. This is the kind of craziness that was going on. Lodge used to carry a forty-five around, with his ice-cream suits: just idiotic stuff.
RICHARD RUSK: Kind of macho man?
MOSSELLEM: And out of control.
PELEUSES: I started to tell you, we went to Athens and I did the advance inAthens. We arrived, they had the airport ceremonies and everything else. We got in the car. I was riding shotgun again. [Henry Richard] Labouisse [our ambassador to Greece at the time] said to your father, "Well, Mr. Secretary, we're going to go up to the Acropolis right now." And I turned around and I said, "Mr. Secretary, you can't go. You've got an appointment." And he said, "Right." And we went to the residence. And Labouisse was a little bit put out. He didn't know quite what was happening. When we got to the residence--and your 00:37:00father was just super about things like this. If we said something like that, he really went with us. And he said, "What was all that about?" And I said, "There were about sixty newsies who heard him say that." The car hadn't pulled away yet and they heard him say that. I said, "You want to go up there to the Acropolis with all these newsmen?" He said, "No, you're right." So we waited about half an hour. Then we got in cars and went to the Acropolis.
There were only about three cops and a couple of us and the Secretary and theambassador. And we went out to look at the Acropolis. Here were four sailors from the sixth fleet walking along, had no idea who you father was or who any of us were. And one of them said, looking at the Parthenon, "Boy, isn't that something?" And the other one said, "Shoot, we got one in Tennessee that ain't all busted up like this." And your father almost fell down the steps of the Acropolis laughing. I don't know if you're aware that in the capital of Tennessee is a copy of the Parthenon. 00:38:00
MOSSELLEM: These were the good moments for him when he was totally relaxed andhe didn't have 500 newsies around him then. He could enjoy it.
PELEUSES: He could enjoy it because being on stage you've got to watch whatyou're doing, you're got to watch what you're saying. You know, you can relax and really enjoy what you're looking at. That was funny that time. I'll never forget that sailor saying that. The presidential party went on the Southeast Asia trip. Your dad did not get to all of that. They had gone down to Australia and had stayed on a ship because no hotel was adequate, and all this sort of malarkey. The presidential party went on to KL [Kuala Lumpur] and Bangkok, and I can't remember which went where. I think we went to Bangkok first and then to 00:39:00KL. Everybody was staying in this one hotel.. Here are all the White House types, all bragging with newsies standing around, how they're all gone to cat houses the night before and paid off with LBJ [Lyndon Baines Johnson] pens. To us who had traveled before, we were stunned and appalled at the way these people were acting.
We went to Manila then. The Hotel Manila was a big u-shaped affair. We were inone wing and across from the entrance in the other wing was the presidential party. The presidential science advisor--I've forgotten his name--he was a little dark-haired guy. Ed [Edward Southard] Little was on that trip. He was a Special Assistant. He and I were reading the traffic together. Just tons of it 00:40:00was coming in. It was about eight o'clock in the evening, and we had some protection: Philippine police. There was a possibility that there would be some demonstrations. Everybody was coming. He came running around the corner from his wing over to our wing carrying a paper bag. The window was open. And I said, "What are you going to do?" And he said, "I've got a bag full of water. I'm going to get me one of these cops." Here's the presidential science advisor who's going to throw a bag of water out of a hotel window on a cop that's protecting this clown. I can't think of his name. Anyhow, he was Lyndon Johnson's science advisor, or whatever the title. In any event, it developed that we were going on a trip that was unannounced, unscheduled. We went down and 00:41:00flew over to Sangley Point, the Naval air station. The plane [Air Force One] was over at Sangley Point, we got on the flight and zoom, off we went to Nam.
RICHARD RUSK: Unannounced?
PELEUSES: That's the trip you're talking about.
RICHARD RUSK: You went to Cam Ranh Bay.
PELEUSES: Yeah, we went to Cam Ranh Bay. Johnson made his speech in a mess hallabout, "Bring the coon skin back so we can nail it to the wall." And here are all these eighteen-nineteen year old kids looking at this guy and wondering what he's saying, not being able to understand him. Kids are walking in who have been out on patrols for two-three days, muddy, dirty, not knowing this, coming into the mess hall and saying, "Who is he?" This was, I thought, kind of a sad commentary. Here's the president of the United States making a speech and the people that he talked to didn't know who he was. Your father was super on that one, too.
RICHARD RUSK: Was my dad with him at that time?
PELEUSES: Yeah, we were on that trip. Your father went around to the GIs[Government Issue], when they finally came awake as to who was who, and took 00:42:00names from anybody that he was talking to, asked them where they were from and their home phone numbers. And he came back and he called every single family of the kids that he had talked to, from the office. And he told them that he had seen their son.
MOSSELLEM: He tracked every one of them down.
PELEUSES: Tracked every parent, every relative down. He made a point of that.
MOSSELLEM: He had notes on every kind of piece of paper in the world--napkins--
PELEUSES: He was asking us for paper. Anything he could find. What's your name?Where are you from? How do I get your parents or your relatives?" These kids were swarming around. He was just super that way. This, again, emphasizes what I was telling you the other night about the concern.
He always kept his roots. We went down to Atlanta to see your Aunt Margaret00:43:00[Rusk]. He made a point of having the car go by the area where the house used to be when he was a kid. It's now the site of a railroad bridge abutment or something like that. He made a point to go over there to look at it. He never lost that sense of his roots.
MOSSELLEM: [On Henry Alfred Kissinger] Maybe it was early on when he came in andI had asked to be his personal assistant. I told him when I was asked to take the job that I would help him in every way that I could, that I didn't want him to feel that he had to make a commitment to me initially because he might not like me at all and he may well have somebody else in mind for the job. That was 00:44:00not problem for me because there were lots of jobs that I could go to. We had been working together for, I would say, six months, seven months. I went on a trip with him, which I didn't do very often. I traveled very little with him. I stayed at home and had a staff of twelve secretaries or so. All the girls took turns and I really stayed in Washington. I had done my fair share of traveling at that point. But he was being smart in front of an audience on one of these trips and made some comment that I had worked for Mr. Rusk for eight years and for Mr. [William Pierce] Rogers and for Mr. [Christian Archibald] Herter and part of Mr. [John Foster] Dulles's time. He said, "How do you compare me to Dean Rusk?" And he kind of caught me off-guard, but he made me mad. And I said, "He, 00:45:00too, is a scholar, but he is a gentleman." Only because I was mad, just like that I said that. And I kind of rocked him. He never got over it. Any time he sees me in a group he will say, "But she will always compare me to Dean Rusk and I can't compete." And he was absolutely right.
PELEUSES: My one contact with him is quite a story. I was the administrativeofficer in Jamaica when Henry decided to make the trip down there over the Christmas holidays between Christmas and New Year's.
RICHARD RUSK: Incidentally, if I use that thing about Kissinger, if I use it,does it bother you?
MOSSELLEM: Not at all.
PELEUSES: No, it doesn't bother me either. He went to a little town on the north00:46:00coast of Jamaica. The embassy was on the south coast of Jamaica. We went out there and did security advance for the secret service. He had secret service--State Department security wasn't good enough for him. I guess maybe I shouldn't have said that, but what the hell. Anyhow, I went up there, and they brought the damn dog with them. Jamaica has very strict quarantine laws.
RICHARD RUSK: This is Kissinger's dog?
MOSSELLEM: Tyler is a yellow lab.
PELEUSES: What we did is, he came in on a Jet Star and we brought the nose ofthe other plane up like this so that they could get off from one plane directly onto the other plane so that the newsies wouldn't see the damn dog. The Jamaican government was sort of turning away and pretending it wasn't happening. So here I am, wrestling this goddamn dog that weighed more than I did into the other plane. And that dog has to be one of the dumbest animals I ever met. It just 00:47:00sort of would stand around and drool.
RICHARD RUSK: Did it come down to the Department at all?
MOSSELLEM: Often. I could tell you lots of stories.
PELEUSES: So, I wrestle this dog into the plane and they fly to Ocho Rios. It'sbetween Christmas and New Year's. I left Christmas day to go take care of them. I left the family behind. So, the Secretary of the Treasury came down, too, the guy with the glasses and the natty suits, the New York suits--I can't think of 00:48:00his name. They stayed half a mile apart and they weren't talking to each other. This was happening with the Nixon Administration. And so, they each had their own communications set-up; they each had their own security set-up; and there it was.
MOSSELLEM: Simon, Bill [William Edward] Simon.
PELEUSES: Yeah. So, the trip is finished. I'm at Mobay [Montego Bay] from OchoRios. And again we did that bit with the planes nose to nose. I wrestle this stupid animal out of this small plane into the Jet Star. Henry is over at the fence talking to the newsies. And Nancy [Sharon Kissinger] says to me, "Doctor, I really appreciate what you've done for us." And my reaction was to look over my shoulder and see who she's talking to. Then I realize she's talking to me and I couldn't understand why she's calling me doctor. And she said it a couple of times. And I finally realized she thought I was a vet because I was messing around with this damn dog. And I said, "Mrs. Kissinger, I'm not a doctor. I'm the administrative officer in the embassy in Kingston." And she turned around and she said, "Oh, Henry, he's not a doctor at all. He's only the administrative 00:49:00officer." And I thought, "Well, so much for me. That puts me in my place." That was my only meeting with them, but, boy, they'll put you down where you belong.
MOSSELLEM: Speaking of dogs, let me just tell you. My husband, Tom, was chiefsteward on Air Force One. He was flying up to Hyannis with President Kennedy and Bobby [Robert Francis] Kennedy and his black lab. Do you remember that dog? He came in the office whenever Bobby Kennedy would come. Huge dog. On whatever occasion it was, Fourth of July or something, they had the dog on board, but they had a big affair at the airport there in Hyannis. The President got off and 00:50:00his family and Bobby and his family were there. As soon as the President stepped off the plane, Tom had to hold the dog in the back because they didn't want the dog coming off the plane until after this fanfare. As soon as the President stepped off, the band started playing "Hail to the Chief." Well, the sound got to the dog and spooked him and he went crazy. Tom had to get on top of him, put a blanket over his head. Tom, after he's had several drinks, has to tell you this story, not me. He starts howling like the dog. Finally, they had to shut the door of the plane and still keep him muffled with pillows and blankets. But the dogs could take their toll.
RICHARD RUSK: Do you remember when I raised all those guinea pigs at the house.00:51:00
MOSSELLEM: Oh yes, I do. Indeed, your mother brought some of them in to theoffice and I remember giving a couple of them to my nephews. My brother has never forgiven me.
RICHARD RUSK: I'd heard that's how we got rid of them. I started out with twoand we ended up with about forty of them. I had built a big one-layer cage and I had to put a second layer on there. END OF SIDE 2