Veterans History Project: An Interview with Robert Shippen

Library of Congress Veterans History Project

Interview conducted by Jeanne Czarnecki and produced by Jennifer Cockerill. Recorded at Headquarters, Santa Cruz Public Libraries, June 30, 2015.

Raised in rural Alabama and Georgia, Robert Edward Lee Shippen had a typically Southern childhood, with many family members having served in the armed forces during World War II. In 1966, Shippen enlisted in the army. Signing up as Airborne Unassigned, he received training in light weapons and attended both paratrooper and officer candidate school. After passing the Special Forces Intelligence test, he started his year-long training for academic medicine and combatant. In December 1967, he arrived in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. As an army medic, he performed many life-saving procedures, treated burns, shrapnel punctures, and chest wounds. During the army's "secret war" in Cambodia, Shippen rescued hundreds of refugees. For his military service, he received many medals of honor, among which are a Combat Medics Badge, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. He reached the rank of E5 - Sergeant (Army). Shippen's tour of duty ended in December 1968, but re-enlisted in the army two years later to become a military diver specializing in hyperbaric chamber operations in Okinawa, the Philippines and Korea. He eventually settled in Santa Cruz, California to begin counseling veterans with PTSD at his nonprofit counseling center.
Creator: Shippen, Robert; Czarnecki, Jeanne; Cockerill, Jennifer
Date: 6/30/2015
  • Santa Cruz (County)
  • 2010s
  • 1960s
Rights: Permission must be obtained before using the interview or other materials in exhibition or publication. Researchers or others who would like to make further use of these materials should contact Santa Cruz Public Libraries for assistance.
Identifier: VH-SHIPPEN


Shippen, Robert, Jeanne Czarnecki, and Jennifer Cockerill. “Veterans History Project: An Interview with Robert Shippen.” 6/30/2015. SCPL Local History. Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.