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Tubbs, Gordon - Oral History Interview

By Gordon Tubbs


Gordon Tubbs 63 originally looked at SAIS and several other international relations schools. He believed SAIS to have a good reputation and as he was possibly interested in going into the Foreign Service, he applied to the institution. He chose SAIS (among a choice of other schools) primarily because the school gave him a full scholarship. He also still had remaining funding from his GI bill and the combination of the two made it possible for him to come. During the Korean War, he was a weather man for the U.S. Navy and was later given a commission for intelligence. During the War, he was out in Asia for a couple of years and ended up in Japan at the end of the occupation on the USS Princeton. At the time, the U.S. had air supremacy, so they were not in danger on the ship. Before this, he was at Cornell where he was a wildlife conservation major. He reports that everything was in an uproar then, which is why he then volunteered to join the Navy. In thinking about SAIS, he remembers the class being quite small maybe 80 some people. The first thing he remembers is going to the Quaker meeting house for an orientation. Also, he remembers that the school was formerly an all girls school and that the Hilton hadnt been built yet. He also recalls having a memorable professor for Chinese Studies, Paul Lineberger, and how he told him, jokingly, one day that though SAIS didnt have any athletic facilities, it did have an outdoor gym (on the hill, just behind their building). SAIS seemed very small to him then. He remembers being impressed with the faculty and the fact that they had such tremendous practical experience in government (domestic and international). He recalls Franklin who was the head of a history department at the State Department, Paul Lineberger who had specialties in China and whose father had been an advisor to Sun Yat-sen and a specialist in psychological warfare, and Dean Thayer who taught International Law. He reports that the South East Asia courses were great, too (particularly the ones on Burma and Indo China). He also recalls social gatherings in the evenings with some prominent figures who attended (e.g. Allen Dulles and Dean Atchison). Paul Lineberger was his favorite professor. Gordon attended one of his four or five person seminar courses where the classes were mostly taught at the school, but also sometimes at his home (when he was ill). At the time, Gordon Tubbs wife was also ill (she later passed away in 1969), so he had to finish up his work at SAIS on a part-time basis. He recalls needing to get tutoring for his French. He also took a job then with the USIA, that he thought would be a temporary job, but that turned into something more permanent. During his orals, Gordon remembers not being nervous. Due to his wifes illness, he knew that the Foreign Service would not accept him, so he went through the orals, knowing that the outcome didnt matter and therefore, breezed right through them. From an historical standpoint, he recalls the Cuban Missile Crisis and Kennedys assassination. The news came in on a tele-type and a couple of hours later, everything was closed down and people were heading to their homes. Later on in that time period, he also remembers the Martin Luther King, Jr. speech, the riots, the National Guard Troops all over the city, the crowd, the African-American people who came to hear the speech, how well dressed people wereit was so moving. Later, in 1968, he recalls the city streets being on fire during the riots after MLK, Jr. had been assassinated. He was in a bar at the time and immediately headed home to Arlington as the riots heated up. When Tubbs left SAIS, he made a connection with someone in USIA through Paul Lineberger and though it wasnt originally intended, he stayed working there for many years (starting with the African branch, which he knew nothing about). He later got into the East Asian branch and stayed with that area for many years. In his work, he did quite a bit of propaganda research and one summer, in 1967, went to the University of Michigan to take a course on research (learning about questionnaires, survey designing techniques, etc.) After this, he did a lot of public opinion work and later did work for Europe on SDI (Star Wars). The rest of his work was in Japan, Korea, Australia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam though he was always based in Washington. His more recent interests have been in China and now Afghanistan. Now, in his retirement, he volunteers at the Nature Conservancy and has been doing that for several years. He is interested in wildlife conversation and environmental issues, which, he feels, are very important to national security. He feels that it is important to focus on these issues related to global climate change.

Topics: Foreign Service, Wildlife Conservation, Kennedy Assassination, Riots, Korean War, Paul Lineberger, U.S. Navy, Cuban Missile Crisis, SAIS, East Asia, USIA, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Office of Development and Alumni Relations
Year: 2010
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Provided by: JScholarship
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