Rellis P. Godfrey
U. S. Army
Dates of Service: 11/07/1968 - 06/13/1971
Intelligence Specialist, 525th Military Intelligence Group

Rellis was born at Schumpert Hospital in Shreveport as the younger of two sons to Raymond W. Godfrey, a landscape architect, and Elizabeth Phillips Godfrey, who handled the administrative aspects of her husband's business. Rellis graduated from Byrd High School in 1962. He entered Centenary College where he majored in history, worked at Selber Brothers selling clothes in after-school hours, and graduated with a bachelor of arts in 1966. In 1968 he earned a master of arts and history at the University of Oklahoma. On November 7 that year, Rellis enlisted in the U.S. Army. After basic training at Fort Polk near Leesville, Louisiana he entered the U.S. Army Intelligence School and Counter Intelligence Records Facility at Fort Holabird near Baltimore, Maryland, where he was taught "the means of collecting intelligence" in techniques that had evolved from World War II and the Korean War. "I was stationed there for a year in intelligence school and my class had approximately twenty-eight men," he recalls. "Of those twenty-eight men I think twenty-five had a college degree and three had started but not completed college." All but two in his class were sent to Vietnam, including Rellis, who next studied the Vietnamese language at The Presidio in Monterey, California. A hearing deficiency, however, made it difficult for him to understand the tonal language, so he was assigned to the military intelligence office that conducted background investigations of Vietnamese staff members. He was sent to Vietnam in January of 1970 where he was assigned to headquarters of 4th Battalion, 525th Military Intelligence Group in Rach Gia, a coastal town in the 4th Corps area in the delta. There he was placed as a Government Service 9 (GS9) civilian employee. "So I took off my Army uniform and wore civilian clothing the entire time I was in Vietnam with one exception, when I went on R&R (rest and recuperation). I put on my uniform to fly on the plane with the other men going to Hong Kong," he recalls. Rellis served with Central Intelligence Agency personnel as well as Navy intelligence liaison officers. He shared a two-story house with two Navy personnel and a retired Los Angeles police detective who commanded some forty to fifty Patrol Boats, River (PBRs)--Navy boats that patrolled waterways. "All the radios were set up in that portion of the bedroom and when some of the boats would be out at night they could come in contact and he would get called on the radio. So I really knew what was going on," Rellis says. He wrote intelligence reports in which he assessed the reliability of the information. He also worked with a Vietnamese major who was part of Military Security Service (MSS), the intelligence branch of the Vietnamese army. "He was one of the most knowledgeable men in the entire province," Rellis recalls. He calls Navy Seals "the best trained of all the American personnel, the absolute best." Rellis went on few missions, although he did venture into Cambodia where he saw a cache of North Vietnamese arms and money that South Vietnamese armed forces had discovered. While he relied on South Vietnamese agents, he never felt one was a double agent or infiltrator. "The family is very predominant in Vietnamese culture," he says. "One brother may have been for the South Vietnamese government and another brother may have been for the VC (Viet Cong). Neither would do anything to hurt the other but many times they would share information." Rellis completed his tour of duty in Vietnam and finished his service on June 13, 1971. He says he had no difficulty re-adjusting to civilian life. "The one sound that anybody that served in Vietnam will tell you that you always recognize is the sound of a huge helicopter. It stays with you the rest of your life," he comments. He enrolled in law school at LSU in September of 1971. On December 13, 1972 he married Sally McLemore. (They would have one son and one daughter). After finishing law school in 1974 he set up practice in Shreveport where he has worked in general civil practice with a specialty in estate planning and succession.