Robert Migneault: Librarian's Research Leads to Mercenary School

By Fletcher, Marilyn; Sohn, Jeanne | American Libraries, November 1985 | Go to article overview

Robert Migneault: Librarian's Research Leads to Mercenary School


Fletcher, Marilyn, Sohn, Jeanne, American Libraries


Robert Migneault: Librarian's research leads to mercenary school

DODGING BULLETS FOR THE SAKE OF RESEARCH!' "LIBRARIAN GOES TO MERCENARY SCHOOL.' These are examples of recent headlines that have sparked public interest in an adventurous librarian and his research. Robert L. Migneault, associate dean of library services at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, has been conducting studies on mercenaries and plans to produce a scholarly analysis of mercenarism based on his original research and firsthand fieldwork. He hopes to complete a book on the subject by 1987.

Doing fieldwork on mercenaries is risky business, as one of Migneault's latest outings will demonstrate. In March 1985 he enrolled in mercenary school near Birmingham, Ala. Not only was he shot at, he had to avoid booby-traps and being captured and tortured. "Firing Uzis, rappelling cliffs, and running barefoot through the woods at night to escape and evade are all part of the scene,' Migneault said. Out of a class that began with 20 students, he was one of only four men to be awarded the mercenary school's coveted "Recondo Patch.'

Asked why he attended the school, Migneault explained that in order to have credibility with real mercenaries, he must be able to relate to them and to their experiences. Before finishing his book, he plans to interview members of England's elite Special Air Service. Also in the interest of research, he has made arrangements to parachute with the Israeli Defense Forces and plans to spend time parachuting with the French Foreigh Legion and later with the Nepalese Gurkhas.

Dunned the dean

Migneault's choice of librarianship as a career may seem a surprising one considering his current interests and early life. As a high school dropout, Army paratrooper, military policeman, and later member of a special anti-terrorist security unit, he had some difficulty getting into college. "At first they wouldn't let me in. The dean of admissions said I couldn't read or write. In response I greeted the dean every morning for several weeks until he agreed to give me a chance. I promised that I would concentrate on literature. Some officials shook their heads in disbelief.' However, Migneault succeeded and was graduated with a B.A. in English literature.

Afterward, Migneault considered work opportunities with U.S. Customs, checking for illegal drugs on the New York City waterfront, and a syphilis eradication project in Harlem. With these options before him, he nonetheless decided that he wanted to be a librarian. …

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