WATERTOWN, Mass.—On Mon., Feb. 4, M. Manoog Kaprielian, a private consultant who has delivered speeches and lectured worldwide, will address the dinner meeting of the St. James Armenian Church Men’s Club on “The Armenian Soul in the World of Business.”
If you have ever listened to talk radio and wondered, “Who is ‘Manoog from Providence’ talking on ‘Larry King Live,’ ‘The Connection’ with Christopher Lydon, ‘Talk of the Nation,’ or ‘On Point’ with Tom Ashbrook,” this is your Manoog. One day, he would take issue with David Halbesrstam, and the next evening he’d receive a hand-delivered, autographed copy of the author’s latest book while sitting in his garden.
Michael Manoog Kaprielian is a decorated Vietnam War Veteran who, had he not been embraced unconditionally by the Armenian community in Los Angeles following the war, may not be here, or anywhere at all. This simple embrace in America took Kaprielian off a certain self-destructive post-war path to a series of demands upon his experience in and after Vietnam. Most notably, it placed him in the studios of WGBH-TV to review the production of the first Vietnam Series in its initial “scratch edit” version. There he bonded with Broadway and Film playwright David Berry; Wayne Smith, later to become a vital leader in a Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization in D.C.; and Thomas Suprock, a former Ohio State football player and highly decorated chopper pilot who, in the Mee Kong Delta in April 1971, flew cover when the gunboat upon which Manoog “Kappy” Kaprielian served when it earned its second Presidential Unit Citation (the same distinction of Seal Team Six that took out Osama Bin Laden). On several distinct occasions, the U.S. Congress has called upon or cited Kaprielian, beginning with a front-page story of four veterans read aloud on the U.S. Senate floor by U.S. Senator and former Secretary of the Navy John Chafee.
Although deeply involved with the Armenian earthquake relief efforts, Kaprielian was sent a letter, signed by all Congressional Vietnam Veterans, requesting his presence as one of 25 sought Americans of the Vietnam experience to summit in D.C. with visiting Soviet Afghani Veterans. He will never forget the moment of introduction, when Soviet Soldiers saluted his Armenian name as they universally testified to the courage and sacrifice of their Armenian comrades. He then broke summit one day early to return to his work in Armenia. In May 1991, he was called on to testify at a House Oversights and Investigations Committee meeting, and in 1997, encouraged by a staff of decorated veterans including, scholars, minorities, women, former POWs, and endorsements from a former secretary the navy to the teamsters and others (including Bob Semonian), he dared a run for the national presidency of the Vietnam Veterans of America to unseat the incumbent in the somewhat murky world of national politics; if successful, this would have made Kaprielian the third Armenian in America to rise to the level and company of AMVETS National Commander Berge Avadanian and American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor National Commander Phil Aslanian.
Kaprielian became an expert in the evening’s topic during the late 1970’s when, as a graduate student in research psychology, he met Dr. Richard Varrieur of the new school of ethno psycho-dynamics. Then a graduate instructor in research methods, Kaprielian was asked by the department heads to review the first text that addressed the new field of organizational/business psychology. Kaprielian never forgot this experience, even though as an undergraduate he was one of only two chosen to go directly into a doctoral program, as someone regarded as “promising to bring something new to the field of psychology.” But this was not his choice, as he was entrenched at the time with an unheard-of five majors and minors (which he himself was unaware of, until he graduated magna cum laude in record time by accruing semester-loads of up to 32 courses and internship credits with a GPA of 4.0).
Staying on as a graduate student, he began a project research directorship for the National Telecommunications and Informations Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce to investigate the possibilities of cable television in America and laying the groundwork for the first interconnect of community access programs, and government and educational channels. During this process, he conducted research and spoke throughout the U.S. and Canada. Upon completion of the project, Dr. Jim Davis in Rhode Island dedicated the final report to him and NTIA’s Dr. Jean Rice in Washington, D.C., extolled, “Kaprielian was the best investment we ever had.”
Throughout the 1980’s, 1990’s, and still into the 21st century, Manoog Kaprielian has been bestowed with honors from the president of Armenia and the National Academy of Psychology of the Republic of Georgia, received 12 national and international awards in television, and has the dubious distinction of providing the head writer of “Two and a Half Men” his first TV comedy-writing experience. In less than two years as a director of programming, Kaprielian or the shows under his aegis were featured in 50 print news, entertainment, and trade journal articles, including a June 1983 issue of “Advertising Age,”the world’s largest marketing magazine. His writing on the subject of a proper memorial to the war in southeast Asia was incorporated into the National Museum of History, and he has been requested, on behalf of the Library of Congress, to right anything regarding an all but forgotten position he held as the cultural consultant for a play produced in 1989 by the Rites and Reasons Theater of the Africana Department of Brown University. Kaprielian revels in his public college education and the experience that followed, which included proposals to become a Brown Fellow and speak at the Watson Institute with the likes of Sergey Khrushchev, son of Nikita Khrushchev, in the audience.
Kaprielian is an unwavering straight shooter, a get-out-of my-way-and-let-the-mission-be-done type. During one of his USAID missions, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Georgia Bradford Kent tried to put him on the carpet and then, upon a stateside visit to Brown and dinner, Kaprielian was invited to sit with his successor, Ambassador John Willoughbyx, who revealed that the once-perceived “red flags” surrounding Kaprielian’s USAID work in the Abkhaz War had given way to “legendary results of doing what was right all the time.”
Kaprielian can show up virtually anywhere, and this former combat vet on a humanitarian mission has been a story angle that he finds less important than the media’s inability to truly understand the population he serves. He has been sought by UPI (who just could not find him), AP (whose young British reporter out of Chechnya was found in Kaprielian’s office to be too war weary), and the BBC (which Kaprielian took on in a press conference for missing the bigger picture and being unable to understand the plight of women brutalized in a war of ethnic cleansing). Although he may be a lone American in such situations, in a 1995 Tbilisi USAID, UMCOR, and Save the Children exit interview, he said that many Vietnam veteran men and women around the world were also doing such humanitarian missions. He was then taken aback when queried, “Do you think peace will come as a result of your work?” He quickly responded, “Only when these women victims can speak for themselves will this war end.”
In overseeing the most and highest award-wining local cable television in the shortest period, he never personally touched a video camera. He picked one up on the scene of the 1988 Armenian earthquake, where he recorded and rushed messages of pain from the children in Armenia to America, and then back, with messages from 400 Armenian-American children (assembled at a camp in Pennsylvania in 1989 over Memorial Day Weekend), which he showed to surprised children in Lenninakan within a month. This unmediated and unedited video of children directly speaking to each other was up-linked through a NASA satellite to seven university hospitals, including John Hopkins and Bethesda Naval Hospital. The nation’s premier video magazine at the time, “Videomaker,” proclaimed it one of the seven most important videos made, and named Kaprielian a “vidoemaker of the year,” reflected in AIM magazine’s “people page” alongside an astronaut and professional baseball manager.
Kaprielian promises a breath of fresh air for those whose life in business and the world around them has been other than smooth sailing. With Kaprielian at the evening’s helm, the distinction between the most successful of us and those once “kicked to the curb” may just disappear.
The Men’s Club social hour begins at 6:15 p.m., followed by a complete losh kebab and kheyma dinner at 7 p.m. Admission is $12 per person. The dinner meeting will be held at the St. James Armenian Church Charles Mosesian Cultural and Youth Center, Keljik Hall, 465 Mt. Auburn St. in Watertown. It is open to the public (ladies are welcome(.