Library - Reading Room
Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Interview At Fort Hood
FP: Tell me a little about your "demonstration."
GI: This wasn't a type of demonstration with the picket carrying type thing that most people associate with demonstrations. The specific purpose was to air grievances among ourselves, a bull session. We had no Idea a two-star general would be down. Most of the guys I know of were VN returnees and the majority were infantrymen from VN.
Most guys felt we served in VN and we want to come back and be accepted. We had grievances and different guys went to the IG and It didn't mean anything, so we decided we'd meet and discuss everything and satisfy ourselves at least. Take finance (502 Rep. Co.): Of all the clerks I'd seen down there I've only seen two who are black. In comparison, take an infantry or engineering unit - it looks like a ghetto, like the South Side of Chicago. This Is one of the things we're mad about. I don' t think we'd have been as mad If we hadn't been returnees from VN.
FP: Were you personally in Vietnam?
GI: Yes, I was In Vietnam a full year as all infantryman.
FP: Did you receive any medals?
GI: I got a few, besides the three usual ones. I got two Purple hearts, a Good Conduct Ribbon, an Air Medal, Bronze Star, and an Army Commendation medal. I used to have a lifer attitude, to tell the truth. I used to say, I'm going to make it. Don't get me wrong, I said I'd do my two years and get the hell out but I figured, while I'm in I'll do the best I can, cause I know the Army's fair. You know I was actually brainwashed. I have a perfect record - civilian and military. It was only after I came back from Nam that things begun to affect me.
FP: When you came back from Nam how did you think things would go?
GI: I thought things would be out of sight. I fought for my country, so to speak, and established myself as a man and I expected to be accepted into society whether I was black, white, green or what have you, and I won't be treated as a damn dog, you know, a second rate citizen. This was foremost in my mind and it didn't turn out that way.
FP: What effect did riot control training have on you?
GI: ThIs is something that's hated by both back and white. I came back from Vietnam and don't feel like putting up with that old bullshit. Another reason I hate it Is because I know how riots start. They're my People out there and an officer who's instructing a class gets up there and says forget you're black or white, you're Army, and have responsibilities. You know, I'm not staying in the Army the rest of my life and I'll be living with the same people they want me to take up a rifle against. Same as you, I wouldn't expect you to go out and fight your family and friends 'cause the Army told you to. As a matter of fact, like at that University In New York, with the students taking over the school, I wouldn't have gone there, either. Those people are defying the system and the system's a bastard. Those cats are young, too, you know. It's the cats 50 and 6O years old who dig the system, the Great American Society, and the minute a young person says anything, he's called an anarchist or a communist. What I'm saying about the system is that on paper it's beautiful, but the way it's presently run, it's no good.
FP: How did your meeting get to the point where ageneral came out?
GI: I guess they got somewhat disturbed; they're regular lifers. We were out there and a lieutenant MP came out and asked us what we were doing. We told him we were meeting. He then called Headquarters and a general came. We were all in a group and stayed that way.
VP: The Army charged you with refusing to obey an order. Did this happen or not?
GI: We talked for a while. Foremost In the minds of a lot of people was Chicago. This was crap about 43 men; at one time, there were 200 or so. When Chicago came op, one guy would stand up and say what he had to say. After he finished, a guy with a strong rap got up and pounded this thing to the ground. About a colonel giving an order to leave, no order was given. That's something they're playing
FP: Would you comment on racism In the Army.
GI: In the Army there are guys from all over the country; north, south, east and west. They come into the Army with different views. Many of the high ranking officers have been to the Army a long time when it was segregated. They got the ass 'cause it was integrated and through devious ways influence the EM. Some guys who haven't thought about it say, "Wow, he's right about riots." They get black GIs on their side, kissing the racists asses. That's where the Uncle Toms come from and that causes disunity. The EMs cannot organize, as the brass separates us.
FP: For you, is the Army a corruption of society or an extension of society?
GI: You took at the real facts and there's really no hell of a big difference.
FP: Did the forty-three who were arrested seem to get closer together, or did the arrests separate you?
GI: Definitely, it got us closer together. They think they're disorganizing us, and screwing our minds up, and they have no Idea of the unity they have built.
FP: You've come into direct confrontation with the Army here. Who do you look at as the enemy?
GI: I look at the establlshment as the enemy, period. You can't point your finger at people. Like who should be on trial right now, a group of guys who, for some unknown reason, gathered together to air their grelvances - or the establishment who created the situation? The only hope Is for the establishment to be changed, for the way people think to change.
FP: What are your feelings toward the war in Vietnam, and have they changed since you returned?
GI: The United States grabbed, an It appeared to them, a chance to police up the ills of the world, to show what a great society we are. They thought they were grabbing a kittens tail In the bushes. Instead they grabbed the whole body of a sabre toothed tiger. Some of the things I experienced as an infantryman made me sick to my stomach. We get a lot of jazz in the States about the war effort, but from first hand experience, I think we have no reason In hell to be there. Some of the people don't even want us, man. Most of the people live in the country. Do you thInk these people give a damn who rules them? Half those people can't read or write.
FP: It appears as though some GIs have developed a racism against the Vietnamese people. What's your comment on that?
GI: In my opinion, It's psychologically displaced aggression. The aggressive feelings towards one group of people Is being directed to another group of people. GIs are also treated badly In Vietnam.
FP: What Is your opinion of the three choices Americans have for President?
GI: Wow. That's my opinion, It's like choosing between the lesser of three evils. Humphrey doesn't know what Is going on. Ntxon's ideas are all screwed up, and Wallace Is a racist. Wallace says he will shoot all the looters and rioters and bring back segregation to preserve law and order. What have you got? I'm not going to vote. My first opportunity to vote and I'm not even going to waste my time.
FP: Well, do you have anything to say in conclusion?
GI: I just hope for the safety of all people that somebody with an intelligent mind, with a lot of insight and love, of humans, comes up with a hell of a solution pretty damn quick.
(From the Fatigue Press, Fort Hood, Texas.)
The Ally, no. 11