Library - Reading Room
Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
From The Belly Of The Beast
The feeling on the ship, the general feeling of the people when they're working. When you're busting your ass sixteen, twenty hours a day, you get to wondering why the hell you're doing that cuz you're sure not doing it for yourself. It seems you're doing it for an awful stupid cause. A lot of people really get-together and talk about that too. One time in the Tonkin Gulf they had a show on closed circuit TV put on by Flight Ops. They explained everything they did over there-like how many bombs they dropped and where they dropped them. This guy explained how they were bombing the Ho Chi Minh trail and destroying the trucks, people, and ammunition dumps. He really seemed to get into that, really enjoy telling people they destroyed so many supply dumps, digging that there was a secondaryexplosion. The dude got up to show a point on the map and when he turned around, in big block letters on his back was written "Murder, Inc." When-he did that, man, a lot of people were really up tight. He wasn't there thirty seconds before the Captain came running in and threw him out. He was afraid that people would all of a sudden think about what was going on. And it worked because everybody on that ship did.
Carrier duty is probably regarded as one of the worse. Most people don't want to come to a bird farm.
There were fatalities on the Hancock, two crashes. One was a cold cat. It just lobbed the plane off the front and the guy drowned. Another was a crash on the fantail. The pilot hit the ejection button and landed in the superstructure. The radar was going around with him. He was up there an hour before anybody even noticed that he was there. Like half of his neck was gone.
When they [on the Coral Sea] were coming back in and launching all the planes for Alameda, they were catapulting one plane and the front landing gear collapsed. Both of them ejected. One landed in the water, one landed on the ship .... Two people died in the yards. They were dropping the anchor chain from the focsle and one man got wrapped around the anchor chain and got pulled right through a pad eye. The other, a chief, both his legs were severed.
The first day on that sea trials (September 27, 1971) three of our brothers were busted for carrying anti-war newspapers. The executive officer gave them a direct order not to pass out any more literature or pass around the petition. We thought that order was illegal because it was our constitutional right to petition Congress. That night we did pass around petitions and we got busted and the three brothers who were given a direct order were put on report for disobedience of a direct order. The next day in protest of that we took more papers and petitions around from one end of the hanger bay to another passing out all this literature right underneath the Captain's nose. Twelve of us. The captain came over, busted us, and took our names and sent us up to his cabin. On the way to his cabin we all walked with clenched fists. When we got up there he and the executive officer gave us the same shit that they had given us before. That morning they had written up a regulation saying that we couldn't hand out any more literature, hang posters, and pass around petitions without prior permission from the Com Off.
We pulled back in through the Golden Gate from sea trials. About seventy of us, Marines and sailors, were right on the bow of the ship and going underneath the bridge we formed SOS [Stop Our Ship]. (October 7, 1971)
All of a sudden when SOS comes on board no buttons are allowed anymore. Any person passing anything out would be written up under Article 82, willful disobedience of a direct order. Gathering in a number or in small numbers we couldn't get more than three in a group without the pigs coming by and telling us we couldn't have meetings. Sitting in the chow hall they have some big round' tables, you fit eight people at it. We would usually get six or seven of us to sit at one of these tables some of us with our buttons and probably non-SOS people. Every meal we noticed that we were being watched by the Master At Arms. Almost a meal didn't go by without, some form of harassment, somebody walking by and saying hurry up and finish eating, people need your trays and table. Or this isn't a place for a meeting. Or they would come over and tell us, you need a haircut or quit smoking. If you were walking down the hallway and saw two people that you knew-the hallways are pretty big, some of them are ten feet across-a Master At Arms or a lifer would coma up and say, you can't congregate here. You're blocking the hallway.
My short naval career taught me how to eat with a big spoon, how to take a cold shower, and how to say motherfucker.
They want to get rid of us. Liters on the boat, they talk about people getting out of the Navy. If you leave with a general discharge you're a non-hacker. When you get on the outside, no one is going to hire you. You know, you're like the scum. They tell people this. Do your work, don't say nothing, don't listen to anybody and you'll be just fine!
Sometimes they [the brig guards] start acting like kids ... all of a sudden one of them will yell out real loud. They usually picked on one prisoner. They asked him a lot of crazy things. And then if you mess up their names, it's hard. There are so many running around there and you're not supposed to look at them. You're not supposed to look at anybody when you're in the brig. So sometimes one guard goes out and another one comes in and you don't know and automatically calls you by the wrong name. Then they jump on you for that and make you do thirty push-ups.
Like the cell doors [in the brig] and the border lines around the bottom, some of the light switches, the ladder, door handles are painted red in case anybody wants to make a break. You have to request permission to touch red. When you step in your cell you have to say (I was Prisoner 05), "Prisoner 05, request permission to touch red." They say, "Touch it." Then you reach out and open your door. Everything you do you have to sound off what you're doing and then when you're finished doing it, you have to say, "Mission accomplished, aye aye Lance Corporal So-and-So," whoever told you what to do.
The thing is that when the Navy sees that people have started awakening to what is really happening in the world, the power structure and the way it works, and how the military is used as a club, it kind of scares them. Something like that could really destroy them.
We want to get out people together with the people from the [attack carriers] USS Ranger, Hancock, and Constellation, people from Travis Air Force Base, and Fort Ord. Everybody together to fight the thing collectively. With everybody together, there isn't much they can do to stop it.
Save Our Ships (wall poster)