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Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Sir, My Men Refuse To Go!
On August 24th, thirty-three miles south of Danang, Company A of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade went on strike. They said no they wouldn't advance anymore to get their ass shot off.
For five days the Brass had sent them to attack young Vietnamese guys determined to push all foreign troops out of their country. Company A had been blasted. Amid the usual reports ("300 Vietcong killed; two GIs wounded") Company A, along with other units, had been chopped to pieces. More reliable reports indicate that the company had about 60 men left out of an original 150.
If you've been in combat, you can picture some of how it was. A mortar shell swishes in and goes BLAM nearly on you. You hit the dirt hearing a guy you know screaming in pain and fear, "HELP ME, PLEASE, HELP ME!" and when the medics reach him, his face is all blood; one eye is gone, maybe both, or his leg is shattered, blown off at the knee and his body is bent shapeless like a rag doll .... Then there are other shells hitting and more guys are hit. The company stops and pulls back.
But orders come up from the Brass in the rear. Some place 30 miles or so back of the war in a deep, safe, air-conditioned dugout, general So-and-So or Colonel Such-and-Such orders you to advance again. (Taking the objective is important to his career.)
All of the A Company guys stuck together. They refused to move. They chose five guys to speak for them, to pour out the grievances they had: getting sent to be slaughtered and on top of it having little sleep, little food, and no mail.
The news frightened their battalion commander, a lieutenant colonel named Bacon. Bacon sent a fat lifer, a Sergeant Okey Blankenship, to give Able Company a snow job.
Said the heroic colonel from his air-conditioned dugout, "Give them a pep talk and a kick in the butt."
"Yessir!" said his poop boy. News of the refusal of Company A to move hit the front pages across the country. Millions of people asked themselves newer and deeper questions, It shook the marble wails of the Pentagon. The generals there almost literally saw a hand reach back from Vietnam and write a warning on their wall. Moneymen riding to work in their banks in New York's financial center read the news in the back of their chauffered, airconditioned Cadillacs and shivered.
Their entire plushy world is built on the necks of obedient A Companies.
A Company's "NO" was an H-Bomb-in reverse.
The lifer poop boy tried to get to these men with the old mularkey: that it's somehow manly to go out and bust your ass and die-for the Brass in their snug dugouts and the moneymen in their exclusive clubs.
The truth is that it was A Company's action that took guts. The truth is that it is easier to go sheep-like as the boss-man tells you even to the slaughter merely hoping you are lucky and survive, than it is to stand up and say no. But these men stood up like men. It was as men, not as sheep, that they said no.
It was an organized strike.
A shaken Brass quickly flew in fresh supplies to A Company and sent the men to a safe area while trying to blur the story in the public mind by claiming that these guys went back on the attack. They relieved the company commander ("poor leadership" -make him the goat), but they did not, charge the guys with anything.
The Brass surrendered to the strength of these ORGANIZED men.
The BOND has received reports of other units in Nam refusing to get themselves slaughtered to make the rich richer. In other words, there have been other A Companies.
And there will be more.
The Bond, vol. 3, no. 9