Library - Reading Room
Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Kitty Hawk Story Unfolds
On Nov 29, the KITTY HAWK returned to San Diego. Since that time, courtmartial proceed ings have been started against 19 of the 28 black sailors arrested after the black rebellion on the KITTY HAWK on Oct 12.
Since that time details of the fighting have also become know. Tensions on the ship had been quite high for some time prior to the outbreak of fighting. Sailors were angry about the extended tour of duty in Vietnam. long work hours, short shore leaves, and Captain Marland W. Townsend's arogant treatment of sailors on the ship. There had been a number of small fights prior to Oct 2. On their side, the sailors stated that if there had been violence, it would have been precipitated by the brass not by the demonstrators. They claimed shin we're talking about the Nxvv "
that they were holding an orderly demonstration, when Marines in riot dress rushed on the scene shouting, "Where's the riot! Where's the riot?" They further claimed that the Captain's presence would have helped. One sailor said, "If the Captain - would have talked to us, if he would have just come over the loudspeaker--if he would have just done that- -we wouldn't be here now.
In contrast to Ward, the sailors stressed that very broad general issues were involved. They attacked the "calculated racism" and terrible living and working conditions in the Navy. As one sailor put it: "The want and the need isfor justice; justice and to be treated like a man." They also stressed that the protest was not just against one ship. One of them said, "We're not talking about any one ship. we're talking about the Navy."
Camp News, vol. 3, no. 12