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Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Uprising On The Hawk
An uprising on October 13 on the Kitty Hawk resulted in wide destruction on the ship, 50 injured men, and 27 arrests. A group of black sailors fed up with racism and bad conditions on the ship took matters into their own hands after several were beaten up by a Marine riot squad.
The latest incident involving over 100 sailors occurred on October 12 and 13. The last day that the ship was in Subic Bay was October 11. The night before it left, there was a stabbing of a black sailor from the Hawk in the EM Club. The Marine Riot Squad was called in, tear gas was thrown and, the fight intensified.
The first day that the ship was on the line there were 10 whites and 10 blacks standing on the mess deck. The M.P.s pushed through the whites and told the blacks to break it up and leave the mess decks. The brothers were upset and other blacks were called to the mess decks.
Shortly afterwards, Captain Murray came to the mess decks. He spoke about the incident and things calmed down. The brothers returned to their racks.
Later a black went to the hanger bay. He was met by a group of Marines who had been told by the Captain to guard "his" planes.
According to a brother on the ship, "the Marines probably figured any nigger that comes along, do him in." The Marines jumped the brother and started beating him.
The other blacks ran into the hanger, bay to see what was happening. The Marines were choking him. So the blacks tried to stop it and that is when everything started.
The white Marines started to attack the blacks. The Captain refused to stop it and several brothers wound up in sick bay.
The blacks were furious and decided to take out their anger on the ship and other whites. Things on the ship were broken and whites were beaten up. Forty-four white sailors were hospitalized along with six blacks.
After it was over the XO called all the blacks to the foksil and had a meeting. The XO promised to solve the racism problem. So everyone went to their bunks.
The next morning the Captain put his new plan into action. He emptied out the brig and filled it with blacks. No whites were arrested.
The Kitty Hawk left for the war zone on February 17, 1972. During this period the Kitty Hawk has experienced a long series of incidents which ended in the uprising on October 12 and 13.
According to three reports of, sailors on the ship the tension on the ship was incredibly high. This was a result of the long periods that the ship was on the line (40-45 days), the short periods in port (seven days was the longest), the terrible heat in the work areas (140 degrees), the long hours of work (12-18 hours per day), the overcrowded conditions, the racial policy of the command, and harrassment by officers.
One of the sailors worked in the engineering department. He said that the heat there was so hot that people working there would faint.
He had to work 12 hours per day, seven days per week. The department was understaffed and sometimes he had to be in the hole for up to 36 hours without a break except for food. The food cues are so long that there is almost no time to eat.
The people in engineering are always worried about their lives. The pumps are dangerous. There are steam leaks under 1200 pounds of pressure which can easily kill a person. In addition simple repairs are not made by Commander Bonds, the division officer, because it would decrease his efficiency rating.
In addition the NCO'snd officers are always ordering people around, taking dangerous chances with the crews lives and taking credit for the good work, and blaming the bad stuff on the enlisted men.
The racial discrimination on the ship by the command is outrageous. The Captain often blames blacks for the problems on the ship. The blacks are subject to more frequent locker inspections, more urine tests, and constant harrassment by NCO's.
In addition the officers do not help blacks solve these racial problems. When the brothers ask for help they are told by the officers to "shut up and listen to me or I will write you up."
Actions protesting the conditions have been numerous. On March 9, two men refused to work in the boiler room, protesting the working conditions and the war. In August, two officers turned in their wings, refusing to participate in the war.
More and more of the sailors have started using hard drugs as a way of escaping these conditions. All drugs from marijuana to heroin were easily available on the ship.
In addition the racial incidents were occuring. In the mess cook division the' blacks were always being harrassed. A fight involving a group of 10-12 black and white sailors took place in early June as a result of this tension. A second racial incident involving a smaller number occurred in August. Both were the result of tension and racial policy.
The trials of the twenty-seven blacks arrested during the uprising will begin in January.
Up From the Bottom, vol. 2, no. 6