Library - Reading Room

Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!

Justified Murder

Pvt. Richard Bunch, AWOL from the Army, arrived at his mother's home .... on May 23 1968 and predicted his own death.

Mrs Bunch upon seeing him said "My God son, where have you been? Are you all right?"

His reply was, "I can walk through walls. I have the evil eye. I'm a warlock. I've died twice before and been born aagain, and I'll die again within 90 days."

Pvt. Bunch's prediction came true later than he expected. On Oct. 11, 1968, he ran away from a prison work detail at the Presidio stockade in Calif., telling the guard to aim for his head. The guard, as witnesses testified, failed to yell a warning to halt and fatally shot him in the small of his back. He then maade all the other prisoners lie oon the ground threatening that they would get the same if they did not obet his orders. One prisoner stated that the guard said he had hit Pvt. Bunch right where he had aimed. He then felt remourseful and pleaded that he hadn't wanted to kill anyone. The military subsequently ruled thaat this is a case of justifiable homicide.

"Sensitive Boy"

Mrs Bunch said of her son, "He ws always a sensitive, somewhaat quiet and very religious boy." He had talked about the Army from the time he was able to know what it was, but my hussband and I had always been against his going in. I guess we had that fear that he might end up dead in Vietnam."

"When Rusty (his nickname) showed up on that horrible night in May," said his mother, "he was not really my son, but a sick stranger." She attempted to get him aid at various hospitals in the Dayton area. Civilian hospitals would not take a servicemen and the Veteran's Hospital would only take men who had completed their military "obligation."

The one hospital that should have taken him was the base hospital at Wright-Patterson. The base hosspital takes Army mental patients, holds them for aa short evaluation and then sends theem to an Army hospital. AWOL's are no exception to this procedure.

For reasons unknown to the USAF newspaper, Richard Bunch was refused admittance to W-P AFB Hospital. ... After her fruitless attempt to get help for Rusty, Mrs Bunch contacted the Dayton police. A detective assured her that he would get psychiaatric heelp. Instead the military police came and took him to Ft. Mead, Md, with the assurances from the commaanding officer that Rusty would get psychiatric help.

When he was moved to the Presidio in Calif., Bunch was examined by a psychiatrist who concluded that, among other things he was a manic depressive.

For five months, from the time Rusty was taken bythe MPs from his home, his mother could not get in touch with her son at all. all her letters were returned and long distance calls weren't allowed through.

Only on Oct. 12, 1968 at 3.00 a.m. did she hear at last news of him. The news was that he had been killed with a shotgun while trying to escape a prisson work crew.

The Presidio 27

Upon hearing of the murder of Bunch, fellow prisoners at the Presidio staged a peaceful sit-in on the lawn inside the stockade barriers. When assembled for role call on Oct 14 all of the group anssweed "Here" when the first of them was called. They walkjed over to the grass and beegaan singing "We Shall Overcome" and "America the Beautiful."

Confronted by the NCOIC they asked to see the CO, Capt. Samont. When he arrived they read him an improvised "SIO" form ... listing grievances -- including the use of shotguns by guards and the murder of Richard Bunch.

Capt. Samont, without identifying himself, read Article 94 as they were singing. For this act the 27 men who locked arms and sang were charged with mutiny.

Mutiney & Court Martial

The first to be convicted was Pvt. Nesery Sood, who received 15 years hard labor for paarticipating in the sit-in. He is a 25 year old father of three. The next two to be convicted were Pvts. Louis Osczepinski and Lawrence Reidel. They got 16 and 14 years respectively.

The Army's argum,ent is , "It is the attack on the system that is important; if this were allowed to go unchecked, it would pose a threaat to the entire U.S. army."

USAF, no. 1

 

© 2005 Displaced Films. All Rights Reserved