Friday, February 02, 2007

Spitting on Veterans 
Slate's Jack Schaefer is joining Media Matters in desperately trying to establish the meme that spitting incidents involving war veterans is myth, an urban legend. After all, that reprehensible behavior on the part of VietNam era leftists has hung like an albatross around liberals' necks for years, now.

The lefties tired of the sins of the fathers cramping the sins of the sons, and one look at Google establishes how desperately they are struggling to erase those incidents from our collective memory.

It's never happened to me that I can recall (though I don't advertise veteran status in public with people I don't know), and I don't attend rallies of any sort, and never have. So I don't make myself much of a target.

But Blackfive says it happened to him personally.
And a number of his commenters are saying it happened to them as well. It happened to my Dad.

And though Lemcke tries to argue that no contemporary media accounts from the Viet Nam era mention first-person accounts of being spat on, Lemcke can go suck on a rock as far as I'm concerned.

So what is happening? The activist lefties are not content to spit on returned war veterans - their enablers in the media are now calling us liars as well.

Splash, out


Bob Greene, a popular lib columnist for the Chicago Tribune (in the 80's), compiled a book's worth of "spit" stories (as well as other vet stories) about the Viet Nam war. (I ran into him at a book signing in the Loop Kroch & Brettano's...he was an ass. A few years later he left the limelight after getting caught having an affair with a teenie bopper.) In his book he documented many "spitting" incidents. The book was the result of a column he wrote questioning the "spit" stories and portraying them as an urban myth. He later came to believe that the "spit' incidents and their accounts were (for the most part) "real".

I wasn't spit upon when I came home, but on the other hand there was a lot of BS thrown my way when I got into college. It was common knowledge among vets on campus that we would have to overcome a fair amount BS. I came to find out this was common to many generations of returning GIs. I and my friends found it funny as well as annoying. If you had the time, wit,and energy you could get a few chuckles turning this pettiness back towards those harrassing the vets.
I wasn't spat on, but as my ship, the USS Midway, left San Fransico harbor, we had a 5 gallon can of red paint poured on us from the Bay Bridge.
Given the extraordinarily low standard of truth demonstrated by their poster child, the honourable John Forbes Kerry in his Winter Soldiers days, I'm not in the least bit surprised at the lengths they will go to re-write history now.
The book is called Homecoming and is still available.
In Philly Dec 1990 waiting in formation to march onto the field for the Army-Navy game (Go Army!) we had baggies of pigs blood thrown at us by some kind hearted Liberals. Lucky for them they threw likes girls or they would have gotten a serious beat down for ruining some damn expensive winter dress uniforms with overcoat!

Never been spit on personally...and there are some liberals out there that retain there teeth for never having done that to me.
Water is wet.
Gravity pulls.
Lefties lie.

So what else is new?
The vietnam war was a royally screwed mess no matter where you sat. The pols and the generals screwed the troops. The people at home were split too on what it meant. Certainly there were many stupid people in the anti-war crowd and I'm surprised there aren't even worse stories than there are. But the actions of the stupid should never be allowed to characterize an entire group of humans. No more than the fact that every single day at free republic you will find some commenter who calls for the murder of liberals means that the conservative side of the political spectrum is necessarily violent. Reasonable people should not deny history, but reasonable people should not make more of it than it is. That war was terrible for us all. Let's try and get past it now, forty years later. And certainly the stupidity of those anti-war activists that did these things have made the returning experience for vets of this Iraq war better. And it may be lip service for lots of them, but at least they know that it needs be said: we support the soldiers, sailors, and aviators who carry the weight, even if the top is screwing it up.
They managed to deny the reality of the Soviet Gulag, the Great Leap Forward, the Vietnamese gulag, Castro's gulag, and the crimes of the Sandinistas, so they should have no trouble denying this.
I'm a military brat. My father went to Korea when I was two months old. I didn't see him again until I was 20 months old. He served twice in Vietnam - two one year tours. We did two tours in Germany. I attended at least 20 different schools in grades K-12. I feel like I too served my country, in that I gave up having any hometown, moved out of gov't housing when my Dad went to Vietnam (what a slap in the face that was!) I'm a progressive and feel insulted when I read some of what is written here. We're all entitled to our beliefs. I support the soldiers, no matter what branch of the military. I just don't happen to support Bush or the freaking War on Terror. Get over yourselves!
So, as a Progressive, you feel insulted when witnesses attempt to show what sort of liars you are willing to associate with? *And* you can't even leave a comment without bashing Bush? Whassamatta? Got no actual argument worth making? No wonder you're willing to hang with those who will lie with a bald face in order to advance their 'cause'. Well, I wish you the joy of lying down with dogs and getting up wiyh fleas.

As I was originally going to say, as a poor boy, upon wearing my service fatigues (what I could afford at the time) at my uni *two years* after mustering out with a disability I was verbally abused and occasionally physically pushed around a bit by anti-war jerks. The pushing mostly ended when the fists started flying. No spitting deliberately, just that foamy, flying spittle you get from raving nutcases who scream in your face because, as above, the got no poiny nor any argument.
1. I think the spitting depended on where we went to college. I had a friend who went to CAL Berkeley and he literally started riots and transferred so he could get peace. I was at UCLA and while the usual Lefties screamed and stuff I was ready to brawl and went at them. They were kids and I was 24, a big difference.

2. This "war:" I literally scream when I hear about another casualty in Iraq. I can't stand it. Why? Because it wasn't thought through at all. Anyone who bothered to study Muslims and the Middle East could have told us, and I posted on my blog ten days after the invasion. Do I support our troops? You're Goddam right I do, and I send gifts, Holiday cards, and money to buy the wounded computers. But this war is an obscenity. Sorry. And I think Bush is the worst president in my lifetime, including Nixon and Carter.
I am particularly interested in what Shafer considers proper evidence of spitting: newspaper accounts or arrest reports.

First off, I can't imagine most vets mentioning it to the local reporter who is doing the returning vet piece. This was a generation ago, back when people didn't confess all their distressing moments on TV or in blogs. Does Shafer truly, deep in his heart, believe that such stories would be documented as a matter of course in the newspaper?

Despicable as spitters are, I don't see it as an arrestable offence. Have Shafer and his ilk devolved so far as to want people arrested for bad manners? Wow! Talk about a nanny state.

Isn't Shafer's demand the quintessential strawman? What am I missing?

Christy (can't seem to sign in under my blogger acct - sorry)
Yeah, it's an obscenity alright Howard. But I'll speak for the torture victims I used to have to work with, and for the refugees from Saddam's Iraq. Anything that got rid of that utter moral monster, was a good risk. I have few bad memories that linger with me from the three combat zones I spent time in. Actual fighting - eh, that kind of stuff sorta comes and goes. I was mentally prepared for it and if I stop and wax introspective, it's clear I saw some gruesome stuff involving combatants and sometimes civilian casualties, and I wonder why it doesn't haunt my dreams. I suppose it's because I expect soldiers to kill each other, and that even soldiers acting in a fairly benevolent manner towards surrounding civilians sometimes can't contain the violence they unleash. Those things are terrible, but I can live with it.

What I have trouble living with, what still bothers me, are memories of gruesome acts inflicted on civilians intentionally by their government or other military forces. I still remember the wounds on a lot of the torture victims I encountered in '91, many of them tortured for criticizing the regime in words a lot more timorous than what you write about BusHitler here. No need to worry about that now, many of them lost their tongues and hands, so unless they can write with their toes, that's done.

The only thing that seared my mind in the same manner, was some of the evidence of attempted genocide I witnessed while spending some time in the former Yugoslavia when the UNPROFOR was supposed to be protecting various ethnic factions. The "rape camps" were horrifying, and comparable to anything Saddam did, but the limited evidence of them doesn't point to widespread abuse on the nature of Saddam's regime. Moreover, the shooting of unarmed civilians and piling them into a mass grave, while cruel, is almost merciful compared to the violence Saddam inflicted on living victims, terribly maimed individuals left alive to send a message of oppression to anybody who might encounter them.

While the WH has done a lot to botch the effort in Iraq, it is one of the few things I've ever seen the U.S. government do that could be described as a noble effort, and but for half-assing it, post-invasion, it stands on its humanitarian merit alone. The civilian casualties, while terrible, are probably lower than the per annum civilian casualties caused by Saddam - with the stipulation that things are out of control in three provinces, far worse than under Saddam, and better than under Saddam in the others.

What I find unforgiveable is that the POTUS is so inarticulate, and his Texas loyalist staff so cautious, that he is unwilling or unable to explain to the public the stakes and to prosecute the war - and he is jeopardizing the rest of the cleanup mission for Europe's botched colonialism and the Islamic internal civil war. This will help those bloody struggles spill out of the Middle East and South Asia's borders sooner, rather than later. There is nothing that we can do that will take us off the Islamacists' radar. Nothing. We can try to fix the problem, or ignore it until the stakes are apocalyptic. Or, as Atrios put it, if it comes to that, "nuke 'em."

Yep, isolationism and pacifism sure looks like the right thing to do morally, but only if the scope of the problem is defined in the narrowest possible terms. Take broader terms - the human rights debacle under Saddam, the likelihood of M.E. struggle spilling out and causing greater bloodshed in the future - and the U.S. effort in Iraq seems better grounded. I don't know if it is *the* best tactic, but until we repeal the First Amendment, it's pretty hard for the government to engage a religio-political movement in the most appropriate battlespace, the ideological battleground. In lieu of that, attempting to spread liberal government (something we've now apparently discarded as an end and means) seems a reasonable strategy.
Jim Lindgren at the Volokh Conspiracy, http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2007_01_28-2007_02_03.shtml#1170519427 ,has suggested an innocent (if not terribly competent) explanation for the denial:

Then Jerry Lembcke wrote a book saying it [spitting on veterans] was a myth, that he researched news stories and they started appearing around 1980. I have no independent source of information on this, but having done literally thousands of WESTLAW and LEXIS/NEXIS searches, I can say that when something starts appearing in the press in the early 1980s, that is almost always a function of when these two news services started including the full texts of major newspapers. (I find a clear Feb. 1, 1981 reference in the New York Times.) Although I can't say for certain that Jerry Lembcke made this error in his research, I can say that my students make this error all the time. I haven't yet read either Greene's or Lembke's book, but in my experience when someone says that a word usage or a story starts appearing around 1980 or in the early 1980s, they are almost always reflecting the limitations of their online search database, rather than the origins of the phenomenon they are tracing.
This sounds strangely like what is going on in Iran. Iran denies the Holocaust, so they can repeat it. The left denies the spitting, so they can repeat it.

And here is the idea I have been running with. The next time I see a uniformed Marine, Sailor, Soldier, Airman in the line to an event (movie, amusement park, etc.), I am thanking them for their service and paying their admission.
George W Bush spit on everyone when he used daddy's connections to avoid serving.
A response to 'Anonymous - 11:49AM"
"The vietnam war was a royally screwed mess no matter where you sat."

-No, it was a war, but it was certainly portrayed as a "royally screwed mess" by liberal journalists, liberal professors and by Hollywood for years after.
"The pols and the generals screwed the troops."

-If by this you mean that the generals screwed the troops by fighting a war, and the pols screwed the troops by taking their funding away (the pols also screwed a few million South Vienamese, Cambodians and Laoations as I recall.
"Certainly there were many stupid people in the anti-war crowd..."

-Yes, there were.
"...and I'm surprised there aren't even worse stories than there are."

-Yes, there are.
"But the actions of the stupid should never be allowed to characterize an entire group of humans."

-Your sermon would be better preached to liberals who make charges like "institutional racism" or "vast right wing conspiracies" or "baby killers" and NOT to Vietnam Vets who site specific examples of being spit upon by liberals after returning home from war.
"No more than the fact that every single day at free republic you will find some commenter who calls for the murder of liberals means that the conservative side of the political spectrum is necessarily violent."

-OK, likewise, no more the fact that every single day (by the way, EVERY single day?!)at daily kos or democrat underground you will find some commenter who calls for the murder of conservatives means that the liberal side of the political spectrum is necessarily violent. (In general, citing a universal negative to admonish one party is not always the most persuasive arguement for the remaining party.) But this aside, it still doesn't answer why more liberals than conservatives spit on our Armed Forces during wartime?
"Reasonable people should not deny history, but reasonable people should not make more of it than it is."

-Careful Bubba. Political correctness aside, here's another general rule: if you aren't comfortable advising Holocaust survivors or ancestors of slavey to "not make more of (history) than it is," than I suggest that you grant Vietnam Veterans the same courtesy and respect.
"That war was terrible for us all. Let's try and get past it now, forty years later."

-I tend to agree, but you might have a tougher time convincing liberals of this: John Kerry ran an entire Presidential campaign on Vietnam. Liberal statesmen shout "Vietnam" from the floor of congress on almost a daily basis (Ted Kennedy, Dick Durbin, Dennis Kucinich, Charlie Rangal, Hillary Clinton, Barack Hussein Obama, and many others who I fail to cite.)
That war may have been "terrible for us all," but I for one am willing to distinguish those (who fought, died, saw their comrades die, were injured, and returned only to get spit upon by liberals) as one group who had it tougher than the liberal pols cited above.
"And certainly the stupidity of those anti-war activists that did these things have made the returning experience for vets of this Iraq war better."

-??? Certainly not for Corporal Joshua Sparling. He was spit on and had cigarette butts thrown at him by liberals just last Saturday (1/27/07) during an anti-war demonstration in Washington, DC. He also had the distinction of receiving a liberal death wish mailed as a child's holiday letter while he was having his right foot amputated at Walter Reed Hospital due to a battlefield injury. I see returning troops getting fair treatment by those Americans who support the war on terror, but I don't see the same coming from liberals.
"we support the soldiers, sailors, and aviators who carry the weight, even if the top is screwing it up."

-I'm afraid that your "four legs gooood, two legs baaaad" mantra doesn't cut it amongst most Veterans that I talk to. Many of the "top" that you claim are screwing it up ARE soldiers, sailors and airmen...how high do you want to go? Are the First Lieutenants out there "screwing" their platoons? Are the Captains out there "screwing" their troops? Are the Colonels out there "screwing" their battalions? Are the Brig. and Major Generals out there "screwing" their divisions? Are the Lieutenant Generals out there "screwing" their armies? Are the Four-Stars and Joint Chiefs out there "screwing" their forces? Is the President of the United States "screwing" the Nation? Therefore, did FDR "screw" the Nation when things got tough? Is he responsible for hundreds of thousands of US casualties during WWII? Did Lincoln "screw" the Nation when things got tough? Is he responsible for 600,000+ casualties during that War? Have GW, FDR and Lincoln NOT carried enough weight for you?

As polite as you seem to be, you ironically make the case: that liberals want nothing more than to erase their history of spitting on our fighting forces because even they realize that it puts them in a bad light. I suggest that if you can't defend it, just live with it.

Brian J. Goodwin
New York, NY
After 9/11 my ROTC battalion suspended all activities, and the wearing of uniforms, for a couple of weeks. Tensions on campus were high, as a portion of the sizable international student body (along with assorted domestic activists) decided it was a good idea to publicly gloat over the whole thing.

After we resumed the wear of our uniforms, some of the more zealous "peace" activists spat at me a couple of times. This was before Afghanistan, and we were already being demonized and blamed by the usual suspects.
But how can that be, Anonymous 2:59PM? All the liberals who have posted above state that they support our troops! You might want to recheck your memory.
Please see 'Anonymous 2:52PM.
Dan Rather is posting again!
Army veteran graduate of 'Bennings School for Boys'. Left active duty in 1970. Went to school at the University of Massachusetts no spiting, no hassles. Only bad time was when V.A. told me that conscientious objectors had job hiring priority rather than veterans. Maybe disrespect happened on more militant campuses but I am not personally aware of any incidents only the media reports.
I know many, many Viet Nam veterans. To think they would have skulked off when a protestor spit on them defies logic and human nature. They were able to give back three times what they got. If such things happened why did the Veterans walk away?

When a nut told Neal Armstrong he lied about landing on the Moon, Armstrong punched him, and this was when Armstrong was an old man. What benefit is there to saying soldiers were spit on and helplessly slithered off?

You may think that the story shows how bad liberals are, but most people know liberals and cannot imagine them spitting on anyone, but most people know veterans and believe like I do that the spitter would have found himself, or herself if you imagine it was done by women, shoved head first into the nearest garbage can.

Our differences are real enough without inventing pity parties for people who stood up for themselves in Viet Nam and elsewhere.
Plus, spitting takes cojones.
If such things happened why did the Veterans walk away?

Because they carried themselves with honor and dignity. And they realized that the spitting reflected more the lack of a moral compass of the spitter.

That, and the fact that breaking the jaw of the asshat who spit upon you gets you jail sentance for assault.
I just don't happen to support Bush or the freaking War on Terror.

Theoden I will not risk open war.
Aragorn War is upon you, whether you would risk it or not.

For your sake, I hope you wake up and smell the coffee before someone fits you for your burka, and reduces you to chattel.
Spit at but not on. Did't call the cops or the media. Wasn't a crime, wasn't newsworthy. A jerk being a jerk is not a crime and isn't news. A Marine striking a citizen would be a crime, news, and trouble for me. My guess is that those who did the spitting (and I'm fairly sure they were a minority) are deeply ashamed of what they did and hope to escape the blame by making it appear -- at least to history -- that it never happened at all.

The myth is that spitting didn't happen; it did.

-- htom
Just recently there was an incident that was reported in Syracuse NY at Hancock airport to a Ft Drum Soldier. The Syracuse Post-Standard did a small piece on it, buried in the local section but I'm sure someone could find the story if they chose to.

If it has happened as recently as a few months back and the anti-war movement isn't nearly as animated as it was during the Vietnam war then I am sure that it happened during the Vietnam era.

NPR's "On The Media" this week did an extensive piece with some fellow trying to debunk the Vietnam era spitting reports that kind of proves that the Left is applying a bit of a whitewash to thier soiled past.

Afterall we all know that NPR and 'OTM' aren't exactly centrists in thier views.
If such things happened why did the Veterans walk away?

Because those who have paid for our rights tend to value them more highly.

I'll note that this hasn't kept me from being sorely tempted to beat the bejeezus out of some people.
"What benefit is there to saying soldiers were spit on and helplessly slithered off?"

Neil Armstrong was retired. Are you aware that soldiers are supposed to avoid getting into fights? No, of course not, because every word you write betrays your ignorance and degradation.
I was spit on before I went to SEA. November, 1967. Air Force sent me to a graduate communications course for two months at Boston University. We had to wear our uniforms on Thursday. Walking to class one morning, a coed walked straight into my path and spit at me. She was shorter and couldn't spit very well so I just got a little on my chin and most on my shirt. She turned and ran off, laughing, to a boy standing about 30 feet away and they both ran off together.

Later, at USC grad school for three years, no spitting incidents but lots of worry that I was a narc.

As I recall, we had strict guidance about not responding to provocation.
Christmas, 1971, while a cadet at the US Air Force Academy, I flew home to Ohio to visit my family for the holiday. I was in my uniform at the Cleveland airport, waiting for my father to pick me up at the airport, when three young civilians walked past me. I heard some comment about my being a killer and the nearest guy spit on me, the spit hitting my shoulder board. They walked on laughing and I just stood there surprised that anything like that would happen to me. Hell, I was a cadet and hadn't even been out of the country yet.
to every Vet here:

There are people who remember. People who are proud. People who respect, who are grateful, who understand. People who defend you and keep the faith.

And if anyone knows the family of Lt Col John Hrdlicka - Laos 1965, the bracelet is still on my wrist and has been for 25 years. People still ask me who he is, what the bracelet is for and why I wear it. They still care and they are still moved.

And so am I.
AWWWWWWW.... poor sad army man got spit on!! wahh!! better loogies than bullets, you pussies.

Seriously, though... what a bunch of BS. Anyone with reasoning capacity can see through this canard... all you have is anecdotal "evidence" that doesn't amount to crap. No documented cases... isn't it odd that we have no evidence of assault charges (or vandalism in the case of the "paint can" incident, etc.). This story, which has been exhaustively researched, has NO LEGS. There's no there there -- start clicking some of the links in that "google" search, retard. Meanwhile, National Guardsmen were KILLING peaceful protesters at Kent State.

Shut the f*ck up, please.

(seriously, you don't have anything better to cry about? jeeziz f*cking christ, grow some nuts, you whiners)
I guess the last brave commenter "anonymous" proves he is no pussy, eh? Didn't waste his precious time reading any of the posts - has to run off to the next "wingnut" site to use his First Amendment rights courtesy of the "pussies".

Thank you to all of the posters here who have served. Many of us are very proud of what you stand for and what you have done for us. I am sorry for the abuse you have been subjected to for your service.

I would just like to add that I have been in the airport over the last year where, at least twice, a young man in uniform has deplaned to a waiting family and the entire gate area has broken into spontaneous applause. Some good new to balance the bad.
I can tell you the approximate time and place to this day I remember. It was at the main gate at Travis Airforce Base California March 5 1972 about 10 am. I had returned on a flight from Clark airbase Philippines. I walked out the gate and a woman spit on me. I was attached to the USS Coral Sea CVA 43 and did 3 tours to Vietnam. When we sailed under the Golden Gate bridge the capitan of the ship would blow the stack. Which is a process of putting steam in the smokestack and clear all the soot from inside. This was a little gift for the bastards that used to throw shit and piss on the ship when it passed under the bridge.
***Comment for Anonymous 10:39AM***
Just some advice, but if you want to be taken "seriously" as you request twice in your comment, then refrain from using the phrases "army man" and "you pussies" in the same sentence. Some things just lose credibility when they are put together, like if I visited one of your homosexual websites and typed "white leather heels" and "after Labor Day" in the same sentence. See what I mean?
Anonymous 10:39 is either putting us on, or making our point for us.

Plus, it's clear he didn't read the comments, or he wouldn't have made testably and verifiably false statements, or raised questions that have already been dealt with.

I'm particularly impressed with his grammar, diction and command of scatalogical Anglo-Saxon monosyllables.

The Kent State reference is a nice touch. A complex tragedy that has no relevance to the topic becomes a flaming straw man for the daring anonymous Internet commenter. 'Peaceful', heh.

Some know much and understand nothing; Anonymous 10:39 knows very little and understands nothing - he/she can't even understand what this thread is about.

We'll find out if he's just a drive-by or if he's a troll, 'cause trolls always come back to sniff the places where they shit. If he keeps it up, he'll get banned and we won't have to read it anymore.

"Shut the f*ck up", indeed.
"When a nut told Neal Armstrong he lied about landing on the Moon, Armstrong punched him, and this was when Armstrong was an old man."

That was Buzz Aldrin, moron.
Huh? Why did Neal Armstrong punch Buzz Aldrin???
Vietnam Vets got it both ways.

The young anti-war lybyral protestors showered them with spittle, urine, and feces while chanting "murderer!, baby-killer!, war criminal!"

The other side was no better. That so called perfect "greatest generation" of World War IIers greeted the Namvet coldly, blaming him, not the politicians for the war's loss, telling him: "You people are screwed-up!" and turning their backs on him. The veterans services organizations the American Legion and VFW turned him away at the door "Your kind ain't welcome here!", "You hain't a real soldier and you hain't a real vetrin!". When he applied for a job, he was often told: "We ain't hirin' drug addicts!" or "Frankly, you people scare me."
If he was hired, he faced continuous harassment on the job:
"Hey hero, don't go postal on us today!"

Not enough credit is being given to how much the great World War II generation's treatment of the Vietnam Veterans played in their difficulties. Heck, where I come from, what few WWII vets are left still in 2007 hate and despise Vietnam Vets along with the veterans (they don't think we're real veterans, either) of this current war
"...I was a red-hot leftist (marxist) revolutionary back then, and I did spit on a couple of returning vets. From the safety of a crowd, behind a barricade and a police line.
I was an America-hating asshole and a coward. I’ve learned better, and I’ve learned to feel regret for my shameful actions then. Can’t say the same for the current crowd of shameless, cowardly, America-hating leftist jerks, though. (Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds).
-Bill Quick
Daily Pundit
Rick Atkinson, Pulitzer Prize winner and former assistant managing editor at The Washington Post, writes in his book, "The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966," of Captain Tom Carhart's return from Vietnam, pp. 324-5:
"Still in uniform, he was strolling through the O'Hare terminal in search of a telephone when a group of hippie girls darted up and spat on him. The shock and pain could have been no more intense if they had slashed him with knives. Reeling with surprise and uncertain what to do, he did nothing. His assailants scampered off through the airport crush as Tom wiped the saliva from his face, now aflame with humiliation. That night he got into an argument about the war with his friends' daughter, who was home from college. This is great, he told himself sardonically. I'm back less than twenty-four hours, I get spat on, then I get hassled by my countrymen over a cause for which I got myself shot twice. Welcome home, Johnny."
"Yes, I am a Vietnam veteran who was spat upon -- literally and figuratively. By hippies? I don't know. In the airport? Yes. San Francisco International Airport on October 11, 1971 at 3:15 p.m., and yes, I was still in uniform. To be exact, it was the same uniform that I wore during the last Fire Support Mission I was involved in, just 36 hours before landing in San Francisco Airport. No, I didn't have mud, dirt, or gunpowder on my uniform. A very kind Vietnamese woman at the Transit Company washed and ironed it for me so that I could come home to the country I love looking nice. This was one hell of a lot more than I received upon arrival.
If I were the only one to be spat upon, the score would be : not spat upon, 1,999,999, spat upon, 1. Of course, I know this score to be wrong. Literally because I saw others spat upon, and figuratively because to spit on one Vietnam veteran is to spit on them all.
The person who spat on me was wearing a shirt that said 'Welcome Home Baby-Killer.' ...
About that image of a burly Green Beret walking through the airport and being spat upon by a war protester -- let's also remember that most war protestors or hippies or whatever name you want to attach to them were also becoming very aware of their rights as U.S. citizens, and they knew that if this burly Green Beret did nothing they (protesters) had won, and if the burly Green Beret retaliated, they (protesters) still won. How could they lose?"
Robert E. McClelland; Massillon, Ohio, pp. 41-43
Bob Greene, "Homecoming: When The Soldiers Returned From Vietnam", 1989
"I think the date was March 7, 1972. I was in the San Francisco airport. I had just showered and put a fresh uniform (Air Force) on for my first leg home. Walking out to my gate I passed a 'hippie' who spat upon me and continued walking in the opposite direction, without a word.
I made nothing of the incident for two reasons:
(1) I was happy to be going home after 367 days in Thailand, and didn't want anything to screw it up, and
(2) Officers who get in public fights, while in uniform, are dealt with in a fairly severe fashion."
Chris Ramel; Denver, Colorado, p. 37
Bob Greene, "Homecoming: When The Soldiers Returned From Vietnam", 1989
"I am a retired Catholic chaplain who served the Air Force community for twenty years. I had two tours in Vietnam (Phan Rang and Bien Hoa). I left Bien Hoa on November 18, 1968, flew military contract aircraft to Philadelphia, and then on to New York for two weeks' leave.
While I was leaving the JFK airport to catch a bus to the city, a lady (around 43 years old) told me that 'I napalm babies' and she spit on me. I didn't take her for a 'hippie' though.
Needless to say she ruined my two weeks' leave."
Father Guy Morgan; Fort Collins, Colorado, p. 44
Bob Greene, "Homecoming: When The Soldiers Returned From Vietnam", 1989
"I am a female veteran of the U.S. Air Force -- 1967, 1968, 1969, and 1970. I was in Southeast Asia though not actually in Vietnam. I returned to the States in 1970 through Travis Air Force Base, and from there I visited a friend for a week and then flew back to the Midwest through O'Hare. I worked at a vegetable canning factory and at a local ski resort before returning to college at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in the fall of 1971. This is where my spitting story takes place.
I had joined a veteran's group called Vets for Peace. We were active in anti-war protest marches in Milwaukee, Madison, and Chicago. We usually marched with a group of veterans from Chicago called Vietnam Veterans Against the War. It was in Madison, on Veterans Day, 1971, as I was walking to the Capitol building from campus (all alone). I was wearing my Air Force overcoat and my Vets for Peace hat when a man about 19 or 20 years old looked me in the face and spit right into my face. He was a normal looking man, nothing to distinguish him from a thousand other people. But I will never forget what he did to me."
Rose Marie McDonough; Green Bay, Wisconsin, pp. 43-44
Bob Greene, "Homecoming: When The Soldiers Returned From Vietnam", 1989
"Late at night in mid-August 1969, I was spat upon in the San Francisco airport by a man in his early twenties. I had just returned from my tour of duty in the Republic of Vietnam, processed through the mess at the Oakland Army Depot, and was waiting at the airport for an early morning flight to my Denver home. The man who spat on me ran up to me from my left rear, spat, and turned to face me. The spittle hit me on the left shoulder and on my few military decorations about my left breast pockets. He then shouted at me that I was a "mother-fucking murderer." I was quite shocked and just stared at him, probably with a stupid look on my face.
The spitter then called me a "mother-fucking chicken-shit." He was balling up his fists when he yelled this. A cop or security guard then showed up and grabbed the man from behind. I did not see where he came from, nor do I have any notion of how much time went by between the spitting and the cop's arrival, though it could not have been too long. A pretty good struggle went on between them for a few seconds, and then two more cops showed up. All the time the man who spat on me was calling me (and, I suppose, the cops) names, indicating we lacked bravery.
Having talked to other servicemen during the remainder of my service, I found two other young men who told me that they had similar experiences, one in an airport, the other in a bus station. I have no reason to doubt them. I also related my experience that same night to the man at the San Francisco airport who was running the USO center there. He confirmed what the police had told me: that a number of similar confrontations had occurred there recently."
Douglas D. Detmer; Farmington, New Mexico, pp. 83-4
Bob Greene, "Homecoming: When The Soldiers Returned From Vietnam", 1989
"Yes, I was spat on. I returned from Vietnam in July of 1970 after a year in country with the 12th and 11th Marines. We flew into Norton Air Force Base in Southern California and, after processing, several of us took a cab to LAX. After saying our farewells, I went to the terminal in which I would catch my flight back to Illinois (I'm from Peoria).
While walking down the corridor, I encountered a young man, no older than myself I'm sure, who looked me in the eye and without hesitation, spit on my ribbons. I didn't know what to do. I still don't. For all these years, I've remembered that experience."
Scott Brooks-Miller; Spokane, Washington, p. 18
Bob Greene, "Homecoming: When The Soldiers Returned From Vietnam", 1989
"From January of 1969 until February of 1970, I was stationed in the city of DaNang, as part of the U.S. Navy's support unit there. In February I returned to the States, where I was separated from active duty at Long Beach, California. After processing, we were driving to the Los Angeles International Airport.
While walking down one of the concourses, I was stopped by a young lady wearing typical flower child attire - a long maxi-dress, with granny-type glasses. She stopped me and, seeing my campaign ribbons, asked if I had been to Vietnam. When I told her was just coming from there, she spat upon my uniform and ran off.
I had a military duffel bag slung over one shoulder, and I was carrying both a briefcase in the other hand. I immediately dropped both articles and proceeded to run after her. After running about twenty yards, I stopped, said a couple of choice curse words, and thought: Welcome home."
Chester J. Leblanc; Lake Charles, Louisiana, p. 19
Bob Greene, "Homecoming: When The Soldiers Returned From Vietnam", 1989
"After a year of unbelievable hell in Vietnam, I was at the "repo depo" in Long Binh awaiting my flight out. The last thing I was told by the sergeant in charge as we boarded the aircraft was not to expect any welcome home committees when we got off the plane.
I arrived at Oakland Air Force Base [sic, more likely it was the military terminal of the Oakland airport] on April 14 (my mother's birthday), 1970. I had sat near the front of the plane, and therefore was one of the first to get off. As I looked out toward the terminal, I noticed a large crowd, maybe 200 or so people, on the far side of a cyclone wire fence. In front of them, on our side of the fence, were MPs, wearing ponchos. As we started to file out of the plane, the MPs shouted to us to move quickly, and began holding up their ponchos.
We were in khaki short-sleeved uniforms, and I was surprised that it would be raining in California. As I got closer to the MPs and the crowd, I still could not make out what they were yelling. Then the first egg landed near my foot. At first, like a fool, I looked up in the air, still not putting together what was going on. As my ears popped, adjusting to the change in pressure, I began to hear for the first time the chant: "How many babies did you kill today?"
Several of them were leaning against the fence, spitting at us and at the MPs blocking their view. Others were heaving eggs over the fence and into our midst. The MPs were covered with spittle and eggs, which explained the ponchos. They were obviously used to this ritual. The fellow behind me said, "Jesus, I wish I had brought my M-16!," and my stomach dropped as I realized for the first time what was going on.
I stopped to ask one of the MPs who these people were, and as I did so a woman about forty years old, not a teenager by any stretch of the imagination, leaned back and spit on me with all her strength. It landed on my shirt pocket, near the ribbons that I was wearing for the first time. "Bull's-eye!" she yelled. An MP lieutenant took my arm and said, "Go inside, son, and ignore them.""
David McTamaney; Newburgh, New York, pp. 21-23
Bob Greene, "Homecoming: When The Soldiers Returned From Vietnam", 1989
"I take no pleasure in a 'Yes, I was spat upon' vote, but here it is.
In June or July of 1969 I was going to take a college entrance exam at Palomar College near Oceanside, California. I had plans of going on to college in the fall after getting an early out from the Marines. While waiting on the steps leading from the parking lot, I was approached by a female and two males -- average looking, nicely dressed, 17 or 18 years old.
The girl asked if I was in the Marines -- I guess because of my haircut. I said yes. She then said, "So you're one of those baby killers." Then one of the boys spit on me, hitting my neck and shirt collar.
I punched at him while his buddy ran away and his girlfriend screamed at me, calling me all kinds of vulgarities.
I didn't take those exams. I just drove back to Camp Pendleton, as I had no desire to be further reviled by my fellow countrymen, for what I perceived to be a hatred of those who served this country.
I still feel the slime on my neck."
Ronald L. Trousdale; Las Vegas, Nevada, p. 23
Bob Greene, "Homecoming: When The Soldiers Returned From Vietnam", 1989
"I was medically evacuated from Vietnam in November, 1969, to a Naval hospital in Japan where, after my recovery, I was stationed. During my tour there I married a Japanese lady and adopted her son. She became pregnant; in early 1970 I was transferred back to the U.S.A.
My family and I landed at San Francisco International Airport after a very long flight from Japan. We were going into the cafeteria to eat and, of course, I was in my uniform with all my Vietnam medals, including the Purple Heart adn the Gold Star.
My family and I were standing in line, when, out of the blue, this middle-aged lady walked up to me with a bowl of potato salad in her hand.. She threw the potato salad smack in the middle of my chest and spat what salad she had in her mouth in my face. Then she proceeded to call me a "baby killer," "war monger," and a lot of other vile names.
I became so angry and humiliated that I balled my hands into fists and would have hit this 'lady,' had it not been for two other servicemen who grabbed me and got me out of there. I'm glad they did get me out of there before I'd had the time to react, because I later thought about headlines that could have read: "Craze Vietnam Vet Assaults Middle-Aged Woman."
That is how I was welcomed home. That is how my family was first introduced to America.
This 'lady' was no hippie. I sort of get the feeling it has been easy to 'blame' hippies for things like this because they were easily identifiable, and because they did dramatically, in many cases, communicate their opposition to the Vietnam war. But the verbal and physical abuse of returning Vietnam veterans took place in all levels of American society."
Frederick H. Giese; Arlington Heights, Illinois, p. 24
Bob Greene, "Homecoming: When The Soldiers Returned From Vietnam", 1989
"It happenned to me, and it was no joke.
In September of 1967, I was called to active duty with the U.S. Army Medical Corps. I was a neurosurgeon then (as I am now), and had recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley. I was fortunate during my military service (two years of active duty) to be stationed at a large hospital facility stateside -- although I did not actually go to Vietnam, I was responsible for the treatment of a large number of wounded Vietnam soldiers.
I was stationed at Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco, and I commuted between the hospital and my home in Berkeley. ... In any case, when I would come home from the hospital (of course wearing my uniform, which was required), I would receive many negative comments from other residents of Berkeley. One afternoon a youngster, approximately twelve years old, who lived across the street from us, literally spat on me as I got out of my car. He shouted, "How many did you kill today?"
You can imagine how I felt -- especially since I had spent that day trying to reconstruct the skull of a Vietnam soldier who had suffered severe shrapnel wounds, and who had recently been transferred back to the United States for surgery."
Dr. Robert A. Fink; Berkeley, California, pp. 26-27
Bob Greene, "Homecoming: When The Soldiers Returned From Vietnam", 1989
"When I got back to the U.S. I had what they called burial detail. That's when you have to escort a person's body back to his next of kin and represent the U.S. and tell them their son, husband, or whoever had given his life for his country and you had to stick around until he was buried -- you were there to make sure the next of kin was okay.
Well, I had to take this fellow's body to his wife -- she was nineteen years old. It was in 1966 and his home was in Sacramento. ...
But to get to the bad part, I was helping the mortician take the casket out of the hearse. Of course, I was in my dress uniform, medals and all that, and the American flag was over the casket and some guy walked by when we had it out about halfway and the fool spit on it and said, "Good, he deserved to die.""
Tony J.; San Francisco, California, pp. 26-27
Bob Greene, "Homecoming: When The Soldiers Returned From Vietnam", 1989
"During August of 1966, while I was assigned for duty in the Munitions Building on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. I was spat upon by a complete stranger while returning from lunch.
I was in Class A uniform, a CWO in the Army, walking along the street when I passed this man in casual civilian dress. As he passed he spat and made a remark: "You dirty (obscenity) killer."
I didn't realize he had spit on me at first, and decided not to cause a scene over what he had said. But I noticed his spit on my tie shortly after. His only possible provocation was my being a soldier in the uniform of my country.
He was not a hippie. He could have been a tourist, and both he and I were walking alone walking in different directions. I had never seen the man before.
As a result of this instance and to avoid other problems, our commanding officer encouraged us to wear civilian attire to work instead of our uniforms."
Claude A. Smith; Gaithersburg, Maryland, p. 31
Bob Greene, "Homecoming: When The Soldiers Returned From Vietnam", 1989
"In June 1969, the LST I was on sustained implosion damage from the grenades used to ward off 'zappers.' The damage required dry docking, and the ship was sent to Japan. I had been overseas for 19 months already, and the majority of that time was spent in Vietnam. I got lucky and was able to get a hop all the way from Yokota, Japan, to Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, which was great, considering home was a suburb of Cleveland.
I was sitting in a chair in the Columbus airport talking to some of the infantrymen who had hopped in with me, passing time. We had some girls come over to us and one or two hippies had a word to say, but we ignored them (not the girls, of course). ...
Shortly thereafter another hippie-type person came over to us, stood directly in front of where I was sitting and, in language flowered with the best vernacular of the day, was pointing at our service ribbons and other accoutrements, and calling us sarcastically 'war heroes.' He then proceeded to spout a line I had not heard before, but I would live to hear over and over: He called us 'baby burners.' At that point he spat on me. I'm sure he never expected the response he got. As a reflex action, I sprang up and put his lights out. It was the proverbial two-hit fight.
Before I even realized what I had done, one of the local constabulary had grabbed me and was escorting me to the Security Room, despite the objections fo the other servicemen present. The person I hit was not detained even a moment. He was helped to his feet, asked if he was okay, and summarily dismissed. They didn't even ask him if wanted to press charges. ... I think the only reason they did, in fact, let me go was because they had neglected to have the guy sign a complaint or press charges. ... Looking back on things, it is obvious to me now that the guy who spit on me was performing for the others nearby."
George M. Householder; Painesville, Ohio, pp. 35-36
Bob Greene, "Homecoming: When The Soldiers Returned From Vietnam", 1989
In January 1969 I joined the Army due to a draft declassification back to 1A while attending college at Texas Wesleyan in Fort Worth. ... Aprile 1970 and I am at the airport in Dallas on my way to Nam. The airport Bible flippers wouldn't even approach you because of the uniform. I think 'Mother fuckin' baby killer' was the favorite line we heard. In Frisco, we had to change flights with a one hour wait. I was spit on twice -- once by a female hippie-type who smelled as bad as she looked and secondly by a well-dressed young business type who would be called a 'yuppie' today. Him I flattened with a left hook in the gut and a right to his big mouth. My fellow officers and I were escorted to our plane by security and held there until the plane left. The average American in the airport only called us names without any physical violence threatened. Terms such as 'Murderer,' 'Baby killer,' 'Mercenary asshole,' 'Rapist,' and 'Fucking Bastard War Monger' were the parting words from our fellow Americans we were getting ready to die for.
These taunts came form men and women, young and old. ...
Vietnam was Vietnam. I came back on a stretcher with seven bullet holes in me, 57 combat decorations (two Silver Stars), and spent two years in an Army hospital due to my service.
Some of my friends that didn't come back on military Medevac told me the name-calling and spitting got them again in Frisco and other major airports. We all resolved this in our future assignments by not wearing our uniforms in public. This worked well, because the Army was letting us wear our hair longer and we purchased civilian-type luggage and did not use the bags issued to us by the military. As long as you didn't look like military, you were left alone. ...
If we ever do go to war again and I decide to participate if the Army will have me, I'll shoot every SOB who curses or spits on me for defending our country."
Lou Rochat; Universal City, Texas, pp. 37-39
Bob Greene, "Homecoming: When The Soldiers Returned From Vietnam", 1989
"The circumstances of my being spat on were somewhat different than the stereotype, and, frankly, I never realized that there were other veterans complaining of similar occurrences.
I served in Vietnam during the height of the war, September 1967 to September 1968. If you recall, the war sentiment at the time was such that when I went to Vietnam I was still considered by many to be a patriot. By the time I was ready to return home, the United States had experienced the Chicago Democratic Convention, the riots in Detroit, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, the riots in many cities -- and Haight Ashbury in San Francisco had blossomed. Frankly, I felt safer in Vietnam.
When I returned from overseas duty, I was to leave the Army and 'outprocess' in San Francisco. My girlfriend, who became my fiancee in San Francisco and now has been my wife for eighteen years, met me upon my arrival. One day while simply touring San Francisco, in uniform, a rather nondescript man on the street spit at my uniform because he was obviously in disagreement with what it represented at the time. Nothing was said, but the incident saddenned and confused me. I took off my uniform later that day and never put it on again during the rest of my stay in San Francisco.
What bothered me the most about the incident was that, having been born in 1944, I grew up with World War II movies which made soldiers heroes, and always showed them coming home to ticker-tape parades down Fifth Avenue. If there is any aspect of the war I have trouble coping with, it was trying to understand spitting on a uniform. I was an officer involved in covert intelligence work in Vietnam, so I did not experience some of the horrors of the infantrymen who were in the heat of battle every day. The only 'mental scar' that remains with me today was the unwelcome display of that man in San Francisco.
I had effectively put the incident out of my head to the point that I do not remember anything about the man except that he was not a hippie. Until now, I always thought my experience was somewhat isolated."
J. Leonard Caldeira; Chicago, IL, pp. 40-41
Bob Greene, "Homecoming: When The Soldiers Returned From Vietnam", 1989
"I attended a military reunion in New York in 1968. I was standing in front of the Waldorf waiting for a cab when a young girl walked up to me and spat. She said something and walked away. The doorman told me that it was not a 'good idea' to wear a uniform in New York."
M. Tierny; Las Vegas, Nevada, p. 41
Bob Greene, "Homecoming: When The Soldiers Returned From Vietnam", 1989
"Upon my return from Vietnam in March 1969, I was assigned to duty in Detroit, Michigan. I was given the duty of notifying and providing assistance to the next-of-kin whose loved ones were killed in Vietnam. This job required special care and sensitivity to assist people who had lost someone they cared for. While walking through a local shopping mall I was spat upon by other Americans. It was quite a shock to have people so hostile toward me. I felt rejected by my country, and still do. The same country I was willing to die for, if necessary. To the American people: please, for my sake and for the sake of other Vietnam veterans, understand that we want to come home. Unfortunately for many, the horrors of war will last a lifetime. And also to the American people: thank you for listening to our stories."
Fred G. Alderman; Denver, Colorado, p. 47
Bob Greene, "Homecoming: When The Soldiers Returned From Vietnam", 1989
This is a very nice post, and I want to see how others react to this.
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