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Aug 24 12 1:55 PM

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I refer to recent comments regarding ethnic minorities in the US military.  I do believe there existed rampant racism in the US Navy. I reported aboard (actually volunteered for Vietnam duty) USS Halsey DLG 23 in October 1969 at San Diego California. The Officer of the Deck directed me to get some chow below decks. When I got to the messdeck all the seats were occupied except one at a long table with about a dozen black sailors. I got my dinner tray and sat down and the Black sailors starting cussing at me-I was dumbfounded. They didn't want a white sailor at their table. I stood up and said FZZZ U all I am eating my food here. I did not move and stayed there despite their protests.   It got the attention of the rest of the crew most of whom wanted the black sailors segregated. It also got the attention of a few of the African American sailors who thanked me later for standing up for my right to sit where i wished. I later learned that the stewards for the Officers Saloon were all non-national Phillipine people. These guys could earn citizenship by serving as stewards to the officers for a period of seven years. I did not understand this policy then- nor now.  One of these unfortunate Phillipino lads wandered on deck while combat operations were underway in Nam and was incinerated by one of our Terrier missiles-these guys had no English! I was among the crew who cleaned up the fantail of the ship that day.

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Aug 24 12 2:48 PM


It appears that we served more or less about the same time, with me being about 5 years ahead of you. Ironically I had the same situation, when I went to my first dinner. The difference being, that I was in Operations, and I sat down in a “designated” Engineering table. I was told in no uncertain terms, that the table was for snipes only. Like yourself, I told them, I sit where I want when I am hungry! Must be a Philly thing. I finished my dinner with no further problems, but in the future I did sit with my own department. On the two ships I was on, I never witnessed any overt racism. Everyone more or less got along. I became real friendly with one black shipmate who was also from Philly. I do remember reading the papers, that in the late 60's the Navy did have problems with racism.

It was my understanding, that the officers stewards, that were mostly from the Philippines, were happy to have the job. I don't know anything about citizenship, what I heard that they wanted to serve for 20 years for the pension, and in the meantime, they would send home most of their pay to their families. When they did retire, they did go back to the Philippines, and lived quite comfortably. I am not sure, but I don't think they did any watches, not do I know what their battle stations were. The more senior stewards did speak English, and were quite friendly. They loved to tell us some of the inside stories of the officers.

One of the nation’s first war heroes was a black man. On December 7, 1941, Mess Attendant Second Class Doris “Dorie” Miller (pictured in the poster) was collecting laundry on board the USS West Virginia in Pearl Harbor. The Japanese attacked. Miller reported to his battle station, an antiaircraft battery amidships. Miller carried wounded sailors to safety, aided the mortally wounded captain, and manned a .50 caliber machine gun—a weapon he'd never been trained to use—and was credited with downing a Japanese fighter plane. For his bravery, he received the Navy Cross on May 27, 1942, the first black man to do so.

John Fleming Florida's favorite uncle Uncle Johnny

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