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15 October 2017


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Don't forget Newt.


There were many other ways that soldiers were treated poorly. A classic was for a ticket agent to simply deny you a seat on commercial aircraft when they were available.

On my way to your response in the comment section I must have stumbled across one that gave a bit of info: US soldiers only had to pay half the rate. There must have been some type of similar regulation over here, maybe even free transport home or back to the barracks. Some decades ago one more frequently met German soldiers in uniforms on trains. Haven't seen that for ages.

I am not suggesting this could be a reason, or there was some inner economic regulation one or the other that experienced it could misinterpreted. But yes, I was reminded of a return to Chicago trying to the get a cap comment in Burn's Vietnam series. ....

Random choice: One of Lembcke's arguments I found already unconvincing when I looked into him earlier: If spitting at soldiers can't be found in papers, there is a high probability it didn't happen. That of course is pretty simplistic. In the comment section someone seems to try to challenge that thesis by suggesting as a member of the press at the time he knew these events were suppressed. But seriously how many people would inform the press if something like that happened to them?


Here is your comment and one following it:

Walter Patrick Lang Alexandria, Virginia 1 day ago

I was spat upon at San Francisco International Airport in March, 1968. I was on my way to Vietnam. I was a captain in the US Army, was in uniform and waiting in front of the terminal for a military bus to take me to Travis AFB for the airlift to Vietnam. A young woman gout out of a VW bug in the parking lot. She looked a lot like Momma Cass, fat and and in a mumy. She walked up to me and spat on my chest. I asked if they had a roster at her pad for spitting on soldiers. She said yes and went back to her car.

Andrew Durham NC 1 day ago

"The Myth of the Spitting Antiwar Protester"? I took the use of the word "myth" to imply that this narrative would be disproved by the author's research. I feel tricked by the headline.



I vaguely remember that some airlines sold enlisted soldiers half price tickets if they were traveling on leave. pl


Sounds odd. Would they have to return them at the end of their 'term'?

I am vaguely familiar with anti-draft positions and stories around it, obviously:

At least one of the soldiers I met in Berlin had opted for a longer time beyond draft. Maybe inside the larger context he needed to state that, he choose it to have a higher chance to avoid Vietnam, was what he told me.

But yes, once again, the stories of the ones that had returned from Vietnam, especially when they were drunk, and memories surfaced were rather hard to stand. And my job was to serve them beer and liquor. You cannot avoid the ones that are sitting at the counter, and they were a rather complex group.

SR Wood

I can only imagine a woman would try to spit on a returning veteran. Any male would probably end up dead or severely in need of the emergency room. I was in the Air Force not Army, and never transited San Francisco or California, and was never subjected to any derogatory behavior. This is not to say that it didn't occasionally happen but knowing my high school classmates who were in the Army in VN and returned, any male (and maybe some females) would be taking their life in their hands had they spit on them.


No doubt not helped by McNamara and LBJ meaningfully lowering the standards of draftees to include criminals and the low IQ

I suppose you have statistics that with the lowering of the IQ standards for draftees addiction went up in the US military.

Including criminals? Any link that might help me? Bob?



At that time enlisted soldiers were provided uniforms at no expense to them. No attempts were made to recover clothing from them at the end of their service. Officers buy their own uniforms often from a tailor specialized in such work. BTW the period of service for a draftee was two years. Training at the front end of that and a year in VN left a few months afterward. People in that situation were generally sent to some unit for the rest of their time. I have a hard time thinking that the military would have sent someone with a few months left to Berlin. These drunks were probably lying to you and hoping for sympathy. pl


How could I forget, thanks Raven. Also our current military CinC had five draft deferments. The first four were educational and are fine with me. Everyone should be able to pursue a university education even in time of war except in the most dire of circumstances. The fifth deferment for heel spurs was patently a fabrication, the man played ball both on the gridiron and the diamond.


Is this shoe throwing a ME'n custom?


or is it related to Nikita's famous shoe banging incident? Or maybe even an older shared custom?



Yes, I think you've pretty much got it there. Important as well is the white backlash that Obama's presidency triggered and Hilary being a woman. 53 % of white women voted for Trump. That last boggles my mind at the moment. Maybe it deserves more thought. Probably not. Stupidity and low level of education. Something like 20 % or more of the American adult population believe that they will live to see the second coming of Christ in their lifetime. That's distressing. But is it more distressing than having eight individuals in possession of half the worlds wealth ?

And I agree with you as to the Reagan era odor associated with Stockman. I'm surprised at myself that I consult him from time to time. That crowd really turned my stomach.


These drunks were probably lying to you and hoping for sympathy. pl

Well, if that was his intention, he failed. Might have been only one. I vaguely recall quite a bit of a rumor mill around one only. Hard core alcoholic, seems to fit in hindsight.

But considering the larger setting, no doubt it would make sense that the whole thing was staged. With a bit of collaborative support.

And there was of course another weekly economic context, beyond selling drinks and Italian spaghetti with meatball sauce, after the 'boozer' closed. ...



My brother had a completely different experience at UVA from 72-76.


It is custom to remove shoes before going into a mosque as it is considered to be the dirtiest part of a person. Makes sense, having walked in open markets all over this planet - crap from animals, entrails, maggots - anything nasty goes on the shoe.

Here is one link of many you can find googling 'shoe throwing insult origin': http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/3776970/Arab-culture-the-insult-of-the-shoe.html

It's an old insult...

not a vet, but respectful

I'm sorry this happened to you.

It's worth noting that the NY Times did publish your comment, under the name Walter Patrick Lang, 2 days ago. The final line is "she said yes and went back to her car."


not a vet

Yes, they published it after I wrote about it on SST. pl


I know of a few instances, at the time, where judges would give petty criminals the choice of enlisting or go to jail.

scott s.

Things were a bit different for me in that era (UW Madison YG 75). We had drill 1 day a week at the old Field House. Most Mids would carry their uniforms and put them on just for drill. Army had it worst as they had been in the old Red Gym since early days (though by early 70's after fire-bombing moved to kind of a dumpy building but still in the heart of campus which was a target of red paint off and on). Navy unit was on the western edge of campus by the Ag school -- the farmers weren't a big part of the anti-war movement so not such an issue.

Things were better by 75 and the PNS decided to require us to wear uniform all day on drill day, and I don't recall any hassle.

Milwaukee in that era (where I lived) I don't think was too hostile to the troops overall, and was considered a better liberty town for sailors from Great Lakes than Chicago (may have helped that it was Navy not Army).

UW is coming up on 50th anniversary of the Dow Chemical protests and take over of the School of Business so there will be some introspection in the coming years. That will culminate on the 50th of the Sterling Hall truck bombing.



It was always the case that minor offenders were sometimes given that choice. It was a good way to get troublemakers out of a community. Some of the best sergeants I ever knew came in the army that way. So far as I know felons were never knowingly enlisted. officers had to have virginal records. The Project 100,000 people did not end up in the infantry very much. In combat you cannot afford o have stupid men. It was easier to make them truck drivers, cooks, supply room workers and the like. the typical VN KIA was a 22 year old white man from a small town or farm . pl

Keith Harbaugh

Just want to point out an earlier SST post on this subject:

"I was spat upon in 1968."
by PL
SST, 04 January 2011

One of the comments to that post is (was?):

Phil Giraldi said...

Colonel - I too was spat upon in the Spring of 1969 at Union Station in Baltimore, while going home on leave from intelligence training at Ft. Holabird. We were required to travel in uniform to take advantage of reduced fares and it was sometimes an ordeal. In my case, I was heading towards my gate when I was surrounded by five or six young men and women in what in those days might have been described as hippy attire. They danced around me chanting something or other and then one of them spat. Two cops approached and they ran off. I know other Army trainees in Baltimore had similar experiences. There was an extremely active SDS faction at Johns Hopkins and also at the University of Maryland.
05 January 2011 at 09:12 AM


Never got spat upon. Most common response from peer age group was "did you kill anybody?" Or, "don't know whether to feel sorry for you or be afraid of you"

Got an evening pass in San Francisco on my way out to VN in 69. Me and another in uniform happen to walk by the Avalon Ballroom where a large clutch of hippies where hang'n and smokin' on the steps. As we walked by they all stopped what they were doing and stared at us. In that silent moment I spun around and did the "take a picture it last longer" pantomime. It took those stoned heads about 3 seconds to realize what happened and they all went crazy laughing at themselves.


different clue

The Twisted Genius,

I hope Babak Makkinejad read this comment. It is yet-more evidence that beer, pot AND slide rules can go perfectly well together when used in all the right ways by all the right people.

The Twisted Genius


I guess it all depended on the school. We wore our uniforms every Tuesday. That was several hundred cadets and midshipmen wandering around campus. Never heard of an incident. Same was true at Siena and Union Colleges. We were even able to walk around Albany State, Skidmore and Russel Sage without incident.



You were lucky. The crisis had passed. pl



This is a few years later, but I left the service with a duffel bag crammed with uniforms the Army gave me. Wish I still fit into them, haha. Still have the duffel bag and my dress greens hang one brass-polish away from parade-prepared.


'McNamara's Folly: The Use of Low-IQ Troops in the Vietnam War' by Hamilton Gregory.


Of course Muhammad Ali was originally passed over but was subsequently accepted. Having low IQ types with heavy guns in their hands in Vietnam was not only a problem for their comrades, but even more so for Vietnamese civilians. I have seen it claimed the Americal Division (My Lai) had a large share of the misfits.

Of course it is old issue, in WWII the dumb ones were put in the infantry and then in the Pioneer Corps in Britain, I believe the US put them in the Quartermaster Corps. The Air Force always tends to get the brightest, the Germans, not surprisingly, administered a lot of aptitude tests, and found that the average Luftwaffe enlistee was a lot more intelligent, and also better motivated, than his Heer (Army) counterpart. Once the Germans had most of the air force shot out of the sky, they should have transferred most of the now-excess Luftwaffe enlisted men to the Army, where they would have made first-rate infantrymen if integrated into existing Army formations. But that wasn’t good enough for Hermann Goering. He had to insist that they stay in air force uniform, and form Luftwaffe “field divisions” to fight as ground forces under air force command. Plus, they would stay good National Socialists under Nazi commissars, and not come under the old monarchist, reactionary influence of the Army. Needless to say, it all ended in tears: The “field divisions” crumpled under fire like wet newspaper.

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