Interviewee: Scott Camil
Interviewer: Stuart Landers
Date: October 20, 1992
L: This is an oral history interview with Scott Camil being conducted at his house in
the southern part of Alachua County. Today is October 20, 1992, and my name
is Stuart Landers. Tell me your full name.
C: Scott Camil.
L: Is there a middle name?
L: Where were you born?
C: I was born in Brooklyn, New York, May 19, 1946. I will also say that May 19 is
also the birthday of Ho Chi Minh [1890-1969; Vietnamese Communist leader],
Malcolm X [1925-1965; American civil rights activist], Augusto Sandino [1893-
1934; Nicaraguan guerrilla leader], and Kemal Ataturk [1880-1938; first president
of Turkish Republic, 1923-1938]. I was actually born with the name Scott
Abramson, but my mother remarried when I was four, so Scott Camil was always
my name. I never changed it back to my original name because my name is who
people know me by.
L: Do you know anything about Abramson, your biological father?
C: Yes. He lives here in Gainesville. He works for the state in the health
department. He is a veteran of World War II. He has also done time in prison
L: What is his first name?
L: You are Jewish, correct?
C: Yes. I was raised Jewish, and I was bar mitzvahed. I had to go to Hebrew
school because the family made me, but they said that after I was bar mitzvahed
I would not have to go anymore. And after I was bar mitzvahed, I did not go
anymore. So I am Jewish as a sort of a race, but I do not have a religious belief.
I really consider myself a human being; I think that religion is one of the things
that divides human beings from each other, and that makes me not happy with
religion. When I was against the war and I tried to get help, I could not get help
from the Protestants or the Catholics or the Jews. The only people that would
help me were the Unitarians and the Quakers. Even in Vietnam, I wondered why
they would give prayers for our guys that were killed, but they would not give
prayers for the guys that we were killing. I thought that in religion we were all
supposed to be the children of God. I just thought it was hypocritical.
L: So you moved away from religion at a fairly early age, I guess.
C: Right. I am proud to be Jewish, but it is not a religion to me. It is more like a
culture; my culture.
L: What was your stepfather's full name?
C: Walter Camil.
L: What was your mother's name?
C: Gilda Hersh, later changed to Gida De Hersh. Her last name now is Peterson.
L: So she has been remarried again.
L: Where are your parents and stepfather from? What are their backgrounds?
C: My real father, my stepfather, and my mother were all born in New York.
Actually, all three of them were Bohemians in the Village. On my mother's side,
my grandparents came from Romania and Russia. On my father's side, they
came from what they called Russia-Poland. So my parents were first-generation
Americans. I was a second-generation American, but my grandparents were
born in Europe.
L: Do you remember anyone speaking Yiddish?
L: Your parents or your grandparents?
C: My grandparents and my great-grandparents.
L: I understand that you grew up mainly in Dade County, in Hialeah.
L: When did you come to Florida from New York?
C: I do not really remember the early time. I was told that we came here when I
was four, but I was too young to remember stuff like that. I have a few memories
of the tenement building in Brooklyn: a big, red building with an elevator, and we
lived on the second floor. The milkman used to put the milk and the eggs and
the butter by the door. Then I remember living in Florida, where we lived in
different houses. We lived in Coconut Grove. I went to different schools. But I
actually do not remember getting in a car and driving from New York to Florida.
L: Okay. Do you have any brothers or sisters?
C: Yes. I have a sister named Starr who is two years younger than me from my real
father, and then my two brothers were fathered by my stepfather. Their names
are Eric Camil and Clay Camil. They are both City of Miami police officers. My
brother Eric is a veteran not a combat veteran, but he was in the army. He is
ten years younger than me.
L: So your stepfather was in the Miami police force?
C: Yes. He was a civilian employee of the Miami police department. He was an
I.D. technician. He took fingerprints and photos at crimes.
L: What do you remember about growing up in Hialeah and Dade County?
C: I have talked to my brothers about this. When I left the house, I was like
seventeen, so my youngest brother was seven, and my other brother was
probably nine or ten. I remember growing up in a house with four kids, and the
three boys shared one room, and my sister had the other room. But my brothers
remember growing up in a house with two kids because my sister and I were
grown up and gone when they were growing up in the years that they remember.
I remember being able to go to the beach. I remember going fishing off the
bridges. I remember that we were real poor and we ate potatoes a lot. A lot of
nights we did not have food and went to bed without food. People did not like us
because we were Jewish. Since my parents had trouble paying the rent, I
remember getting kicked out of places all the time. The landlord would come,
and there would be arguments, and we would have to pack up and leave. My
grandparents would want to help out, but my parents did not want any help from
Looking back at it now, one of the things that I remember a lot that disturbs me is
that we children were not treated as human beings. We were more like property.
[The attitude was that] children are to be seen and not heard. When my parents
had friends come over, we could not address them. They had to address us
first, and we always had to call them "sir" or "ma'am". Our ideas did not count.
Our thoughts did not count. If my father or mother said to do something [and]
you said, "Why?" you would get your ass kicked. I [sometimes] went to school
with a bloody nose [or] with a black eye. HRS never came. The police never
came to find out what happened. Beating your children was acceptable.
L: We are talking about the mid to late 1950s, right?
C: Right. At the time, it seemed normal because everybody got beat. You could
always hear someone on the block screaming and yelling because they were
getting beat with the belt. It was just normal. Now I have three kids, and I would
never hit them. I mean, it is totally unacceptable to me. If I ask my kids to do
something and they have a reason for not wanting to do it, if their reason makes
sense then they do not have to do it. They are allowed to express themselves,
and they are allowed to win. I was not allowed to express myself, and I was not
allowed to win. I was just property, basically.
I also remember, on the other hand, a lot of love from my grandparents and my
aunt and my uncle. I ran away a bunch of times because I hated my stepfather
and I did not like getting beat.
L: Speaking of your stepfather, in some of these articles that I have read, you
mention that he was a member of the John Birch Society.
C: Yes. He made tapes. You would dial "FREEDOM" on the telephone and you
would get a message about the communist conspiracy. I was real young then,
and I did not know what any of that stuff meant. What I do remember about it
was that they would have meetings at the house. When they would have
meetings, I would have to go to my room. I also remember (I do not know why I
remember this in particular) that they had pictures of Martin Luther King at a
meeting, and they would say that he was a communist and that the meeting that
he was at was communist and [the people] were communist.
There were TV shows like "I Led Three Lives." On TV, you would see the map
and it would be turning red, and it would be the communism spreading. In
school, we would have air raid drills where we would have to hide under our
desks. All of this had to do with [the fear that] the communists were going to
bomb us and that the communists were trying to take over the world. The
communists were the Russians. I would not have been able to tell you what a
communist believed except that they wanted to take over the world and they
were the bad guys.
I remember [during air raid drills] that we were supposed to stay away from
windows. We would get under our desks until we got the "all clear" sign. I
remember Jack Webb [1920-1982, American actor] being one of the proponents
of the good guys. [He was] telling us what we were supposed to do and stuff like
that. Some people would build bomb shelters.
In my memory, the most evil thing you could be was a communist. It was even
more evil than when we were kids and we would play war: there were the Japs
and the Jerries, but nothing was as ominous as being a communist. Of course,
back then, I did not know that the Russians were our allies in World War II. I just
knew that they were the bad guys.
L: Did you go through the public school system?
C: Yes, I did. Because we were poor, we had vouchers for lunch at school, and
kids made fun of us because we had holes in our clothes. My stepfather really
resented having us there. He liked my mother, although he beat her, too.
L: [He resented] you and your sister?
C: Me and my sister. My two brothers really got treated nice. We got treated bad.
He would send us to bed all the time without food, and my mother would come in
in the middle of the night and sneak us food. He was a bully. He was just a
really mean person. I always hated him.
L: Did your mother work during these years?
C: No. She did not work during our younger years. Later on, she got a job. I have
talked to her since then. There came a time when I finally stood up to my
stepfather and was willing to fight him. I was in high school and I started gaining
confidence in myself. One of the things about when you get beat is [that] after
awhile, you get used to it, and it is not so bad anymore. If you get punched in
the stomach, that hurts. If you get burned, that hurts. A slap in the face hurts,
but it is more humiliating. Getting punched in the face really does not hurt that
much. It might split your lip or something like that, but it is not really the kind of
pain that a punch in the stomach would be. There came a time when I had just
had enough, and I was willing to fight him. I answered him back one day. He
said, "You cannot hang around with any of these guys." He named three guys
that I could not hang around with and told me that they were a bad influence on
me. I said, "How do you know I am not a bad influence on them?" He really got
pissed, and he said, "Okay, big shot, we are going to go out in the backyard and
settle this like men." I said, "Okay." I went out in the backyard. He came to the
door. He looked, and he said: "You are a punk. You are no good. You are
going to end up in prison. You have no respect for your elders." He would not
come out. Then I knew that everything was different. Then when he and my
mom would get in a fight, she would come in my room. So I moved out and I
went to high school. I worked at Grand Union as a bag boy.
L: A grocery store?
C: Yes. It was a chain, like Publix.
L: You said you moved out and then went to high school?
C: I was in high school, and I moved out of my parents' house, and I moved in with
a family called the Perrys. Then I later moved in with a family called the
Molesworths. The Perry family was a Catholic family, I think, and the Molsworth
family was a Christian family. The Christian family put a lot of pressure on me to
convert. They wanted to convert me. But I needed to be away from the hostility
of my parents' house.
Now that I am older, I have talked to my mom about this because it has always
pissed me off. When I had children, I got more angry about how I was treated
when I was a kid because I got to see through my children that children are really
innocent. They are really good-natured, and they are really pure, and they are
really smart. They pick up on everything that is going on. They are so neat.
They are so unique--until they get contaminated, I guess you might say, by
grownups in society. They are perfect when they come out, basically. When I
thought about how we were treated, it made me even more angry. I talked to my
mom about why she kept us in that kind of an environment. She said that she
did not have an education, she did not have a job, she had no credit cards, she
had no checking account, she had no money in the bank, she had no driver's
license. She said: "Scott, there is just no way that I could take care of four kids.
I was just stuck there. If I wanted to keep the family together, I just had to put up
with it. There was nothing I could do about it."
L: You mentioned earlier that there were a lot of Cubans in this neighborhood.
C: Yes. This came later on. This came around the mid-1960s. It was really in my
high school years that I mostly noticed it. All of a sudden, everything got
overcrowded. All these Cubans came.
L: Fleeing Castro and the revolution?
C: Yes. They all came to Dade County [and] to Hialeah. They looked different.
They spoke a different language. They dressed differently than us. There were
no blacks in our school. I cannot really tell you why exactly except as sort of a
thing to do we did not get along with them. We fought with them. We did not
like them dancing with our girls; they did not like us dancing with their girls. We
resented them speaking Spanish in the hallway. We fought with them a lot.
I guess one of the things that I remember most was that when Kennedy was
killed, I was in a government class. They broke in and announced over the
loudspeaker that the president had been shot. The Cubans started cheering,
and a bunch of fights broke out. The Cubans did not like him. I will just never
forget that day. It made me dislike them a lot.
L: Why did they not like Kennedy?
C: At the time, I did not know, but now I know. It had to do with the Bay of Pigs.
They felt that they were betrayed by Kennedy.
L: For not doing enough to overthrow Castro?
C: What really happened was that the Bay of Pigs plan got started under
Eisenhower, and Nixon was vice-president. When Kennedy was running for
president, he was briefed about it, but he was not briefed to the full extent of it.
He knew that we were training them and supporting them, but he was not aware
that they had been promised military support. When he became president, even
though it was against the U.S. law for an attack against another nation to leave
from the United States and for us to be involved in that, he allowed that to
happen. He allowed the Cubans to be trained and to be armed and for the Bay
of Pigs to happen. [He gave] them intelligence support and stuff like that. But
he would not give them air support, naval support, or support with soldiers.
Because they had been promised this before through the Eisenhower-Nixon
administration they felt, and the CIA felt, that they had been let down. [They
felt] that they were put out there like sitting ducks.
L: So the Cuban students in the high school ...
C: Did not like Kennedy. And we did not like them.
L: When did you graduate from high school?
C: I graduated from high school in 1965. I actually should have graduated in 1964,
but I did not graduate until 1965 because I had a lot of disciplinary problems that
resulted in me being suspended. It was a traumatic time for me. I was really
unhappy with the treatment I had at home. The poor treatment I had at home,
the lack of support at home for things like homework and stuff, going to bed
hungry, going to school without food, [all led to school-related problems]. The
discipline I had from my parents had to do with things like: "Shut up. Be seen
and not heard. Do this. Do that. Wash the dishes. Take out the garbage. Be
home at a certain time. Go to bed at a certain time." It was not stuff like, "Can I
help you do your spelling homework? Let me check your math homework. Let
me read your book reports." It was not that kind of interest. So I did not do that
well in high school until after I moved out of my parents' house. I was a
discipline problem. I got in fights in the hallway. I skipped school.
One of the things that I really resented was that if I would get a ten-day
suspension, [it would result in a failing grade in each class]. Let us just say I had
a 99 average in the class. For each unexcused absence you had, you would get
three points taken off your grade point. So a ten-day suspension would mean
that thirty points would come off my average. So if I had a 99, I would end up
with a 69. Regardless of what scores I made on my tests, I would get an Ffor
the six weeks. So if I got a ten-day suspension, I knew I was going to get an F,
[and] I would not do any homework. I would not do anything. I just said: "Fuck
you. I am not going to do it."
So I hurt myself. In high school, they were sort of like your parents. It was an
authoritarian trip. They did not make it relevant [by saying,] "This is why it is
important to learn something." Basically, it was memorizing dates and stuff. To
this day, there is stuff in my mind like, "Am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been,
has, have, had." I do not even know what the fuck those words are. They were
just things that you had to fucking memorize. They did not put things in context.
In history, you had to memorize dates and presidents and battles, but they just
did not put things in perspective. Like why the hell did I have to know about the
Canterbury Tales? What the hell does that got to do with anything?
My last years in high school, I took vocational instead of academic. I took
drafting, I took machine shop, I took auto shop. Then I started doing really good
in those classes. Then I got to do things that were useful. In machine shop, I
made tools. I made a toolbox in metal shop with all my own tools. In ceramics, I
would make ceramic stuff. We had leather-making. I could work on my friends'
cars. I bought a car a 1950 Studebaker. I could work on that in auto shop and
learn how to do stuff. I was learning how to do stuff that made sense to me
instead of memorizing stuff just to get a certain letter on the fucking test. I did
not have any understanding of how those things fit in. If they would have been
explained, and if the teachers would have been more friendly, rather than
everything being so authoritative and so disciplinarian, [I probably would have
done better]. You just did not count. Also, I will say that we had forty people in a
fucking class. I do not really know what kind of education the teachers had or
anything like that, but they really did not take any interest in me.
L: So it was not a very good experience.
C: No. To me, the important part about high school was that for every FI brought
home, I was going to get my ass kicked. The sooner I graduated, the sooner I
got away from those fucking teachers. [I was] just socializing: Where is the
party going to be on the weekend? What day am I going to skip school and go
to the beach? Was there going to be a fight at the bicycle racks after school?
Those were the things that were important. It was social. It was not education.
L: Just for the record, what was the name of your high school?
C: Hialeah High. [We were] the Hialeah Thoroughbreds.
L: What did you do upon graduation in 1965?
C: All seniors got draft notices. We had to go down to Coral Gables and have tests
to find out what our status would be. Then the recruiters started hitting on us in
high school; they sent us letters. The marine recruiter came and talked to us,
and said: "Look. When you guys graduate, you are all going to be drafted and
go into the service. We will give you an opportunity to join the service now."
L: Were the recruiters aggressive?
C: Not only were they aggressive, but they were very professional. I did not see it
at the time, but we looked up to them. They had uniforms. They had medals on
their jackets. They were very impressive, you know? Back then, being macho
was important. The Marine Corps' motto was, "The Marine Corps builds men."
They came to school and said: "Look. You are going to get drafted, and you are
going to end up in the fucking army. What is the army? The army is just a
bunch of shit. You can be a fucking man. The Marine Corps builds men. You
can join right now. You can be proud. You can come home wearing a uniform
that you can be proud of. Would you be proud wearing an army uniform?"
There was a certain group of us [to whom] that kind of argument would mean
something those of us who thought we were tough guys. Impressing the girls,
lifting weights, getting in fights after school, smoking cigarettes, and all that kind
of stuff was important. It fit right in.
Now it is called Delayed Enlistment Program, but back then, it was called the
120-Day Plan. You sign up 120 days before graduation. Then when you
graduate, you go right to boot camp, and you start boot camp with four months in
grade. When you join the military, you get the lowest pay. After four months,
your pay goes up. As your rank goes up, your pay goes up, but also, as your
time in goes up, your pay goes up. There are two categories. They told us, "You
could have a jump on everybody else because you will go in with four months in
grade. You will also get out of the Marine Corps four months earlier."
L: So you bought all this, right?
C: I certainly did. You could also go in on the buddy plan. You could also be
promised a certain kind of a job. So we took tests, and I made a high enough
score on my test to qualify for the MARCAP (Marine Corps Aviation Program). I
made a high enough test score to qualify for a commission as an officer.
But I was just dumb. I thought you start off as a private and can end up a
general. I did not know that there were two classes of people officers and
enlisted men [like] labor and management, and that enlisted men were always
going to be labor, and officers were always going to be management. They were
always going to be treated good, and we were always going to be treated shitty.
I did not know that there was a difference between officers and enlisted men.
I got this aviation guarantee for a high enough score. Then the recruiter started
working on me and said, "You might end up having a job washing airplanes. Are
you going to be able to come home and say you went to Vietnam and all you did
was wash airplanes? Don't you want to be a real man and go up there and
fucking fight and kill commies?" [I said,] "Yeah, that's what I want to do." I
signed to get off that, so I would not do that, and I did not realize what I was
signing away because I was easily manipulated and very impressionable. I was
just a fucking kid and this guy was a professional. This was his job; he was a
recruiter. He would do things [favors for us]. We were under age, but we would
go out and get drunk because we were his buddies. We were Marines. So I
graduated from high school, and three days later I was in Parris Island [South
Carolina] in boot camp.
L: So we are talking June or July of 1965?
C: No. I graduated in summer school. I had to go to summer school every year for
English. English was my hardest subject. My handwriting was poor, my spelling
was poor, and my attitude was poor. I just took a lot of things literally. I
remember I got in a lot of trouble because, for instance, I had to write a paper on
"I am a clock." I just thought that was stupid. [I thought,] "I am not a fucking
clock. Why should I have to write a paper on 'I am a clock'? I am a clock; I go
tick-tock. Fuck you."
I did not understand that they were trying to teach me that there are different
ways to express yourself. There are different kinds of [perspective]. They did
not explain that kind of thing. We had to do another paper on our pet peeve. I
did not know what a pet peeve was. I wrote a paper that I had a goldfish named
Peeve, and that was my pet peeve. Goddamn. I was in all kinds of trouble. I
was just dumb and naive about a lot of stuff. I had a good sense of logic, but I
just took things too literally.
I had a stereo, and I really liked Jackie Wilson. In the morning, I would get up for
school, and I would turn it on. I had the windows open, and I would turn it on real
loud. The mother of the kid across the street was a counselor at the high school.
He came walking across the street and said, "My parents want to know if you
can play it a little louder." So I turned the motherfucker up louder. I did not know
that they were being sarcastic. I did not know what that meant. It is really
strange. Now I look back and think, "Damn, I was dumb."
So I graduated in summer school, so I got to boot camp July 29, 1965. They
give you a yearbook. I got my boot camp yearbook with pictures of all that
training and all that shit. I just know that I signed up in March 1965. I do not
really know when the hell it is. I got out in July of 1969.
L: You re-upped somewhere in the middle there, right?
C: That is sort of a misconception. It was four years that I signed up for four
years active and two years reserve. But when I was in Vietnam, I signed to stay
in Vietnam. I had four years to do in the Marine Corps, but when my first thirteen
months in Vietnam were up, I signed to stay for another tour. Some civilians
would call that re-enlisting, but re-enlisting means you up your time in the Marine
Corps. I just extended my tour of duty in Vietnam.
L: I see. How long were you at Parris Island? How long were you in boot camp?
C: Parris Island was like ten weeks. It was pretty short. It was real severe.
[laughter] It was the most scared I had ever been. The first day I woke up, and it
was like it was a bad dream. I was trying to wake up and get out of it. I could
not believe it. I had never been through anything like it. You get there in the
middle of the night. You are a high school kid; you are a big man now. You are
a senior; you just graduated. You are chewing gum. I remember I got a haircut
before I went. I bought some new shoes and stuff like that.
The Greyhound bus stops at the front gate of Parris Island, and everybody that is
going in the Marine Corps is supposed to get off the bus. You get off the bus
and there is a guard at the gate. You walk into the gate with your orders. [You
are told,] "Go line up over there." As soon as you cross the line, all of a sudden
these fucking people are yelling at you and screaming at you: "Get in line! Shut
your mouth! Spit out that gum! Get that smile off your face! Eyeballs straight
ahead!" [They are] just yelling and screaming at you. You get on the bus, and
people are talking, and the bus driver stops the bus. (He is a Marine.) He says:
"You guys think you are smart or something. Next person who says a word, I
am going to kick his fucking ass. Anybody want to try it? Go ahead." He would
walk up and down the bus with a real mean look. [You are thinking,] "Damn.
This guy is a real mean guy." We get off the bus and go into a room.
Everybody is searched. You have to empty out your pockets. They take
everything away from you, and you are assigned to barracks.
The next morning, probably like 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning, all of a sudden the
lights come on, and these guys are running up and down the barracks, yelling
and screaming, "Get out of your bed! Get out of your bed!" [They are] pushing
people out of their beds, pushing these double bunks over, yelling, screaming,
[and] throwing garbage cans down the middle of the hallway. I could not believe
it. I mean, it was really scary. The whole time, they are yelling at you and
screaming at you. You get marched to a place and they fucking shave your
heads totally bald. They give you uniforms to wear. They give you little red
books to read. You go to chow. You are fucking running all the time. You are
doing exercises all the time.
L: Little red books to read?
C: Yes. It is the Marine Corps handbook. I have mine.
C: It is all the rules.
L: That sounds like Mao and the cultural revolution in China when you say "little red
C: Well, it is a red book. Marine Corps colors are red and gold. You have
absolutely no rights whatsoever. For instance, I want to go to the bathroom. I
have to say, "Sir, Private Camil requests permission to speak, sir." He would
say, "What do you want, maggot?" I said, "Sir, the private requests permission
to make a head call, sir." He would say, "Is it an emergency?" I would say,
"Yes, sir, it is an emergency." [He would say,] "Show me it is an emergency." I
would have to run around the barracks three times. I would make [noises] like a
siren. I would come back, and he would say, "That wasn't loud enough. It's not
an emergency." Then you would run again and do it louder. Then you would
come back, request permission to speak, and ask. Then he would say, "Okay,
make a head call." Or he would say, "We're going to wait an hour. And if you
don't piss on yourself, you lied, and I am going to kick your ass." So now you
either got to piss on yourself or you gotta get your ass kicked. All these weird
trips are happening to you that never happened to you before.
I got beat up once for... I was standing at attention, and he told me to jump. I
jumped. Then he said, "Private Camil, who gave you permission to come
down?" Now I knew that he knew that I could not stay in the air. But nobody
gave me permission to come down, and I got my ass kicked. It was a pretty
awesome thing. [laughter] It was real bad. They told you, "If you tell on us for
beating you up, whoever takes our place will know it was you and you will never
get out of here alive."
What helped me get through was I kept thinking about people who I knew who
had gone in the Marine Corps. I kept saying, "I am as good as him, and if he
could do it, I can do it." In my mind, it was like a game. They are going to try to
make me fuck up, and I am not going to fuck up.
At the time, it was very traumatic and it was very scary. But now I am telling you
that I appreciate it. I learned self-discipline. I got two teeth broken, for instance,
in something called "closet motivation," where I was put in a closet and beat up
for not doing something I was told. We had to run three miles before and after
each meal. I threw up. When you are running in formation and the guy in front
of you falls down, and you go around him, you are going to get your ass kicked.
You step right on him, and if you do not, you are getting your ass kicked. So
everybody knows that.
L: That is to keep them from falling down.
C: Right. People are not going to fall down because they know they are going to
get trampled. It is to give them a little incentive. When you start running, your
stomach starts hurting, and you might have been a quitter in the past. No one
could make you do something like that before. So I stepped out to the side, and
people ran past me. This fucking guy came up to me, and he said, "What's your
name?" [I said,] "Private Camil, sir." [He said,] "You are going to be sorry." I
said, "I am already sorry, sir." [He said,] "Get up in the barn." So I went to the
L: What is the barn?
C: The barn is where we live. We are animals. We live in a barn. [laughter]
L: All right.
C: His name was Williams. He told me to go in the closet. I went in the closet. I
was standing at attention in the closet, and two of them come in. They said,
"About face." I turned around, and boom two fists hit me. Then they kicked
my ass, and I did not fight back.
On another occasion, I got grabbed by the belt, and he kept hitting me in the
stomach until I fell down, and then he started kicking me. He said, "Private
Camil, my three-year-old daughter can take harder hits than that. Get up! Get
L: Were they doing this to everybody?
C: They did not do it all to everybody. They made examples. You fucked up, you
got your ass kicked.
L: And the rest of them heard about it.
C: Everybody saw it. There was no secrecy about it. If somebody was kicking your
ass, and I looked over, then I would get my ass kicked. If I laughed, I would get
my ass kicked. They say a lot of funny stuff. They might come up to you and
say, "Private Stuart, what are you looking at me for? You eyeballing me? You
like me, Private Stuart?" Then, if you said no, you would get smacked. If you
said yes, [they would say,] "Oh, you're a faggot, huh?" And you would get
There was just nothing you could say. There were words that you could not say,
like you. The word you was not acceptable. A ewe was a female goat. So if he
would say, "Private Camil, who gave you permission to do that?" I would say,
"You did, sir." [He would say,] "You? Do I look like a female sheep? Do you
want to fuck me, Private?" Boom, boom, boom. [He would] kick your ass.
They had all these things that they would do to you. There was something called
"playing with the Green Marines." Those were the footlockers. You would have
to hold this footlocker six inches off the deck, bent over. Your sweat would be
pouring down onto the footlocker and then onto the deck. You would be holding
it and holding it. You would think you could not hold it any longer, and then
somebody would drop their footlocker or pass out and just fall over. He would
say, "You fucking ladies. We were just about done. But Private Asshole over
here thinks he can fuck off. Now all of you are going to have to do it for fifteen
more minutes." That puts Private Asshole over there in shit with everyone else,
so there is a lot of peer pressure. You fuck up, everybody pays for it. Then
everybody is on your fucking ass. So it becomes really important not to fuck up.
You learn that you can run farther than you thought you could run, you can carry
more weight than you thought you could carry, you can stay up longer than you
thought you could stay up, [and] you can take more punches than you thought
you could take. You find out that your limits are much further than you ever gave
yourself credit for, but you never would have known unless somebody pushed
you past your limits. They push you and push you and push you, and most
people would quit and say, "Fuck this. It ain't worth it." But you are not allowed
to quit, and you finally see that you can really do a lot more than you think you
can. What I am saying is that I never would have been as ballsy a person as I
am if it was not for the confidence and discipline that they built into me.
We talked when you were here before, I think, about going out to the gate in
Vietnam. Every day, we went on patrols, and every day, people stepped on
mines and got blown up. There is no way that you can even imagine in your
mind what it would be like if, for a whole year, every step you took could be your
last step. Every day, you would see people get their legs blown off. You would
see them get both legs blown off. You would seen them get blown to shit, [and]
their fucking brains would splatter all over you. Their blood would splatter all
over you. We are talking about stress that is totally incredible. [They gave us]
the kind of discipline that we would have to have to get up every day and walk
through that same fucking jungle, knowing that some of us were not coming
back. Nobody said no. Nobody said, "I ain't gonna fucking do it." We did it, and
we did it every day.
L: What did they do with you once you got done with boot camp?
C: After boot camp you went to infantry training. Infantry training, I guess, was
several five weeks. It is where you learn infantry tactics. In the Marine Corps,
everybody is in the infantry to start with, and then you learn a secondary thing.
Also, in boot camp, besides all the discipline stuff, you have karate, judo, knife
fighting, bayonet fighting, target shooting with a pistol, target shooting with a rifle,
weightlifting, [and] all kinds of exercises to build you up and make you strong.
You are learning tactics, fighting, history, all this kind of stuff. You are practicing
this with other people. You put on helmets and stuff to protect your body, and
you go out there with sticks with sandbags on either end and you beat the shit
out of each other. You are also packed together like sardines. The position that
you are in is called "asshole to belly button." Anytime you are at attention, you
are asshole to belly button. Everybody has to be touching. You have no space.
You are always touching each other.
After that, at ITR (infantry training regiment), you learn tactics. Then, after that,
you go to your first duty station. You get to go home on leave. At your first duty
station, you are assigned an MOS your Military Occupation Specialty. That is
what job you are going to have. The job I was assigned was artillery.
The higher score you have, the more technical kind of job you are going to have.
So you take these tests. I did good on the tests, so I became [artillery]. In
artillery, it is broken down into the people on the guns who work on the artillery,
or the people in the headquarters who are your fire direction control using slide
sticks and maps and stuff like that. My job in Vietnam was called Forward
Observer. A forward observer spots the enemy [and] radios in the enemy's
position to the FDC (fire direction control). I would plot that on a map. Then I
would take a range deflection protractor, and I would read the range to the target
and the azimuth to the target. Then I would figure out on a slide rule something
called a quadrant. That is the number that would be put on a gun. It would be
called down to the people on the guns, and they would put that on a number on
their gun. Then they would turn the wheels until two bubbles were level. When
the bubbles were level, the gun was set at the right angle and the right azimuth,
facing the right direction. They would shoot, and it would land on the target. My
job was working in the fire direction control center (FDC). My first job was FDC
then I volunteered to be an F.O. They had quotas for Vietnam. I volunteered for
Vietnam. I wanted to go to Vietnam. That was what I wanted to do.
C: The whole purpose, to me, of being in the Marines was to go kill commies. What
am I going to do, sit stateside? Polish my boots and have inspections all the
time? I want to go there and fucking win medals and kill commies and make my
family proud and be a good American and serve my country and all that good
stuff. So I went home on leave, and then I went to guerrilla warfare school in
Camp Pendleton. [We learned] mountain-climbing, escape and evasion school,
and guerrilla warfare school.
Then I went to Okinawa for more escape and evasion school and guerrilla
warfare school and more conditioning. So then, I do not get to Vietnam until
March 1966. I get assigned to my first unit, which was A-111 (Alpha Battery,
First Battalion, Eleventh Marines).
L: This was where in the country?
C: This is in a place called Hoi An, which is south of Da Nang somewhere. I do not
know exactly where, but it was in I Corps, the northern district. First of all, in boot
camp, you are with all your guys. Then you go from boot camp to ITR, and it is
the same group of guys. You have developed a camaraderie together and an
ability to work together. Then, when you go to your unit, you are a new guy. All
by yourself, you report to this unit. You are a replacement. You do not know
anybody there. All of a sudden, the attitude changes. The whole time, you are
real proud to be a Marine. Then you get there, and people say to you, "When do
you get out?" I would say, "1969," and I would hear sergeants say, "1969? I
would kill myself if I wasn't gonna get out until 1969." There is a whole different
attitude about the Marine Corps then.
Since I am a new guy, the first thing I get is shit duty. It is called shit detail. It is
either guard duty or mess detail. So I had guard duty. We were guarding an
In my third week (it was the night of April 17 and the morning of April 18), we
were attacked by VC (Viet Cong) sappers, a hard-core Vietcong suicide unit.
They overran us. So [in] my first battle, we were totally overrun. They destroyed
our ammo dump, they destroyed the guns, they shot people. We killed a lot of
them. Like, here I am standing guard, [and] I am told we are in the rear. Our
rifles are not loaded; we are not supposed to shoot without permission. We have
these rules of engagement. The grenades have tape around them so that if the
pins came out by accident, the spoons would not fly and people would not get
hurt. They snuck in under the wire. They turned our Claymore mines around on
us. Somebody hit a trip flare, they all stood up, they were inside the wire, they
attacked us, and they just beat our fucking asses. That night, as soon as I saw
them, I started shooting. I got out of my bunker because I saw their rockets were
hitting the bunkers [and] blowing the bunkers up. I did not want to get blown up
in the bunker. So I went outside the bunker, and I laid on the ground, and I fired
from the ground, where I thought I was the least amount of a target. The other
three outposts were all taken. My post was the only one that was not taken, and
it was only not taken because it was not in the way of their objectives. It was the
furthest away from the artillery pieces and the ammo dump. They could have
taken it easily. They hit us with rockets [and] with mortars.
The next morning, it was all over, and I walked around. I saw the dead
Americans. One of them was one of the first guys I met. His name was William
Terry Main. He was from Jacksonville, Florida. I remember that he would get up
on his post, and he would say: "Fuck you, you commies! Fuck you, you
cowards! Come and get us! Come and get us!" He was one of the people that
A bunch of things happened to me that day. First off, I went and looked at the
Americans, and they were dead, but they looked different than the dead
Vietnamese. The dead Vietnamese did not look like human beings to me. It
was really strange. I have pictures of all this, by the way. The Americans looked
like dead people to me. The Americans were like dead humans; the Vietnamese
were like dead animals. In our training before we went, they were always
referred to as gookss" or "slant-eyes" or "zipperheads." So when you would stab
the dummy, it was: "Kill the gook. Kill the gook." They were really dehumanized
L: They taught you this before you ever got to Vietnam.
C: [Yes,] in boot camp. Now I realize it was racial and dehumanizing, but I did not
realize it at the time. I looked at those guys, and I thought to myself: "Damn.
People are really allowed to kill me, and if I get killed, that is the end. There is no
second chance. There is no King's X. There is no time out. This is really
serious, and I can't fuck off anymore. I really have to pay attention." I made the
decision that I was going to kill every fucking Vietnamese that I came in contact
with. That way, even if I killed a hundred innocent, good Vietnamese, and got
one guilty one, it would be worth it, if that one guilty one would be the guy that
would kill me when I was leaving his village. If we went into a village and killed
everyone that was in the village, when we left, there was not going to be nobody
to snipe at us. I made the decision then, "Fuck them." No doubt about that.
Another thing that happened to me was I picked up a rocket that one of them
that was shot and killed had dropped. It had not been fired yet. I did not know
jack shit about it, so I disarmed it. I took this rocket. I guess you do not know
what a rocket looks like. It is a tube, and on the front of the tube is a projectile. I
took the projectile, and I pulled it out of the front of the tube. It went "twang," and
my fucking heart dropped. I thought I was blown up. It is the kind of rocket
[where] the fins are folded.
L: This is not one of those RPGs with the directional charge on the nose.
L: I have seen those.
C: It scared the shit out of me when it went "twang."
L: Was that the fins popping up?
C: It was the fins popping out. I never touched nothing again [laughter]. I learned
my lesson real quick about that, too.
The next thing is that we followed blood trails. I killed an innocent person later
that day. We were following blood trails, and here I am, this is my third week
there, I do not know any Vietnamese. All of sudden, there is a guy working in a
rice paddy wearing black pajamas. The guys we killed had black pajamas. The
guys we killed were young, muscular guys. This guy was an old guy, but he had
black pajamas on. I was not thinking about the distinction. I grabbed him and
asked him there were blood trails we were following I asked him where the
VC went. He said, "Khong biet," which means, "I do not understand." I kept
asking him where the Vietnamese went, and he would not tell me. I took my
knife out and killed him on the spot. I had made my decision, "Fuck these
people. I am going to kill them." He did not know what the hell I was talking
about. I did not get in any trouble.
L: Was that standard behavior, standard procedure?
C: Everybody had their own level of what they would do. I would say the standard
procedure was that there was not much respect for the Vietnamese. Those that
did respect the Vietnamese did not fuck with those that did not respect the
Vietnamese. Like, I would kill a prisoner; I killed all my prisoners. But I never
tortured a prisoner. I felt if I got captured, just kill me or leave me alone. That is
how I did them. But guys would tie them up, they would fucking smash out all
their teeth with their rifle butts, they would kick them in the balls, they stomp on
their balls, they would break their arms, they would break their legs, they would
cut off their ears, they would cut off their heads. They would do all kinds of shit.
I never did any of that, but I would kill anybody. It did not matter their age or
their sex, nothing. Different people have different ideas about morality.
L: None of the officers were saying, "Don't do this; this is against the rules"?
C: No, because we were keeping score with how many people you killed. It was by
body count. When I think now of the vocabulary we used, it is incredible. If I
killed somebody, I would say, "I wasted a gook today." I never thought, "What
does the word 'waste' mean? Why are we using the word 'waste'? How come
we are not saying, 'killed,' [or] 'shot'?" [We said,] "I wasted three gooks today,"
or "I wasted a gook today." "Wasted" was the word we used. I cannot believe
now that we talked about it being waste, and it really was waste, and it never
dawned on me what the fuck that word meant.
Another word [referred] to the two kinds of people we encountered. We used the
phonetic alphabet, so VC for Vietcong would be Victor Charlie. S is Sierra. If we
would catch someone without a rifle, they were a Victor Charlie Sierra. They
were Vietcong suspects. Every single fucking Vietnamese we contacted was a
Vietcong suspect. Just the word 'suspect' was a negative, derogatory word that
marked the individual. It was not like you were innocent until proven guilty. It is
just like it is in this country if someone gets arrested. Even though the
Constitution says they [should be] presumed innocent, just because they get
arrested, and the paper says you were arrested, you already have a stigma on
you. You are a suspect of a crime. In Vietnam, you were Vietcong suspect.
You were stigmatized. You may as well have been a Vietcong. I never thought
about what that word 'suspect' meant. To me, it was just like saying it was a
Vietcong that we have not proven yet an unconfirmed Vietcong. As soon as
you killed them, they became confirmed because you did not kill civilians. You
just killed Vietcong. So, if they were dead, they had to be Vietcong. So we
automatically made them Vietcong.
People would get different reputations. If I saw you raping a woman, I ain't
gonna interfere. I would not do it, but you are my buddy. You guard my back, I
guard your back. I'm not going to fuck with you. If that is what you want to do,
you do it. I would not do that. There was one time when a woman was shot by
one of our snipers, and she had the side of her face blown out. When we got to
her, the guys were just finishing raping her, and they were mutilating her body.
They had slashed her tits. They had shoved different things up her vagina. First
it was an entrenching tool, then it was a fucking tree limb. The woman was still
alive, and she was asking for water. She kept saying,"Nu6c." We got up to her,
and the lieutenant was real pissed. He was yelling at these guys. He told them
to kill her, and nobody wanted to kill her. He said to me, "Arty, kill her." I killed
her. I had a reputation: I was a bad person because I murdered people. But in
their eyes, they were not bad because they did not murder people; they just
fucked people up. In my eyes, you would put a wounded animal out of its
misery. I put this person out of her misery.
So the kinds of values and moralities people have are really different. Here I am
murdering people, and I think that is treating them better than other people that
are breaking their arms and legs and raping them and mutilating them. They
think I am the bad guy, and I think they are the bad guy.
L: You had said they called you Arty.
L: What was that a nickname for?
C: I was a forward observer from the artillery, attached to the infantry. Basically, on
a patrol, you have your point man. Then you have a couple of men behind your
point man, and then you have a squad leader or a platoon commander. Behind
that person is a radio operator. Then you have your forward observer and your
other odds and ends whoever everybody else is. As soon as contact is made
and the shooting starts, what you hear is, "Arty up" and "corpsman up." The
corpsman has to come up to take care of the wounded people, and the artillery
guy has to come up to pinpoint the enemy's position on the map to call in
artillery, mortar fire, airstrikes, [or] naval gunfire. So that is the name, Arty.
L: So you called in everything.
C: Right. I was really only trained to call in artillery, but sometimes they would give
me naval gunfire. Sometimes they would give me mortars. Sometimes they
would give me airstrikes.
L: They would give you what they could give you.
C: Right, depending upon what we were being hit with also. Most of the time, what I
called in was 105 howitzers. But sometimes they would give me something else.
L: When in all of this were you wounded? I understand you were wounded twice.
C: On Operation Stone, I was wounded. On Operation Stone, we were walking and
firing on a village. The lieutenant kicked open the gate, and a bouncing Betty
exploded, and it got a number of us. That was the first time I was hit.
L: A bouncing Betty is a mine that is thrown up out of the ground and then
C: Right. The lieutenant never should have kicked the gate open, and we should
not have been standing close enough together where one mine would get a
bunch of us.
L: What happened? Did you just get sloppy?
C: When you are moving across an open field, you are spread out. When you are
moving through the jungle, you are spread out. But you have to be close enough
to see the guy in front of you. When you are converging on a place, you get
closer together. Now, this village was all fenced in with bamboo. To go through
the gate, you have to come close together. If you are firing on a village you hit
it with artillery, and then you go towards it, and you are firing and you are not
getting any return fire, you start moving closer together. I mean, you are not
supposed to, but it just happens.
And we got hit. I was not hit that bad. I got shrapnel that stuck in my leg, [and] I
got shrapnel that went across the other leg. It went across my shoulder and a
piece [went] across my face. Those were just surface wounds. But the
lieutenant had been knocked out, and his radio operator had been knocked out.
L: Killed or badly wounded?
C: Badly wounded. I stayed. They just bandaged me up, and I stayed because
they needed to have somebody to read a map. Plus, there are these other
factors that feed in, like the macho factor. You know, "I am a fucking Marine,
and I am an American. You can't knock me out." The strongest factor of all is
the camaraderie factor. I have never been as close to human beings in civilian
life as I was in combat. We shared each other's letters. We put medicine in
each other's wounds. We washed each other's backs. Four of us shared a
fucking toothbrush. They would call you a queer if you did that in civilian life. If
somebody has a shrapnel wound in his ass, he pulls down his pants and you put
medicine in his ass, you know? You are taking care of each other. Of all the
things that I miss out of the military, I miss the camaraderie the most. You really
counted on each other, and you were really close. You do not want to leave your
buddies. They depend on you. You do not want to fucking leave them.
So that was on Operation Stone. We were out for a few more days I do
not remember how long. We came in. I went to sick bay. They took out
surface shrapnel. Other shrapnel was left in; it was no big deal.
L: It is still in your leg?
C: Yes. Right there. That is a piece of steel.
L: Why have you not had it removed?
C: They decide what to take out and what not to take out. I do not really know. I do
not have anything to do with that. I get disability for it now. That counts as ten
L: You got the Purple Heart for this, right?
C: Yes. All a Purple Heart means is that you were wounded. Let us say that you
get a scratch across the side of your face no broken bones, no torn muscles,
nothing you get a Purple Heart. Let us say you get both arms and both legs
blown off. You get a Purple Heart. Let us say you get your head blown off and
you are dead. You get a Purple Heart. All it means is that you spilled your
blood. It is considered a medal, but it really means you were in the wrong place
at the wrong time. You were not ducking when you were supposed to be
ducking [or] you stepped with your left foot when you should have stepped with
your right foot. What it means to people in general is that you were willing to put
your life on the line for your country, and you were hit by the enemy.
L: When were you hit by the enemy the second time?
C: The second time was on Operation Medina. That was my last operation, and
that was in October of 1967 in the national forest.
L: And this is after you extended your tour.
C: Yes. That was really one of the times I was the most scared. Different people
are scared about different things. I was not scared in firefights. If you read my
service record, you will see my Vietnam record will say, "Sergeant Camil is
extremely cool under fire." If they start shooting at us, I would go to wherever it
was coming from, and I would engage them. I was not afraid, but that was
because I thought that I was a better shot than them, and I did not think I was
going to get wounded. I did not think they were going to get me. I think that
bravery is really when you do something and you do not think you are going to
survive it. So it is not really the act you are doing it is what is in your mind
when you are doing it.
One time, I picked up a grenade, and I threw this grenade back, and I got put up
for a Bronze Star for it. I was not being brave in my mind. In my mind, people
are shooting at me. There is no place to run. If I stand there and look at the
motherfucker, I am going to get blown to shit. If I jump on it and save your life, I
am dead. The only chance I have to live is to get that fucking thing away from
me to pick it up and throw it. The brave thing might have been to jump on it. I
do not think what I did was brave; I think what I did was smart. There is a
I was scared of stepping on mines, and I was scared of the mortars. The
mortars, the rockets, and the mines scared me much more than shooting it out
with people or fighting hand-to-hand. I thought that I could win. But when you
are crossing a field and you hear in the background, "tump, tump, tump," you
know they have just fired mortars at you. You hit the fucking ground, and you
are covering yourself up. You are all tensed up, and you have this feeling in your
back I do not know if you have ever had it like someone is going to punch
you in the back. It is a really bad feeling. You are just laying on the ground
shaking, and these things are blowing up. Some people are getting blown to
shit, and some people are not. You just hope that none of them land on you.
You are real fucking helpless. I could not handle it. That really fucked me up.
That would give me nightmares, that would give me jitters, that would freak me
out, you know? I could not deal with that; it just fucked me up. I was scared to
death of that.
One time, we got caught in a mine field, and they opened fire on us from two
sides. Being stuck where you cannot move when people are shooting at you -
that's fucked. That is really fucked. When you are walking and the guy two guys
in front of you steps on a mine and the guy two guys behind you steps on a mine
and you know that you are in a mine field, you just start shaking. You are just
scared to shit. Those were the things that scared me.
On this last operation, it was a five-battalion operation, so we are talking about
5,000 men. That is a lot of fucking men. We had moved up into Quang Tri, and
we were going to secure the area and build an airstrip. We were the first
Marines up there, and we were going to show them that we were not fucking
around. So when we first got there, we went into this village, and we burned this
village down, and we killed all the people in the village. We stuck aces of spades
in their mouths, and we let them know that we were there you know, macho
fucking guys and all this shit. Then we went on an operation in the national
forest where they were supposed to be. They ambushed us, and they overran
us, and they kicked our fucking ass. That day, I thought I was going to be killed.
I was wounded, and I did not see anybody left laying around me that was alive.
I thought that everybody was going to be dead. I thought about shooting myself
because I did not want to be taken prisoner and tortured. It was the first time I
ever thought about killing myself. Then I thought that if I killed myself, "I am out.
That is it." But I could fight so hard that they would have to kill me and not take
me prisoner. I would not put my arms down, no matter how many of them there
were, and I would just put my bayonet on my rifle, and I would just fight until they
killed me. I would not let them take me prisoner. So I decided not to kill myself,
and even though I was wounded, I crawled to other people that were dead, and I
took their ammo, and I used their ammo to fight with.
L: Did you get shot?
C: No. I got hit with a grenade right here.
L: Okay. The grenade blew up at your feet.
C: Yes. What happened was they had an ambush at the top of this mountain.
Along the ridgeline, they had machine guns set up on the front and on the side,
and they were sitting in the trees with grenades. When we walked in, they just
started dropping grenades on us and opened up on us from the front and the
side with machine guns. They just wiped the shit out of everybody. Our
company, Charlie One One (C-1-1, C-Company, 1st Batallion, 1st Marine
Regiment), was the lead company. There were 1,000 meters between each
company, and, basically, our battalion (1100 men) was going up this hill in a
single file. So you had like 270 men and 1,000 meters, and then 270 and 1,000
meters, etc., men strung out real long. Then we had blocking forces on the other
side of the mountain, and people going around the mountain, and people doing
all different kinds of shit, and everybody had different objectives. We were the
lead group. Also, I think that they had a vendetta to get us back for what we had
done to that village.
L: These are Vietcong or North Vietnamese Army?
C: These are North Vietnamese Army, NVA.
C: And they wiped us out. All I can tell you is they wiped us out. There was a lot of
hand-to-hand fighting, and we were just about out of ammo. My buddy Jim Fife
was with Delta Company. It was triple canopy forest. It was real dark, and we
could not see that well. I was wounded, and I was shook up. They were making
charges into us, and there was hand-to-hand fighting going on. I was having
trouble; I could not get the artillery adjusted. Jim climbed up in a tree where his
company was, and he could see where the artillery was hitting. I could not see
where it was hitting; I could just hear it. So we adjusted the artillery together. I
would shoot an azimuth to the artillery, but I did not know where it was. He
would move the artillery down my azimuth. They got the artillery all around us
until his company broke through and saved us. Leatherneck magazine did an
article called "Go Charlie," and it is not a truthful article. It has a lot of bravado in
it. It says that we ran out of ammo and after we ran out of ammo, the survivors
were singing the Marine Corps Hymn when we were saved. We were not
singing the Marine Corps Hymn. After that battle, everyone [who had been] at
that battle was an old man.
L: It sounds intense.
C: It is just like the movie Platoon. It was just incredible. I was thinking to myself,
"Why did I stay here? Why did I stay here? That is just crazy." Then I am back
in the rear now, and they are going to send me home, and I am asking to be able
to stay, because I am so close with my friends. I get this idea that I am going to
go home, and all my buddies have to stay in this shit. The captain came up to
me and said, "You ain't gonna stay. You don't really want to stay. You've been
here too long."
L: So you wanted a second extension of your tour?
C: Yes, not because I really wanted to, but because of this idea I had growing up
that real men do not run from a fight, and real men do not leave their friends
behind. That is one of the problems that a lot of guys have [after] coming home
from Vietnam. When it was their time to go, they left, and things happened to
their buddies, and they were not there, and they feel responsible for that. But
that was just the way the war was. In World War II, you went over in a unit, and
your unit all came home together. It was finalized; you knew who was left and
who was not left. But when you are coming home one at a time, it is just a whole
They did not do that in the Gulf War. Not only that, in the Gulf War, they had
counselors for people before they went, [and] they had counseling for their
families before they went and when they came back. They really dealt with the
psychological impact of it, plus they had a strategy. I am against the Gulf War,
but [at least] they had a strategy. There was never a strategy in the Vietnam
War. Like in a football game, you have an hour to play. Whoever gets the ball
across the opponent's goal the most times wins. In Vietnam, there was no such
thing as "capture the flag and you win. Burn down their capital and you win."
Winning was staying alive and killing as many of them as possible. That can go
on for a long time.
L: When did you leave Vietnam?
C: I got back in November of 1967.
L: You were still in the military for at least two more years?
C: Almost two more years. I first came home to Camp Pendleton in California.
Then I get sent to Camp LeJeune. At Camp LeJeune, I go to a unit called India-
3-10--India Battery, Third Battalion, Tenth Marine, an artillery unit. The first thing
they do is send me to the rifle range because the rules say that you have to
qualify with a rifle every certain amount of time, and I had not been to the rifle
range in almost two years.
L: You had been in combat for two years.
C: So I am pissed off that they make me go through this shit, and I am a sergeant
now. Then I come back from the rifle range, and I go to embarkation school.
We go on a Med cruise to Europe. During this period of time, I am going to non-
commissioned officers' school, embarkation school, nuclear, biological, and
chemical warfare school, survey school, [and] riot control school. I taught a
regimental fire direction control school.
I go six months to Europe. In Europe, we are on ships. You go to these different
countries, and you play war games with different countries. The U.S. has ships
all over the fucking place. The ships rotate around; we always have ships
everywhere, and on all these ships are Marines. Their job is to do what Marines
are supposed to do. So you climb down the side of a ship [and] into a little boat
and attack islands and you play fucking war. We came in and went to Italy,
Greece, Sardinia, Malta, Spain, [and] Germany.
My lesson in Vietnam was that we might be big tough Americans, but when we
first got there we thought we were going to kick their ass in six months and it
would be over. Then I found out that being six feet tall and white did not mean
you were the best and you were going to win.
One of the things that I learned [in Europe] this was another big lesson for me
was that [everyone in the world did not want to be like Americans]. I still had
this idea that everyone in the world wanted to be like America. We were the
smartest, and we were the best. Everywhere we went, people did not like us.
They thought we were arrogant, and we were arrogant. All they cared about was
our fucking money. You do not really get to see these countries. You get to
have liberty, but what happens is you get off the ship around two in the
afternoon, you go into town, you get drunk, you buy souvenirs, and you get laid.
You do not get to go very far because you have to be back on the ship at
midnight. As an NCO, I would have one day as a Marine on liberty and the next
day I would have shore patrol. The Marine Corps is part of the Navy, so they
had one Marine NCO with two Navy personnel. You wear a white armband that
says SP, and you carry a fucking nightstick, and you have a white belt, and you
walk around and arrest drunks and stop people from fighting and all that kind of
shit. You do not really get to meet the people or know the people. You are just
dealing with whores and people who want your fucking money.
Then I came back from Europe, and we went to Vieques an island off of Puerto
Rico and played war games there. We went to St. Thomas. [It was] all training
There was no way I was going to stay in the Marine Corps. I got offered E-6
(staff sergeant) to stay in, but it was obvious to me that I was not really cut out to
be in the Marines. I did not really like the idea of all the bullshit. I did not like the
way people of higher rank talked to me. I did not like being made to do things
that were stupid. I could have really stayed in the Marine Corps [because] I
really liked the order and the discipline. I just did not like the fucking bullshit.
Stateside, there is a lot of bullshit. In combat, there is no bullshit. In all of my
antiwar stuff, just to give it balance, I have to tell you that when we were not
getting our asses kicked, it was very exciting and stimulating. I enjoyed a lot of
what was going on in Vietnam. I enjoyed the authority; I enjoyed being able to
call in airstrikes [and] artillery. You know how much power it is for a fucking
nineteen-year-old kid to get on a radio and say, "Fire mission," and have jets
strafing the fucking treeline, having fucking artillery and naval gunfire and the
whole fucking place blowing up? Here I am, [saying,] "Left two hundred, drop
two hundred." It is an incredible amount of power, and it is an incredible amount
of responsibility. Then you come back to the States and you are twenty-one
years old, and you ain't shit. Nobody gives a shit about your sacrifices, and all of
a sudden, you have no responsibility. You heard the song "Readjustment Blues"
earlier tonight when you listened to that tape by John Denver. One of the lines in
that song that really gets me is, "This time I'm the citizen, and they're pointing
their guns at me." It is really a role reversal. We would be crossing a road, and
there would be Vietnamese set up on the road selling booze and selling boots
and stuff like that. Here all my guys have tape around their boots to hold their
boots together, and we cannot get resupplied. All these fucking guys in the rear
have new fucking shoes, they have new fucking pants, [and] they have new
fucking clothes. We cannot get anything. We are the guys that are out there.
There are ten of them in the rear for every one of us that is out there, and they
have all the fucking supplies. The Vietnamese would be selling boots, and so we
would just take them. They would bitch about it, and we would just fucking shoot
them. You know, "Fuck you guys. These are our supplies anyway." I do not
remember the point that I was trying to say.
L: Becoming a civilian and losing all of this power and authority.
C: Yes. Now you come home, and you are not shit. You settle a dispute in
Vietnam by shooting someone, and then they do not fuck with you anymore.
You come home, and boom! You do that, and you are a murderer. You are in
trouble. Once you train a person, condition a person, and program a person like
that, you cannot get that out of the person I do not give a fuck what they say. It
is really criminal for them to put us through that and then to drop us off on the
street. One day you are killing people, and the next day you are walking around
home, and the fucking cops are pushing you around. What the fuck do they
expect? I think that we really behaved well, considering the amount of anger that
we had and the amount of authority and tactics that we were once used to. Now
all of a sudden, we are getting pushed around by fucking kids who were not in
the service, wearing a blue uniform and beating you up with a fucking stick
because you are fucking exercising your rights.
L: When did you get out of the service, and what did you do once you were not a
C: First I want to tell one more part about the service. In 1969, I went to Western
Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina. I was still in the Marines, and I
went there for four days to lecture on why the war was right. Here I am, still
proud as hell of being a Marine and having served my country. I paid my dues,
you know? I earned respect. I am a man now. I know about responsibility. I
have taken people's lives, [and] I have ordered people to do things that have
caused them to die. It is a lot of responsibility for a kid. Now I am a fucking
man. I am an adult. And I have had a lot of responsibility: taking people on a
patrol through the jungle, reading a map, making sure that we are not in the
wrong fucking place, getting stuck in a minefield, getting them out of the fucking
minefield, bringing back the fucking wounded, bringing back the fucking dead.
There is a lot of responsibility there, under a lot of stressful conditions. I am here
at the Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, a beautiful place, and people
want to know what we did in Vietnam, so I am telling them. People are hostile
towards me. I am saying: "What the fuck is wrong with these damn people? I
just do not understand." Someone said, "Were you killing women and children?"
I said: "Of course we were killing women and children. What the fuck do you
think we were doing over there? Playing patty-cake? We were killing women
and children. They are fucking commies." [They said,] "Well, it is not right to kill
women and children." I said: "Bullshit. A woman can kill you. A kid can kill you.
When it is in the best interest of your nation, you fucking kill them. I do not hear
anybody bitching about all the women and children that were killed in Hiroshima
and Nagasaki. What the fuck is the difference if you drop the bomb on them or if
you fucking shoot them with a gun? There ain't no Goddamn difference. They
are fucking dead. Women are just communist baby factories, and you have to
wipe out the factories. Their children are just gonna grow up to fight your
children, and you have to kill them. What's this bullshit about women and
children? It's a fucking war." I believed everything I had just said to them, and
they were pissed at me and thought that I was a fucking Nazi. I am saying: "I
wasn't even old enough to vote. You guys were the fucking voters. You guys
decide who our leaders are. They're the ones who decide our fucking policy.
You shouldn't be mad at me for what I did; I should be mad at you for fucking
electing the leaders that put me over there." The Marine Corps took me out of
there. I did not understand why I was in trouble for being adamant that what we
were doing was right and telling them what we were doing all of the kinds of
things we did.
It is against the rules of war, for instance, to torture people. Some people
tortured people, you know? If you get captured, and we think you can tell us
where a minefield is, and that is going to save our men, do you think that
somebody's not gonna fucking get it out of you? Instead, we are going to march
our men into the minefield to treat you good? Fuck you. It just don't work like
Booby-trapping bodies is illegal. That is something we did all the time. You
shoot a person, then you put a grenade under their body, and you pull the pin.
Their body is laying on top of the spoon. Then you go. Then they come to pick
up their dead. They pick the guy up, and as soon as they pick him up, the
grenade goes off boom! and gets a couple more.
This is a really important thing to talk about for me this idea about rules of war.
In reality, war is the ultimate human rights violation. Everything that takes part in
war is part of war. The act of war itself is a major human rights violation. The
torturing of prisoners and everything else is just a little piece of the big picture
of war. To say that you can have war and you are going to have fucking rules [is
ridiculous]. Where the hell did this idea come from? This is the most stupid,
insane, ridiculous, hypocritical thing that there could be. If you have a way to
make and enforce rules, then why can't you use those same means to solve the
L: Instead of having the war.
C: Instead of having the damn war. But once you say my life is on the line, you are
going to tell me what ways I am allowed to live and defend myself and what ways
I am not allowed to defend myself? And I am going to say: "Okay. I will die
rather than cheat." I mean, give me a fucking break! If the choice is dying or
cheating and staying alive, you show me one person who is going to fucking play
by the rules and die. It ain't gonna fucking happen. This sanctimonious bullshit
about after the war you punish the people that cheated is just total bullshit. The
war itself is the ultimate human rights violation, and if there is going to be
punishment, it should be for the people who made the war come about on both
sides. It should not be for the little guy who burns down the village and tortures
somebody, you know? It should be for the people that put that fucking guy over
there in that goddamn village. I really resent [that].
What Lieutenant Calley [in Platoon] did was not right. He lined up civilians, and
he fucking mowed them down. If a B-52 would have flown over My Lai and
dropped a bomb and killed all those fucking people, they would be just as dead,
and that fucking pilot would have a goddamn medal. What is the fucking
difference? One guy looked them in the eye, and the other guy was fucking
30,000 feet in the air. It [makes] no difference to those dead people. You
cannot have rules of war. You cannot have rules unless people are willing to
obey them. If they are not willing to be civil in the first fucking place, how are
they gonna obey fucking rules about how to kill each other? That makes me
almost more angry than anything else this idea that war is clean, that war is
honorable, that war is just, [and] that it is civilized. War is barbaric. It is not
clean, it is not civilized, [and] it is not just. All it is is organized murder. That is all
it fucking is organized murder.
Then we come home, and all of a sudden we are supposed to fall in line and be
just regular fucking dudes again. You cannot take those experiences out of a
person. I will never be a normal person. I will never be a normal person. They
owe me for that. This country fucking owes me for that. As far as I am
concerned, I should never have to fucking pay taxes again, and I should have a
fucking renewable "get out of jail free" card. They made me what I am, and now
they are going to punish me for what they made me. What they made me was
okay over there, but it is not okay over here. That is fucking wrong.
Thirty percent of all the people in prison are Vietnam veterans. Thirty percent of
the fucking homeless are Vietnam veterans. That is the pay for what they did?
Go look in a VA hospital and see how those fucking people have to live there,
and tell me that is what they fucking deserve. You think of the people who did
not go who made money off of the war and have big fucking fat bank accounts
and living fucking high on the hog [like] the arms manufacturers and the people
in the business of providing military stuff for war. People like Colt who provided
us with those piece of shit M-16s that did not work, and my buddies died
because they had fucking shit that did not work, while they were selling that stuff
to the government at a profit.
What I really believe is just is that if you are going to ask the young people to
prove their patriotism to their country by being willing to sacrifice their lives and
their safety for the country, then the country should have to make a sacrifice, too,
and that sacrifice is in profit. There ought to be a law that says when the men go
to fight, all the people that are making the stuff for them have to provide it at
cost--no fucking profit. [There should be] no profiting from war. You take the
fucking profit out of war, and you are gonna see that people are not gonna want
the war anymore. The only reason that there is fucking war is because people
make money. Bankers make money, and the munitions makers make money.
The wheelers and dealers and politicians make money, and they sacrifice our
fucking children to do it. It is immoral, it is disgusting, I cannot even think of a
low enough word to tell you how I feel [about] people that consider it okay to
profit while other people are dying. They have no right to make a profit. They
should fucking have to work for cost. If we are willing to sacrifice our children,
then they should have to sacrifice their fucking profit. There is nothing more
unpatriotic than making profit while Americans are dying.
The only thing more unpatriotic than that is giving the weapons to the people that
you send the Americans to fight. In the Gulf War, we fucking arm Saddam
Hussein, and we make him strong. Then we send Americans to fight them.
Anytime an American is killed by people who were armed by our politicians, do
not tell me there was a mistake. Put the people who made the decisions to give
them arms in prison. Put them in fucking prison. In the state of Florida, if one of
my kids gets my gun and shoots someone, I am liable for that under the law. If
you are going to send Americans to Panama to arrest Noriega, who trained him?
Who made him what he was? Who gave him his fucking arms? You punish the
people that fucking do that. I have so much anger in me about all this stuff. I
cannot even articulate it all, I am so pissed.
L: Did you have this set of opinions when you first got back?
C: No. When I first got back, what was on my mind was: Where am I going to live?
How am I going to pay my bills? What am I going to do to earn money? That is
what I thought about.
L: So what did you do?
C: I tried to be a cop, and I could not be a cop because I admitted that I used
marijuana. Here I have been killing fucking people and that is okay, but I smoke
and get high and do not bother anybody, and that is a crime. What the fuck is
wrong with these guys? If I was getting drunk and beating people up in bars I
could be a cop, but because I am fucking smoking marijuana and more
interested in eating ice cream and getting laid, I am a bad person? I knew I
could get money by going to school on the G.I. Bill. So I only went to school to
get the money to give me the time to figure out what I was going to do.
L: This is at Miami-Dade Community College?
C: Right. The law was that if you were a veteran, you did not have to take any
tests. My grades in high school were not that great.
L: Tests to get in?
C: Right. I did not have to take any kind of test. I automatically qualified. I am not
sure I could have passed the test to get in because I was not an academic kind
of person then. But when I got into college, it was like 180-degree turn from high
school. To start with, I was older than the people in my class. They were people
out of high school. I had four years' experience, plus I had gone to a lot of
school in the Marine Corps. I had learned how to pay attention and how to learn.
I had taught a lot of classes; I had learned how to teach. I had started to
understand. I was a mature person. Plus, I was treated like a human being. I
was not treated like a fucking piece of shit [the way I had been in high school.
Back then, when] I came into class late, [the teacher said,] "Where's the fucking
note? Go to the dean's office." If I missed a day, [the teacher asked,] "Where is
a note from your mother?" If I did not turn in any homework, [I would be asked,]
"Scott Camil, why didn't you do your homework?" [They would] humiliate you in
front of the class. [There was] none of that bullshit. If you made it, you made it,
and if you did not, you did not. It was not any hair off their fucking backs.
But what I really found was that if you asked a question, like if I would go up after
class to discuss something, the teachers would get really excited that I was
interested. They would spend time with me and talk to me like a friend. It really
turned me on to school. It made me love school. I had this teacher at Miami-
Dade named Jeanette Levy. She was an English teacher. [That was] the first
time I ever got A's in English. I got D's and Ps in English [in high school]; I hated
English. I was getting fucking A's because she made it interesting, and she
treated me like a person. She made it relevant. I love that lady. I have no idea
what ever happened to her, but she was one of the people who made me into a
I took all the psychology courses, and I learned about positive reinforcement,
and I learned words like tokens for reinforcement for behavior. If you want to
reinforce someone's behavior, you give them something good (a "thank you" or
whatever it is), and they will keep doing that behavior.
I learned about history. In history, I wrote a paper once about the French
Revolution. I talked about all the things they wanted me to talk about, [like] the
letters of Cachet. In the paper, I wrote that I did not think that the way the
teacher was doing it was right, that I did not think it was important to understand
the dates of battles and the names of generals. To me, what was important in
studying the French revolution was: What was the government doing that pissed
the people off? What could the government have done to make the people not
so pissed? What did the people do? What alternatives did the people have?
The concepts are important. Learn from those fucking mistakes. I got a good
grade, and I had criticized a teacher. He did not fucking kick me out of class. He
talked to me after class about it. [He said] it was easier to grade papers this way
than the way I was talking about. Giving the person a multiple-choice test is
easier to grade than having to read 1,000 fucking pages. He gave me his side of
History was really, really stimulating to me. In my class, I had a guy named Sam
De Frawley. He was in his forties, I guess, and he was from Egypt. He was an
Arab, and I was a Jew, and he became my best friend.
L: He was a student?
C: He was a student. He had come out of his country. There were problems in
Egypt, and his government would not allow his records to be sent here. He was
at odds with his government. He had to go to school all over, but he already had
a doctorate, so school was a piece of cake to him. He was a really gentle person
and a really nice person. He is the one who told me about the war in Vietnam -
that we were really the aggressor. He got me looking at that stuff. It started
upsetting me. I wanted to be the fucking good guy in the white hat. Now I find
out that I was a fucking Nazi. I grew up as a Jewish person and was told the
stories of my family people who I had never met who were killed in
concentration camps for being Jews. When I was a kid and they would tell me
about that, I would think, "Why would soldiers kill women and children and put
them in ovens and stuff?" It did not make any sense to me.
One of the things that caused me a lot of psychological problems when I came
back was why, with that background of hearing the stories about the Holocaust
and the murdering of women and children, I turned around and did the same
fucking thing. Where the fuck was my brain? Why did it take me so long to
figure it out? I can rationalize and say that, well, in the Holocaust they were
actually civilians and were not fighting, where in Vietnam, there were women
guerrillas, and there were children who did things to us. They could throw
grenades and they could plant mines and stuff like that. But the general concept
disturbs me because I was in their home, fucking with their place. They were not
over here fucking with me. I was fucking with them, and they were the
defenders. I was the aggressor. He made me really think about stuff, and
history really made me think about stuff. I had this rush to get through. I come
back, and where are all my friends? They are all gone. They have moved away,
gone to college, they have jobs. There is no classroom to meet people at every
day. I had to meet a whole bunch of new friends, and these were all fucking kids
and stuff like that. I had this need to catch up. I was taking twenty-one hours a
semester. These were not quarter hours; they were full hours. I just overloaded
myself. I was making really good grades because I was really interested, and I
really liked it. I graduated with an AA degree from Miami-Dade.
L: About what year?
C: I got out of the Marines in July 1969 and started school in September of 1969. I
had my AA degree in December of 1970.
L: About a year and a half.
C: A year and three months.
L: That was quick.
C: Yes. I just popped it right out. I got a degree in pre-law at Dade, and I
transferred up here. I had a triple major: political science, psychology, and
L: So you get to Gainesville when?
C: December of 1970. I moved straight up here and started school in January of
L: Do you remember your reaction to Gainesville when you first got here?
C: When I first got here, there were trees. The streets were not big, wide streets.
There was not tons of traffic. There was a lot of green. It was slow. Miami was
fast and crowded and noisy. Gainesville was beautiful and green and slow. I fell
in love with Gainesville. I loved it. There was more space between the houses.
In Hialeah where we lived all the houses were the same. [It was like] the
song, "Little boxes on the hilltop." There were different kinds of houses. [There
were] older houses.
I am also smoking pot and doing drugs. My hair is long. I am not political yet,
but I am into music and that kind of thing. I am really also into learning stuff.
Registration was a bummer. I could not figure out why they did not do it like they
did it at Miami-Dade. Miami-Dade's registration was real smart. At Miami-Dade,
they had computer cards for the classes. You look at what you want. You go to
the history line. If you got the card, you had the space. You were in. Then you
would go get another card until you had your schedule. Here, you fill stuff out on
paper, and then you would go and find out something was full. You would have
to keep changing your schedule all around. You could not take it and have it. It
was fucking bullshit. Up here was totally bullshit for registration. I took the
classes that I wanted. The things that really interested me were history, political
science, psychology, and philosophy.
L: How would you describe the student body then? Was there a big movement?
Was there some political activity?
C: When I got here, I heard names like Marshall Jones [and] Bob Canney. I hear
that there has been a lot of strife with the black students and that black students
have been arrested for demonstrating and that some teachers have been fired
for anti-war activities. I first drive up here, and I do not know anybody not one
fucking person. My mother has a friend who went to Harvard with [someone who
is now] a doctor in Newberry named Karelas Doctor Karelas. He is still here.
So I go to him and say who I am. He hooks me up with a friend in Gainesville
who is a realtor, and they get me a place to rent. It is the corner house on
University Avenue and East 8th Street, right across from the Salvation Army. It
is $100 a month.
L: You are getting how much?
C: I am getting $130 from the government, plus $46 for disability. So I am getting
$176 a month. I find this place to live in a big building; there are four separate
apartments. I get to meet the other people who live there, and they become my
first friends. [There] is a young guy and a girl. The guy has real long blond hair,
and they are hippies, and they smoke dope. Downstairs is a guy from Columbia
and his roommate, and they sell dope. Next door is a divorced woman with two
kids, and she smokes dope. Everybody in the building is doing marijuana.
L: And you are 300 yards from the student ghetto.
C: The real student ghetto is past 13th Street, between 13th Street and 18th Street,
by the University post office.
C: I am over here in the east side of town.
C: There are students that live there, but that is not what we call the student ghetto.
Right next door to my house, on 8th Street behind me, is a house called the Eye
House. There is an underground paper in Gainesville called The Eye. They live
right behind me, but I do not know anything about them yet. I am kind of
materialistic, like I am still ironing my clothes, trimming my beard, and shining my
L: Making sure you have a belt on, right?
C: Yes. [I am] just being a Marine, looking nice and wearing nice clothes. I had
velour shirts and Madras shirts and Levis and loafers. I am driving a 1968
Camaro; that is what I bought with my money from Vietnam. I had a stereo
When I am at Miami-Dade, I am dating somebody who works at K-Mart, so I go
there and I shop, and I go through the register, and they charge me twenty-five
cents for this and thirty cents for that. I am getting $100 stereo sets and stuff like
that. I am filling up baskets and going through, and my bill is like $18. They
gave me a list of what they want.
So when I came up here, I am stocked full of fucking socks, underwear, jeans,
and all that stuff I really got unfairly. In Vietnam [once], we needed a generator.
So they sent a group of us Marines into Da Nang, and we went to the Air Force
base, and we stole a fucking generator. You just get what you fucking need. I
am not saying that makes it right [laughter]. I am saying that that is the behavior
I learned, and that is the behavior I did. I know it was illegal, but it did not fucking
matter. Basically, you do not get in trouble for breaking the rules; you get in
trouble for getting caught.
L: Right. How did you become politically active?
C: I was going to class, and I became politically active [due to] a number of things.
Because I was a Vietnam veteran, some of the teachers were interested in
talking to me. I was going to school on the G.I. Bill, and they knew it. They
talked to me, especially Dr. Marilyn Zweig (now her last name is Holly) in the
philosophy department. We read the Wilhelm Reich book.
L: On fascism. [The Mass Psychology of Fascism]
C: Yes. I read the book and wrote a paper. The book was about how you make a
person into a fascist. Everything it said that you do to break a person down and
rebuild him as a new person was what they did to me in Paris Island, and I wrote
the paper about that. She was really impressed, and she put me in touch with
the Gainesville Sun. To her, I was confirming her ideas about our government
being fascist, and it was very political. To me, I was just putting together my
experience and relating it to something I had read. I was not thinking in depth.
Then, Dr. [Ralph E.] Page [professor of political science] did a talk on the draft
on the "Dialogue" radio show, [and] he asked me to come with him as a Vietnam
vet. There was one guy who was for the draft, and [Dr. Page] was against the
draft. I really had not thought that much about it because it did not affect me.
When people are shooting at you, everybody shoots back. It does not make any
fucking difference whether you joined or whether you were drafted. I did not see
any difference in that in the early part of the war. He took the position that the
draft was wrong [and] that it was unconstitutional. The Constitution says that
slavery and involuntary servitude should not exist, and [the draft] is involuntary
servitude. Well, I agreed with that. The other guy took the position that the
Congress has the right to raise an army and that is how they can do it, and they
have the right to do it. [He said] that everybody should have to serve their
I was trying to balance between them, and the guy asked me what I thought. I
said that we did not need a military [and] that basically, we had enough atomic
bombs to blow up the world a bunch of fucking times and I would just say to
anybody, "Fuck with us and we'll nuke you. You do not need a fucking army.
Why half step? If you have to fight, go drop a bomb on them. Why waste your
fucking kids?" Boy, it generated a lot of phone calls. People thought I was nuts
[laughter]. You had World War II guys calling in and saying stuff like, "I served
my country, and you should have to serve your country. Young people should
have to serve their country, and if you fight with nuclear bombs, then you put the
old people and the people who have already served at risk."
Anyway, it was fun for me. I was taking philosophy courses, and I really liked
ancient philosophy Plato and Aristotle. To me, it was just like taking an idea
and kicking it around. I did not really have my mind made up about anything. I
was just kicking this idea around about the draft.
Then Jane Fonda came to talk. I saw in the Alligator that she was coming to
talk, so I decided, "Fuck. I am going to go see what she looks like." There was a
lot of controversy about her. I went there. I knew she had been to Vietnam, but I
did not really have anything against her for some reason. The only [person] I
ever had anything against was Joan Baez [1941-; American singer, political
activist]. When I was in Vietnam, I had read that Joan Baez had organized
something in San Francisco, and people had donated blood and sent their blood
to North Vietnam. I am thinking, "You mean that I might get killed by some
fucking gook with American blood? This is crazy." It made me pissed that they
would send blood to the fucking people who were trying to kill me. I did not like
that at all.
I really had not thought much about Jane Fonda. I really had not paid any
attention to any of that shit. I did not read the newspaper; I did not know what
the fuck was going on. I went to see her, and she is the one person who
changed my life. She is the one that made it all come together for me. If there is
anyone I would give credit [to] in the whole world for making me from a
Neanderthal, go-along-with-the-government, right-wing fascist into a sensitive,
thoughtful human being, it would be Jane Fonda.
L: Was she genuine and sincere in what she was doing against the war?
C: I believe she was. I believe that she was a hero. She was really fiery and
committed in her talk, but the things that she was saying were logical and made
sense. Her background gave it credibility because I thought: "She is rich. She
is fucking beautiful. She is an actress. She could be on the French Riviera,
sipping champagne, [and] laying on the fucking beach. She does not have to be
here getting jeered and booed. She certainly is not doing it because it is fun.
Why is she making this sacrifice? (It is obviously a sacrifice.) Why is she doing
it?" To me, that gave her credibility. She was not doing it to get out of anything.
She was not doing it for any kind of gain [or] to get any fucking money or
stardom. She could be a star already. The only reason I could think that she
was doing it was because she believed in it.
She said this was supposed to be a democracy, and the people are supposed to
be in charge. The people are not getting the truth, and without the truth, a
democracy cannot function; it cannot live. The government is lying about
Vietnam. Vietnam veterans should come forward and tell the truth about
Vietnam because the government is not.
I already knew that I had gotten in trouble for telling the truth [at] Western
Carolina. So I went forward to meet with them, and I did not really get to meet
with her. I got to meet with the people with her. I might have been able to say
hello to her; I do not really remember.
L: You said people were booing?
C: It is just like any demonstration you have pro and con. There were some
people there who did not agree with what she was saying.
L: I am just wondering if there were any strident conservative types on campus.
C: Yes. The Young Republicans were there [as well as] Young Americans for
Freedom (YAF). On the other side, you had SMC (Student Mobilization
Committee), YSA (Young Socialist Alliance), and I do not know what other
groups were there.
L: Do you remember anything about the Student Mobilization Committee?
C: When I started doing stuff, they were one of the groups I worked with. The
groups that I ended up working with were the Student Mobilization Committee
and the Gay Liberation.
L: Gay Liberation?
C: Yes. The president of Gay Liberation was named Julius Johnson. He was
probably about 6'4". [He was] a big, black guy. He was a really nice person. He
was really friendly to me. When I started doing stuff, he and the people from the
Young Socialist Alliance and the Student Mobilization Committee came and
offered me advice and help. Those were the groups that came to me.
L: Do you remember any names from the Young Socialists?
C: The people who headed YSA were also the people who headed SMC.
L: Harris Freeman?
C: You got him! You are right. I would never have remembered that. What
happened to him? Do you know?
L: I got his name out of a newspaper article.
C: Margie Zander is now a teacher at Jordan Glen School, where my kids go. She
was in SMC. There was also a journalist named David Miller. He put out
something called Gainesville Journalism Review. I have a copy right here.
L: This is dated May of 1975. Do you know if he was doing it earlier?
C: I cannot tell you that.
L: It says volume number three, so maybe [he was doing it] as early as 1972.
C: If I look through some of the articles, [I may remember some other names].
Other people who were active back then that I remember were David Chalmers
[professor of history], Michael Gannon [associate professor of religion and
history], Dr. [Herschel] Elliot from the philosophy department, Dr. [Thomas]
Hanna from the philosophy department, Dr. Page from the history department,
[and] Ken McGill.
I did not particularly care for McGill because I was not what I would call political,
again. He was one of those people who put things in terms of Marxism and
communism. I was not into that shit. I was not prepared to defend capitalism or
Marxism or communism. I did not care about any of that shit. All I cared about
was [that] I knew what we were really doing in Vietnam, and the government was
fucking lying about it. The people have the right to fucking know the truth. [I felt]
we should not be sending guys over there to get killed. Those were my first
feelings. So when Jane Fonda told me about the Winter Soldier Investigation
that she and Mark Lane [1927-; American lawyer] were putting together in
Detroit, I went up there for that.
L: Before we get into that, can I ask you a couple of other questions about the
L: Do you remember anything else about this Gay Liberation group? You told me
the guy's name. Was this a big, active group? Was this a small group? Was it
C: It was a group; it had members. All I can tell you is: we were allies. I really liked
this guy Julius Johnson. He was a really nice person. I cannot really tell you
why a macho ex-Marine who is very heterosexual would be friends with gay
people, except to say that if somebody was nice to me, I was nice back to them.
They came and were supportive of me. My meetings with them did not really
happen until after the Winter Soldier, because I am still not connected with
C: Actually, Jane Fonda says there is a group in town called Veterans for Peace
who are connected with this. So I go and meet them. I have my maps from
Vietnam, [and] I have tons of pictures of dead people. I am being very honest
with you: I did not go up there because I believed in democracy and that the
people should know the truth. I went and showed them my documentation (they
were looking for people with documentation). I had dates, I had names of
operations, I had maps, and I had pictures.
L: This is in Detroit?
C: This is here in Gainesville. So the Veterans for Peace here made the
arrangements with Detroit. I do not know the connection with Jane Fonda and
the Veterans for Peace and how that worked and how they put me in touch with
this group to go to Detroit. Someone had paid for my plane ticket and flew me
up to Detroit with my documentation. I had another more selfish motivation. I
was looking for recognition. I wanted to brag about all the gooks that I had killed.
I wanted to show off my medals. I wanted someone to pat me on the back and
say, "You did a good job, Scott." I was proud of what we did, and I was looking
for some fucking thanks.
That is not what the thing was about up there. That is what I was about when I
got there. Then I ran into Ken Campbell, who you saw in the film, The Winter
Soldier Investigation. He comes up to me in the very beginning and says,
"Sergeant Camil, is that you?"
L: [This is] the guy who looks like Peter Fonda?
C: Yes [laughter]. He said: "I was trying to remember about Bravo Company. I am
trying to find someone who was there." I said: "Goddamn. I forgot all about
that. That was the last one we did. Are they still doing stuff like that?" He said,
"Yeah, man, it's all the same." So now I am listening to everybody talk. I am
listening to people talk about racism. All of a sudden, all these other things I
talked about in the past (learning that we were really the aggressor, getting in
trouble for telling the truth, the Holocaust) are starting to come together. I am
starting to get the bigger picture finally. The Winter Soldier Investigation, which I
am motivated to go to by Jane Fonda, is all of a sudden starting to jell things. I
met some Vietnamese people there, and they were nice people. I am thinking:
"Damn. These are nice people, and I can be their friend. What the fuck was I
[doing] over there in their country, burning down their houses and killing them?
They really helped us in World War II; they were our allies. The OSS [Office of
Strategic Services] trained Ho Chi Minh and his soldiers to fight with us. What
the fuck were we doing? I liked these damn guys. They talked about how we
treated our prisoners. I killed all my fucking prisoners, and I still feel that if you
are going to send me to war, I would do it again. Here we are in the jungle, and
we catch some prisoners. Our mission is to go off to a certain fucking point and
save somebody or capture something or do something. You [as my prisoner] are
going to fucking slow me down. If we run into a bigger unit, you are going to yell
and give away my position. I ain't gonna leave any men behind with you
because I need all my men, and I ain't gonna let you fucking go. I am going to
kill you. That takes care of the problem. It is simple. It is all tactics.
You saw the video. For three days, I listened to all these people talking. I
listened to the Indian guy talk about [how] we did to the Vietnamese exactly what
we did to the Indians. I am listening to the black people talking about [how] this
is just fucking racism. This stuff is all feeding into my brain, and all of a sudden
all these things are starting to come together. Now, I am starting to think we
were the bad guys.
L: Do you remember the dates of this?
C: January 31, February 1 and 2, 1971.
L: It does not take you long after arriving in Gainesville to get somewhere.
C: No. But [to put it] in perspective, I came back from Vietnam in 1967. It took four
fucking years to get into my hard head. [laughter] I never get my feet on the
ground in Gainesville, and I am already in it.
Then a guy named Michael Oliver has a meeting with the veterans on the last
day and says: "Look. We're fucking those Vietnamese. We are fucking those
Americans. Our government is fucking us. They made us do things that were
wrong. They lied to us; if we would have known the truth, we wouldn't be doing
it. They're still sending other fucking people to do it. They're still killing people
over there who are just protecting their fucking homes. It's our job to get them
out of there. It's our job to stop the fucking killing. Ain't nobody else gonna
fucking do it. We need to organize, guys." I believed that. I am in there with all
these guys, and they are talking about all this shit, and I am thinking: "They're
right, and I'm gonna do this. I'm gonna be part of this. I want to do this." But
still, subconsciously, I am more motivated by the fact that I do not want any more
Americans to go through what I went through, [and less] motivated by the
suffering of the Vietnamese. I am still pretty bitter about the Vietnamese. I feel
that we were over there supposedly helping them, and they did not even help us.
In the daytime, they are our friends, and in the nighttime, they are fucking killing
us. I still have a lot of resentment and bitterness, and it takes me a few more
years to overcome that. So I am fighting to end the war, but I am not necessarily
doing it for all the right reasons. I am doing it because I do not want Americans
to have to go through that shit, and I am pissed at our government for what they
did. I am still not that keen on the Vietnamese. I finally recognized that they are
not gooks and that they are human beings. It takes awhile for that to soak in.
Now I come back, and [I am in Detroit]. They say: "What we need to do is to
form a national organization. We need to put these kinds of displays on in every
town across the country. If everybody goes back to their hometowns and
organizes the veterans in their hometowns and the people of their communities
see the people that they know talking about this, we are going to change this
L: Is this where Vietnam Veterans Against the War comes into existence?
C: Yes and no. Already, there is a Vietnam Veterans Against the War in New
Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York. They have been working since like 1968.
Now this is the first time that we are talking about doing it nationwide. These
guys who are talking are organizers.
L: From this existing group?
C: They are trying to organize the rest of us. They are guys who have organized
unions. They have organized civil rights stuff. These guys have been doing
movement stuff. I have not been doing shit. I agree to be on a list of people to
try to do this.
I come back to Gainesville, and I come back to Vets for Peace, and I give them a
report. [I tell them,] "This is what went on, and this is what we should do, and I
think we should organize it." They are real cold to me. From their point of view,
"Who is this new guy? All of a sudden this guy comes out of nowhere. He ain't
never fucking done nothing, and all of a sudden he wants to take charge and do
this shit. Who the fuck is he? He is an awfully suspicious character."
The people in YSA and these people who are Marxists are kind of purist people.
They do not want to do things that are illegal. They know I smoke dope. They
feel that if you smoke dope, you are undermining the credibility of what you are
doing. Fuck them. Who gives a shit if I smoke dope? To me, it ain't no big deal.
From their point of view, here is a guy who is doing dope and comes in from
nowhere, and we do not trust him.
L: What do you remember about the Veterans for Peace other than the fact that
they were not interested?
C: Just that they seemed a little bit older than me. A lot of them seemed to be
working on their master's and stuff like that. They were older people.
L: Did they have a well-worked-out political agenda?
C: I do not know because I just went there the one meeting to show my shit, then I
came back to a meeting to tell them what I did. I never really heard what they
did or what they were into.
L: I was wondering if the names Bob Clark or Gary Saunders [ring a bell].
C: Both those names sound familiar. I was not with them. There was never any
time to get anything going. I came back, and I was kind of motivated. I came
back, and I have a Vietnam Veterans Against the War button; I am the only one
in Gainesville. [laughter] I get a call from Mike Oliver, saying: "We are
scheduling a conference for the end of February in New York City. We are going
to organize nationally. We want you to come up and represent the South." I
said, "I don't have any money." They said, "We'll send you a ticket." I said,
"Okay." I went up for that, and the United States got broken into twenty-eight
parts, based on where the people that came are from. So I end up having
Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi,
Kentucky, and Tennessee. There is nobody from any of those states but me.
L: You were the only one.
C: I was the only one from any of those states.
L: Did this ever change?
C: Yes. It changes later on. What happens is, we draw up the objectives: what we
stand for, the constitution, and the by-laws. It is really neat because I feel like
one of the founding fathers.
L: How many people are at this national meeting?
C: There are the twenty-eight of us who became coordinators, and then there are
the four people who got elected to run the national office, then girlfriends and
other people, so there might have been fifty of us.
L: Okay. So you draw up all these constitutions and by-laws.
C: We fight over every fucking word. It is a battle to cross every T and dot every I.
The group is made up of all people who agree the war is wrong, but you have the
right-wingers who feel that we are not fighting to win, so we should not be doing
it. Unless we are going to fight to win, we should not be doing it. [They believe]
the war is really right; we are just not fighting it right. You have the people who
feel it is racist and for that reason, it is wrong. You have the people that feel that
it is all the fault of capitalism. You have the people that feel it is just not being a
decent human being. So you get all these people who really are not together on
much of anything except [that] we are all Vietnam veterans, and we all think we
have been fucked by the government and the war is wrong. It is kind of neat.
There is a lot of arguing going on about whether or not it should be called a racist
war, whether or not we should attack capitalism, etc. I am saying stuff like: "I
can go and talk about [how] it is wrong for what we are doing, but I cannot attack
capitalism. I do not know anything about capitalism and communism and all
that. From what I have studied in school, they both have their good parts, and
they both have their bad parts. No system is perfect, and all systems are made
up of people. If you have lazy people in a capitalist society, you are not going to
make it. If you have people in a communist society that want to fucking work
more and have more, they are fucked. There are just different kinds of people.
Some people are smart and some people are dumb. You cannot fit all the
people into one system. I do not want to have to deal with that. That is a
sidetrack for me. I want to fucking deal with just the war."
They are saying: "The war? That is just a symptom of the problem. We have to
deal with the problem to take care of the war." There is all this fucking shit going
on. That is where I did not fit in the dogma.
C: I was just different than a lot of those people, but I was articulate. I spoke from
the heart, and I was a logical person. I had a lot of experience as an NCO, and I
had been through a lot in Vietnam. So I had a lot of things that gave me a lot of
power, and I was one of the stronger people there.
Now I come back to Gainesville. During this period of time, Playboy gives us a
free full-page ad saying that if you think the war is wrong and you want to do
something about it, contact this group. Twenty thousand veterans send their
names in to Playboy. I get a printout from headquarters of Vietnam Veterans
Against the War of all the people from Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North
Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, [and] Mississippi who answer that [ad]. I
compose a letter and I send it to all of them. [It says] who I am, explains what
the Winter Soldier Investigation is and [tells] what we want to do. I send each
person a list of all the people in their city and say: "Here is what I would like you
to do. Contact the people on this list. Have a meeting, get together, and pick a
leader. Call me, and I will come and help you get organized. Then, all of a
sudden, chapters spring up all over the fucking place. I get a call from
Birmingham, Alabama, saying: "We called everyone on this list, and there are
twenty of us here, and we want to do something, and we would like you to come
up and help us." Boom. I drive up to Birmingham; I drive up to Tuscaloosa; I
drive to Miami, Tampa, Daytona, and all over the place.
L: The national office is financing you?
C: No. Now I am financing myself. Now we have to turn off the tape recorder for a
I am driving around and organizing veterans. I am setting up Winter Soldier
Investigations all over the Southeast. I am meeting a lot of people, and we are
getting donations from people. Our initial thing was the Winter Soldier
Investigation. Now, other people come. The people who came to the Winter
Soldier Investigation here in Gainesville, [some of whom were] Quakers, came
up to me and talked to me. People from the Gay Liberation came and talked to
me. People who were involved in the movement came. SMC would sponsor a
demonstration, and they would come and say, "Would you be a speaker for us?"
Everybody that would set up a demonstration would want me to come and be a
L: Do you remember any feminists being active [like] Gainesville Women's
Liberation [or] Campus NOW?
C: There definitely was not a Campus NOW back then. This was still the time when
sex was clean and air was dirty [laughter]. Being promiscuous was okay. There
was feminist stuff in the sense that there were a lot of women involved in the
movement, but there was not the kind of feminist stuff that there is today, which
is male-bashing and kind of separatist. It was more like equal rights for blacks,
equal rights for Indians, equal rights for gay people, equal rights for women,
[and] equal rights for veterans. It was all working for justice and equal rights for
everyone. We were not pitted against one another.
L: Do you remember Judith Brown?
C: Yes. I knew Judith Brown's name, but she was more like the old guard. We
were friends, but I was an elitist kind of person. Like all these other groups had
their own things. I did not want to fight on those issues. I did not know anything
about those issues. My issue was Vietnam. I did not really like working with
civilians because they had collectives. They had all this stuff where they would
sit around and criticize each other. A lot of their time went into dogma. I did not
have a taste for any of that. I was not going to go to a meeting [to hear], "How
come you don't have any women?" Well, damn, there were not a whole lot of
women who served in Vietnam. What do you mean we do not have any
women? I mean, fuck you. I just did not have time for any of that stuff.
C: Some of them considered me to be sexist, but it was really elitist. I just wanted
to work on the issue I knew about. I am an expert on this issue. I was there, I
did it, I know what I am talking about. I cannot go and talk about communism
and capitalism and racism. I have not read about that stuff. I do not know about
that stuff, and it would be easy to trip me up. Talk about Vietnam, and I will kick
your ass. I know it.
L: What about Young Americans for Freedom? I think in the It Did Happen Here
book, you mention that the Young Americans for Freedom house was right
across from where you were living.
C: It was, but it was an interesting kind of thing. Brian Donnelly was one of the
people. He was actually a libertarian, I think. The libertarians, Young Americans
for Freedom, and the Young Republicans hung out together, but they did not
agree on everything. The libertarians were against the Vietnam War. The
Young Americans for Freedom and the Young Republicans were not. The head
of the Young Republicans and the Young Americans for Freedom was Mike
Carr, and he was a Vietnam vet. He was part Cuban. I met him real early on.
He was a personable guy, but kind of a trickster like how I see Republicans.
Republicans like to play semantic games. People like [William F.] Buckley
[1925-American editor, author] want to get out there and astonish you with their
fucking vocabulary and trip you up on vocabulary without really talking about the
real shit. They have a good vocabulary and they know the different meanings of
a lot of stuff, and they play word games. It is more like a chess match than
dealing with the issues.
Mike Carr came up to me and introduced himself to me and mentioned that he
was a veteran. We shook hands. I told him that I had just come up from
Hialeah, and I was glad to get away from all those fucking Cubans. He said, "I
am part Cuban" [laughter].
L: Oops [laughter].
C: Also, I was positive about my feelings about Vietnam. I agree that those other
guys that went there that were not in combat had a right to resent the things I
was saying. They did not fucking kill women and children, they did not burn
down villages, and they did not want that fucking rap. I agree with them, and
they have the right to that feeling. But I also have the right to what I saw. We
could not have done what we did without their fucking support. So they have
blood on their hands, too. They might not have it eye to eye, but the people that
loaded the bomb on the plane are just as responsible for the people that those
bombs dropped on as the people who pushed the buttons. The people that sat
there and fucking gave us intelligence on where to go, they are just as
We [Mike and I] ended up liking each other, and we did not allow the politics to
get between our relationship. He was also into political science and philosophy.
L: Did any of those people smoke dope that you can remember?
C: I do not think that Mike smoked dope. I do not remember ever smoking dope
with him. I am pretty sure that he was against it. Now the libertarians, I think,
probably got high. It was just the YSA people and some of the Republican
people that did not do it, but I know that some of the Republicans did.
L: The YSA or the YAF?
C: The Young Socialist Alliance Harris Freeman. Those people were real strict
about their rules. The government was really against them. The government
was really hitting hard against the socialist groups.
We had a fundraiser on Florida Field. We played a football game. It was the
Young Republicans and the Young Americans for Freedom versus Vietnam
Veterans Against the War. It was an hour-long game with referees. It was tackle
[with] no pads. We all wore combat boots and jeans and fucking green shirts.
They all wore running shoes and shorts. They had a lot of ringers jocks in
there. They won the game. We each had a person carted off in an ambulance
to the hospital. It was a really hard-hitting game, and they would never play us
again. And it was fun.
L: About how many people were in your local chapter of VVAW?
C: We had almost eighty people. It was like seventy-seven people.
L: All veterans?
L: And I take it all male.
C: All male as far as the veterans went, but we could not have existed without the
female support the wives and the girlfriends. There was a woman named
Nancy McCown and Carol Gordon. You met her; her name was Carol Matzkin.
Without those two women, I would not have been able to do anything.
L: Were they doing secretarial things?
C: It was secretarial things, but saying that downplays the significance of their work.
Carol did the typing. I would sit there and read something in the newspaper and
rattle off a letter to the editor. All I did was talk. She sat there, she typed it, I
would sign it, [and] she would mail it off. They would make sure all the words
were spelled and that everything was punctuated right. They would make phone
calls. They would also talk about tactics (not security tactics, because that was
really more my department), but [they would tell me,] "If you do this, Scott, it's
going to turn people off." [They would advise,] "You ought to talk with this group,
Scott, because this is a good group."
L: [They would discuss] political tactics.
C: Political tactics [and] consciousness-raising. I just have to tell you that I got all
the glory, but without the help of Nancy McCown and Carol Matzkin, none of this
could have happened. They also gave me love [and] emotional support. They
were my friends when I was down. They would help me when I was
overwhelmed. They gave me strength, love, [and] support. I definitely was not
shit without them. I really feel bad [that] people come to interview me about all
those things I did in the past, and it could not have been done without them. So
to say that they were secretaries [minimizes their contributions]. They were like
the heart, the soul, [and] the conscience. I was just the brawn [laughter].
L: How many of your members were black?
L: Three out of eighty?
C: Yes. [They were] Alan Jackson (who worked at the VA Hospital), James Brown
(who is a minister in Gainesville now), and one other person who was a friend of
theirs, Charles Goston.
L: Was this because there were not many black veterans at UF?
C: No. It is because they had a different struggle. Their struggle was civil rights
and racism and dealing with "Whitey" and his shit.
L: Were you in Gainesville when the Black Student Union took over Tigert [Hall on]
April 15, 1971?
C: Yes, and not only that, I supported them. Sam Taylor was the student body
president. He was black, and we were good friends.
L: When you said you supported what the Black Student Union did, what does that
C: That means that they would call up and say, "We're going to do this. Will you
speak?" I would come and speak; I would bring my friends. The vets would
come, and we would be there. They came to our demonstrations; we went to
their demonstrations. We were 100 percent supportive of them. They are the
ones that all got put in the buses and sent to jail. We supported what they were
fighting for, but it was not our top priority. We came to their demonstrations and
marched in their marches. We talked when they needed speakers. They came
and did the same thing for us. We were a student organization; we had student
funding. We got to march in the Homecoming parade. We kicked ass in the
Homecoming parade. I would say the best demonstration we ever had was in
the Homecoming parade.
L: Tell me what year that was. Was this with the guerilla theater and the flag-
L: Is this before or after you are indicted with the Gainesville Eight? 1971 or 1972?
C: I could not tell you without looking in the newspapers. I am telling you, every day
I was speaking somewhere or going somewhere. I was totally overwhelmed.
L: Okay. I will look it up. Tell me about the Homecoming parade.
C: This was so good. The theme of the Homecoming parade was "The Impossible
Dream." We had a sign, and it said, "The impossible dream no more war."
What more impossible dream could you have? First we had three people
carrying the big banner that you saw that said, "Vietnam Veterans Against the
War." The sign was tacked onto the front of the casket. Four of us carried the
casket. I was one of the people that carried the casket. It had a flag draped
over it, and it said, "The impossible dream no more war." Then, behind the
casket were two reinforced squads of veterans dressed in Vietnam garb.
L: Bush fatigues?
C: Jungle utilities. We carried toy M-16s, but we wore real bayonets and real
kaybars. A kaybar is a Marine corps fighting knife.
L: With the leather rings and a handle?
C: It has like a wooden handle with the rings in it with a flat back end. [It is] sharp
on both sides [and has] big blood gutters. [It is a] really nice knife. I like that
knife. I still have one.
L: Okay. I have seen those.
C: We had done practice with people from the Quaker Church and the Unitarian
Church. They were stationed at major intersections like University [Avenue] and
13th Street. They were hidden in the crowd in groups, and they had packets of
blood under their clothes. There is a hobby store over there by Albertson's. I
bought these colored balls that you would light. They looked like cherry bombs;
smoke would come out of them. When I would see them in the crowd, I would
light [a smoke bomb], and I would throw it into the crowd. Immediately upon
doing that, a squad from behind the casket would break off and charge the
crowd, yelling and screaming, grabbing these [planted] people, throwing them on
the fucking ground, [and] stabbing them. Blood would start coming out from the
blood packets. The people freaked out. I am telling you, people freaked the
fuck out. The cops were going fucking crazy.
The second squad would hand out leaflets to the crowd. (I have the leaflets here
still). [The leaflet] would say, "A U.S. infantry unit has just come through here. If
you were Vietnamese, we might have killed you, we might have killed your
children, we might have raped your wife, we might have raped your daughters,
we might have burned your village, [and] we would have done all these things in
the name of the American people. If it bothers you that your husbands, sons,
and fathers are being sent to do these things to other human beings, join us to
end the war." Kick ass. Let me tell you, the pigs were so pissed.
L: I will bet.
C: They were so pissed. We came around Main Street where it ended. About forty
of us were walking back in a group to my house, which was the headquarters,
and the police came. They wanted to arrest a couple of us for profanity for
saying, "One, two, three, four, we don't want your fucking war." People took their
fucking shirts off, unsnapped their fucking knives, and we said, "Come and get
us." The cops backed down.
L: How would you characterize the campus police, the city police, and the Alachua
County sheriff's deputies? Were they out to get you? Were they restrained?
C: Let me say that it was a mixture. I would say that it was new for them. They
were not used to having their authority challenged. They had never been in a
position to back down, but [they knew it would not be wise] to get in a big fight
with veterans over this issue. We were going to fight. They were going to have
to fucking shoot us. We would not allow them to take a man. They were not
going to take one of our fucking men. [Remember] the camaraderie that we
talked about before? In those days, there was no way you could touch one of
us. The police did not like that, and the police did not make an issue of it. I have
to say, actually, we had a pretty good relationship with the police for the most
What happened in the May riots really was because they were so overwhelmed
that they brought in police from out of town who did not have the experience of
working with the students. More than half of the Gainesville police [force] were
students. [They were] people taking classes. They brought in Levy County
Sheriff's Department, Marion County Sheriff's Department, Florida Highway
Patrol, [and] Marine Patrol. Those fucking people were fucking rednecks. They
were going to fucking beat up some fucking hippies, and things got out of hand.
Eighteen police [officers] were hospitalized. Fifty-four police [officers] were
treated on the scene. Four hundred people were arrested. Not fucking one of
my men was arrested, and we did damage to them. I mean, we fucked these
L: How did these riots get started [May 9 and 10, 1972]? I know that they were in
response to the mining of Haiphong and to the expanded bombing campaigns
over North Vietnam the extension of the air war over North Vietnam.
C: Right. We decided to have a demonstration. The demonstrations would start
with speakers at the Plaza of the Americas.
L: Who is "we"? Is this just Vietnam Veterans Against the War?
C: No. We call a demonstration. I get on the phone, [and] I call up SMC Student
Mobilization Committee [and tell them,] "We are going to have a
demonstration." [I] Call up YSA. [I] Call up the Gay Liberation. [I] Call up each
group. [I call] the Black Student Union. I say, "This is what we are going to do;
can you provide one speaker?"
Also, we were real handy with the press. We would call up the Alligator, the
Gainesville Sun, [and] all the radio stations. Right away, I would make a press
release, Nancy or Carol would type it out, somebody would go deliver it in all
their boxes, and boom! It was on all the news. It was the fucking news. So as
soon as it was on the news, people came. I also had permits to block the street
at 13th [Street] and University [Avenue].
L: Why block the street? Where does this idea come from?
C: My idea was that we were going to inconvenience the people of Gainesville. It
was not a major inconvenience. It just seemed [to us] that unless they were
being affected by something, they did not give a shit. So we had to affect them.
The people of Vietnam were being "inconvenienced" by being bombed,
murdered, burned, napalmed, [and] Agent Oranged. The inconvenience of the
people of Gainesville is just having to drive out of their way a couple of fucking
blocks. Big fucking deal. But we wanted to get their attention.
This is sort of like a double-edged thing. We could not get news coverage
unless we did something real graphic. We could talk all day long on the Plaza of
the Americas. The only people that were going to hear us were those that came,
and they were basically people who already thought like us. The press was not
going to cover that a whole lot. In order to get the press to come, we had to do
something graphic. If our job was to educate the people, we needed to get our
message to the people, and the best way to do that was television and the
newspapers and radio. But we did not have money to buy ads, so we had to
L: The reason I asked the previous question was that this is 1972, and this is a new
type of tactic. University of California students occupied the city airport in Santa
Barbara, [and] students in Colorado are blocking roads and bridges with trees
and things. I am wondering, is this an idea that is filtering down or being
discussed with your national connections?
C: This was [a] spontaneous local [effort].
C: Let me tell you that the streets had been blocked before. After football games,
people would go out in the streets and raise hell and party. They would block it,
but the police did not stop them or anything. It was just like people were happy
about winning football games, and that was okay.
When we mined Haiphong . one of the things that got us into World War II
was people fucking with our shipping. What if we start blowing up Russian
ships? Is this thing not going to escalate? This was a serious escalation to us.
So we had the permit to block the street, and we blocked the street. When the
time was up, we pulled down the barricades and unblocked the street. What
happened was, spontaneously, people decided to stay in the street.
L: What kind of people? Students, non-students, members of organizations?
C: All of those kinds of people, but not [our chapter of] Vietnam Veterans Against
the War. We were very disciplined. To me, one of the things where I differed
with the other groups, especially Vietnam Veterans Against the War, [was
discipline]. For instance, Vietnam Veterans Against the War took over the
Statue of Liberty. That was one of the things that they did.
L: And flew the flag upside down on it?
L: That was in the Winter Soldier movie.
C: They said, "We are going to stay here until the war is over," and they did not. To
me, my credibility has always been important, so I would never say I would do
something that I could not do. If I said we were going to do something, we
fucking did it. Now, we had a good relationship with Mayor [Richard] Jones. I
met with the police. We marked out the fucking rules. We blocked the streets,
[and when] the time was up, we unblocked the streets. We kept our end of the
bargain. We had very strong discipline. Other people decided to stay in the
streets, and we tried to talk them out of that. It just did not work. What
happened was, some asshole called the fire [department]. Rather than paying
no attention to it, and letting it wind down on its own pace, they made a
confrontation. They did not understand the concept of riot control.
L: The local police?
C: The government. They understood the concepts of authority and force. They
were not going to have their authority messed with. They did their end of the
bargain, and now they were not going to be flexible. Mayor Jones, Father
[Michael] Gannon, and I all spoke to the people, trying to get them to leave the
street. That is documented. They would not do it. So now the government
comes in with heavy-handed tactics.
Here it is fucking May, and it is hot as shit. The first thing they did was come out
with fire hoses and spray people down. That turned it into a carnival
atmosphere. That turned it into a fucking party. People were not there because
of politics or the war anymore; they were there partying.
L: I read in one of the newspaper accounts that the fire engine did not have enough
pressure to do anything [effective] with water, so it became an eyebath for tear
C: That is the other thing. They hit people with tear gas. Let me tell you how stupid
these assholes were. They were downwind. You do not do it that way. The tear
gas came back on them. They were just stupid. When they escalated, the
crowd went from like 250 or 300 to 5,000. Then they had a fucking mob. I am
remembering now that I have already been arrested for some of my other
charges by this point.
L: The kidnapping thing and the pot bust?
C: And the drugs, yes. I remember that I had a trial coming up the next day, and
my mom is in town, and my mom gets tear gassed. They start beating people
up. The vets start coming to me and saying, "This is not right. The tactics that
they are using are not right; they are hurting people. We can't allow this to go
on." It was not a decision that I made. Normally, I made the decisions. This
was a decision where the vets came to me and said, "We have to do something,"
so we sprung into action.
L: One question. We were talking earlier about wrist-rocket slingshots.
L: I recall seeing somewhere in the accounts of the May 9 and 10 riots a picture
of a police car door with ball-bearing holes, and [there were] either rumors of
slingshots or the police saw people with slingshots.
C: We did [have them]. They were tear gassing people, and they were beating
people up. We were going to fight them. One of the things you learn in riot
control is to use the minimum amount of force necessary. Also, the slingshot
was semi-lethal. We did not kill anybody with it, but the psychological effect of it
was that there was no muzzle flash, and there was no noise. You could not see
where it was coming from. People could be deployed with them and could use
them without giving away their positions. It was sort of like the Indians fighting
the British, where the British are in red coats. Did you see the movie Last of the
L: No, I have not.
C: The British are in red coats, this fucking wide and this fucking deep, and the front
row is kneeling and all this crap, and the Indians are hiding behind the rocks and
trees, just kicking their fucking asses. That is what these guys presented that
kind of a fucking target. We got balloons of ammonia. We hit them first with the
balloons of ammonia. They had on the helmets with the face shields. The
ammonia hit, [and] off came the face shields.
We are highly organized. First of all, we have learned a lot of guerrilla skills and
a lot of combat skills. We certainly have learned how to hit and run. I mean, that
is what was done to us. So we are monitoring the police radio. We have four-
man teams all over the fucking place that we are deploying to where the hot
L: Were these plans that you already had that you all of a sudden put into effect
when you found this riot going on? Were you hoping something like this would
C: No, we did not have any plan at all. We did not get geared up until really the
L: So this is the second night of rioting you are talking about.
C: Right. We were able to monitor the police right away, but we did not have the
slingshots. We did not have our shit together. Our people did get into fights the
first night, but they used rocks and bricks and stuff. I have pictures of stuff to
show you that they had plainclothes police officers behind the demonstrators,
and they threw rocks over the heads of the demonstrators at the fucking police in
uniform. The police in uniform charged the crowd, beat people up, and these
plainclothes people beat the shit out of people. We had pictures of that; we got
the pictures developed right away. (We worked with people from the Alligator
who had access to the place where they develop the pictures.) That night, we
were able to pick out who was doing that shit, and they were fucking undercover
narcotics agents. Right away, we saw what these guys were doing. They were
just kicking the shit out of students. It was fucking wrong.
So we went into action that night to stand up to them. But we also made a plan
of action of what to do if it kept on going. If it kept on going, then we broke into
police cars, turned on their radios, pushed the button for the mike handset, and
taped it. Now, they cannot communicate with each other because their lines are
jammed. We are monitoring their lines. [If] they send a fucking group over to the
Krystal, we are going to send a fucking team over to the Krystal. We set up
ambushes for them, and we just ambushed them. We hit them real hard, and
they were totally blown away by it. They were not used to anything like that.
They were totally freaked out.
People will say that is violence. Sure, [but] they used the violence first. People
will say that is against the law, and I will say that the authority to govern comes
from the governed. The government [consists of] public servants who work for
us, and we have the right to discipline them when they are wrong. They are our
servants. They are not our fucking kings and queens and bosses. The power of
the democracy is in the people, not the government, and we exercised our
authority over the government. I still stand by that.
L: What was your relationship with someone like Michael Gannon? What do you
remember about him?
C: Michael Gannon was level-headed. He was a good person. He was soft-
spoken; he was very knowledgeable. He also had a lot of credibility because he
had been around awhile. He had the support of the Catholics, and there are lots
L: I understand that he was Stephen O'Connell's confessor, too, for a while.
C: I would not have any knowledge about stuff like that. O'Connell was a racist
fucking pig. They took student funds when you pay your money to go to
school, some of the money comes out for student activities to build that
O'Connell Center. When they had a vote to name it, the students did not want to
name it after a racist pig who on the [Florida] Supreme Court voted against
integration and had the black students beaten and arrested. We did not want it
named [after O'Connell]. It was our fucking money, it was our right to have it
named, and the goddamn legislature overruled us and named it after this racist
L: I remember there was a battle, but Gannon was not a bad person at this time.
C: No. Gannon was a person whose word was good, who was a humanitarian, who
I liked very much.
L: What role did he take for himself in those riots?
C: He was one of the speakers, and he was a peacemaker. At first, I was a
peacemaker, but then I was a defender of the people.
L: When was the candlelight march that you and Gannon did?
C: That was the third night. They had a curfew, and they had a rule that you could
not be in groups of more than two people walking down the street, and we
actually challenged them. We had the candlelight vigil to try to break up what
was going on. What happened really started getting out of control by students
taking the street and refusing to leave, and the authorities, rather than being
mature and saying, "Okay, if they want to block the traffic a little bit longer, we'll
let them block the traffic a little bit longer," [turned it into a confrontation]. That
would have diffused it.
One of the things that you learn in riot control is you always give the group that
you are trying to control an avenue of escape. You always give them options;
you do not push them into a fucking corner. You do not alienate them. You give
them every opportunity to do the right thing. These guys [have an attitude of]
"The clock says it is three o'clock, you are still fucking out there, you are going to
be arrested. We are going to kick your ass." It is fascist. They just were not
mature about it.
L: This is the coalition of regional police forces?
C: I do not know who actually gave the order, whether it was the city manager, the
mayor, O'Connell, [or Gainesville Police Chief] Nolen Freeman. I had a good
relationship with Nolen Freeman; I really did. I liked him, I trusted him, [and] I
talked off the record with him about stuff.
Once it became confrontational, and it was us against them, they would get in
their lines, and they would start marching toward the crowd. This was on the first
night, really. When it became confrontational and we did not have any weapons
or plans, we had to use tactics. (This really pissed them off.) We got the people
to move back and back off from the cops, and they would push us down
University Avenue to around 17th Street, where the Florida Bookstore is. At that
point, we would break and run across the Plaza and come out over in front of
L: And go sit in the street again, right?
C: Yes. It would take them a fucking hour to get that whole fucking unit turned,
marched around, get everything set up, [including] the guy with the bullhorn
[saying], "Okay, you have thirty seconds to move." [It took an hour] to do all that
shit. I will open up the files and provide you with the police report so you can see
a minute-by-minute [account].
L: That would be interesting.
C: [I will also show you] photographs showing what these guys were doing.
L: Who was it who decided that students should sit in formation on 13th Street and
spell things out?
C: I cannot really remember that. It is probably in the report. They were flying over
with a helicopter.
L: The Duval County Sheriff's Department.
C: We decided to say, "Fuck you," to them, and we spelled it out with people. It
was real simple. It was harmless. It might have pissed them off, but there was a
Supreme Court case around that time. Someone (not from Gainesville) had had
a sign that said, "Fuck the draft," and they got arrested for obscenity. It was
argued in front of the Supreme Court that it was not obscene because you
cannot imagine having sexual intercourse with the draft.
Basically they thought that they were in charge of the people. We were the
people, and we wanted them to know that we were in charge of them. They
were not used to having their authority questioned, and that is what it was really
all about. They accused us of using communist guerrilla hit-and-run tactics by
going back and forth across the Plaza. It was a defusing thing, but it also let us
make our point. It frustrated them because they could not get things under
control. We were not doing anything bad enough to call in the National Guard. I
have to tell you, we were having fun. Not only that, but when it was over, I think
there were 396 people arrested for misdemeanors, and one person [was
arrested] for a felony. His name was Chevron. He was an Alligator reporter. He
was driving his car and the police smashed his windshield. He hit the gas
instead of the brake, and he was charged with a felony.
L: Some kid tried to jump in the window and turn the car off?
C: I do not remember, but there is a picture of Father Gannon kneeling down next
to him in the street, I think, and he is all bloody. They were beating the fuck out
Let me tell you what they did. They beat up the goddamn newspaper reporters
the first night, and that turned the press against them. They wore jumpsuits, they
had their nameplates taped over, they had the badges on their uniforms taped
over, [and] they had the license tags on their cars taped over. They did all these
things so they would not have to be held accountable. When they came in like
that, we knew they were going to just kick ass and fucking try to get away with it
because nobody could say who did it. We stood up to them, and they did not
like it. We won. We absolutely won.
When we went to court, first of all, the community was really pissed at the tactics
that were used. [Through] the press talking about it, we had total community
support. We had a press release that said, "Everybody who was arrested, come
to the Florida Theater and meet with lawyers, and we will do this together." A lot
of the people who were arrested were not involved in the damn demonstration.
People would throw rocks at the cops, [and] the cops would chase them. They
would run into an apartment complex. The cops would tear gas the apartment
complex, [and] everybody would come out in their fucking nightgowns and shit,
and they would take people to jail. They were totally indiscriminate. They were
grabbing girls' tits. They were pigs. They earned that fucking name.
It was a two-tier thing. The one tactic was dealing with people who were
arrested, and the other tactic was dealing with the community. We had the press
to help us with the community. Our message to the community was: "If you
think that the behavior of the police was unacceptable, you can tell them that it
was unacceptable by serving on juries and letting these people go. [Tell them]
we will not stand for that. You work for us, and we will not stand for this kind of
indiscriminate treatment." That was our message to the public.
Our message to the people that were arrested was, "Look. They only have jury
trials for misdemeanors twice a week. There is a fucking speedy trial rule here.
They have ninety days to take everybody to trial. Mathematically, they cannot do
it. It cannot be done. We want everybody to plead not guilty and to request a
trial by jury. We will fucking burn out their fuses. They will not be able to do it.
They cannot handle it. We can beat them." We offered them a deal. We asked
the mayor to have them drop the charges. It was too politically hot for him; he
could not do it.
So they took their best shots. They had pictures of people sitting in the street
charged with sitting in the street and blocking traffic. The first four, five, or six
trials they had, the juries found those people not guilty, [and] they dropped
charges on everyone else. We fucking beat their fucking ass on the street, in
the arena of public opinion, and in the fucking courtroom. We, as a people,
exerted our authority over the government, and we won.
L: How did these riots affect the local movement? Do you remember any big
difference a couple of months afterwards other than this conspiracy trial?
C: When we get to the conspiracy trial, we will go back to the riots because a lot of
our guys were undercover agents, so the federal government knew ..
L: Who were out there beating the hell out of cops.
C: We had four-man teams assigned to do stuff, and I cannot tell you the specific
actions that each team did. They had different positions and different things to
do, but their basic job was to relieve the pressure from the students when things
got out of hand. We wanted to stop them from attacking and divert their
attention to us. We were going to divert their attention and get them off the
fucking students. That was our job. People came back and said, "Hey, man, I
did this, I did that," [but] I do not know who did what. I do know that the police
undercover agents that were among us knew that we were the ones with the
slingshots and we were the ones with the ball bearings and the marbles and the
fucking balloons of ammonia. [They knew] that we were taking aggressive action
against them. That is one of the things that made them scared of us. One of the
things that upset them most about me was my ability to put plans into action and
that I had followers and people would follow me. It was that potential that scared
the fuck out of them. In Gainesville, to me, [the behavior of the police during the
riots] jelled the press behind us, and it jelled the community's support behind us.
There were people who did not think we should have blocked the streets and
shit, but in general, public opinion was on our side. The proof of it is the fact that
the juries let those people go. That concept is the concept of jury nullification. It
is a concept in legal jurisprudence, but it has been ruled by the Supreme Court
that it is a concept you are not allowed to take to the jury. You can take it to the
public before the jury, but you cannot go before a jury [once it is assembled].
Let us say you get busted for pot, and I am your lawyer. I say to the jury, "If you
think marijuana should not be illegal, let this guy go." We can change the law by
challenging the law. You are not allowed to do that anymore. The judge gives a
charge to the jury, and says, "The law says, if beyond a reasonable doubt you
believe this guy had it, you have to find him guilty." That is really not what it is.
The purpose of having a jury system is so those people can not only examine the
facts, but the extenuating circumstances, and [to] affect the government and
exact their authority over the government by their decisions. That is not allowed
in the jury system [any longer]. The jury system has been corrupted.
L: But it worked in Gainesville.
C: Yes. There is something special about Gainesville. I cannot tell you what it is,
but Gainesville is a very unique place. Gainesville is in the national news a lot,
and it is not that big of a city compared to cities all over the country. The
Gainesville murders put us the press a lot. [So did] the Gainesville Eight [and]
the Gainesville riots. A lot of things happen in Gainesville.
The land behind me here is Indian holy ground. There are Indian mounds and
stuff back there. I really believe in karma, and I believe in stuff that I really
cannot articulate. Gainesville is a holy place.
L: This sounds like a good place to stop.
L: This is a continuation of an oral history interview with Scott Camil. Today is
October 26, 1992, and we are once again at Scott's house in the southern part of
Alachua County. One thing that we kind of skipped over last time that I wanted
to talk to you about is the march on Washington to return the medals. How did
that get started, and how were you involved with that?
C: After the Winter Soldier Investigation, I came back to Gainesville. Then I got a
call, and we all went to New York and wrote the constitution for Vietnam
Veterans Against the War. We divided the country into twenty-eight sectors.
L: This is the spring of 1971 ?
C: It seems to me that it was at the end of February that we first went to New York
and wrote the constitution. Then we set up another meeting. We will have to
look through the files to see where because I do not really recall. It might even
have been at that meeting that we decided that we needed to do something
besides [draw up] the constitution and objectives of the organization. We
needed to do something. The thing that we decided to do was to march on
Washington, so the twenty-eight of us planned the march on Washington. We
planned what we were going to do when we went there. We were supposed to
do guerrilla theater (like we did at the Homecoming parade) [and] lobby with our
congressmen. First, we were supposed to get there and assemble. Then we
were supposed to march and pay our respects at Arlington Cemetery. We had
gold star mothers with us. (Gold star mothers are mothers of those who died in
battle.) When we got to Arlington Cemetery, they closed the gates and would
not let our people in.
C: The Nixon Administration ordered that. They tried to provoke violence from us
right at the beginning to discredit us.
L: "They" being D.C. police?
C: The Nixon Administration. I guess Arlington [Cemetery] is really controlled by the
[National] Park Service.
C: The whole time, they tried to provoke confrontation because having veterans
marching against the war gave a lot of strength to the anti-war movement.
L: Had you publicized this before you made the march?
C: I do not remember whether we had publicized our itinerary or not. Because of
the fact that we were so heavily infiltrated by government agencies, there were
no secrets about stuff.
L: How big of a group was this?
C: I would have to look this up because it has been a long time, but it seems to me
we had about 2,000. The paper says 900-1,200.
L: Okay. Vietnam Veterans Against the War and gold star mothers.
C: Right. This march sort of coincided with a march that was planned by the regular
anti-war movement, but we were going to go there first a week before that.
After our march came the regular peace march, and after that was the May Day
demonstration. So it was broken down into three parts.
The thing at Arlington was really a heavy trip. When you have friends that are
buried there and you want to pay respects to them, and they close the gates and
say, "You cannot come in," people wanted to go to war right on the spot.
The coordinators wore armbands to do policing. What I had to do to get people
not to crash Arlington was to say: "We'll get them at the Capitol. Let's not do it
here. If we're going to fight, let's fight at the Capitol. If we fight here, we are
going to lose all public support." People wanted to crash the gates and kick their
fucking ass and go in there.
We had one congressman marching with us, and that was Paul McCloskey
[1927-; Republican congressman from California]. He was an ex-Marine, and he
was a Republican. He was the only Republican to go against Nixon in 1972.
L: Where was he from? What was his state?
C: California. Coincidentally, in 1976 I went out to California to work for David
Harris, who was running for Congress, [and] it was McCloskey we were running
against. It was David's district. Time magazine wrote it as the cleanest
campaign of 1976. We had something like forty joint appearances, and there
were no dirty tricks or bullshit. Everyone was really friendly. It was a really neat
L: Who won?
C: McCloskey won. The march on Arlington was the first thing. Then we had a
confrontation. The police tried to break our formation to let traffic through. That
is a no-no. You do not break a military formation. Again, they did it to try to
instigate trouble to provoke us.
L: Had you arranged any sort of a permit to do this?
C: I was not in charge of that part, and I cannot remember, but they definitely knew
we were coming. I know that we felt that we had a right to assemble. I do not
really remember the permit part. When they tried to break the formation,
McCloskey came out in the street and told the police not to disrupt it and to let us
go. That allowed us to continue. When we got to the mall that is where we
camped out they were not going to allow us to camp on the mall.
L: Were you trying to set up tents and actually spend the night?
C: We were going to spend the whole week there five days.
C: So the Justice Department fought us on this issue. It went to the United States
Supreme Court. Ramsey Clark represented us. If you can imagine, we were
only there five days and within three days the Supreme Court had ruled that we
could not sleep on the mall. I will show you the newspaper articles later. We
slept on the mall, and the police refused to bust us. The headline of the
Washington Post the next day was, "Veterans Overrule Supreme Court." The
fucking Supreme Court was hot on the ass of the Justice Department. They
were really pissed that the Justice Department went to the trouble of taking this
up to the Supreme Court and then did not enforce it when the Supreme Court
allowed it. That whole week, we had that action, that battle, which was not one
of the things that we had planned. We had people lobbying every day in the
Congress and the Senate. I have a report that I will also show you. I spoke to all
of the Florida representatives and the two senators personally. I wrote a report
on what each one of them said to me about the war. Don Fuqua was the
congressman from Gainesville. He told me I was a stupid ass, [said] I did not
know what I was talking about, and kicked me out of his office. I went there with
eleven other guys from Alachua County.
One of the mistakes that I had made was that I wrote a letter to each of the
congressmen from the state of Florida and the two senators, saying: "I am a
Vietnam veteran, and we are coming to demonstrate for the week of such-and-
such, and we would like an appointment to see you." I sent each one of them a
letter. I did not get any answers. When we got up there, I did not have any
appointments. Then I learned how the system works. The administrative
assistants would get the mail, and they would look at the return address on the
mail. Since my return address was Alachua County, all the letters I sent to the
other Congressmen were diverted to Fuqua because they figured the public was
too dumb to know who their congressman was. If they saw a letter to
Congressman [Claude] Pepper of Dade County from someone in Gainesville,
they just forwarded the letter to the Gainesville representative. That was one of
the things that screwed us up. Nobody wanted to talk to us, so we used several
tactics. One tactic that we used was threatening, saying, "We will kick the
fucking door in, and we will see him. Whether you like it or not, we are coming
L: Was that successful?
C: This is kind of embarrassing to say. The first time we did this was at Sam
Gibbon's office. He came out, and he started yelling at me. He said: "Why don't
you do your damn homework? I have been voting against the damn war. I ain't
one of the people you should be seeing. You should be spending your time
talking to the people that voted for the war." He really made me feel like a fool. I
was real hostile. I just cannot tell you the amount of hostility that I had in me.
The tactic that finally worked was that we went and got somebody from the
Miami Herald. I think his name was Rob Elder. As soon as we got people from
the press to go with us, everybody saw us. We got somebody from the
Associated Press, the Miami Herald, [and] maybe the Tallahassee Democrat (I
do not really remember). As soon as the press was with us, all of a sudden,
people would see us, and they were very nice to us.
L: Of course.
C: That was the key to getting in to see all these guys. Then these guys were all a
bunch of assholes. They would say stuff like: "You do not know what you are
talking about. I just came back from a four-day visit in Vietnam, and I know what
is going on." Well, we fucking knew that when congressmen came, they would
get a tour by an asshole whose job it was to take them on a tour not to see
anything important. They came back and they [thought they] knew what the hell
was going on. They did not know jack shit.
One of the real interesting things that I also learned was the two different sides
of the argument. If you talked to a Congressman who came from a conservative
place (like maybe Orlando), he would say, "I agree with what you are saying to
me, but the people in my district are for the war and against communism, and I
am just voting and representing the people in my district." Then you would get to
a guy like Fuqua from Gainesville, where the people were definitely against the
war a liberal area, and he would say: "The people do not have all the facts. I
have all the facts, and it is my job to not only listen to what the people want, but
to look at all the facts and make the decision that is best" [laughter]. They would
use the fucking rules one way or the other to justify their bullshit.
C: So we did a lot of lobbying. We had learned about using the press. The guerrilla
theater was to get the press. Since the Supreme Court was going to rule on
whether we could camp [on the mall] or not, we had a demonstration at the
Supreme Court, and we had 110 guys arrested at the Supreme Court.
L: Where had you learned about guerrilla theater? Where did you get these ideas?
Do you remember?
C: All I can tell you is that when I got involved in this, I started stuff here in
Gainesville, but the people who organized it were people who had done civil
rights marches, antiwar stuff, and union work. They were actual organizers--
people who knew how to do stuff. They helped us. When I came back from the
Winter Soldier Investigation, all I was going to do was the Winter Soldier stuff.
But I got sent a flyer from the national office saying, "An American infantry
company just marched through here. We could have burned down your house,
raped your children," and all that stuff. That gave us ideas when we saw how
people reacted to it.
We learned that the press was not going to come unless we did something
graphic. They were not going to come just to hear people talk. They wanted
something graphic, so the press used us to have stuff to write about, and we
used them to get the stuff written about that we wanted. It was a two-way street.
We had a really good relationship with the press. We learned which guys you
could talk to and which guys you could not. It was really [a matter of] learning
how to manipulate the press and learning how not to be manipulated by the
press. Those were important lessons. For instance, I could say to a person from
the press at a press conference, "We are going to have a demonstration to do
X," and they would say, "Are you planning any violence?" Nothing in my press
release mentioned the word 'violence.' I would say, "No." Then the headline of
the story would be, "Camil Claims No Violence is Planned." So they would take
a word that they decided to use, initiate that word into the conversation, and then
make that word the key thing to sensationalize their story. It used to piss me off.
I had to learn to not allow them to ask questions that used words that would take
the focus off what we wanted, especially the radio announcers. [They used] a lot
of sensational fucking bullshit. Violence was a key word that they would use.
L: What sort of guerrilla theater did you perform in front of the Supreme Court?
C: Basically, people stood on the steps, and there were chants. There was guerrilla
theater out in Washington like we had here. Actually, the picture in the paper--
which I can also show you is guys lined up on the Supreme Court steps in five
or six rows with their arms around each other doing the can-can. [They were] all
in combat gear, [chanting] "One, two, three, four, we don't want your fucking
war." The police came and said, "If you don't move, we are going to arrest you."
So then the focal point became to stand our ground and be arrested.
L: Were you arrested that day?
C: No, because I had an armband. I was a marshal a peacekeeper. I was there
on the Supreme Court steps, but it was my job to make sure that nothing got out
of hand. So I did not get arrested, but I was there.
L: What about returning the medals?
C: Returning the medals was planned for the last day. Senator [George] McGovern
[1922-; Senator from South Dakota, Democratic presidential candidate, 1972]
also had some hearings that a number of us testified at. I was one of the people
that testified at his hearings about the war and what our policy really was. John
Kerry [1943-; Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, 1984-] was one of the
people, [and] I was one of the people [who testified]. I guess there were about
six of us that testified at that. Also, we planted a tree in the Mall. [It was] a
memorial to the people who died in Vietnam. There was a little bit of a hassle
over whether we were allowed to dig and desecrate the damn Mall to plant the
There were all these little things that went on. When we were planning throwing
the medals away, we were talking about stuff we could do that the press was
going to pick up on. Our job is to get the message across to the public. If we
just go and lobby our congressmen about that, there is not going to be jack shit
about that. What can we do? How can we make a point? How can we bring
attention to us? What are things that we can do? In our meeting, when we were
planning this stuff, there were a lot of different kinds of ideas of things that
people wanted to do. (I will get back and tell you one that is not public but which
will become public knowledge after I tell it to you. I have not told it before.)
Throwing the medals away did two things. One, it dramatized the commitment
that we had to what we were doing. You saw The Winter Soldier Investigation.
You saw people crying. It was a really hard thing for me to do because all I had
to show for two years in Vietnam was shrapnel in my body, bad fucking dreams,
bad fucking memories, and these fucking medals.
L: What medals did you have at this point other than the Purple Hearts?
C: I had two Purple Hearts, the Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Action Ribbon,
Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with a silver star, Vietnam Campaign, National
Defense, Vietnam Service with several stars, [and a] Good Conduct medal. [It
was] nothing fantastic, but more than a lot of people. We talked earlier about
[the fact] that I thought that anybody who ever walked through a minefield and
went back the next day and did it again deserved a fucking medal. Basically, if
you were an officer and you got wounded, you got a fucking medal besides the
Purple Heart. If you were an enlisted man [and got wounded, it was] just tough
shit. Medals really ... I do not really know how to articulate it. There were
people that got medals that deserved them; there were people that did not get
medals that deserved them; there were people who got medals that did not
deserve them. It is how the military pays you for... it is a way of buying your
soul, sort of: "Here, I am going to give you this piece of cloth and metal. That is
for all the sacrifices you made or to forget the bad things you did (or whatever
the fuck it is). Now you are paid." The first time I was wounded, the first thing
that came to my mind was I was going to have a medal.
Growing up, you are so ingrained and conditioned with nationalism and
patriotism and militarism. When I went to school every morning, they played the
bugle, and everybody stood at attention when the bugle played. Then there was
the fucking salute to the flag. You had marching in phys- ed. Things were really
military [oriented]. You had air raid drills; we were hiding under our fucking
desks. I was raised to believe that this was the best country in the world, and
every single man had to give service to this country for being able to live in the
best country in the world. Plus, when I was young, something that was a
common thing to hear about kids was, "Boys are better than girls." There was a
lot of sexism, and there was a lot of conditioning about being a man and being
macho, except it was not put that way. It was just put [this way]: "A man has to
face up to certain things. A man has to do those hard things and those dirty
things that are really hard to do." The Marine Corps motto was, "The Marine
Corps builds men." When I joined the Marine Corps, I wanted to find out
whether I was a man. I wanted to go to war and find out what it was going to be
like to kill a person. I wanted to see if I was really a man or not. The idea of it
was of prime importance to growing up. Being a man was more important than
being a high school graduate.
L: So by throwing your medals away, you were sort of turning your back completely
on these sorts of things [and] breaking that link?
C: It is like cutting the umbilical cord between me and all the bullshit. On the other
hand, I wore my uniform proudly, and I was proud to have those medals on my
uniform. It is all I had for the sacrifices. Intellectually, I understood that they
were just basically in psychological terms tokens for a certain behavior. It
was positive reinforcement. If you want to train a person to have a certain
behavior, you have to give them some sort of positive reinforcement so they will
keep doing that behavior. Medals are something you can give somebody, and
they have a lot of reinforcement [power] because they have so much tied to
them. Intellectually, I understood that, but emotionally, it was so hard for me to
throw those medals away. Of all the things we did there, that was the hardest
thing for me to do. They hung over my fireplace. They were important to me.
L: Did you throw them on the White House lawn?
C: No. It seems to me that we threw them over a fence at a statue of Justice
Marshall. I cannot remember [where], but the newspaper clippings will tell us
exactly. They had everything fenced off and stuff. People threw away their
crutches. People threw away a lot of shit. Some people took off their artificial
limbs and threw them.
C: The thickness of the air, the fervor with which people . after a week of them
stopping us at Arlington Cemetery, arresting our guys at the Supreme Court,
fucking with us when we were trying to lobby with our congressmen, trying to
arrest us for camping out, it was so hard to keep the people peaceful. We knew
one way to deal with shit, and that was to fucking fight. We were exemplary in
our behavior because we understood the importance of the image.
I have to tell you, going back to the planning of this, I was one of the radicals. I
was really hard-core. I was not a radical politically, in the sense of Marxism and
all that kind of shit; I did not want to attack racism, socialism, capitalism, and all
that. I just knew the war was wrong and the government was fucking lying. I
was really angry at the hawks. I was also really naive. I cannot tell you how
naive I was about everything. When we were deciding what we were going to do
in Washington, I put a plan on the floor which caused a ton of disruption. There
were a lot of people really pissed at me for putting the plan on the floor because
they felt that the undercover agents, all the people that were there that were
organizers from before knew how this game was played. I did not know about
undercover agents, and I did not know about all that kind of crap. I was
exercising my constitutional rights. I believed that free speech meant I could say
whatever I wanted, that there was nothing against free speech.
L: What was your plan that was so terrible?
C: I did not think it was terrible at the time. My plan was that, on the last day, at a
certain time, probably 11:30 or 2:30 (either right before or right after lunch) we
would go into the offices in our schedule with our congressmen, we would
schedule the most hard-core hawks for last and we would shoot them all.
L: Were you serious about this?
C: I was serious. I felt that I spent two years killing women and children in their own
fucking homes. These are the guys that fucking made the policy, and these
were the guys that were responsible for it, and these were the people that were
voting to continue the fucking war when the public was against it. I felt that if we
really believed in what we were doing, and if we were willing to put our lives on
the line for the country over there, we should be willing to put our lives on the line
for the country over here. There was no way they could catch us all. It would let
anybody who took these people's places know that if they do not represent the
people, the people are going to come in and kick their fucking ass.
L: Did you have any support in this?
C: Yes, but there were people like John Kerry who totally flipped out. There were
people who accused me of being an undercover agent trying to discredit the
organization. I thought they were just full of shit. I just felt: "Put your fucking
ass where your mouth is, you fucking pussies. You say that these guys are pigs,
you say that these guys are the reason that it is going on. When you kill a
snake, do you cut off its tail? Fuck, no, you cut off its head. These are the
fucking people responsible." Even if the President wants to have the war, if the
Congress does not fund it, it cannot go on. The Congress did not have the
Goddamn balls to declare fucking war, and they did it through a back-door way
of providing the money for the war. So, the President can say: "Well, the
Congress is behind the war; they are paying for it. Don't blame me for the war;
don't blame the executive branch for it. It might be [that] we developed the
policy, but the Congress is paying for it." It was true. These guys were just as
arrogant as they are today. [It is] these same fucking assholes that give
themselves pay raises in the middle of the fucking night for mismanaging the
country. Not only that, their cost of living increases are higher than social
security or anything else. That was my plan. My plan was to just fucking shoot
the bastards, and I would have done it.
L: But they talked you out of it?
C: No. There was a vote, and it was voted down. Just the fact that it was
discussed pissed a lot of people off. It pissed me off that there were people that
were not willing to discuss it [and] that wanted to table it right away. It was the
most divisive thing that took place in the discussions about what we were going
to do in Washington. Now it makes you understand more why the government
was keying in on me.
L: Because these meetings were infiltrated.
C: Yes. They were concerned about my ideas and more so about my ability to put
plans into action the fact that I was charismatic and people would follow me
and listen to me. There were people who wanted to do this who argued on my
behalf at this damn thing. I wanted to do it. It was a great plan. What the hell
was wrong with it? I really believe that they work for us, and if they fuck up, we
have the right to discipline them, just like it is my responsibility to take care of my
children. It is my responsibility to feed them, clothe them, [and] take care of
them when they are sick. It is my responsibility to help them with their
homework, [and] it is my responsibility to discipline them when they are wrong. It
is the people's responsibility to discipline the government when they are wrong.
You have to remember that this government was founded by a minority of people
who used violence against the established fucking government. They overthrew
the established, legal, legitimate government with fucking force of arms. They
set the precedent, so I did not see anything wrong with that. We were just doing
like the founding fathers. They set the precedent that when the government is
against you, it is okay to use whatever means necessary to get rid of them.
L: How did the fact that your plan was defeated in this meeting affect your future in
C: It made me real popular with some people and real unpopular with other people.
Some people did not talk about stuff, and some people talked about stuff. I was
one of the movers and shakers. I do not really know how that came to be. A lot
of it has to do with my Marine Corps training. I was an NCO. I was used to
standing up in front of people and giving orders or making plans. I just did not
have any trouble with it. Maybe [it is] just my personality; I am a Taurus. I do not
know what it is. It is just how you are cut out. I cannot really tell you how I was
able to do that. That was just me.
L: We stopped in our last conversation right before the beginnings of the events
leading up to the Gainesville Eight and the marches on the conventions. How
did the planning start for the marches on the conventions in 1972?
C: There was so much arguing and bickering over everything. Fundraising was a
problem. To make it a democratic organization, it was decided that the people
inside a region made the decisions for what happened inside that region. So
somebody from New York could not tell the people from another region what to
do. When the people in New York decided to take over the Statue of Liberty, I
had no say in that. That is their region, [and] they have to deal with the credibility
in their area [and] their relationship to their people.
One of the rules was that an outside group could not come into my region and do
a demonstration without my permission. Anytime they did, they had to fall under
my control. Let's say that I was asked to come and speak in Wisconsin at the
university there. The Wisconsin VVAW would be in charge of making all the
arrangements, and I would have to really be submissive to their rules because it
is their region.
When the Democrats and the Republicans decided to have their conventions in
Florida, that was my region. That automatically gave me a lot of power. So the
national office and the regional coordinators at our conventions would plan what
we were going to be doing there because it became a national project, as
opposed to a regional project. These rules really had a lot to do more with the
Northeast where they had a big chapter in Brooklyn and a big chapter in New
York and where they had so many fucking people that they did not want people
from one area fund-raising in another area or and all damaging that chapter's
credibility. In Florida, I had a bigger area than people. I had all these damn
states. I had extra power because I was a regional coordinator, and this was
taking place in my region. It was the responsibility of all the coordinators at the
convention to decide, "Okay, this is what we were going to do at the convention."
L: I have a quick question about your region. I know you had a large group in
L: Where else in the South were other large groups located?
C: We had big chapters in Dade County, Broward County, St. Pete, Tampa, Winter
Park, Orlando, Jacksonville, [and] Tallahassee. Smaller chapters were in
DeLand and Daytona.
L: About how many people in Florida would you estimate?
C: Oh, gosh. I should be able to tell you that, and I cannot.
L: Five thousand? Twenty thousand?
C: No. Nationwide, we only had like 20,000 or 30,000. So we are talking probably
anywhere from 750 to 1,000.
L: And in other states in the South?
C: There were big chapters in Atlanta, Birmingham, [and] Tuscaloosa.
L: Was the one in Tuscaloosa affiliated with the University [of Alabama]?
C: Yes. Everything was affiliated with universities because most of us were going to
school on the G.I. Bill. A lot of us had funding from the Student Senate (or
whatever it was back then). I had a lot of support here because I got along really
good with Sam Taylor. It is just a whole different trip. The campuses today are
not very political, in my idea.
L: Was SG [Student Government] funding you here in Gainesville?
C: Yes. I had Student Government funding.
C: So it was my job to get the permits for the convention, it was my job to meet with
the police, it was my job to handle security; all of that stuff fell under my
responsibility. What you have to understand here now is that you are young, and
you are a student. When I was twenty-one, I had been to Vietnam twice. I had
killed people. I had a lot of responsibility. I learned to organize and to plan
militarily. I thought like a marine sergeant.
Now we know that we have demonstrations and the police try to disrupt them,
and the police try to provoke us into violence to discredit us. It is our job not to
allow them to do that, but it is also our job to protect ourselves.
I had told you before that I had done riot control. So I wrote a plan of action for
the convention. That plan had to include: "What we would do in case of A?
What would we do in case of B?" It had to include contingencies for anything,
just like we have contingency plans if the United States is attacked by Canada.
We do not expect Canada to attack us, but we have plans to bomb the shit out of
them if they do. We did the same thing. That was my responsibility, and the
people I pulled in to work with me were people that I trusted.
The organization of Vietnam Veterans Against the War was something like 89
percent infantry people. You had 300,000 guys who, I think, were wounded in
Vietnam. Our organization was made up of the fucking fighters, not the people
who sat on their asses in the offices somewhere. We had a different way of
looking at stuff. We had all had trouble with the authorities in our different cities
because the authorities were working against us, but the press was for us, and
the people were for us.
Then we had this other aspect, which was agent provocateurs: infiltrators and
undercover agents. They were divided into different groups. You had federal
people, you had people at a state level, [and] you had people at a local level.
You had people who were actual trained, sworn government officials, like FBI
agents or sheriff's department agents or Florida Department of Law Enforcement
people. Then you had this other category called "informants," who were citizens
who made money by ratting on people or telling on people. Some of these
people were professional informants who made a monthly stipend for doing this
kind of stuff. The way this thing works is, let us say that I am FBI, and I am going
to get you to spy on Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. If you go to the meetings
and keep coming back and reporting to me that they are not doing anything
illegal, why should I keep paying you to go to their fucking meetings? But if you
come back to me and say, "They are planning on taking license plate numbers of
drunken people and going down there and blowing up their cars and shit," I want
you to go back to that fucking meeting and get me more information [such as]
who the planners are. So these people had incentive to lie, not only to keep their
jobs, but also because a lot of them were Vietnam veterans. There is an ego
problem and what is now called post-traumatic stress [disorder. There are] a lot
of psychological problems involved when you are dealing with veterans of war.
You had guys who needed to feel like they were doing something brave for their
country. They wanted to glorify themselves to the FBI. They had to make it
seem like: "Hey, man, I keep going to these meetings, and these guys are crazy.
I am risking my life. If they catch me, they are going to kill me. You guys are
not paying me enough to do this. I want more fucking money. I want more
L: So you had developed these contingency plans.
C: Right. But I have to explain to you that in developing these contingency plans, a
lot of it had to do with our intelligence operations, because we also were
gathering intelligence. We had informants coming back to us [and] giving us
false intelligence. We had provocateurs saying: "Look. This is what the cops
are going to do when you go down there. You have to be ready for it."
L: I see.
C: So they knew how we were going to react to that. When I say provocateurs, it
was really planned. If they say to us, "The government is going to do A," they
know what a fucking veteran is going to do. They know what you are going to do
What are you going to do if you hear: "This is the enemy's plan." What is your
contingency for that? They knew of our psychological problems the post-
traumatic stress. At the time, it was called post-Vietnam syndrome. They
planted false information in order to entrap us into a certain behavior. This is a
very important aspect of it; this is psychological warfare. William Lemmer came
back to us and said: "Look, I just came from Washington where they had
demonstrations, and I heard people talking. They are going to fucking shoot
somebody at the convention."
L: Was he a member of the local Gainesville group?
C: No. He was the regional coordinator for Arkansas.
L: Who was he really working for?
C: The FBI. The Louisiana coordinators were [also] FBI agents. There were a lot
of FBI people involved in the direct planning of everything.
L: Did the FBI ever approach you or try to develop you in these ways?
C: Yes, they did. [It was] very early on, before I even became involved in the anti-
war movement. When I first got out of the service and started junior college,
they got me out of class at Miami-Dade. They came and told me that somebody
had stolen either test questions or answers to the test to be a sky marshal. They
wanted to know if I was interested in helping them catch the person.
L: What is a sky marshal?
C: Hijacking planes had just started, so the government got sky marshals. It was a
new field. So I guess [they sought me out] because I was an ex-Marine with a
good combat record. Also, I had gone down to the Federal Building to inquire
about this job of being a sky marshal. So they knew I was interested in it. They
wanted to know if I would be interested in trying to help them [by] going to
meetings and reporting back to them and stuff like that. I was real naive, and I
said: "Why would you spy on people? I don't understand." They said,
"Somebody stole the answers to this test." I said, "Why don't you just make up
another fucking test? Why go through all this trouble?"
L: Whose meetings did they want you to spy on?
C: They were not specific about it. It was general.
C: It was just to find out where I stood.
L: What did you end up telling them?
C: I ended up saying, "Why is it against the law to smoke marijuana? Why do you
guys hassle people over marijuana? There is nothing wrong with marijuana." I
got in an argument with them over arresting people for abortion and marijuana
and why they would spy on people and all this shit. The bottom line was [that] it
did not work out.
L: So the Arkansas coordinator, Lemmer, comes to you and gives you this false
C: He gives us this information that they are going to shoot someone at the
convention [and] blame it on the demonstrators. Are you familiar with Miami
C: Miami Beach is an island, and there are just five bridges that link it to the
mainland. He said they were going to raise the drawbridges and cut it off from
the mainland, do in all the demonstrators on the fucking Beach, and say that the
demonstrators started the violence and the shooting.
L: Both conventions were headquartered at Miami Beach?
L: First the Democrats, then the Republicans.
C: Right. Our tactics were different for the two conventions. At the Democratic
convention, we were going to go down there and support them because
McGovern was [running on] an anti-war platform. The Republicans were pro-
war, so we were going to go down there and confront them with the war. We
were going to be more aggressive there. But we had no violence planned. We
were not going to initiate any violence. Any violence that would take place on
our part would be purely self-defense. So we were charged with conspiracy to
disrupt the [Republican] convention, and they used some of the plans that I had
written as proof that we were going to go down there and disrupt the convention
and that we had violence planned.
L: What happened with the Democratic convention? I know it was first.
C: We never made it to the conventions on time because we were in jail. They
arrested us before that. I will get back to that in a minute.
When he [Lemmer] told us they were going to raise the drawbridges, we looked
at a map of the Beach and [said]: "This is not a good fucking tactical place for us
to be because they can cut us off from any help; they can cut us off from being
able to retreat. This is not good at all." So we had to develop contingency plans.
Our plans called for forming teams that we called fire teams. A four-man Marine
Corps unit is called a fire team. The teams were assigned different targets for
different purposes. There were teams that were assigned to the bridges. If
trouble started on the Beach, and the government raised the drawbridges to try
to cut off escape and hurt people, their job was to take the bridges, lower the
bridges, and blow the mechanisms so the bridges would stay down. That way
we could get in reinforcements and evacuate the wounded. So one of our plans
included taking the bridges back and blowing up the mechanisms.
Our main plan which was a plan of violence was for diversionary actions. We
decided if the government raised the bridges and started trying to wipe out the
anti-war demonstrators who were exercising their constitutional rights on the
Beach that we had to get the fucking pigs off their asses. In order to do that,
we had to make them go somewhere else. So our contingency plans called for
attacking all police stations, fire stations, courthouses, recruiting stations, [and]
all federal property in Dade County and Broward County. [We were going to]
firebomb them. The purpose would be that the police would have to come off
the Beach and defend the county.
L: All of this [was] built around the report given to you by this agent provocateur.
C: Not only him, but other people were saying, "Look, man, we just came from a
demonstration here, and the police beat the fuck out of us." [We thought,]
"Okay. This is what they are doing; they are beating the fuck out of people."
L: So you reacted.
C: So we reacted, and I wrote the plans. The plans would say I was real careful
about the plans "This will be done for defensive purposes only. This will be
done for defensive purposes only." No weapons were allowed to be brought
onto Miami Beach. That way they could not say that any weapons were ours or
that we had planned to do anything on the Beach. But we would have weapons
stored off the Beach. We would have teams of men. The way that I did all of
this was to try to protect everybody. In the Gainesville Eight case, they arrested
those of us who were the leaders of this. We were indicted, but they did not bust
one fucking fire team because they were not able to get down to that level; our
security was too tight, even as highly infiltrated as we were.
I picked regional coordinators who had sided with me before. There were a lot of
people in VVAW who were pacifists, who said, "We should have learned in
Vietnam that you can't fucking get people to think like you using a fucking gun.
You can't force people with a fucking gun." [They] were very against weapons. I
did not bring any of those people in on the plan. The people who I brought in
were the people who thought like me. [They] were from Wisconsin, California,
[and] Texas. These were the people who I trusted.
L: [They] were indicted along with you.
C: Yes, some of them. After we laid out the plans, we had to [decide] how we were
going to build up this army without leaking out who these people were. It was
each of our jobs to pick the team leaders of the teams. I did not know any of the
team leaders from the Texas teams. I did not know any of the team leaders from
the California teams. All I knew were those of us in the central planning. None
of them knew my team leaders. Each team leader then had to develop his own
team; he had to pick his own team. None of the team leaders knew each other.
A team leader only knew me and [the people] on his team. I did not even know
who was on his team. So if I got busted, I could not tell on anybody. If you are
one guy on someone's team, you can tell on your team, but you cannot get
anyone else. It was made in such a way that the team leader was responsible
[and] his ass was on the line. If he picked the wrong guy, then he was in trouble.
I did not need to know who his men were. He did not need to know who the
other team leaders were. I communicated with all of my team leaders
separately, plus each other person did the same thing.
I gave each team leader (of my teams) their targets, but I would give them
several targets. So if you were a team leader, I would give you five targets. If
you got the word that we were on full action, then it was your job to pick the
target. So I could not set you up because I did not know which target you were
going to pick.
C: So we had maps. During the Gainesville Eight case, the police showed the
fucking maps of us marking all the targets primary targets [and] secondary
targets. They were all government buildings: fire stations, police stations. We
were just going to fucking firebomb them in order to make them have to spread
out all over the place so that we could evacuate our wounded.
L: I understand that Vietnam veterans did manage to protest at the Republican
L: Ron Kovic was beaten up during this march?
L: Are these Vietnam Veterans Against the War people?
C: Yes. The convention was supposed to start on Monday morning. You read the
motion I wrote on why I wanted to represent myself.
C: You saw how, on Friday, right before the convention, they whisked twenty-three
of us up from all over the country and made us go to Tallahassee to the grand
L: Before the Democratic convention.
C: Yes. So now they have taken away the leadership. Now their provocateurs that
are down there can manipulate the organization or try to manipulate them to do
something violent that is not well-coordinated or planned [in order] to discredit
us. So they knock out the leadership. But they did not know who all the fucking
team leaders were, so they did not do significant damage to us. The things that
they were going to do to cause us to react did not happen, so the teams did not
have to react. So they did not really knock out the teams, but they knocked out a
lot of the leadership.
Now, on the last day of the convention, they let us go, and we get down there for
the last fucking day of the convention. At the Republican convention, they have
us have to come back for an arraignment. So again, they tie us up in court.
During election day we had two arraignments [and] bond hearings. Every time
something came up, they whisked us away to Tallahassee to keep us out of the
L: Was Kovic a member of VVAW?
C: Yes. Kovic was a leader of the California people. I do not know if you saw Born
on the Fourth of July.
C: That was not the real Kovic. Kovic was one of the people like me. He wanted to
fight. He was in a wheelchair; he could not really fight good, but he could carry
arms in his wheelchair, and he did. Also, he used drugs. They showed him as
an alcohol person; he was a drug person, but the movie did not picture that.
We were not perfect, you know, and just like they tried to manipulate us, we tried
to manipulate them. One of the tactics that we used was to [provoke the police].
If we could get the police to beat people up, we could motivate people against
them, and we could manipulate public opinion, especially with the press.
Kovic was a front-line person. He could mouth off to the cops because he was in
a wheelchair, and it was real easy for him to push them to hit him and turn over
his wheelchair. As soon as they would knock over a disabled veteran in a
wheelchair, the press was on our side. So that was one of his jobs. They did not
show that in the movie. He would call them motherfuckers or sons-of-bitches [or]
tell them that he was fucking their old ladies. He would run over their feet with
his wheelchair. He would instigate [trouble] and provoke them. That was one of
With the press, he was a focal point. The things that they picked out were
people on crutches [or] people without arms and legs [with an attitude of,] "Look
at these poor guys." If we knew that is what drew their attention, those were the
people we put in the front.
I like Ron Kovic a lot. He was crazy, just like me. He used to let me drive his
car. They did not show that he drove a car in the movie. He drove a car, and he
was crazy behind the fucking wheel. His car did not work with feet; it worked
with the hands. I like Ron a lot. He was able to get credentials somehow and
get on the floor of the Republican convention. He just made contacts. There
were people in the press who were on our side who got us stuff. They gave us
information that helped us sneak into places. [They] wanted to see something
L: When did they officially indict you for conspiracy?
C: We were subpoenaed on the weekend. Friday and Saturday, they rounded up
twenty-three of us from seven different states. They made us hang out at the
damn courthouse. [They] brought us in there to question us.
L: They brought all twenty-three of you to Tallahassee?
C: Right. They did not bring us there; we got pieces of paper that said if we did not
show up, we were going to jail. They would not give us any fucking money, and
the burden became our responsibility to get there. We could not go to the
courthouse to get the money they were supposed to give us to go there because
the courthouses were all closed. We could not get lawyers because it was the
fucking weekend. I mean, they planned this to fuck us as bad as possible.
Since the grand jury only sees one person at a time, why did all of us have to be
there the whole time? When it was over, there were seven, eight, or nine people
that were never called before the grand jury.
Luckily for us, these lawyers flew in from out of town. These lawyers had been
dealing with this shit the government's abuse of the judicial branch against the
anti-war movement (and many other groups fighting for justice and equality).
These lawyers came from two main groups; [the first was] the Center for
Constitutional Rights, out of New York. Morty Stavis, Arthur Konoy, and William
Kunstler founded that office. Morty Stavis came to Tallahassee with a bunch of
lawyers. The other group of lawyers that came to our aid was the National
Lawyers' Guild. Cameron Cunningham and Brady Coleman out of Texas came
because three of the defendants were from Texas. From Gainesville, Larry
Turner came. There was also a movement group here called the Gainesville
Legal Collective. It was law students and fresh lawyers who were involved in the
peace movement and civil rights. So all these lawyers came to our aid.
L: Do you remember any names from the Gainesville Legal Collective?
C: Yes. Carol Scott, who is now in Atlanta, I believe. We can contact her. Steve
Johnson. He is a practicing lawyer here right now. Judy Peterson and Judith
Brown. Also Clyde Ellis, who is a local lawyer now.
L: Do you remember if they had any faculty support or faculty advisors? Do you
associate any faculty with this group?
C: It seems to me that the dean of the law school, Joseph R. Julin [Dean of the Law
School, 1971-1980] was supportive of us. I will have to look for his name.
L: I can find out whoever he was.
C: Okay. Harold [M.] Stahmer [professor of religion and philosophy] was one of the
people who supported us. His wife, Jean Stahmer, from the University of
Florida, supported us. Dr. Elliot from the philosophy department, Dr. Page, Dr.
Ken McGill, Dr. Hanna, Dr. Zweig [Holly], and Dr. David Chalmers [professor of
history] were all real supportive of us.
We had a run-in with the lawyers. First of all, we were really grateful that they
came to help us. They were the ones who taught us about the grand jury system
how the grand jury was originally supposed to be a body of your peers to
protect you from the government. Before the government could take you to jail,
they had to prove before a body of your peers that there was reason to believe
you had done something wrong. The origin of the grand jury was [that it was] to
be made up of the people to protect the people; it was not really to help the
government investigate. It was to see whether or not the government had
enough on you. It has been totally corrupted since then.
They could give you an immunity before the grand jury back then called "act
immunity." They could order you to testify. You would refuse to testify on
constitutional grounds like the Fifth Amendment not to incriminate yourself.
Then they would say, "Okay, we won't prosecute you. Now you have to answer
the questions." So you could not say, "I refuse to answer on the grounds that it
will incriminate me," because now they have promised you and the law said you
could not be indicted. Now you had to tell them everything.
These fucking pigs on the Supreme Court changed that law, and they came up
with another kind of immunity called "use immunity," as opposed to "act
immunity." Use immunity said, "Whatever you say cannot be used against you,
but we can still punish you for the crime if we can get someone else to say that.
We cannot use the fruits of what you say." But then you had to trust them.
For instance, let us say that you and myself and Denise are planning to do
something. The only three people that know about it are you, me, and Denise.
Now they call me in there, and they say, "Were you planning to do this?" I say, "I
refuse to answer on the grounds that it violates my rights." Then they say, "You
have use immunity." Now I have to say, "Yes," and they say, "Who with?" I say
you and Denise. Now they get you guys in there and do the same thing to you.
Then they are going to end up using your testimony against me and Denise, and
they are not supposed to do that.
L: I see.
C: But now what they are going to say is: "We already knew about Stuart and
Denise. We got their names from a confidential source, and we can't disclose
that confidential source because these people are dangerous and that
confidential source's life will be on the line." Then the judge says, "Okay, I
believe you," and they never have to prove they had a confidential source
because they give their word and that is fucking good enough. So it is all
bullshit. It is a complete disruption and undermines the whole judicial process.
L: Did they tangle any of you up in this?
C: Yes, they did! [Laughter] First of all, four of our people went to jail for refusing to
answer questions. They randomly took four people. Of those four people, three
of them still live here in Gainesville.
L: They are. . ?
C: John Chambers, Jack Jennings, and Bruce Horton. Wayne Beverly lives in
Texas. All of those guys went to jail for thirty-two days until Justice Douglas
signed a writ to let them out.
L: Okay. So they would not testify.
C: They refused to testify. All of us who went there refused to answer questions,
and the lawyers taught us how to play the game. When you go before a grand
jury, your lawyer is not allowed in there with you. The questions that they asked
were incredible questions. They would say to me: "Name all the times between
September and March that there were meetings at your house. Name all the
people who came to those meetings. Name all the places those people came
from. Name all the people who traveled with them. Name where they stayed.
Name their means of transportation." [They asked] real huge questions like that.
The first question they asked when I went there was, "Are you the same Scott
Camil that was subpoenaed here today?" My answer was, "I request permission
to consult with my attorney." Then they would get mad and say, "You know what
your name is!" I would say, "I request permission to consult with my attorney."
Since your attorney is not allowed in the grand jury room, you have the right to
go out after each question and consult with your attorney. They were going to
fuck with us; we fucked with them.
It pissed them off that these lawyers came in. One of them was James Reif, and
he was known as Mr. Grand Jury. These fucking lawyers knew every fucking
rule, and we fucking fought them in there. It was a hell of a battle. A lot of other
stuff went on in Tallahassee too, which I will tell you about. There were so many
significant things that happened there.
All of us refused to answer questions. Then they randomly picked four people,
took them before the judge, and gave them immunity. They said, "Now you have
to answer the questions."
The lawyer would send me back in there and say, "Refuse to answer this on the
grounds that it violates your rights under the First, the Third, the Fourth, the Fifth,
and the Eighth Amendments," (or whatever it was). What they try to do with
immunity just takes care of the Fifth Amendment. It does not take care of the
First or Fourth Amendments. So giving you immunity only takes care of one of
them. He did, anyway. So they would give you immunity and say, "For refusing
to answer, we're not going to accept this, and you are going to jail." And they put
people in jail. They put four guys in jail. I gave you three of their names. The
other one is Wayne Beverly from Texas. Three of them are still here in
Gainesville. I cannot tell you how good it made me feel that these people were
willing to [help us]. John Chambers' mother was all over his fucking ass.
L: I will bet.
C: [She said to him,] "Why are you doing this?"
We are talking about combat veterans: "You are going to put me in jail? Fuck
you. What can you do? Send me to Vietnam?" It was the camaraderie that
Vietnam veterans at that time had amongst ourselves. [We] were so tight, there
was no way they could bust us up.
L: What happened after the indictments came down?
C: First of all, when they are done with the grand jury, they say, "Okay, you can go."
The next thing that happens is we all go to our headquarters house, which is
Frank Hall's house in Tallahassee. [We were] meeting to decide: "Do we have
time now to get down to the convention? What are we going to do?" In the
meantime, I get word that Mike Oliver is flying in from New York. I have to go
pick him up at the airport. So I go to pick him up at the Tallahassee airport. On
the way back from the airport, Stanley Michelsen pulls me over (because he
knew where I went). He said: "Forty police just raided the house. They tore the
house up, and they are looking for you. They blocked off both ends of the
fucking street at Frank's house. We got a phone call saying that they are going
to arrest you. They are going to say you tried to escape and they are going to kill
L: Now was he an agent provocateur?
C: No. He was one of our guys that was later indicted; he was not indicted in the
first group. So he pulls me over and says, "Look. They are hunting for you, and
they are going to kill you."
L: And what did you do?
C: I said: "Shit. What the fuck am I going to do? They're out to kill me." So the
decision that we make is [that] I cannot go back to the house, and I have to go
hide. So I went to this lady's house. This was a neat, neat lady. (She has
passed away now.) She owned a business called Tallahassee Travel and Tours.
Her name will come to me. Dr. Marion Haye. She was a very special woman.
She was in naval intelligence during the Spanish-American War, and her
husband was a British pilot in World War II who was shot down and killed. While
we were in jail, all these old people from Tallahassee came to our aid. There
were the Lewises from the Lewis State Bank they are still around and this
other little old lady. I went to her house and I knocked on her door. During the
whole week, we were at the grand jury up there. It starts at a certain time in the
L: Did one of these families in Tallahassee live in a house designed by Frank Lloyd
C: I believe so. They are real rich. There were the Shaws, who owned Shaw
Furniture, the Lewises, who owned the Lewis State Bank, and this other lady.
So while we are there at the grand jury, each morning we all report in front of the
courthouse in uniform. Somebody takes roll to make sure all twenty-three of us
are there. "Florida." "All present and accounted for, sir." "Alabama." "All
present and accounted for, sir." Just like in the military. The press is eating this
shit up. Right across the street from the federal courthouse is the police station.
So then we would run around the block. There is a thing of trees in between,
and we would run around in uniform in the street clapping and singing. Then we
would all report back to the front of the courthouse and we would go in in single
file with our hands over our heads. Each one of us would have to go through a
metal detector to get upstairs in the courthouse. We did a lot of guerrilla theater
L: You had said that you received this death threat and went to hide out.
C: So what happened is, during this period of time these people from Tallahassee
came to us, and that is how we met the Shaws and the Lewises and this lady. I
liked this lady right away. So I went to her house, and I knocked on her door. I
told her what had happened, and I asked her if I could spend the night in her
house. She was so thrilled and excited that I trusted her, and she took me right
in. So Mike Oliver and I went into this lady's house. I decided that I would turn
myself in the next morning with the lawyers and the press there at the jail so they
could not shoot me for trying to escape. I called the press, and I called the
lawyers and let them know not where I was, but where I would meet them in the
morning. In the morning, I met the press and the lawyers, and I turned myself in.
Several guys came with me [when I went] to turn myself in. It was the funniest
damn thing. John Kniffin was one of the people, and it turned out that he was
indicted, too. So as we went in there, they arrested several of us. So it ended
up with six of us being in jail for the indictment for conspiracy to disrupt the
L: How did they eventually add two more people to this and make it the Gainesville
C: They just wrote up a new indictment; [they] added two more names to it. [They]
had another arraignment in Tallahassee and threw us all back in jail again.
L: How long were you in jail?
C: It is hard for me to remember this part. It seems to me that we were only in jail
for a couple of days at a time. It was split up. Our bonds were something like
$150,000 apiece; I cannot remember [except that they were] real high bonds.
We could not raise enough money to get everybody out, but we raised enough
money to get some people out. So some of us got out, and some of us stayed
in. So then we would go back and rotate. So if I turned myself back in, that
would release the bond, and then that money could be used to get someone else
out. They were getting tired of all the shit that we were doing to them, but this
was one of the games that we were playing. We were going to use the rules to
the best of our advantage. When we went for our hearing, this was a real kick-
ass. The judge was Judge David Middlebrooks.
L: Here in Gainesville?
C: In Tallahassee. Now he is a lawyer in Tallahassee, but he was a federal judge,
and he was a pig. You can interview him. What the government used against us
were our service records. They said: "Look at these men's records. [They
have] Silver Stars, Bronze Stars, Purple Hearts. Obviously these are violent
men. They don't get medals like this being nice guys. They are a danger to the
community." They used our service records against us.
L: That is ridiculous.
C: It is on the record. Talk about being pissed! We came back and threw the
medals away because they stood for something bad! Our bond was maybe
$50,000 apiece, but the Lewises from the bank board got this money together.
They raised this money really quick, and we were able to get out. After we got
out, we went right down to the convention. It might have been the grand jury was
Monday and Tuesday, and they let us go maybe Tuesday or Wednesday. That
night they indicted us. Then we were in jail maybe Wednesday and Thursday.
We were able to get bonded out and get down there by Friday.
L: For the Democratic or Republican convention?
C: For the Democratic convention. Then, for the Republican convention, it was the
same thing. We were back in court in Tallahassee, and then they released us
and we got down there for the last [day]. Actually, we might have spent the last
two days and one night there for that convention.
L: Did anything happen? Did you participate in any marches or anything?
C: No. There was a march on the Fontainebleau [Hotel], which was really neat.
Hunter Thompson, in his book Fear and Loathing [on the Campaign Trail 1972],
writes about that march.
L: That is right.
C: Also, there are newspaper clippings concerning the security measures. Our
discipline was real strict, and we were not going to do anything to cause any
problems that they could blame us for. There were some people caught selling
drugs inside our perimeter, and we kicked them out.
L: Your people or somebody else's people?
C: VVAW was asked to handle security for the other organizations, so if there was
any trouble at the park, we were the ones that were called. The main thing we
had was this was incredible, too the fucking Nazis raided the park.
L: The American Nazi Party?
C: They certainly did. [This was] on Miami Beach. At the time, it was all Jews that
lived there. What happened is, the women's libbers (the feminists) wanted to
handle their own security.
L: Were they from all over the country?
C: Right. So Flamingo Park (I do not know what the name of the park was; I cannot
think of it offhand) was divided into sectors, and different groups had different
sections. VVAW provided security for everything except for the women; they
were going to do their own security. The Nazis came in, tore up their fucking
displays, and took over the soundstage. We were called in, so we brought in
about 250 Vietnam veterans. We put a double line of people around the stage.
The inner circle faced the stage and the outer circle faced the crowd. Steve
Dupee was in charge of the security at the time because we had spent so much
time in court. He climbed up on the stage to talk to them, and one of them hit
him in the face with a chair. We then kicked their fucking ass, and it was a lot of
fun. We beat the fuck out of these Nazis. The police stood by. We carried them
out and threw them in a fucking pile in the middle of the fucking street, and all
these little old Jewish people were clapping and stuff. The police stood by and
did not get involved. These guys were wearing black pants, boots, white shirts
and fucking swastikas. There are newspaper clippings on that, too. After that,
the women allowed us to help with security in their area. So there are some
newspaper articles about that kind of stuff, but in general, nothing bad came
down, and none of our teams had to be put into action.
But some of our teams had been disrupted by the Gainesville Eight stuff. Not
only that, it caused a lot of divisiveness inside the organization because the
same people who thought that I had provoked trouble when I wanted to do the
action in Washington felt that I was just doing this to discredit the organization.
L: Do you remember any other Gainesville movement groups sending contingents
down to the Republican convention?
C: I am sure there probably were, but I would have to, again, look at the files. We
are talking about 20 years ago. Everyone else went to the convention, and I got
to both conventions late. Going to the Republican convention, we had a convoy,
and the police stopped the convoy. Or it might have been the Democratic
convention that we had the convoy. I cannot even remember that. It might have
been both, for that matter. I guess it had to be the Republican convention. I
rode down in one of the convoys, and then I had to shoot back up to
Tallahassee. But the highway patrol pulled us all over on the [Florida] Turnpike,
and fucked with everybody.
L: After the conventions were over, did you go back to movement activities in
C: I came back to Gainesville, but Gainesville became the headquarters.
L: For the Gainesville Eight?
C: Right. The trial was going to take place in Gainesville.
L: Why was Gainesville picked?
C: Because Gainesville was the place that they said the conspiracy was plotted.
L: In your apartment house?
C: Right. In the attic [laughter]. The government wanted to have it somewhere
L: Had you all even been using this attic?
C: Yes, but actually, the attic was sleeping headquarters. One of the things that
made it easy for me was there were a lot of homeless veterans after the war who
did not go to school. I converted the attic into a barracks, so I had a ton of
mattresses up there, and I had all these homeless guys who were not going to
school sleeping in the attic. In return, they had to pull duty. They had to go to
demonstrations, and they had to do shit. I had a fucking army sitting in the attic
to do shit, so it was really easy for me to get stuff done. Again, people were
used to following orders, working in teams, and doing shit like that.
So then we spent the next about eighteen months, I guess, (I do not remember
how much time; it might have been thirteen months) of pretrial hearings where
we had to argue over all this different shit. At the same time, we were doing
L: Was there any other movement activity in Gainesville between the riots and the
end of the Vietnam war? Can you remember? It sounds like you were really
busy with the trials.
C: I was really busy. I was also going to college. [Laughter] We had a lot of
support from the community. The Quaker church here in Gainesville (with
Chalmers) was non-profit, so they allowed all the donations to the Gainesville
Eight to come through them so they could be tax-deductible for people. The
donations went through the Quaker Church, and the Quaker Church opened up
a Gainesville Eight account for us in the Lewis State Bank in Tallahassee. That
is how the funding all worked. There were just a lot of people in the community
I was asked to speak a lot, and I went all over the country speaking [and] raising
money. Whenever there would be a demonstration, I would speak at it.
Because of the gag order, there were certain things I was not allowed to talk
about, but I made fun of the government all the time. I ridiculed them; I made
fun of them. It was a lot of fun for me.
L: So [there were] thirteen months of pretrial hearings and then the actual trial [took
place] in the late summer of 1973?
C: The trial was around August or September, and I do not really remember the day
it started and the day it ended. The trial lasted a month, and the government put
on something like twenty-eight witnesses.
At this time, you have to sort of imagine a government being so arrogant and
people being so backward that people would automatically believe the
government. If the president would say, "This is what is going on in Vietnam,"
that was the truth. If we would say something else, the burden of proof was on
us. The government made fools of themselves in court. The first day, we were
in a room in the courthouse that the judge gave us to work with our lawyers.
Someone looks under this vent, and there are some feet. We go get the
marshals, the marshals unlock this fucking closet, and there are two FBI agents,
special agents Carl Ekbald and Robert Romans, with bugging equipment
monitoring us meeting with our fucking lawyers. The first fucking day! Right
away, we have a hearing, and the judge says we are (this is a quote), "Making a
mountain out of a molehill." The FBI said since we were in the federal building,
they were in there to make sure that we were not bugging anything the
government was doing. They did every kind of trick, cheat, and lie in the world.
All this bullshit went on there.
At the end of the government's case, it was our turn to present our case. There
were a lot of tactics involved here. Also, we talked before about the lawyers.
Starting from when we were first indicted, we had a falling out with the
Gainesville lawyers and we fired them.
L: All of them?
C: All except Larry Turner. Lawyers are also arrogant people and have big egos.
We were arrogant, and we had big egos. We wanted to do it our way. The
lawyers wanted to do it their way. From the lawyers' point of view, they knew the
law and we did not. From our point of view, we were the ones who were going to
go to jail if this thing does not work. [We said,] "We'll do it our fucking way." Our
idea was to use the platform of the courthouse and the international press to give
our side of the story. The lawyers wanted to do things their way. So the lawyers
really cheated us a lot in the sense that they tried to manipulate us. Now they
were working for free, and their politics were the same as ours. I have to say
with some humility we thought they were cheating us and stuff, but we could not
have done it without them. But there was a lot of internal struggle that took place
between the eight of us--fighting amongst ourselves. We each had different
L: So what was the final outcome of the Gainesville Eight trial?
C: I need to tell a little bit more about it.
C: Because of the gag order, we had to open up a press office here in Gainesville.
Some of us were not allowed to talk about the trial stuff. If the lawyers wanted to
do something their way, they would say to us, "This is what is going to happen at
the hearing," or "This is what is going to happen in the courtroom. You can do A,
B, or C. If you do A, this is probably what will happen; if you do B, this is
probably what will happen; if you do C, this is probably what will happen." They
would present it in a way to try to get us to vote to take their recommendation of
what was the best course of action. We were not really happy with that because
we had our own ideas of what to do. So we would vote on stuff. All of us were
real strong people, and the agreement was [that] we had to go by majority rule.
So here we were, people that you could not really bridle, and sometimes we
would have to compromise our beliefs to go with the majority. There was even at
least one occasion in the house when the arguments got so strong about how we
were going to do something that people pulled guns on each other. During this
period of time, the amount of infighting was really incredible, but we kept it from
the public. For instance, one of the people named Bill Patterson took the
position of, "This is a political trial. It is all bullshit. They should not have the
right to do this to us. Why should we play their game? Fuck them." So he
would get up in court and start yelling at the judge and stuff. This made us all
look bad in front of the press. It made us look like crazies. That was one of the
things we had to deal with.
After the twenty-eight days were up and the government presented its case, they
had not proven the charges against us. It was really obvious to us. So the
lawyers said: "You can make a real good political statement by going in there
and resting your case and winning without even putting on a defense. Also,
tactically what happens is [that] the government puts on its case against you, you
put on your defense, and the government gets a rebuttal. The government gives
a closing argument, you give your closing argument, and the government gets
the last word. So you get sandwiched in between the government. But under
the rules, if you do not put on any witnesses for your defense, then you get the
first closing argument, the government gets their closing argument, and then you
get the last word. The lawyers wanted to have the last word. They also felt that
our jury was being sequestered.
(This is a really important thing, too. When you talk to Lois Hensel from
Gainesville, [be aware that] she was on the jury. A lot of the jurors still live here.
She was the foreperson of the jury.)
The jury was sequestered, and they were kept away from their families. They
were locked in a fucking hotel. Whenever they talked to their families on the
phone, U.S. marshals listened in on the conversation. Whenever they had
husbands visit, a marshal sat in the room with them. They were not allowed to
hear anything about the trial [from the] newspaper or TV. The marshals
censored everything out of the papers before they would be given to the jury.
During this period of time Watergate was also [going on]. So the judge ruled that
the jury could not know about anything concerning government misconduct.
They were cutting everything about Watergate out of the paper, [and] they were
cutting Doonesbury out of the paper. This is just incredible; it is a significant
political act. The Gainesville jury filed a petition against the court during the trial.
They felt some of their rights were being violated. So there were all these little
subplots going on. Just imagine a jury filing a petition against the government
during a fucking trial. So we had to have a vote. The lawyers wanted to
sandwich the government in between, and they thought it would be a great
political statement to win without putting on a defense. Personally, I felt that
here we finally had the fucking spotlight. It was our time to tell the whole world
what pigs the government is. We can talk about Agent Orange, post-Vietnam
syndrome (which was not recognized at the time), government provocateurs who
came into our organization and tried to talk us into doing bad stuff, [and] all the
dirty tricks they were doing. I mean, we could lay it to their ass. Because the
jurors had been sequestered from their families, the lawyers said: "Let's say
there's some people on the jury that are for you. You are going to tie them up for
another month while we put on our case? They are going to be away from their
families for two months then? Don't you think that they are just going to vote any
way they can to get the fuck out of there? You are not going to have people sit
there and fight for you when they have been away from their families that long.
You have to take that into consideration." I personally felt that it was our time to
have our say. They had taken all their shots, now we are going to quit right at
the end? This is ridiculous. So the vote by the defendants was two to six. Two
of us wanted to go on and put on our case, and six voted against it.
L: So it was you and [who else]?
C: Don Purdue. Don is an ex-Marine. I was so bitter about that. I called them
pussies, I called them cowards. I said things like, "I'm glad I didn't serve with you
guys guarding my back in Vietnam," anything mean I could say. I did not talk to
those other six guys for years. I was so angry because we planned a case to tell
our side of the story.
We really suckered the fucking government. Three of us were representing
ourselves. So we also had this battle about, "How am I going to ask myself
questions when I get on the stand? I want to be able to ask myself questions.
How am I supposed to do that? I am representing myself." So all the fighting we
did over that stuff made them think that we were going to put on witnesses and
do that, so they were prepared for that. So when we rested our case, it took
them by surprise. They were very angry. Once they rest, they cannot put
anything else on except as rebuttal. They saved some information--some
undercover agents--that they wanted to put on as rebuttal. So they were not
allowed to use all those people. On the other hand, we were not allowed to find
out who they were. Also, there is another Gainesville person who is really
important to interview. His name is Emerson Poe.
L: Tell me about him.
C: He was the assistant regional coordinator for the state of Florida. He lived here
in Gainesville. He was second in command to me.
L: How long had you known him?
C: A couple years. He worked at the VA Hospital, and it turned out that the FBI had
gone to him and asked him to join us and spy on us, which he did. But his wife
had a miscarriage. My girlfriend Nancy and I went out to his house and consoled
them and took care of them. We did Christmas together [and] we did birthdays
together. We were very close.
L: Did you ever have any clue or suspicions?
C: He used to give little hints, sort of. He had a look; I can pick an undercover
agent out a mile away now. You can tell. He was older. He spent twenty years
in the military; he was working for the VA. He was a government person. But if
you came to me and said, "I am a Vietnam veteran; I want to join your
organization," what am I going to do? Run a check through the FBI and see if
you are really you or not? I had no way of doing that. To me, people that were
willing to work got the job. I trusted him.
He was one of the people who was subpoenaed to the grand jury. So when
these lawyers from out of town came in, they said to the judge, "We don't have
enough lawyers for these guys. You didn't give them enough time. We have to
meet with these people one at a time. We need more time." The judge ordered
the lawyers to work with us as a group. The lawyers said, "Some of these guys
might be undercover agents. That will violate the rights of the others." So the
judge had the prosecutor get on the stand. The judge said to the prosecutor,
"Are any of the people subpoenaed here today represented by these lawyers
government agents or have they ever worked for the government?" The
prosecutor said, "No." It turned out that three of the twenty-three of us were
L: Does that not throw the trial?
C: Normally it would. We sued the government over this.
L: This is the civil rights suit after the fact.
C: Yes, and we lost. This argument was just incredible. Poe admits going to the
meetings with us and our lawyers. He admits to meeting with the FBI and telling
them everything that is going on. But he denies telling them anything that went
on between us and the lawyers. The prosecutor's point of view is, "This guy
might have been at the meeting with the lawyers, and if he did not tell the FBI,
and he did not tell the prosecutor, then the prosecutor did not know. Then the
government did not know." We said, "He is the fucking government! What do
you mean? We are going to take your word when you already lied and said
nobody was working for the government? We are going to take your word that
he did not tell you anything about what we were doing when we were talking with
our lawyers? We are not going to believe that." But they were innocent until
proven guilty, and we could not prove that he relayed any information between
us and our lawyers. Just the fact that he was there should have been enough.
L: When did you find out he was working for the government?
C: He helped us select the jury. We got to have a list of all the people who were
prospective jurors. Then we had people in the community like Father Michael
Gannon, Dean Harold Stahmer, [and] the dean from the law school supporting
us. We gave them each a list of the prospective jurors. Then they wrote on
3 x 5 cards what they knew about those people. So we ended up with a file on
each prospective juror. We had these people who came in Jay Schulman [was
one]. They were experts. They were devising a new scientific system on how to
pick a jury. The government would run all the people through the computer and
see if they were ever audited by the IRS. If they were, they would take them off.
The government would kick off black people. They would kick off teachers. We
would be kicking off career military men, police officers' family [members, and]
people like that.
In the Berrigan trial, Berrigan had a lot of friends in the academic community, so
they devised a way to pick a jury. Then they took this formula for jury selection
and brought it to Gainesville. There was a score given for each person. (I have
all the questions and all that jury stuff here, also.) You got a score for your sex,
age, religion, college background, [and] the kind of job you had. They had
determined a certain score for all those kinds of factors. Then we took those
3 x 5 cards and found out what we could about the people. People also rode by
the houses. Did they have an American flag flying from their house? Did they
have a bumper sticker on their car that said, "America Love it or Leave it"? Did
they have children's stuff out there? Anything we could know about them to
throw into the computer helped us figure out who to pick and who not to pick.
For instance, the person who got the highest score was an eighteen-year-old
female student who was Jewish, who would typically be considered real liberal.
But one of her teachers had told us that in class, when they were talking about
the demonstrators, she said, "They deserved to get their asses kicked." So we
knew that we did not want her. When you select a jury, you get to kick people off
for Cause. If you can give a reason to kick the person off, you get to kick them
off. Also, you get some Preemptory challenges, challenges for no reason that
you can kick a person off. Each side is allowed to kick off X amount of people
without a reason. So we made believe we wanted her on the jury. The
government used one of its challenges to kick her off. We also had body
language people who sat there when we were questioning the [prospective] jury,
and watched. Did they cross their legs? Did they do this? Did they do that?
Are they telling the truth? Semantics people analyzed the words that they used.
The Gainesville Eight trial was the first trial in the country where this process
was used and became 100 percent correct. Before we selected the jury, we
were able to figure out who we were going to knock off, who the government was
going to knock off, in what order they would be knocked off, who would be left,
and who would end up on the jury. We wanted the people for us to be strong
and the people against us to be weak so they could not form a core. Before the
jury was selected, we were able to tell who the ending jury was going to be, who
they would pick to be the foreperson, and what the first vote would be. All that
was figured out before the jury was even selected. [It was] the first time in the
history of the country that this process was used.
After the Berrigan case, they went and interviewed the jurors. That allowed them
to figure out what was more important sex or religion, age or working status.
So they knew how to give the points and how to weigh things. It was really,
So then the government rested its case. We rested our case. Then the jury
came back in four hours and found us not guilty. What was really cool about this
was that before the verdict was read, we were out on the front lawn of the
courthouse playing football. They said, "The jury's in." We all go back up there,
and the judge asked the jury if they had reached a decision. They said, "Yes."
He tells the people in the audience, "No outbursts are allowed." Everybody in
the audience has a tag. There is a press section for the press and a family
section for the family and the defense (there are not separate sections, but
numbers of seats allotted for the government and for the general public.) There
were long lines of people trying to get in to see the trial. The judge said,
"Anybody who makes an outburst is going to jail, regardless of what the decision
is here. Everybody has to be quiet." The whole time, you had to go through
metal detectors downstairs and upstairs; there are guards all around the fucking
building trying to give the impression that we are real dangerous to poison the
jury against us.
They tell the jury [that] after the verdict is read, they will hold everybody there
and let them leave. So we all stand up, and they read the charges. It was: "Not
guilty. Not guilty. Not guilty." You can see the prosecutors, and they are all
shaking their heads in a negative manner. Then they say, "The jury can leave."
The jury did not want to leave. So they said, "Everything is over." Then the jury
ran over to our table and was kissing and hugging us, and they were kissing and
hugging our lawyers, and we were kissing and hugging them. Everyone had
tears in their eyes. It was like we were old friends. It was just unbelievable. The
FBI and the prosecutors could not figure out what the fuck was going on. They
were so immersed in their own authority and world that they never saw that it
was easy to see through them. Watergate really helped because Watergate
helped dissolve the illusion that the government is always right, always does
what is right, and would never do anything wrong, would never lie, and all that
shit. Then we had a party after the trial. The press came to the party, and the
jury came to the fucking party.
The first time I knew Emerson Poe was an agent was when they called him on
the stand. He was, I guess, the third witness they called. The first person they
called was my landlord. He testified that he was a small arms expert in the
military and that he came in the attic and saw cases of rifles. They were plastic
rifles that we used at demonstrations for guerrilla theater. They were blue, but
he was color-blind, and he did not know they were blue. And when he was in the
military, they did not even have M-16s. So Larry Turner pulls one out of a bag
and says, "Is this what you saw?" He says, "That's right. That's one of them!"
Larry pulls the trigger and goes, "A-a-a-a, a-a-a-a [machine gun noises]."
Everybody starts laughing, and the judge is banging on the table. Judge
Middlebrooks was the first judge we had, but then we got another judge, Judge
Winston Arnow, because we reqused Judge Middlebrooks because he was such
a pig. As soon as they called Poe to the stand, the lawyers yelled and objected.
The jury had to go out of the room, and we had to have a hearing over whether
or not he could take the stand. I could not believe it, I just could not believe it.
He had been the person who had gone with me to all these other meetings out of
state. He is the one who xeroxed the plans that I wrote for the convention and
took them to the FBI. The FBI took my original sheet, made copies, and mailed
them out all over the fucking country. The FBI knew the plans before any of the
L: Amazing. You were clueless until the trial.
C: Yes. And the jury got to see the plans, but every other word said, "For defensive
purposes only. For self-defense only. Use the minimum amount of force
necessary. These are the tactics that they are going to use against us. If they
do this, this is what we're going to do." The government tried to make it seem
like that plan was the offensive plan, and it was a defensive plan.
After the trial, I was pissed at the other guys, and we were not friends anymore.
We were still suing the government. There still was a war going on in Vietnam to
C: So I was writing the book about it all here in Gainesville.
L: How much of that did you get written?
C: I was doing a section at a time, and I had a bunch written. But it would have had
to be put in book form and edited. I had a lot of photographs and a lot of
information. I had moved out of Gainesville after the Gainesville Eight trial. I
had come back in, and a friend of mine, named Randy Kaufman ... let me just
say this: It may be that some of these people who I am naming may be upset
that it be known who they are because of their jobs or something. So I would
ask you if you go to talk with these people, and they want anonymity, can we do
L: Sure. Also, when we send this back to you and ask you to edit it, you can take
out whatever you want to take out of it, or add stuff if you want. So you will get a
chance to proof it.
C: Randy rented a house for me in his name. He got the phone and electricity and
everything put in his name. I was working out of that house.
C: I was not with VVAW anymore because the VVAW national office considered
this to be an attack against them, as did we.
L: The Gainesville Eight, right?
C: Right. So they wanted to sit in with us and the lawyers and have a say in what
went on. We said, "Bullshit. We don't know who's cops and who's not cops."
One of the reasons we allowed Emerson Poe to sit in with us with the lawyers
and make up our defense committee was because we knew that all the people
who were subpoenaed to the grand jury were not cops because the prosecutor
got on the stand and testified that they were not cops. So that is who we built
our defense committee with. There was no way we could tell who all these other
people were, so we would not let them in. They felt that was a usurpation of
power because if it was an attack against the organization, then the elected
national officers should have some say. We felt that we were the ones who were
going to go to jail. So there became a split between us and the national VVAW.
When the trial was over, we all dropped out of VVAW.
L: Did you form another organization or join another one?
C: I did not even talk to those other fucking guys. We were all independent then. I
still did a lot of speaking. I was writing, and I was working against the war.
L: So you were working in this house that your friend has rented.
C: Right. And I meet this girl named Barbara Ives. First of all, I break up with
Nancy McCown. She is now a psychology teacher or psychologist (I do not know
which) in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her father was a dean of extensions in
agriculture here at the University of Florida at the time. During this whole time,
she lived with me. Through the kidnapping arrest, the drug arrest, [and] the
Gainesville Eight trial, she stood by me. She gave me love and comfort.
Without her, I would have never been able to psychologically make it. I never
would have been able to do everything I did. I got all the credit for it. Without
her, none of this could have happened. She deserves credit for this. I would
have to say if there is any one thing that I really regret, it is breaking up with this
lady. I was a real pig. I did not treat her that well. I was very bossy [and]
arrogant, and I was hostile all the time. I was a really angry kind of person. The
war made me really angry. She put up with all my shit. I never had anyone who
loved me as much as she loved me, and I miss that. I miss her, and I love her
L: Then you meet this other woman.
C: I am not living with [Nancy] anymore. A little while after the trial, we break up. I
meet this other woman who comes to the house allegedly looking for Randy. If
you come to Gainesville looking for Randy, his phone number is in the phone
book, and his address is my house. She comes looking for him, and I believe
her and say, "No, he is not here, but I can call him." I call him, and she gets on
the phone with him and says, "Hello. I came to see you." She used to date him.
She was coming to Gainesville to work at the Gainesville Women's Health
Center. She lived in Orlando. So she was spending the weekends at my house.
The first day I met her, she came to the door, and I just had a towel wrapped
around me. She came in, and she had brought some marijuana to town that she
wanted to sell. I looked at it and smoked a little, and it was not worth a shit. I
had some better pot. So we smoked some of my pot and did some cocaine. We
went to bed, and we fucked. I had a good time. She was a nice-looking woman
and had a nice body. She started coming up to spend every weekend with me.
So we would just get high and have sex. I liked her. When you first meet
people, everyone is on their best behavior. Then after a while, people start
getting to be themselves again. She introduced me to some friends of hers. So
one weekend, these guys call me [and tell me] that they are coming in from out
of town, and they want to see me. They come in, and they tell me that Barbara
is coming up for the weekend. I knew she was coming up for the weekend and
that she wanted to get some drugs.
L: How long had you known her at this point?
C: First of all, when I met her, Randy said she used to live here, she used to date
him, and she was cool. So I trusted that. I guess for about three months I saw
her every weekend. There might have been a weekend she did not come up; I
really cannot tell you that for sure, but we were very intimate. So they came in
from out of town, and they were going to get some coke. I wanted to get some
too, so that when she came in we could have more fun. We went for a ride to
get the drugs.
L: This is in 1975, right?
C: Yes. One of them is driving, I am sitting in the shotgun seat, and one of them is
behind me. The one that is behind me grabs me around the neck, pulls my head
to the headrest, and shoves a gun to my head, right behind my right ear.
L: The car is in motion, and you are coming back from wherever it is that you went.
C: Yes, we were on the way to my house.
L: Why does he all of a sudden grab you at this point? That is something I did not
understand from reading about this.
C: I thought that he was going to try to rip me off for my money. He says, "If you
make a move, I'm gonna blow off your fucking head." He starts hitting me with
the gun. So with his left hand, he has my head pinned to the headrest, and with
his right hand, he keeps jabbing the gun into my head. I did not know what they
wanted me to do, but whatever it was, I was not going to be cooperative.
L: Did you know that they were police at this time?
C: No. About the third or fourth time he pulled the gun away, I grabbed his wrist,
and I pinned it to the headrest of the car. So now his hand comes off my neck,
and he is struggling for this gun. I unlock the door of the car, and I am going to
jump out into traffic. I figure, if they try to shoot me in front of people, they will
get in trouble, so they will not do that. While that is happening, the driver hits the
brakes of the car, and we all go forward. There is a red light, and there is a car
in front of him, I guess. I really do not remember, but [I know] he has to stop
because there is traffic and a red light. He grabs both my hands and pulls them
back like this, above my head and behind, and the guy pulls his hand loose, puts
the gun up to my back, and shoots. I was opening the door, and the impact
knocks me out of the car, into the street. I get a gash in my leg from hitting the
curb. I was wearing the same exact brand and style of shoes that I have on now
five-lace Converse tennis shoes. The impact left the shoes in the car, but put
me out in the street. If you can imagine . people do not really know what it is
like to be shot, but you are talking about a lot of force to just pick you up so quick
that your shoes stay in the fucking car.
L: Was this on University [Avenue]?
C: No. This was on NW 10th Avenue and 2nd Street. If you are at the light at Main
Street and 10th Avenue, there is a little shopping center there. If you are coming
up Main Street you pass University Avenue, then you pass 8th Avenue. The
next light is 10th Avenue. You turn left there, go to the next light, which is behind
the shopping center, and you make a right. It was that street. I lived on 10th
Avenue at the time. I lived at 424 NW 10th Avenue.
L: Was this during the day or at night?
C: This was about one, two, or three o'clock in the afternoon. It was daytime.
L: After you are thrown out of the car, what happens?
C: I am talking to you slowly, but things are going on real fast. I get shot. I know
that I am hit. I have a lump here in my stomach that I can feel. I hit the street,
and as soon as I hit the street, this guy is on top of me. He has the gun to my
head. I am saying, "You shot me, man! You shot me!" It just surprised me that
he shot me. I did not think he would take the chance. He showed me his badge,
and told me I was under arrest. During this period of time, I was saying, "My
blood type is A negative; I am having trouble breathing. I am a disabled vet.
Take me to the VA." That is all I was saying. "You shot me, man! You shot me!
I need an ambulance. I am having trouble breathing." The next thing I know,
the Gainesville police are there, and they take over the scene.
L: And they arrested these two guys, right?
C: I do not know if it would technically be called an arrest. They took their guns and
took them to the police station.
C: There is a ton of shit going on. The fucking press is around, [and] the fucking
ambulances are there. they take me to the hospital, and my lawyer, Larry
Turner, comes in. He says, "Scott, are you okay?" He is checking to see if I am
okay and what he can do for me. He tells me that they are raiding my house and
all kinds of shit. The feds are in Alachua General, my lawyer is in the hospital,
the Gainesville police are in the hospital, all these medical people are there, and
I am laying there, all fucked up.
L: How much damage did this bullet do to you?
C: It fractured one rib, went through my left lung [and] collapsed my lung. The
concussion of it going through my body caused trauma to my liver and kidneys.
It caused me to have blood in my urine. I lost four units of blood. (You only
have five units of blood.) It caused stomach damage and lodged in my
L: Are you recovered from this, or are there permanent effects?
C: There are not any real large permanent effects. If you look at an X-ray of my left
lung, [you see that] it is blunted. The bottom half of it is not operable. I cannot
take as deep a breath as I used to be able to take. Also, I do not have quite the
twisting ability that I had. When it is cold, I feel pain and tightness. Aside from
that, everything else works.
The Gainesville police and the feds were arguing over who was going to get the
bullet that was in me. The doctor was refusing to take the bullet out. (His name
was Mantini.) He did not want to get caught in the chain of custody. Whoever
takes a bullet out is going to have to go to court and say they took the bullet out.
The hospital is not allowing him to do anything until I sign a release. I am not
willing to sign anything because I cannot read anything. [laughter] So there was
a lot of commotion going on. The feds and the cops are arguing; the doctors are
arguing with me; the doctor is arguing with the nurse about who is going to take
the bullet out; other administrative people are yelling at me to sign the papers;
the police are trying to get me to sign the fucking papers; the lawyer is trying to
talk to me. Finally, I signed the paper. I said to one of the cops, "You are my
witness. I am signing under duress because they are telling me I am going to die
if I do not sign this fucking paper. I do not know what this paper says; I am just
signing it so they will take the bullet out and fix me up." They already had
intravenous stuff going into me, and I am awake. They make an incision here
and take the bullet out. I am awake for all this because I just believe- from
Vietnam that when you get wounded and close your eyes so you will not feel
the pain, that is how you die. If you are willing to put up with the pain, then you
can live. I just wanted to stay alive.
L: What caliber gun did they use?
C: It is a 380. It is also known as a 9 mm short. The government basically claimed
that we went and we bought drugs, and then they told me that I was under
arrest, that I attacked them, they pulled their guns in self-defense, and that I
yanked on the guy's arm and it made the gun go off by accident.
L: Which is not what happened.
C: No. The best thing that happened for me was when the Gainesville police took
them in, they separated them, and they made them each give a story about what
happened. Then when we went to the trial, they had to stick to those stories.
But the stories that they gave did not match the evidence, and all the evidence
matched my story. As soon as I got out of the hospital, I went right down and
tried to press charges on them.
There were three weapons involved. They each had their own weapon, and then
there was the third weapon that I was shot with, which was not registered to
either of them. One of them claimed it was his backup weapon. I personally
believe that they were going to shoot me, use that as a throwaway, and say it
was my weapon. I have learned since then that they were going to kill me, that
the whole plan was to kill me.
L: How did you learn that? Where did you get this information?
C: The woman, Barbara Ives, who I was dating, told her friends that she was
working a case with the government to kill me. She told that to her best girlfriend
and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Richard W. and Donna Grenfell, who lived in
Gainesville. He came forward and told us, and he testified to that. That is how
we knew about that.