26 "My Feelings On Prejudice"
My Feelings on Prejudice
I read a hub called “The Ugly Face of Prejudice”, by sdbeasley. This hub inspired me to share a couple of stories about two of my friends’ experiences while in their first year of serving in the Air Force where “prejudices” are supposed to not exist. When you are in the military you are there to serve your country and all prejudices are supposed to be left behind. You would think so, but it doesn’t work that way. Mind you, this was in the mid 1960’s.
I had been in the Air Force for about one year and my job was a baker stationed at England Air Force Base in Alexandria, LA. Both of my Staff Sergeant supervisors had just received their orders to report for their tour of duty in Viet Nam. I was left with the responsibility of keeping our troops fat and happy. Anyway, I was also given the responsibility of training new bakers of who were airmen fresh out of basic training.
The first was John Bush. He was from San Antonio, TX. His is the first story I will tell about where the “ugly head of prejudice” was raised. He had finished his basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX. He was traveling from his home to England AFB in LA. When he arrived he told me about his experience. Nothing violent, just heartbreaking to me and should have never happened. This has stuck with me all these years and anytime someone mentions prejudice it stirs the memories, and unfortunately, that is all too often. I do need to point out that John Busch was African American and one of the nicest and most mild mannered people I have ever known. A very easy going person.
John was traveling in his Dress Blues. There was no mistaking the fact that he was in the service of our country. John stopped at a hamburger stand and ordered a hamburger, fries and malt.
John was told, “Your kind has to go to the back to be served.”
John asked, “Why, because I am in the military?”
He was told, “No, because of your color.”
He made me proud of his ability to keep his cool. He just turned and walked away. I don’t think I could have kept my cool if I had been with him. I have never been able to stand that kind of treatment to anyone. To think that he was in to protect their right to refuse him service. How ironic.
The other story is about another airman that I was to train. His name was Louis Daigle. He came from Vermont, or somewhere around there, I don’t remember for sure, but he had a very strong accent. He had never been around or involved with African Americans before he joined the Air Force. He was on base for a short while and had made some friends.
On Base was an auto shop where the guys could take their cars to work on them. Louise was with his friends sitting in the back seat of a convertible that had the top up but there was no back window. They had been talking to a couple of their buddies, right outside the auto shop roll-up doors that were rolled up at the time. They said their good byes and the car started to drive away. The guys by the shop called out and asked where they were going. Very rudely one of the jerks in the car yelled back, “We’re going down town and going n****r hunting.” With that, three African American soldiers that had been just inside the door working on a car, exploded out the door and caught the car. One jumped on the trunk of the car and grabbed Louis by the throat. Louis thought he was a dead man. All were reprimanded for their actions, the ones in the car for their prejudistic expression and the ones from the garage for their violent actions. It took all of them one year longer to get their next stripes.
There were innocents, like Louis in the car too, that were punished because of one person’s stupidity and ignorance. He was just joking, but that caused a lot of problems. That was probably because he was more than likely raised in a prejudice family and thought he was being cute and not thinking that someone would hear that would be a little sensitive to a comment like that.