The blue button has a drawing of a fist holding dog-tags, below which is written SOS (Stop Our Ships).

In 1970 and 1971 ships had been sporadically forced out of action by outbreaks and even sabotage by crew members. Occasional inconspicuous newspaper articles allowed perceptive members of the general public to get inklings of what was happening to the fleet. An early example was the destroyer Richard B. Anderson, which was kept from sailing to Vietnam for eight weeks when crew members deliberately wrecked an engine. Toward the end of 1971, the sailors' antiwar activities coalesced into a coherent movement called SOS (Stop Our Ships/Support Our Sailors) that emerged on three of the gigantic aircraft carriers crucial to the Tonkin Gulf strategy: the USS Constellation, the USS Coral Sea, and the USS Kitty Hawk. (One early act was a petition by 1,500 crew members of the Constellation demanding that Jane Fonda's antiwar show be allowed to perform on board.) On these three ships alone that fall, thousands of crew members signed antiwar petitions, published onboard antiwar newspapers, and supported the dozens of crew members who refused to board for Vietnam duty. In March 1972 the aircraft carrier USS mMidway received orders to leave San Francisco Bay faor Vietnam. A wave of protests and sabotage swept the ship, hitting the press when dissident crewmen deliberately spilled 3,000 gallons of oil into the bay. In June the attack carrier USS Ranger was ordered to sail from San Diego to Vietnam. The Naval Investigative Service reported a large-scale clandestine movement among the crew and at least twenty acts of physical sabotage, culminating in the destruction of the main reduction gear of an engine; repairs forced a for-and-a-half-month delay in the ship's sailing. In July the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal was prevented from sailing by a major fire deliberately set by crewmen, which caused millions of dollars of damage to the captain's and admiral's quarters of the ship. In September and October the crews of the Coral Sea, which had been publishing the antiwar newspaper We Are Everywhere for a year, staged renewed protests against the war, with over 1,000 crewmen signing a petition to "Stop Our Ship." It was forced to return to San Francisco Bay, where crew members held a national press conference and helped organize support rallies and other demonstrations. Almost 100 crew members, including several officers, refused Vietnam service and jumped ship in California and Hawaii. In September crew members of the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga organized their own "Stop It Now" movement, and navy intelligence tried unsuccessfully to break up the SOS movement on the showpiece carrier USS Enterprise, home of the antiwar paper SOS Enterprise Ledger. A bloody September battle between groups of marines on the amphibious landing ship USS Sumter in the Gulf of Tonkin off Vietnam was not made public until the following January.

Used: political protest

Bookmark and Share