Monday, May 24, 2010

My Q & A with Gregory Freeman, author of 'Troubled Water: Race, Mutiny and Bravery on the USS Kitty Hawk'

Counterterrorism magazine published my interview with Gregory Freeman, the author of Troubled Water: Race, Mutiny and Bravery on the USS Kitty Hawk.

The book is about the 1972 race riot aboard the aircraft carrier as the warship headed to her combat station off the coast of Vietnam.

My Q&A with Gregory Freeman (seen in the below photo) covered the riot aboard the carrier, race relations, command leadership and force protection.

You can read my piece below links:

Note: You can click on the above to enlarge.


  1. I was a Petty Officer onboard the Kitty Hawk from 1972 - 1975 and lived through this incident. It was indeed a pretty scary couple of days. Yes, a couple of days, not just a few hours. After a few hours of mass confusion, the white guys started banding together and when one needed to go somewhere, 3 or 4 or more would go in a group armed with pipes & wrenches. I believe when this starting happening, it put an end to the nonsense as much as anything the captain or XO did. A lot of stuff went on that still hasn't been talked about.

    Mr. Freeman did a good job with the book though. I commend him for bringing this to light. Most of my friends who were on the Kitty at that time have read his book and we haven't found any major errors.

  2. Anonymous,

    As I noted in my interview, I thought Gregory Freeman gave a good "blow by blow" account of the incident.

    But Freeman was much more supportive of the actions of the captain and the Xo than I was.

    I served on the Kitty Hawk in 1970-1971 and made an earlier WESTPAC cruise, so I was not there at the time of the incident.

    But it seems to me, having served more than 37 years in the Navy and Defense Department doing security and force protection work, that the captain and xo should have been canned.

    The captain should have called General Quarters, which would have placed nearly all of the ship's sailors under the control and safety of petty officers, chiefs and officers.

    And those who did not respond to GQ could have been rounded up swiftly by the carrier's Marine Detachment.

    The captain and xo are responsible for the safety of the crew and they failed in my view.

    Thanks for writing.


  3. I was one of the criminal investigators on board and got in involved in the riots and all the other stuff going on board the Kitty Hawk

  4. Anonymous,

    Have you read the book? If so, what did you think about it?

    Also I'd like to hear more of your story. You can comment here, or you can send me an email message at

    I'd like to know why the captain did not call GQ and I wonder if you think that the captain and the xo should have been canned?

    I'd also like to hear from the Marine security boss, as he was not interviewed for the book.

    Drop me a line, shipmate.


  5. haven't read the book but I remember the riots well being a criminal investigator on board the Kitty when all hell broke loose. I worked 24-7.