Barracks D

My buddy Jay Herron caught a rude break 37 years ago this New Year’s. He was in the Navy. A blizzard caused him to be inadvertently AWOL. Jay was arrested — by his brother, who was MP on the ship, USS Vulcan, on which they were both stationed.

My friend was locked up in a place called Barracks D.

That’s where the rapes happened.

Occasionally I’ll feel the need to delve, in this blog, into my own past sexual traumas. These, and my life-long Post Traumatic Stress episode that has followed, are at the root of my direst difficulties. The last time I spelled out what happened to me in explicit terms was about a year ago. I did so because I’d begun to find it difficult to write. So that’s the story, right? So write about it.

By the time I was done with that blog post I realized: No one would have an easy time of it, producing heartfelt, even occasionally coherent, written material — typed near dawn into a lap top computer running on, and running out of, battery power with my butt perched on a sidewalk curb. That I have been able to write as much & as well as I have is an feat of human spirit. I am proud of myself.

I wrote the post for entirely personal reasons; to pay myself the respect I am due. I certainly felt vulnerable for having written it. I don’t know…it’s kind of like the way women are when they want to tell a guy about all their problems. You know? The way they don’t want us to “fix it.” They just want to tell us how they feel.

I disabled Reader Comments for that particular post. Because to my mind there wasn’t much about it for anyone to say. And if someone thought there was I probably didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to have to worry about what anyone might say. I just wanted to tell you guys how I feel.

Thanks for listening.

A couple days later I had a hunch that I should re enable reader comments. I don’t know why. Maybe because I felt a bit more confident. Or else because my instincts suggested that somewhere out there was a reader with just the right thing to say.

That’s when I met Jay Herron.

He found my blog through one of the tags I assigned to it; PTSD or perhaps childhood sexual trauma. And I’m powerfully glad he did. Because the lifelong effect of sexual trauma is plumb hard to wrap the brain around. Particularly you do not find many men who speak forthrightly of our plight.

So it helps immensely to know — thanks to the power of blogging — that out there somewhere is a man, a friend, who, from his own oft torturous experience, understands how I feel.

The other day I was visiting some friends who had recently married. They had requested I bring my portfolio of drawings as the wife is an artist too-they both were interested in seeing my work. As she was going through the drawings she came to one page that made her pause for a legnth of time and she looked up at me and said ” I know exactly what this is about”.The drawing she refered to was an image of me-my head only-standing in a room full of snakes and for heads each snake had a hand and in the fingers of each hand was a fang-a poisonous fang. Around the room you can see boxes with men laying in them and above the room you can see eyes peering over the ledge. One of the snakes is coiled around my neck. My friends new wife confided she to had been confined during a DUI arrest-and had been raped…but until then she knew nothing about what happened to me in barracks D.
>>Jay Herron

When Jay reported his rape he was laughed at and told to “Get used to it.”

Get Used To It.

Why was Jay told to do that? In part because rape was an occurrence my friend endured systematically during the two months he was held in Barracks D (a bogus marijuana rap, to which he was forced to confess, was added to his AWOL charge like an insult to his injury).


I wonder whether rape is as much a part of the military regiment as push ups. It could serve a purpose — where the raped & the rapist can be reliably anticipated to perform unique combat roles.

But that’s a Big Question; one I hope my buddy Jay will answer himself in the pages of a book.

He can talk about the time — that’d be today, Wednesday 11.07.07 — when he took the United States Navy to court. Just him, against the might of the United State’s military. To seek restorative justice — though my friend excusably doubts such a thing exists — for the atrocities inflicted on him in Barracks D.

For Jay victory — unlikely as it seems — is a simple apology. But the very act of walking into that courtroom today is a feat of human spirit; one I wish I was there to see.


2 Responses to “Barracks D”

  1. 1 absintheve November 7, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    I don’t know what to say…
    I know this is hard for you Mike E
    to write about…
    But I think what is even harder is what your friend Jay is up against…
    If that can even be quantified..
    God Bless him for his courage in not only facing his past…but writing about it….and standing up to the man…
    the fucked up government that controls this fucked up county…
    I only know from my own experience…
    Just because our intent is good and something makes sense to do….
    Sadly It doesn’t mean that it turns out well….
    I do know actually nothing makes sense when it comes to rape and molestation…
    Whether it is you or someone you care about going through it…
    It is a devastating atrocity for all of us….
    And let me make MYSELF clear…
    do not for a second think it does not affect you …
    whether we see it or not…
    Sadly we have all become statistics…
    And that my friend is perhaps the biggest crime of it all!!
    My mind starts to wobble if I think about it for too long…
    I get a nauseous knot in my tummy…
    And my body feels like a prickly pear….
    It is soooo hard to explain what it does to the human spirit…
    It is so hard to talk about…write about…
    But I do I think that talking and writing…
    about this are ways to deal with this atrocity that affects the human spirit so deeply…
    Art I have found is more healing than people might think…
    (That is why I like the part about Jay’s friend recognizing her own trauma through his own art)
    I wish I knew how to solve the root of this sickness…
    But I do know that too many people go unnoticed for these kind of crimes ….
    And the victims if they get acknowledged at all… get the blame far too often…
    It is so sad to me…
    So here is some props to you my freind Mike E..
    I know we sometimes fight…But let me stand up with you now….
    for your friend Jay Herron and all those afflicted…
    Let us all stand up!!
    Stand up against the disgusting evilness of these crimes…
    Stand up for those who we love…
    Stand up for ourselves….and the resilience of the human spirit…
    Because if we do not stand up for ourselves
    and those we love that have gone through this….who will?
    We can try to let go of it…
    But those of us who have gone through this can NEVER forget….
    We can try and bring the perpetrator to justice….
    But then somehow then we have to let go of the outcome…
    This is easier said than done…
    So here’s to good prevailing…
    And to Jay Herron !!
    With the hope your friend gets the peace in his heart
    that he so rightly deserves…
    And here is a sprinkle of the same hope for you Mike E…
    So keep up the good writing Mike E!!
    Thankyou for allowing me and others to comment on this!!
    It is hard for me to do so
    for the same reason it is hard for you to write about it and hear those comments!!
    I love you to the moon and back my friend!!

  2. 2 jayherron November 8, 2007 at 12:13 am

    This what you have written my friend-whom I now know I love from a heart to a heart and soul to a soul-has given me a long moment of great emotions,yes-tears…you are a person I have never seen face to face-but the same person who I now now is one important person in my life. I am grateful for you-and thankful for the words you wrote about me-there is nothing else I can say to Mike E but that I love you and you are very much my treasured friend.
    I have just returned from telling the judge what my life has been like since being raped while trying to do what I once felt was right-defending the rights of others by joining the Navy. I don’t know what the outcome is-but to win is not to win for me…it is to win for the others,the countless others who have lost-and suffered-from the pain of what it is to be the victim of those who took control over us…survivors. Well,it is a gentle word-survivor…but,not an easy place to live-to try and live…to work desperately to live.
    My day began at 4 a/m to make my way to south Florida where I met this judge. It is just now I came home-almost 11 p/m. Checking my emails-I find a simple message from Mike E…read my blog! I read-and soon I began to read thru eyes with tears-so it was hard to read,though I read it and felt it and know that there is someone who is definantly my friend,also-it was the nicest thing I have read about myself…I think ever!
    Mike E…I have no eloquence at this moment to say how much your words have meant to me tonight…what I do have is the sense to understand ‘karma’ and ‘spiritual gifts’ and you have become both.
    I have no idea what the judge has decided-it may be a few months…but I do know-with what you said about me is more value to me than any money will ever be. What ever they decide will not impress me more,I promise you. Thank you.
    I wish I could say more-but at this moment I want just lay back and weep about how good it is to know that there is this man…my friend,who is a survivor too…and that he is my friend-and that shall always be. My friend is Mike E.

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