We are on strike 1SG……… An essay by William Marshall

It was spring of 1991, we were stop lossed in Korea.  We couldn’t go home even though our time was ended for the one year tour.  I was one of them.  I was stuck.  I had a new baby at home, a life I wanted to get back to.  Oh well.  Another group was already supposed to have separated from the Army.  They were supposed to be civilians by now.  Out.  Home.  Done.

But, here they were.  With me, with us.  In Korea.  There were eight of them whose ETS date had come and gone.  You know the crazy thing?  When their ETS date came? Their pay stopped somehow.  Not even a no pay due, not even an LES, just nothing.  No money in their account.

Fall in!  Receive the report.  Report.  HQ platoon PSG began “1SG, 3 men out of ranks.” “What?  Who?” 

About that time, the strike begins.  In the early morning light, 8 Soldiers, in civilian clothes and carrying two little signs came around the corner.  Chanting No Pay, No Way, No Pay, No Way.  The signs said versions of the same thing.  They weren’t being the most creative.  They were loud though.  “1SG, we are on strike!”

1SG lost it.  He just lost it, for a second.  The Battery was actually at attention, in the middle of the report process.  We were dying laughing.  Most of us knew what was coming.  The strikers were standing in the back, holding their two little signs.

We ended up in his office.  The 1SG’s office.  I was representing one of the Soldiers by proxy.  His leader was on leave.  “How dare we strike?  What are we thinking about?  Did anyone call the media?” Of course, this was before the internet and Social Media.

1SG finally told them, “Look, shit happens, it will all get figured out.  We will put in the paperwork, but you can’t go on strike, you just can’t.  Understood?”  “Yes 1SG!” 

He finished with, “Now take the rest of the day off.  Everybody, the whole battery, take the damn day off!” 

He became a Hero.  I’m pretty sure it was 1SG Bridges.  We all took the damn day off.  We are on strike 1SG.

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