Segment 10


Baptiste feels that a lot of talent was lost by the navy segregating them. He used to talk to his officers about it.He would see 90 day wonders [Annotator's Note: military slang for a graduate of Officer's Candidate School] come in who had never seen silver before but he would serve them anyway. It wasn't a good feeling but he felt that it was his duty. He tried to encourage guys not to get kicked out or leave with a bad conduct discharge.Baptiste got along with his officers. He did meet some southern boys who got a little out of hand but he never had any trouble because he knew how to use diplomacy to settle situations.There were a lot of black boys who went in who only had a fifth grade education. The service was educational for a lot of them. Guys like Harry Belafonte and Bill Cosby benefited from service in the navy.For over 37 years they have had messmen's reunions around the country. They went to Washington DC and planted trees in the national cemetery. Many of the messmen had children who were in the navy and some who had gone to the academy. Baptiste has a cousin who went to the academy. There was a lot of good that came out of it.Baptiste has a friend, Oliver Johns, who was very bitter. He didn't get kicked out but was usually over the hill [AnnotatorÂ’s Note: AWOL]. He just didn't like the regulations.Baptiste didn't like it but he was never insubordinate. It was just the way most of them were brought up.Baptiste had his own janitorial service. His children are successful.He has no bitterness. It doesn't help.


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