Tag Archives: the night MLK was murdered

The night of MLK’s murder

I was in Infantry Officer’s Candidate School at Fort Benning, GA, on April 4, 1968, and don’t remember much, except we were shocked and there were no racist remarks among us although most of us were white. Others in the class have better memories, including that we were prepped in case we had to go help disperse rioters, practicing advancing on line for several hours with fixed bayonets chanting “back, back.”

See, the guard wasn’t trusted in those days, it being a haven for draft-dodgers from the Viet Nam war, so the regular army was put on standby. Nowadays the guard is mostly combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Two classmates recall hearing C-119s at a nearby airfield taking off every eight minutes or so most of that night ferrying an infantry brigade to Detroit. One then-class officer recalls being designated a sniper and issued live ammunition in case we had to move out quickly. We never did, happily.

Later that year, in the Sixth Cav, at Fort Meade, MD, we also trained for riot control but fire discipline was emphasized. We were to disperse, not punish, the rioters. And we lieutenants were told that if one of our enlisted even chambered a live round without permission from regiment staff, we’d be going to prison. Heady times.

UPDATE: Well, one classmate recalled another one using a slur against Dr. King, but he won’t identify the fellow, effectively tarring us all (except him, of course) with the same anonymous brush.