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Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word; UCGC Vol. 02, Nr. 01

http://www.amazon.com/Case-Cadet-Webster-Smith-Last/dp/1533400806/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
Synopsis:


We, as Americans, cherish fairness. We like to believe that people are not punished or unjustly rewarded without justifiable cause. We like to dwell on parables of white virtue and black advancement culminating in the flowering of goodwill all around. Events sometimes force us to widen our gaze and focus on terrain we would rather not see. The 2006 court-martial of Cadet Webster Smith at the United States Coast Guard Academy did just that. The Webster Smith case was a litmus test for justice in America. Every once in a while a case comes along that puts our humanity as a people, and as Americans, on trial. Everything that we profess to stand for as Americans was on trial. Our sense of justice in America and particularly in the U.S. Military was on trial. This was no ordinary trial. Our humanity was on trial. Our system of justice was on trial. This case dissolved the deceptive façade and exposed certain moral deficiencies in our system of justice. This case alone puts the legitimacy of the entire military justice system at risk.
We now see that there is little or no justice in military justice. Any reasonable person who looks at this case or any other high profile military justice case would have to conclude that the Military Justice System is not designed to render justice. It is a system designed to punish. The entire courts-martial system, from Summary Court-martial to General Court-martial, has one specific purpose; that is to punish anyone who commits an offense against the Uniform Code of Military Justice.


This is intended to be the definitive word on the first and only court-martial of a United States Coast Guard Academy cadet. The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word is written from the perspective of the accused, Cadet First Class Webster Smith. It is not written from the perspective of his accusers. A prior account of this case focused on the women involved. Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Lady told the story of the court-martial from the perspective of the witnesses for the prosecution.
Why now? Well, there are several reasons. This Case is unique in that this has never happened before. No other Coast Guard Academy Cadet has ever been punished at a General Courts-martial. That is saying a lot for an institution that has been around since 1876.
Also, it has been ten years since the trial and conviction. An entire decade has passed. The sentence has been served. The Supreme Court Petition for A Writ of Certiorari has been denied. The Record is complete.
Cadet Smith was a senior when the trial began. He was within months of graduating from the Academy, but he was expelled. No Clemency was granted. His career was ruined. His life was irreparably harmed. For ten years he was required to register in the State of Texas as a Sexual offender. He married, had children, and for ten years he was not allowed to attend the birthday parties of his children.
This Case has been hotly debated in certain quarters. The Coast Guard has tried its best to forget that this court-martial ever occurred. However, I fear that this Case will be debated and talked about for years to come. Long after the political and social climates that gave rise to this Case have abated; cadets, officers, politicians  and parents will be discussing the Webster Smith Case.
What distinguishes this book from other books on the Case is that this book distinguishes how the Coast Guard Legal Officers and the senior Academy officers disposed of this case as opposed to other cases with similar fact patterns.  This Case will serve as a witness to an era in the United States Military and its Service Academies that was ripe with cultural and ethical upheavals, proceedings with plenty of due process and  little justice, sexual assaults in the military, retaliation against whistleblowers, mind blowing results, aggravation and frustration.  
The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word
Title ID: 6293877
ISBN-13: 978-1533400802



The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word
Unrestricted Coast Guard Chronicles Vol 02 Nr 01
BY_AUTHOR Judge London Steverson
ISBN-13: 978-1533400802
6" x 9" on WHITE Paper
(198 pages, Black & White)
15.24 x 22.86 cm
Interior: The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word - updated version edited 2- formatted15Apr11.docx
Cover Finish: Glossy
Cover: cover-creator.pdf

The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word
Title ID: 6293877
ISBN-13: 978-1533400802

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Commander Merle James Smith, Jr. This Is Your Life

Before there was Affirmative Action at the United States Coast Guard Academy, there were athletic scouts and the recruitment of star athletes.
The Chief Scout at the Coast Guard Academy was Captain Otto Graham, formerly the Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns professional football team.
Merle James Smith, Junior was recruited into the Coast Guard Academy to play football. Captain Otto Graham, the Athletic Director, said he needed a defensive tackle and a wide receiver on the varsity football team. That was on or about 1960 or 1961.
 https://judgelondonsteverson.me/tag/merle-smith-coast-guard/
The Coast Guard Academy made a small step for America, and a giant step for African Americans. It had done the right thing for the right reason. This was not the most popular thing to do at this time.
Considering what was happening a bit further south in America. In places like Little Rock, AR. and Birmingham,AL what had been accomplished at the Coast Guard Academy with little or no fanfare was creating major social upheaval. Some Southern communities responded with police dogs and fire hoses.
Some time later it was discovered that this football player, Merle Smith, Junior may have had some African blood. And the rest is history.

 How many years must a man faithfully serve, before he is given the Honor he is due?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.
50 years is only half a Century; but it is never too late to tweak Posterity.


CDR Merle James Smith, Jr., an authentic American Hero, from the Old School. He achieved honor and glory the old fashioned way; he earned it!!

 http://capitolwords.org/date/2012/05/14/S3126-3_tribute-to-merle-j-smith-jr/
   (CDR Merle Smith, USCG (Ret.) and Judge London Steverson, USALJ (Ret.) drink a toast to their 52 years of friendship at the Coast Guard Academy Eclipse Week Celebration honoring the 50th Anniversary of CDR Smith's graduation from the Academy as the First Black Graduate.)

Congratulations Commander Merle J. Smith, Junior. Today you are the most interesting man in America. 

You deserved the 13 Gun Salute and the full Regimental Parade given to you on April 10, 2016.
 This recognition is well deserved and long overdue. Honoring the first Black graduate honors all Black graduates.
The Academy was founded in 1876. The exclusion of African Americans from the Academy from 1876 until 1962 is a tragic fact of American history.



On April 10, 2016 fifty-four years after he was sworn in as a cadet at the United States Coast Guard Academy, CDR Smith was honored for being the first American of African ancestry to graduate from this historic institution.
The Academy was not aware initially that there was an African American cadet at the Academy. He had not been recruited as a “Black cadet”; nor, was he recognized as one by the Coast Guard Academy Admission’s Office.
Possibly, he was not recognized as an African American because he did not physically resemble one. None of his school records labeled him as Black, and he had not been recruited as a minority candidate.
When Black spectators from the New London community came to watch the corps of cadets march in parade, they frequently mistook Anthony Carbone and Donnie Winchester as the possible Black cadet. Carbone was an Italian, and Winchester was a Native American. They both had considerably darker complexions and more course facial features than Merle Smith.
CDR Smith’s appointment had been tendered before President Kennedy issued the directive to find and appoint Black candidates for the Coast Guard Academy.
His father, Colonel Merle Smith , Senior, was the Professor of Military Science at Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland; and, he had formerly been an Army Staff officer at the Pentagon.
The only two Black cadets to have been recruited under President John F. Kennedy’s Directive were London Steverson and Kenneth Boyd. They entered the Academy in 1964 and graduated in 1968.




This official portrait should be sent on a cross-country all Coast Guard Units/Facilities Tour to educate the troops and the corps on African American achievements since CAPT Mike Healey. This should be done before the portrait finds its permanent resting place at the Coast Guard Academy.


Rear Admiral and Mrs James Rendon, congratulate CDR Merle James Smith II, USCG (Ret.) on April 09, 2016 at the Annual Eclipse Awards Banquet at the United States Coast Guard Academy. RADM Rendon is the 41st Superintendent of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
The Eclipse Banquet was to honor CDR Smith for his achievement of being the first Academy graduated of African Ancestry.



A 13 Gun Salute and a full Regimental Parade for CDR Merle James Smith, Jr. to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of his graduation from the U S Coast Guard Academy, the first American of African Ancestry to do so.





























Vice Admiral Thomas R. Sargent III, USCG, a graduate of the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 1938, presents LT Merle J, Smith II, the Bronze Star, with "V" for Valor.
(http://www.uscg.mil/history/WEBORALHISTORY/FCGH_VADM_Sargent_Interview_1.asp
VADM Sargent III, was also a veteran of Vietnam service. He loved to tell stories of his experiences in Vietnam.
QUOTE:
The other little story is I went to Vietnam and I was assigned a hotel room.  It was an annex.  I can’t remember the name of the annex but it consisted of one room with a toilet and they used to turn all the electricity off about nine o’clock at night, and then I . . . anyway, I completed my work there and called up for a car to take me to the airport.  I called, naturally, the Army motor pool and a little Vietnamese gal answered the telephone and I said, “This is Captain Sargent.  I’d like to have a car take me to the airport”, and I gave her the time and she said, “Captains no rate cars.”  Well captains in the Army didn’t rate cars but captains in the Coast Guard and the Navy did, and she hung up on me.  Well the telephone system in Vietnam was not very good and so it took me another 20 minutes before I finally got through.  Another Vietnamese girl answered the phone and I said, “Let me talk to your supervisor”, and low and behold Lomca [phonetic] answered the telephone as a Sergeant and I said, “This is Captain Sargent.  I need a car to take me to the airport”, and he said, “Listen buddy. I’m a sergeant, you’re a sergeant. I don’t rate a car and nor do you”, and he hung up on me again and I thought, “Oh, something’s got to change”, so I called up once more. I got him again and I said, “This is Colonel Savage, United States Coast Guard.  Send my car down.  I want to go to the airport.”  He said, “Yes Sir”, and so I signed for the car as T. R. Salvage, and I don’t know what happened to it but it worked, and the reason I picked out the name Savage is because when I was a cadet [at the Academy]  there was a certain Lieutenant Commander [Robert T.] McElligott who became a rear admiral who was a physics instructor.  I was sitting in class and for some reason or other Admiral McElligott couldn’t remember my name and so he asked a question and then he said, “Mr. Savage, I want you to answer it”, and I didn’t.  I didn’t even pay attention because Savage didn’t ring a bell and he yelled, “Mr. Savage”, and I suddenly realized he meant me and I said, “Yes Sir.”  He said, “Put yourself on report for inattention in class.”  “Yes Sir.”  So that’s why I remember the name Savage [chuckle].
UNQUOTE. 

The Academy was not aware initially that there was an African American cadet at the Academy. He had not been recruited as a “Black cadet”; nor, was he recognized as one by the Coast Guard Academy Admission’s Office.
Possibly, he was not recognized as an African American because he did not physically resemble one. None of his school records labeled him as Black, and he had not been recruited as a minority candidate.
Some time in 1962 rumors began to be circulated in the Black Community of New London, Connecticut that there was a Black cadet at the Coast Guard Academy. How did those rumors start? It was suggested at the time that Doctor Bill Waller,  the Chemistry Professor at the Academy had  started the rumors.
I can verify that Doctor Waller was indeed the source of those rumors. In 1967 Doctor Waller invited me to his home on several occasions on a Sunday afternoon. He told me himself that he had put the word out that there was a Black cadet at the Academy. He also said that several members of his church had come back and told him that they had stood outside the Academy fence and watched the entire Brigade of cadets march on Saturday mornings. But, they were not able to definitively pick out the Black cadet. They reported that they had seen several who looked like they could be Black. Doctor Waller said that he had also watched the cadets marching on Saturday mornings and  he believed that several cadets with very dark tans could have been mistaken for a Black cadet. They all had shaven heads, and some were darker than Merle Smith. He mentioned Anthony Carbone, Donnie Winchester, and Tony Alejandro.                                            
                                                 
              (Doctor William Waller, Chemistry Professor at the Coast Guard Academy)


When Black spectators from the New London community came to watch the corps of cadets march in parade, they frequently mistook Anthony Carbone and Donnie Winchester as the possible Black cadet. Carbone was an Italian, and Winchester was a Native American. They both had considerably darker complexions and more course facial features than Merle Smith.



    (The Chief Scout at the Coast Guard Academy was Captain Otto Graham, pictured above)  Captain Graham was the Academy's Athletic Director. He was formerly the Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns professional football team. While at the Academy, Captain Graham set many records. After Merle J. Smith, Jr was recruited, the Academy Football Team went undefeated in the 1963 season.                                                                                                                                                              
       (Pictured above, some of the 1963 Varsity Football Team. Number 83 is Merle Smith.)
Was that a coincidence or was it in part due to the addition to the team of  Number 83, a wide receiver and defensive tackle from Maryland by the name of Merle Smith?

                              (Pictured above is Ensign Merle James Smith, Junior)
On June 8, 1966, the US Coast Guard Academy in New London graduated the first African American student, Ensign Merle James Smith, Jr. Smith received a Bachelor of Science degree as part of a class of 113 cadets. The Coast Guard Academy began in 1876 on the topsail schooner Dobbin and moved to its present location in New London, Connecticut, in 1932. - See more at: http://connecticuthistory.org/academy-graduates-first-african-american-student-today-in-history/#sthash.KMltQkUo.dpuf
On June 8, 1966, the US Coast Guard Academy in New London graduated the first African American student, Ensign Merle James Smith, Jr. Smith received a Bachelor of Science degree as part of a class of 113 cadets. The Coast Guard Academy began in 1876 on the topsail schooner Dobbin and moved to its present location in New London, Connecticut, in 1932. - See more at: http://connecticuthistory.org/academy-graduates-first-african-american-student-today-in-history/#sthash.KMltQkUo.dpuf
(Pictured below, Colonel Merle James Smith, Senior, presents his son, Ensign Merle James Smith II, his Graduation Certificate and his Officer's Commission at the Graduation Ceremony in New London, CT in 1966)




(Pictured in the background is Admiral Willard J. Smith, The Academy Superintendent)


ADM Willard J. Smith served as the 13th Coast Guard Commandant from 1966-1970. He was the first aviator to hold the rank of Commandant Of The Coast Guard, the Coast Guard’s highest-ranking position.

 http://connecticuthistory.org/academy-graduates-first-african-american-student-today-in-history/

On a warm sunny day in May 1966, Merle James Smith, Junior, became the first American of African Ancestry to graduate from the United States Coast Guard Academy, New London, Connecticut.
Upon graduation he was first assigned a the Communications Officer aboard he USCGC Minnetonka, a 255-foot medium endurance law enforcement vessel. Later he was promoted to the post of Operations Officer.

Because of his exceptional performance of duty and expert leadership abilities onboard the CGC Minnetonka, Ensign Smith was promoted to Lieutenant (junior grade), and given command of his own ship, the 82 foot Patrol Boat, the CGC Cape Wash. The Cape Wash was home ported in Monterey, California.
On or about 1970, after being promoted to the rank of Full Lieutenant, LT Smith was given orders to the War Zone in Viet Nam.
In Vietnam, LT Smith was to command two vessels, the CGC Point Mast and the CGC Point Ellis. LT Smith and vessels under his command directed more than eighty Naval Fire Support Missions. He participated in support operation mission, called Operation Market Time.
In another mission, called Operation Sea Lords, LT Smith's vessel accounted for the destruction of ten enemy bunkers, four rocket launchers, thirteen structures, and nineteen Sampans.
Commander Smith has many awards and medals. His decorations include The Bronze Star With A "V" For Valor, the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Citation, the Presidential Unit Citation,, the Vietnamese Cross for Gallantry, and many other awards and decorations.
CDR Smith is the first American sea service officer  of African Ancestry to command an American Federal vessel in combat, and to receive the Bronze Star.
When he returned from combat service in Vietnam, CDR Smith was assigned to the International Affairs Division at Coast Guard Headquarters, in  the Volpe Building, at 7th and D Street, SW, Washington, DC.
He attended the National Law Center at George Washington University. In 1975 after completing Law School he was awarded his Juris Doctorate Degree. He then received a new assignment. He became the Deputy Chief of The Coast Guard Military Justice Division.
He retired from Active Duty in 1999. He lives in New London, Connecticut with his wife, Dr. Linda Blackmann Smith, and their two children; Merle Smith , the Third, and Chelsea.
 In 2006 while teaching law at the Academy CDR Smith was retained as the Individual Military Counsel (IMC) for Cadet Webster Smith who became the first Coast Guard Academy cadet to be court-martial in the history of the Coast Guard Academy. CDR Smith is no relation to Cadet Webster Smith. Cadet Webster Smith was detailed a Navy Judge Advocate Ggeneral (JAG) officer as his detailed military counsel. The Individual Military Counsel is the lead counsel. He is a civilian and he is in charge of the defense team.
 CDR Smith received a Pioneer Award. What does that mean? A “Pioneer” is a person who is among those who first enter or settle a region, thus opening it for occupation and development by others. 
The Award could have been called the Trailblazer Award. Trailblazer is a synonym for Pioneer. The term trailblazer signifies those who strike out on a new path or break new ground, either literally or symbolically, using skills of innovation or brave constitutions to conduct their lives off the beaten path. Often known for independent thought, rugged individualism and pioneering ways, trailblazers throughout history have included cutting-edge inventors, explorers and healers. Trailblazers throughout history all have shared an innovative spirit that kept them going when told their endeavors would be fruitless or against impossible odds. All have made their mark on history and mankind by refusing to quit and pushing ahead, most often into uncharted territory. When Merle James Smith entered the Coast Guard Academy in June 1962 he was sailing into uncharted waters. He had no chart, compass or navigator; yet, he reached his destination.
In 2007 CDR Smith was inducted into the Coast Guard Academy's Hall of Heroes. On November 08, 2014, another member of the Class of 1966 was also inducted into the Hall of Heroes. He was CDR James Ellis. On that day the Pentagon, the Defense Department and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff gave an award to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy for its support of the Vietnam War. http://www.theday.com/military/20141108/heroes-have-their-day-at-cga_
Standing next to CDR Ellis after the ceremony, CDR Smith said, "He's the same guy. He hasn't changed a bit. I have always respected him and liked him."
"It's particularly challenging for us to have gone to a place like Vietnam where you can't even speak the language of the people that you are trying to save, but you go and do it anyway," CDR Smith said.
CDR Ellis acknowledged after the ceremony that those who served in Vietnam were beginning to get recognized for their service, but "it's 50 years later."http://newbrunswick.archivalweb.com/scans/USCGAA/The%20Bulletin/Volume%2069%20%282007%29/2007-06_Volume%2069_No.03_030.pdf
CDR Smith has served as an adjunct Professor of Law at the Coast Guard Academy. He also served as the Legal Counsel for General Dynamics, Electric Boat.
 In February, 1976 the Coast Guard Academy announced the appointments of female cadets to enter with the Class of 1980. Fourteen women  graduated as part of the Academy’s Class of 1980.
 In 1991 a Women’s Advisory Council was established.
 In 2000 the Coast Guard  promoted its first female officer to Rear Admiral. She was Captain Vivien S. Crea. She was not an Academy graduate.
In 2009 CAPT Sandra L. Stosz was promoted to Rear Admiral, becoming the first female graduate of the Coast Guard Academy to reach flag rank.
The Coast Guard was the first Military Service Academy to select a woman superintendent of the academy.  Rear Adm. Sandra L. Stosz, Coast Guard Director of Reserve and Leadership, was selected as Superintendent of the Academy. Rear Admiral Stosz graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in the Class of 1982.
In 2008 the Academy hosted a free, public Women’s Equality Day information fair on August 26 in Munro Hall at the Academy.
Each year since 1971, when President Jimmy Carter designated August 26 as Women’s Equality Day, the United States has recognized the struggle for equal rights for women.
The Coast Guard Academy celebrates the event with the theme “Strengthening Our Communities” by hosting various Coast Guard and regional community groups on campus.
“This was billed as a great opportunity for members of our Coast Guard and surrounding New London community to network and learn from the organizations that help support and strengthen Academy leadership,” said LTJG Colleen Jones, Assistant Civil Rights Officer at the Academy and the event organizer.
The various organizations in attendance were the Greater New Haven National Organization of Women, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Connecticut, National Naval Officers Association, Academy Women, Toastmasters, CG Educational Services, CG Child Development Center, and the League of Women Voters.













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