Statement of Col. John W. Ripley before the House Armed Services Committee

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Statement of Col. John W. Ripley before the House Armed Services CommitteeStatement
of Colonel John W. Ripley, USMC, Ret.,
before the House Armed Services Committee
Subject: The preservation
on the ban of homosexuals in the armed forces
4 May 1993

The American public has been deluded into a false understanding of the real purpose of its military forces. More specifically, it sees the armed forces of the nation in a multi-faceted role: as peace keepers; as primary disaster relief forces; as the nation’s first line of humanitarian aid in foreign countries, as well as in our own country; as an enormously successful and proven platform for social engineering; and as vigilant, obedient, and receptive organizations eagerly prepared to do what its nation expects of it. The very last thing the citizens of this nation expect of the military in our particular climate is its single purpose for existence: the fighting and the prosecution of war, especially violent and protracted warfare on a large, continuous scale. Americans simply don’t see us that way anymore. They have seen us in these other roles so often and so successful that the American mind is conditioned to their military as a helpful, sensitive organization as opposed to a fighting, brutally efficient means of destroying the nation’s enemies; and together with that, the expansion of our national policy through this means. In our present role the armed forces have moved away from the traditional role of fighting and winning into a more bizarre and unintended role as an engine of social change. We have become, in effect, a large Petri dish where social laboratories and experimenters can create new systems or grow new models to test, if you will, within a highly controlled group that which they wish to create.

In the armed forces today you hear such things as “the rights of the individual”, “career path”, “job protection”, or “constitutionally protected freedoms”, which in my youth, and later as a senior officer, I never heard, ever, any discussion of these subjects. We are and were simply the protectors of these freedoms and never did we have the full embodiment thereof, nor did we expect to enjoy the full embodiment of constitutional freedoms. To even think in these terms as a military man is patently ludicrous and counterproductive to the mindset of a warrior who must think only of mission accomplishment and the good of the unit. Never, ever may he think of his own personal well being in this context.

Our freedoms and our protection come from you, the Congress. From no one else.

You are statutorily and constitutionally required to raise, to provide, and to maintain us and you also establish the policies under which we in the armed forces function. Let me stress that again. You maintain us and you protect us. We cannot protect ourselves. We cannot, as is the case in other forms of government, close ourselves off from society, establish our own rules, and expect to isolate and self-govern. You must do that; you must do that for us.

Not to do that is an abrogation of the sacred trust which we feel in the armed forces with you, the Congress, as protectors. As long as I’ve been a Marine, over thirty-five years, I have known and felt very deeply seated within me the extraordinary lengths the Congress went to, to protect and to look after the Marine Corps. One could even say that the Marine Corps exists today in its modern form because of the National Security Act of 1947, which, in fact, protected and created the modern day Marine Corps. While in those days, other services and certainly the administration were trying to diminish—in fact, do away with, the Marine Corps. So it is to you, the Congress, that we look for overview and for benevolent protection, which we personally cannot do ourselves.

In the spirit of this understanding I must ask you, how is it that you can suggest anything that would knowingly, from all indications, certainly from the overwhelming majority of opinions of the American public, if not the overwhelming majority here in the Congress, and certainly amongst the military itself (a percentage well over 3/4, in the 80 to 90 percentile range) how could you do anything that would have such a threat of destroying our effectiveness, indeed destroying us altogether, as would be the case in lifting the ban of homosexuals in our ranks?

As you know, and as has been said here over and over, service in the military is a privilege extended only to those who are fit and physically able to perform military service. We in the military are very discriminatory. We have always been, and it must be so. We discriminate between the too weak, the too tall, the too fat, the flat-footed, the disease ridden, single parents, morally corrupt, drug users, alcoholics, or abusers of any substance; we discriminate against the altogether good Americans who simply can’t be expected to perform at our standards—and our standards are high and obviously must remain high. To serve in the military is a privilege which must be guarded and lived up to every single day by the individual. It is no good to enter the military, and having entered then quit.

Your performance must be at an exceptional level in order to remain, to be reenlisted, and to be promoted. Perhaps the greatest discrimination of all we practice is perhaps eliminating from our ranks, by way of promotion or separation, those who do not have the ability to proceed on.

Let’s talk about leaders for a moment—especially combat leadership, of which I have had a considerable amount of experience, mostly at the Company and Battalion level. All Marines understand that to win in combat, and to keep focused on the mission, you have to subordinate, to subjugate individual instinct for self-preservation—and for personal protection or comfort—to the needs of the unit. The unit prevails. It is only the unit which you must consider: the unit, its preservation, and of course the mission. Nothing else matters. When an individual starts thinking about himself, or permits himself to be distracted by anything, this distraction can ultimately lead to destruction. In combat, if you are distracted, even for an instant, you will get people killed and you will get yourself killed.

Homosexuals constantly focus on themselves: their so-called needs, what they want, their entitlements, their rights; they never talk about the good of the unit. It is this constant focus on themselves, the inability to subjugate or to subordinate their own personal desire for the good of the unit. This is an instant indicator of trouble in combat—and frankly, even not in combat.

Combat leadership is based exclusively and almost totally on trust. The unit commander, the Platoon commander, the Company commander, must trust in his Marines doing what is expected of them, what they have been trained to do despite the great threat to them. And the Marines trust in their commanders, that they will look after them and get them out of this mess: provide good judgment, good command calls, and not expose them unnecessarily to enemy threat.

When sexuality enters the equation, these bonds of trust are simply blown away. No one can trust a leader, nor can a leader trust a subordinate, if they think there are sexual feelings just beneath the surface. It makes no difference if he’s suppressing those feelings; it makes trust virtually impossible! Trust is also a function of character and all those elements that make up such character: respect, loyalty up and down, and certainly courage, and the ability to make good judgments. Men trust each other when they are alike: like values, similar training, the same objectives, the traditional values given to them by their families before they entered the military. This commonality breeds trust, trust in each other, and without this trust there will be no leadership—not on the battlefield, not anywhere.

If there is one overwhelming characteristic of the battlefield with which I am familiar, it is the extreme and constant likelihood of death; serious injury; traumatic wounds; torn, bleeding bodies seen so shocking that no one in this room could hardly prepare or imagine them. Even realizing that this happens on a frequent, almost daily basis, the combat veteran is still shocked at what he sees when his own men suffer such grievous injuries regularly. Consider the great fear that all military men, in or out of combat, would have knowing that homosexuals serve with them, who comprise at least 2/3 of all current AIDS cases and are far more likely to suffer from and spread infectious diseases such as hepatitis and syphilis than any other group. We see each of them as infectious and life-threatening disease carriers. They are eleven times more probable of having syphilis, they are eight times more probable of having hepatitis, and they are a shocking—incredible—five thousand times more probable of having AIDS. How can any sane person not feel threatened working around such an obvious, extraordinary threat to his personal health. And in combat, the story becomes radicalized on a comparison with non-combat.

This is where blood flows so freely that it is unusual throughout the day not to be wearing someone’s else’s blood. Let me give you an example (the example of the shoot down at Khe Sanh). It seemed to me in combat that on a regular basis, several times a day, I was pinching off someone’s artery, sticking a thumb in a chest hole to prevent loss of breath, giving mouth to mouth resuscitation, pouring a canteen of water into an open abdomen to flush out the filth and blood and try to find the wound, trying to gently put a man’s jaw back into place so he wouldn’t choke to death on his own blood, replacing eyes back in their sockets, collecting limbs and throwing them in ponchos so that they could be evacuated with the body. This was regular activity, normal activity—not unusual at all.

Now, can you imagine the extraordinary fear fighting men have thinking that at least some of that blood may come from a homosexual who, without question to our way of thinking, will carry a life threatening disease? I myself carry a very serious disease because of having been immersed in the blood of those around me. I am disabled because of this and it came from normal circumstances—not those imposed on me by the forced perversion of homosexuals being around me.

For a homosexual to claim that they are just like the rest of us and that this won’t affect them and they will be, so to speak, “clean” is bloody nonsense. We know they have hundreds of sexual partners during their lifetime and they continue to engage in male-to-male sex, not using condoms, with no thought of the spread of disease. Another realization recently is that they are far more likely to suffer from intestinal disorders, know as gay bowel syndrome. To think that these walking repositories of disease—this alone would be imposed on the battlefield—is beyond shocking and virtually defies any logic whatsoever.

No one, no one in this room, no one outside this room, no one anywhere can challenge the logic of not putting that kind of added threat in a combat environment. This could be a threat equal to the enemy itself, a great threat upon the health and the continuing existence of your own men. If Magic Johnson’s teammates run from him on the basketball court because he has an open bleeding cut, can you imagine how these men in combat will feel when they literally swim in each other’s blood during firefights and evacuation of the wounded and dead. I don’t think you can imagine that because I dare say none of you have experienced it—not to that degree.

But I will tell you this: men will not do this! If you impose that in combat, on us, men will not look after each other. I can tell you that as firmly as I sit here—men will not look after a bleeding, known homosexual; they will not care for him, they will not give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or any other form of aid if, in fact, it means they are threatening their own life. This will not happen. If you impose this on us, you are asking too much. Men under fire will throw themselves on grenades to protect the rest; they will charge ahead of the others to silence a machine gun knowing it will more than likely kill them; they will protect each other from enemy fire under greatly hazardous conditions; but they will not, openly, expose themselves to deadly diseases just because the individual himself is irresponsible and has contracted such a disease. That will not happen. You cannot ask the corpsmen and the medics—those responsible for looking after casualties—to do this at all.

They will become carriers of these same diseases as they go from victim to victim treating each one and spreading this disease in turn from one to the other.

A young Marine in front of me one hot day virtually disappeared, was atomized by an artillery blast that blew him into tiny fragments, and as I looked around, the thirty-odd Marines around me we were all covered with part of him: his blood, his flesh, his bones. He was completely on all of us. Had he been AIDS infected, we in turn would have all become infected as well. Over thirty Marines would have become casualties and possibly lost our lives because of this gross irresponsibility that you would now impose on us.

I haven’t even addressed the extraordinary burden on an already overburdened health care system in the military that would look after these diseases and homosexuals.

We do not have enough medical care, enough doctors, enough hospitals to treat so-called normal diseases and injuries which occur on a regular basis. Go in any military hospital today and look at the waiting room and the long lines where military men and their families wait hours upon hours just for normal treatment. You, by the way, are responsible for that.

It is your charge to make that better, and yet it continues to get worse. Just imagine what would happen when you add the equation of treatment of homosexuals who have, as we know, over two-thirds of all current AIDS cases.

Let me now address the greatly erroneous myth that homosexuals will obviously be accepted once the President decrees that it be so, and we simply apply better leadership. We already know from the TROA Gallup Poll I mentioned that well over 80% refuse to accept that this is the right thing to do. They do not want to remove the ban. A September 1992 USA Weekend survey of non-military respondents, over two-thirds responded that they wanted the ban to continue. There are many, many other such surveys and none of them yet have said that even half of the American public feels this is the right thing to do. So, one must ask, “Who wants this to happen, and who will support it?” Well normal Americans, decent Americans, will simply not support this kind of activity. They will prevent their children, sons and daughters, from joining the military.

Another survey showed that over 75%—knowing that homosexuals are in the military—would not advise or permit their children to join. No Pentagon policy or any Congressional mandate, certainly no Presidential decree, can change the American public’s mind. You may change law and you may change policy, but you cannot change the overwhelming, the extraordinary percentage of Americans who feel that this activity is simply unacceptable, and I’ll use a term one never hears anymore: indecent. Americans are decent, God-fearing people. They do not consider homosexuality to be decent, normal, or acceptable, and they will not permit their children to be around those who have a propensity or even exposure to this type of conduct; therefore, your military will become one of deviants!—deviant from the American norm. It may be called an alternate life style. We call it a perversion of normality. It is a perversion of nature, it is a perversion of God’s law, it is a perversion of statutory law.

Ideals to Aspire to An American Knight 2010 Gold Medal Winner

Any attempt to change that will never sit still with the American people. Certainly not for one to two percent of the population. This will not hold. Decent Americans are telling you this and I beg that you listen. Don’t change the military which has served you so well—you and the American people—made in the image that you made us, and which has fought and won our nation’s wars for over two hundred years. By making this change you will not change us—you will de facto destroy us. I can tell you as a Marine you will virtually destroy the Marine Corps by imposing on us this deviation of values which we hold dear, which we have fought for, and which we know to be proper. You are attacking our personal integrity, you are attacking our honor, and no military organization can exist without honor and personal integrity. You are asking us to look the other way, ignoring a practice we feel deviant, destructive, and in conflict with American and God-fearing values. We cannot do this.

I implore you, as an American and as a Marine who has fought for his country and loves his Corps and country more than life itself, not to lead us into this ambush from which we can never recover.

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Read more about the life of Colonel Ripley in the book An American Knight: The Life of John W. Ripley, USMC.

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