The Local Angle

by Fred Gardner, December 28, 2016

Craig Anderson was a "patriotic deserter" from the US Navy in 1967. As recounted sympathetically by John Glionna in the New York Times December 22:

Anderson (in the 60s)

He and three other Navy seamen [John Barilla, Richard Bailey and Michael Lindner] walked away from their ship, the aircraft carrier Intrepid, when it docked in Japan after a bombing mission in the Gulf of Tonkin, off the coast of Vietnam. Calling themselves 'patriotic deserters,' they set off an unrelenting international manhunt.

Aided by a local pacifist group and hounded by United States and Japanese military police, the fugitives sneaked aboard a Siberia-bound Russian freighter and were later taken to Moscow by hard-drinking K.G.B. agents...

Mr. Anderson didn’t see himself as a rabble-rouser, just a sincere, blue-collar kid who had made a conscientious act against the continuing deaths of innocent Vietnamese civilians.

Craig Anderson was 20 when he spoke for the Intrepid 4 in a video made by sympathizers: “You are looking at four deserters, four patriotic deserters from the United States Armed Forces. Throughout history, the term ‘deserter’ has applied to cowards, traitors and misfits. We are not concerned with categories or labels. We have reached the point where we must stand up for what we believe to be the truth.”

After three years in Sweden Anderson headed home to San Jose (entering via Canada without a passport). He was arrested and then, Glionna recounts:

He spent nine months in a high-security brig on San Francisco’s Treasure Island, often in solitary confinement, addressed only by his military number, B887517. After he went on a hunger strike, Mr. Anderson was hospitalized for a psychiatric assessment.

Military prosecutors had wanted a four-year sentence, but a judge released him with a bad conduct discharge.

Mr. Anderson emerged another person. “I couldn’t tolerate crowds,” he said. “Sirens made me jump.”

He and his second wife moved to rural Mendocino County, where they lived in a tent. After they divorced, Mr. Anderson went on to become a songwriter and author...

For more than four decades, Mr. Anderson went into his own personal underground.

He bounced around North America, produced a movie, wrote country music and wrote mystery books under the pen name Will Hart while living in Mexico.

At the end of 2015, while living in Mexico, Mr. Anderson met Kathleen Watterson, who was living in Las Vegas, in a political chat room. They quickly became friends, and he decided to relocate to southern Nevada.

Ms. Watterson knew him only as the author Will Hart and had no inkling of his past. But in April, Mr. Anderson finally confided his secret. For some reason, he trusted her...

Anderson, now

Recently, he spoke with another Intrepid Four member, John Barilla, who lives in Canada. The other two remained in Sweden.

“I recognized his voice,” Mr. Barilla said. “It was still there, the old Craig, after 40 years.”

They relived what Mr. Barilla called “our magical mystery tour.”

“It was fantastic,” he said. “I didn’t realize that when I was in it.”

Anderson is bringing out a memoir and "hopes to rally a new generation of Americans to take a more vocal stand against the nation’s current military campaigns."

I think it's do-able. Hope springs eternal.

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