Bill Gandall #1

DeeDee Halleck interviews peace activist and Spanish Civil War veteran William "Wild Bill" Gandall.

00:06Copy video clip URL DeeDee Halleck tests for sound. Color bars on screen.

00:49Copy video clip URL Video starts, continued audio testing.

01:20Copy video clip URL Interview begins. Gandall tells about an upcoming trip to deliver ambulances to Nicaragua. A member of the Lincoln Brigade, part of the XV International Brigade formed by a group of volunteers from the United States who served the Second Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War, Gandall says he is the only member of the Brigade to have previously served in the Marine Corps during the Second Nicaragua Intervention of 1927-1932.

02:19Copy video clip URL Gandall reveals various “atrocities” he witnessed perpetrated by members of the Marines in Nicaragua. “It was a preview of what we later did in Vietnam,” Gandall says.

02:43Copy video clip URL During the U.S. occupation of Nicaragua, Gandall became a commissioner of elections in the Managua, Nicaragua area, describing intimidation tactics and electioneering he used as election commissioner on behalf of the U.S. military.

04:11Copy video clip URL Gandall explains how he enlisted in the Marines and the imperial motives of U.S. banks funding the sugar, fruit, and coffee industries that helped justify U.S. invasion of Nicaragua, done under the pretense of protecting Nicaraguans, democracy, and U.S. interests. Only after his return, Gandall says, did he begin understanding the censorship of alternative historical and political perspectives given to Marines such as himself.

06:34Copy video clip URL Description of the economic and social makeup of many who enlisted in the Marines during Gandall’s time.

07:45Copy video clip URL Gandall describes guerilla warfare tactics used by General Augusto Sandino. Though both sides committed certain crimes and atrocities, Gandall says, it was the U.S. who started these horrors. “Usually any atrocity was overlooked or hidden.”

10:45Copy video clip URL Gandall remembers Nicaraguan support for Sandino, even among the educated and social elite of Managua who hid their sympathies for Sandino’s cause. These encounters led to Gandall questioning his own perspective. He then tells the story of an atrocity he committed as an election commissioner, an encounter with a Puerto Rican Army officer afterward, and shares reflections on how Marines like himself were inculcated to commit atrocities against the Nicaraguan people. Gandall recalls how few, if any, foreign born persons or persons of African or Hispanic descent numbered among the Marines sent to Nicaragua.

14:32Copy video clip URL Following a lead that many Marines came from the Southern United States, Gandall explains what social and economic conditions the Marines exploited to enlist people from the South.

16:32Copy video clip URL Gandall recalls instances of Marines guarding private or commercial interests in Nicaragua, including his own use of bribery, and the corruption of U.S. Marines who controlled customs ports in Nicaragua.

18:44Copy video clip URL Under the Somoza regime, Nicaragua developed a National Guard who underwent Marine training (“complete obedience,” Gandall says, “no questions), which Gandall helped to implement. “It was a pre-runner of the Nazi model, alright,” Gandall admits.

19:25Copy video clip URL Interview shifts to focus on Gandall’s personal and political transformation, propelled by experiences during the Great Depression, encounters with more radical ideologies, and work as a union organizer, including founding the CIO alongside John L. Lewis. 

22:05Copy video clip URL Gandall returns to his involvement in the Spanish Civil War, telling stories of his work as an ambulance driver, training troops with the guerilla detachment of the Spanish Republic, and a British battalion at the Battle of the Ebro where he met the mathematician David Guest.

25:00Copy video clip URL Gandall says his political orientation as a Marxist fueled his desire to fight for the Spanish Republic and continue in various education and training roles for members of the military. He also became involved in the “Why We Fight” series of wartime propaganda films on U.S. involvement in WWII.

26:00Copy video clip URL When working for the British army, Gandall tells an odyssey of his reassignment to Northern Ireland and eventual return and confrontation with the inspector general.

32:02Copy video clip URL Tape freezes and then cuts to end.

 

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