October 31, 2010, - 5:30 pm

Sunday “Fun”: US WWII STD Memo Shows Lost Morality of Yesteryear

By Debbie Schlussel

I thought I’d give you all a break from the media’s non-stop coverage of the mid-term elections and the Muslim explosives from Yemen aimed at the Jews.  Below is a document from my collection of World War II memorabilia.  (Most of my stuff is Jewish WWII and WWI memorabilia–dog tags, letters, etc.–so if you have any you’re willing to part with, please let me know).

Although it’s undated, it’s in fact from WWII, though I don’t have a specific time or year.  The document pertains to soldiers having sex with women who are not their wives and sexually transmitted diseases.  Why would I post a memo on such a sleazy topic? I think it’s an important document because it contrasts with today’s military, which gives few admonishments (if any) against this kind of behavior and how it helps the enemy. There was at least some sense of moral decency back then in this area. Very little of it now (and you have a third of a ship’s female soldiers–back in the first Gulf War–getting impregnated; of course, there were few female soldiers back then).


Although it may seem quaint to some, I think it’s great the government actually had the good sense to try to preach some semblance of morality to our soldiers, even if it then provided “medical advice” on how to “get treated.”  You’ll note that the medical advice isn’t exactly sound and that there are separate “prophylactic stations” for “White” and “Colored.”  But, to me, the story here is the absolute lack of morality preached to our soldiers, today, compared to back then.  Sad.

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23 Responses

I’m sorry, Debbie but I completely disagree. I’ve just spent the last 16 years as an active duty member of the military and I’m baffled as to why you would say that we aren’t educated about STDs and the proper use of condoms. Maybe they don’t type out silly little letters about “loose women” anymore but we are constantly presented with information, straight from from miliary and civilians doctors, about numbers, percentages of reported STDs of both military and civilian populations. These numbers are presented for base-wide, nation-wide and even broken down into reported cases in each of the U.S. services. We are confronted with these numbers on a fairly consistant basis, such as quarterly and annualy and anytime we deploy or return from a deployment. I’m sad to see that you’ve made this report without doing any research. Simply asking any service member would have brought out a moan at the idea of how many hours we sit listening to some doctor telling us constantly to “wrap it up”. It’s enough to make us wanna be celebate. Almost.

TK: You missed my point entirely. There’s a big difference between “education” on STDs and morality discouraging soldiers from having sex and sleeping around. Today, the former may happen, but the latter does NOT. I have done my research. In fact, we see so many soldiers coming back who have fathered kids out of wedlock or who are pregnant, more so than at any time before. The stats back me up, not your anecdotes. Sorry. Yes, it is a reflection of how our society in general behaves, but it doesn’t change the fact that the military, today, would never have the guts to tell soldiers any of the moral instruction in that memo from WWII. DS

Taj Kramer on October 31, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Also, I’d like to add that for anyone who has contracted any of these nasty STDs, a trip to the base doctor doesn’t stop with a prescription; treatment also entails a pretty hefty lecture and a guilt trip as to why we would be so stupid and irresponsible. This is part of a mandatory “counseling and re-education”. It employs the dishing out of tons of embarrassment, so as not to take it lightly.

Taj Kramer on October 31, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Taj, in high dudgeon more because a military person is “embarrassed” by his bad behaviour (rightfully so) rather than seeing the truth that STD’s, having sex out of wedlock, knocking up females and disrespectful behavior are ultimately NOT healthy for at least ONE of the parties involved.

    Riiiiiiight!

    Skunky on November 1, 2010 at 12:13 am

There was an educational film made for the troops too. I looked around but couldn’t find it. Here’s a nice poster though:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/28/SheMayLookCleanBut.jpg

And a Disney film about it (from 1973, but looks like it could have been made in the 50’s).

http://www.archive.org/details/vd_attack_plan

StanKehoe on October 31, 2010 at 7:09 pm

When I was in the Navy in the mid 80’s. When we went overseas the powers that be used to arange our port visits to include popular places that were known sex spots. As a matter of fact, one of the ports we visited was Subic bay in the Philippines. That was one place where there were clinics run by the Navy where they would check out the local prositutes and give them certifics which indicated they passed the test. We were informed by our comand that just becuse they were inspected there was no guarantee they were still clean. The comand also passed out condoms to the sailors when they left the ship. (no females on the ships at that point of time) There was a really big sex business just out side the fence in the city of Olingpo.
We also visited Pattia beach in Tialand. There was a really big sex business in that city. It was possibleto get exactly what you wanted in that city. Boys, women, or childrem, what ever you wanted. After we left that port, the there was some talk amoung the crew about some of the married crew members going astray. Our commanding officer made an anouncenent that if someone wanted to make a comment about what the were doing, they should turn over in their bunks and tell it to their pillows.
There were other ports, but these were the worse. I don’t what it is like today. But I guess they don’t need to make port calls anymore.
augiedog

augiedog on October 31, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Unfortunately the decline in morality is not limited to the military. Federal employees routinely have babies out of wedlock, and not only are they not dismissed for inappropriate moral conduct, but their pregnancies are celebrated with parties, etc., and once they have their babies they are given preferential treatment because of their young children.

Little Al on October 31, 2010 at 7:58 pm

[but it doesn’t change the fact that the military, today, would never have the guts to tell soldiers any of the moral instruction in that memo from WWII. DS]

Well Taj,

Does the military tell you guys not to have immoral sex (or at least persuade you not to)?

Norman Blitzer on October 31, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    In the old days, no one thought it was “fun” or something to be encouraged.

    Today no one cares if people sleep around – that’s how much the popular culture has changed in the last century.

    And as for the point Debbie made about female soldiers – a lot of them served in uniform in World War II but the military was an institution segregated by sex. It was not the co-ed institution it is today.

    NormanF on October 31, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Its been understood for ages soldiers will visit prostitutes when on leave from the front but the difference is in the old days, it was not viewed as good thing. Today our society is non-judgmental on such behavior and therein lies the difference from yesteryear.

NormanF on October 31, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Yes, actually, the military continuously reminds troops that prostitution is illegal and unethical. Jewish and Christian Chaplains also are there to discourage anything illegal or immoral. Thanks to a moderate practice of seperation of church and state, however, there is no official policy to tell single troops that fornication outside of wedlock is a sin. Married personnel who are caught having extra-marital activities are prosecuted according to the UCMJ. These days, the majority of sexual conact among troops takes place among single American service men and women who are deployed together, not with locals. I suppose, however, that if they were going to pretend to be so pious as to completely discourage all sex among single troops, then we would have to observe all of the other commandments and disband the military altogether in order to not murder anyone in the name of national defense. So, how far are you suggesting we go?

Taj Kramer on October 31, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    LOL Taj…you’re part of the problem. You must love chaos…or are a whore-monger yourself and don’t want to be called on your bad behaviour.

    Take all that energy you have defending dysfunctional behaviour and put it towards helping someone in need.

    Skunky on November 1, 2010 at 12:07 am

    I make a distinction between married personnel cheating on their spouses… which should definitely be discouraged and single personnel searching for companionship. In the latter case, that’s between them, their liaison and their G-d. Presuming its off-duty since as you know fraternization between enlisted personnel is strictly prohibited for reasons of morality, order and discipline of the service.

    While we can’t eliminate the sexual feelings that are a part of human nature, we can and should control their expression. That’s not too much to ask of officers and gentlemen and ladies!

    NormanF on November 1, 2010 at 11:26 am

Debbie, I made a funny comment via my iPhone but some trick or treaters interrupted me and I must have screwed it up since it’s not here. It wasn’t ROFL or LMAO material but you would have probably chuckled. BTW it’s interesting to see how many pieces of candy a kid will take when given the chance. I need to get one of those greedy kid discard shoots like Willie Wonka had.

A1 on October 31, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Wow, Skunky, that was pretty harsh. I’ve been a pretty reserved guy my whole life. I’ve never been with a prostitute or even had a one-night stand. At almost 40, I’ve been with only a few women in my whole life. I was married for 12 years and remained faithful and monogamous the whole time and now I’ve been in a monogamous relationship for 2 years with a woman that I plan to marry. I think the problem, Skunky, lies in people who think that my employers should tell me what is and isn’t immoral. I had parents and grandparents for that. Good ones. Who do You work for? Does your manager or CEO sit down with the company every quarter to tell you that pre-marital sex is immoral?

Taj Kramer on November 1, 2010 at 12:40 am

Debbie,

While the document you posted is amusing and informative in its own way, your conclusion based upon it is untrue, at least in my extensive experience with the WWII generation. My father, his brother, and all of their friends served in WWII. I spent a lot of time with these guys well into my adulthood.

My dad flew the hump in the Burma-China-India theater, and his brother was a waist-gunner and photographer on B-17s flying over Germany (he took Clark Gable’s place when the movie star returned to the States). A guy named Lee Resiege, the biggest womanizer in their circle of friends, was one of the poor “battered bastards of Bastogne,” who was trapped for days in a frozen puddle of a foxhole until the paratroopers came to relieve him. Everyone I knew volunteered for service. In addition, I did a lot of volunteer work for the VA in Dearborn in the 70s and 80s, and worked with a lot of WWII vets, who had some great war stories, many of them harrowing. All of this is to say that the men of the WWII generation were brave. They were not, in my experience, particularly moral, especially in sexual matters.

In talking to these guys, the theme that came up again and again is how easy it was for men in uniform to get laid, and how most men who served had no qualms about taking advantage of this little fringe benefit. This pertained to women in the U.S., but also women in-theater. My dad would often fondly reminisce abotu liasons with Indian women in rice paddies, and my uncle has hair- (and other bits of anatomy) raising stories of his sexual tear through the women of England when he was over there in the 8th Air Force. In fact the English military men resented the lustful Americans in their midst, often muttering that Americans were “overpaid, over-sexed, and over here.” The story was the same over and over again from the VA vets, as well. I get the impression they felt that they could very well be going off to die, so they may as well “sow a few wild oats,” as they put it.

In addition to the experience of the men who actually fought (and, sadly from your perspective, fornicated) in WWII, the very existence of this and other government indoctrination techniques gives the lie to your premise. If the sexual mores of the servicemen who went off to fight in WWII were so ideal, then these memos and clap-trap (pun intended) film reels would not have been necessary.

The fact of the matter is that the men of WWII were like the young men of any other generation — libidinous. As it happened, the women of that era (at least enough of them) were willing to oblige the brave young men who were risking their lives, and the rest was history. I think the licentiousness of the time is a dirty little secret of that war, and it has become a pet peeve of mine when people try to shoehorn their own moral opinions onto the “greatest generation.” It is, IMO a disservice to that generation to falsely use them in an attempt to gain points in the culture wars. A little honesty would be welcome, so that we can see the brave men who saved Western Civilization 65 years ago for what they were — human beings, with all the foibles (or joys, depending on your POV) that come with being human.

Starsinger23 on November 1, 2010 at 1:42 am

    I think you make a good point. The military was never a monastery and young men, well – will seek experiences. I think in that era, the key term I believe, was discretion. And seeking happiness made up for the privations and the horrors of war and it was accepted men would still have an interest in women. That was true and its true now.

    NormanF on November 1, 2010 at 11:34 am

I was in the Navy in the mid-70’s. I have to echo Augiedog’s comments. It was, as they say, just a “fact of life”.

Paul on November 1, 2010 at 9:10 am

Well, I’m glad to say that these days it’s different. And still no reply from Skunky?You let me go to bed wounded, buddy. I was simply sharing what I Saw in the military and you accused me of things that I haven’t done. That was uncalled for. Maybe you could be a little less eager to blame others in the future.

Taj Kramer on November 1, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Don’t feel too bad, Taj. Skunky’s just an asshat. The world’s full of people like him, and the best way to deal with them is to set them on “/ignore.” In fact, Skunky is so OTT, I suspect he or she might even be a troll.

    Starsinger23 on November 3, 2010 at 1:45 pm

1972 – I’m a surgical technician working in a major metropolitan hospital earning $$ to pay for college courses. The husband of one of my Circulating Nurses was an Investigator for that city’s Health Department. His specific job was to identify, track down and deal with people who transmitted sexual diseases – gonorrhea, syphilis etc. It was Law. When you sought treatment for one of these dangerous conditions, the hospital, clinic or physician was required by law to notify the Health Department and their investigators swung into action to identify, locate, interview, and test each and every partner the infected respondent had contact with no matter how minimal. Let me repeat … that was Law. And few if any dared defy it.

Then came AIDs. And all the laws, social norms, conventions and common sense for the public health were burned in a bonfire of vanities that somehow this universally fatal disease bestowed upon the infected person both a high patina of elevated social status putting them above the law, and a victimhood that even further protected them from the legalities of being an enabler of a terrible social and community plague. Suddenly it was against the law to enquire about your health. Against the law to make note of your condition. AND AGAINST THE LAW TO NOTIFY WHOMEVER YOU’D HAD SEX WITH. Even discussing HIV in terms of responsibility drew screaming howls of outrage and within that context, not only did we lose our sensible moral high ground to be able to curtail the former sexual diseases of history, but the new plague of HIV was positively advanced.

Lost morality indeed. The real question is qui bono?

Jack on November 1, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Who benefits? Trolls like you. Back under the bridge with you!

    Starsinger23 on November 18, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Oh, btw – I rest my case http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11575773

Jack on November 1, 2010 at 3:11 pm

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