Male sailor went AWOL to avoid being repeatedly gang raped

Heath Phillips, United States Navy

I joined the Navy at 17 yrs old. 5 days after my 17th birthday I was in boot camp. I went aboard the USS Butte AE27. Within the first weekend I was sexually attacked by a group of 6 men. I reported it to my command to be told I was a liar, and was homesick. The attacks became worse and my complaints were not helping. I decided to commit suicide and failed. My parent urged me to leave and come home. While home I had a Congressional Investigation done. Behold I didnt lie! 2 where caught and 1 was shipped away and 3 remained. Upon my return the sexual attacks became worse and like before fell on deaf ears. I kept going AWOL to avoid attacks and threats of death by being tossed off the fantail. I then was given the asked to chose between a Other than Honorable discharge or 6 months confinement to the ship. I got out! Now because I went AWOL I have been denied everything in the VA. They dont deny the attacks but justify the denial because I went AWOL to avoid being repeatedly gang raped.

7 comments

  1. heath, your bravery astounds me! YOU ARE NOT ALONE! you are in the right place! we care about YOU! your story will help others to come forward Heath, you are turning a terrible thing into help for others! APPAUSE!

  2. You are believed here, Heath. You should check in with the VA again because a claim of MST is supposed to be treated without question.

    You may need to get that discharge upgraded and I am not sure how that is done but I know that it can be done. Those congressionals, do you know who investigated?

  3. I am sorry that you had to go through this. You are VERY brave. I thought of going AWOL many times but never had the courage to do so. Keep on fighting the VA for what you have earned.

  4. I am so sorry you had to experience something this terrible. I also was molested and was innocent and only 18. Was joining to get my education and was inprocess in New Cumberland Army Depot and had to stay overnight to finish testing. Put me in a barracks by myself and the Sgt came in that evening and molested me. I reported it the next day to 3 military officials and was told to keep quite if I wanted to join and become a soldier. It has taken me 50 years to even admit and be able to discuss with the family. So ashamed and embarrased. In 66 had to get meds which I am still on for a nervous condition which I feel was attributed to this and have now only been able to even admit since the don’t ask don’t tell issue. I am trying to find other enlisted men who experience the same thing at New Cumberland…..Paul

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