Stewart Rhodes 
May 17, 2010
An Oath Keepers Exclusive
We know that wholesale gun confiscation happened during Hurricane Katrina. We watched the Chief of Police of New Orleans declare on national television that “no one [no private citizen] will be able to be armed, we’re going to take all the weapons.” We watched an old lady being tackled in her own kitchen and disarmed.
In fact, that atrocious event was one of the reasons I started Oath Keepers. But I also knew, from my service as an Army paratrooper, that there are men and women of courage, honor, and integrity in the military who would refuse to obey such orders. My goal with Oath Keepers is simply to increase their numbers and harden their resolve. But when it came to Katrina, we did not have concrete proof that some said no – until now.
A Stand-Up Example from Katrina Emerges
This past week, on Friday May 14, 2010, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Staff Sergeant (SSG) Joshua L. May of the Utah National Guard who told me how he, along with the other men in his military intelligence unit, refused to participate in any gun confiscation while deployed to assist during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
I finally discovered SSG May and his story only because after a speech I gave in Logan Utah on May 13, 2010, a local resident, Farley Anderson, walked up and told me about what SSG May had done. Upon hearing of it, I knew I just had to talk to him, so I had Mr. Anderson track down SSG May’s number and I called him at 11pm and invited him to breakfast the next morning. Until that night, SSG May hadn’t even heard of Oath Keepers (which is ironic since he is a shining example of an oath keeper). We met for the first time that next morning, Friday, May 14, 2010. During breakfast, SSG May told me his story, and then I asked him if we could go outside and do a video interview in the restaurant parking lot. He agreed that his story needed to be told and the below video is the result.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
This is the first of four parts to that interview we have now posted on YouTube. This first ten minute segment contains SSG May’s main statement of how, while deployed to assist during Hurricane Katrina, he, along with the majority of the men in his unit, informed their commander that they would not under any circumstances participate in gun confiscation.
But I urge you to watch the other three parts (which will be uploaded later today) which contain further details of SSG May’s experience in New Orleans, how he and his unit interacted with armed citizens who were simply defending their property (including a great story of his encounter with a former paratrooper bar owner who let it be known that NO ONE, not the President himself, was getting his guns), more details on how the chain of command reacted to the unit’s refusal, what SSG May thinks of the use of active duty Army during Katrina, about his experiences in Iraq and how they reinforced his commitment to enforcing the Second Amendment, and what he thinks about his oath and the Constitution. SSG May is indeed a shining example of what it means to honor the oath, and it is important to know that he was not alone then, and is not alone today. There are many, many other “SSG May’s” out there. The mission of Oath Keepers is simply to increase their numbers and improve their understanding of the Constitution.
Tipping the Scales on the Side of the Constitution and the Rights of the People
As I have said from the day I founded Oath Keepers, we know that some will “just follow orders.” That is clear from the sad history of the human race, and that is also clear from our own history. The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II shows that reality. And in the modern context, the result of LCDR Guy Cunningham’s 1994 Twentynine Palms Combat Arms Survey provided additional sobering evidence, since 26.2% of the Marines polled answered either “agree” or “strongly agree” when asked in the infamous Question 46 if they would fire on American citizens who resisted attempts at gun confiscation. And as already noted, what happened during Katrina shows that some will actually follow even such a clearly unlawful, unconstitutional order. And that is why I started this organization – to do my utmost to keep it from happening again.
However, I also know beyond a doubt that there are men and women of honor, deep courage, and true devotion to the Constitution in service who would refuse to obey such orders. I know this because I served with some of them. The men I served with in the Airborne infantry would have been as willing to forfeit their lives or liberty by refusing such orders as they were willing to give their lives in combat.
And I know that there are still, to this day, many people of such honor, courage, and devotion in the military. The number of Bronze and Silver stars, and even Congressional Medals of Honor, being awarded today are a testament to the fact that this nation still has many young lions (and lionesses) of great courage in service.
Enough of them have the courage to do what is right if they know what is right. The only question I have is whether enough of them have the necessary knowledge of the Constitution and of their obligations under the oath to stop another Katrina or worse from happening. Courage without knowledge is insufficient. A brave man or woman without knowledge and understanding of the Constitution can be tricked into becoming a tool of oppression over fellow Americans. Knowledge without courage and integrity is also insufficient (which is why I don’t waste my time with most lawyers and politicians – they have amply demonstrated their lack of either). It takes both courage and knowledge. When a person, such as SSG May, has both, watch out! That one person can and will make a difference far beyond what the cynical conventional wisdom would have you believe is possible, just as SSG May did. He proves the cynics, who contend that all in the military will always just follow orders, wrong.
I have long said that it is simply a reflection of human nature that in an average military unit, at any time in history, there will likely be some who will just follow orders (sometimes with bloodthirsty gusto), and there will be some who will not follow unlawful orders under any circumstances (provided they understand the orders are unlawful), and then there will be those in the middle who’ll just go whichever way the wind blows. Again, the results of LCDR Cunningham’s survey reflect this. 26.2% said they would fire on fellow Americans. But 12.0 percent said they “had no opinion” about that question (how could someone have no opinion about such a question?). The good news is that 42.3 percent answered that they “strongly disagreed” and 19.3 percent “disagreed.” So, there was a strong split in opinions, with those disagreeing in the majority.
The whole point of Oath Keepers, its prime mission, is to increase the number of service members who are awake, knowledgeable about the Constitution, and committed to saying “hell no!” and thus tip the scales on the side of those who have both the courage and knowledge to not go along. Those who blow with the wind will then side with right, and any possible psychopaths and blind followers will be significantly outnumbered and will be suppressed.
And it bears repeating that a man in the ranks like SSG May, a man who has been awakened to the awesome responsibility of his oath and who has become a student of the Constitution, can tip the scales on the side of justice and the Constitution in ways that mere numbers can never quantify. Such a man is a moral and morale force multiplier. SSG May’s story bears this out. He became a teacher and an inspiration to others, and he was the solid rock of resolve that they gathered round and drew strength from when taking their stand. Yes, the majority were in agreement with him (and I’ll bet he certainly helped them see the light) but I think it was his unshakable resolve that helped the others actually take a firm stand. Perhaps if he had not been there, another would have sounded off loudly that the gun confiscation was flat wrong and that he would not do it. Perhaps another would have stepped up to be the spokesman for the others to go tell the commander they would refuse if given that order. But perhaps not. Regardless, one man can make a difference and there can be no doubt that SSG May’s presence helped tip the scales on the side of refusing to obey any orders to confiscate guns. And he made it into a preemptive refusal. He did not wait until the orders were actually given. With him leading the way, the men made it clear in advance that they would not comply.
SSG May, way back in 2005, was a stellar oath keeper long before Oath Keepers the organization even existed. The oath – and the obligation that goes with it — is as old as the Constitution itself. We here at Oath Keepers certainly did not invent it. The Founders invented it. And they put that requirement right in the Constitution, in Article VI. We at Oath Keepers merely do our small part in honoring the oath by doing our best, to the utmost extent of our powers (as the motto of my Airborne unit put it) to make sure there are more SSG Mays out there. Just as SSG May was awakened by another National Guardsman who made him realize he did not have a sufficient understanding of the Constitution to adequately keep his oath, we strive to wake up as many current serving as we can to the fundamental necessity of understanding and studying the Constitution if they are to keep their oath to defend it. You can’t defend it if you don’t know it. I firmly believe that it is possible to reach, teach, and inspire enough of the current serving to provide a tipping point on the side of the Constitution and on the side of the rights of the people when future unconstitutional orders come down the chain of command. We can do it.
And now we have SSG May’s stellar real world example from Katrina itself to show the way for others. In honor of SSG May’s stand, I am nominating him for the Oath Keepers 2010 Current Serving Military of the Year award, and I am nominating his unit for a counterpart award for Unit of the Year for their stand during Katrina. I can’t imagine a better example coming to light between now and our national Oath Keepers Conference in October, so I look forward to presenting both those awards.
We hear so much bad news nearly every day that it is wonderful to have such a great piece of good news. So, take heart, and remember, with each and every current serving military, police, or emergency personnel you talk to, with each brochure, pocket Constitution, or copy of The 5000 Year Leap handed out, you never know what effect you have, like ripples in a pond going out from one cast pebble. Your one act of outreach, teaching, or inspiration could reach far into the future to a crucial moment in history, into the hearts and minds of key men and women who may just be in place to take a pivotal and historic stand. Now go out and make more SSG Mays!
For the Republic,
Founder of Oath Keepers
PS- Seeing as how this story was unknown to the public and untold until I happened to meet SSG May, there well may be other individuals or units, either military or police, who likewise refused to take part in any gun confiscation during Katrina. Please ask around through your contacts, and keep a sharp eye and ear out for any more such accounts. And if you were there, and know of other examples, it is time to speak up and let it be known.