Image © 1993 2.13.61 Publications  - Cover Painting by Peter Cunis

 

BILL SHIELDS

Interview

The following interview with Bill Shields originally appeared in issue one of Loser Friendly Magazine (1994). Fast forward to 2002 & a quick web search of Bill Shields shows surprisingly few results. Even the 2.13.61 website have Billís books reduced to remainder prices.
After this page was uploaded I received a number of emails from former Navy SEALs claiming this webpage was helping to foster the Bill Shields Myth.  I did receive this email from Steve Robinson Author of the book NO GUTS, NO GLORY - Unmasking Navy SEAL Impostors:
  
Sirs,
Check out the WALL OF SHAME listing on our web site - www.authentiseal.org. You'll find Mr. Bill Shield's name listed there... since he is not now and never has been a US Navy SEAL. We'd be happy to receive any documentation which Mr. Shields might care to offer in support of his claims, but I can assure you that his name is NOT among those who have successfully graduated from SEAL training (and there have NEVER been any secret training classes or secret students). We work closely with federal authorities whenever we receive documentation that has been forged or altered, and will be pleased to submit any paperwork offered by Mr. Shields in support of his claims for examination by the federal experts. Your site/firm has been led down the primrose path by one of the many thousands of military impostors now surfacing in our society. 

Steve Robinson

home

cuz: How old you now?

Bill Shields: 43 a young man about town..

CC: How long were you in Vietnam?

BS: 3 tours, I was there in 1970 for 9-10 months, 1972 for 6 months and in 1975 I was there for 3 months.

CC: So around ‘75 there would have been a lot of extreme tension ?

BS: 75 was the fall of Saigon. Me and most of the Navy SEALs and ETT numbers in the navy at that time were called over there, and it was a very wicked time. Anyone that likes anarchy would have really seen what anarchy’s about - that’s what Saigon looked like, It was pure anarchy, it was a very scary place to be and when I left there were about 10 choppers after me that left Vietnam. So that gives you an idea were I was at. 10 helicopters of Americans left.

CC: That sounds pretty full on...

BS: It was fucked! It was scary cause I just had a daughter - my oldest daughter was born on the 29th of December 1974, I’d only seen her for about 36, maybe 48 hours, and I went right back to Vietnam. I was just really worried I wasn’t going to leave that godamn country, but I did I would have swam out of there if I had to. I was leaving!!

CC: Did you ever encounter any Australians while you were over there ?

BS: I’d seen them of all places in bars (surprise surprise) a couple times in Saigon.

CC: Sounds typical.

BS: Ha Ha guys are like that. No, I never worked with them, they had a great reputation, I just never worked with them. I was down south in the Delta, everyone that I talked to that worked with the Australians were impressed. When I saw them I asked "Who are these sonsofbitchs ?" "Oh they’re Aussies" they were good soldiers - they knew what’s up. But they had a real good reputation in Vietnam.

CC: The film industry’s obsession for Vietnam has as you known been total overkill. Out of all the Nam exploits which out all of them would be closest to the truth?

BS: Oh gee, yeah, that’s a tough one cause so much of it is bullshit, I’m still waiting for the ‘Vietnam’ movie because if you take some of the despair that was in the Deer Hunter, mix it with some of the intense fear of Platoon, some of the insanity of Hamburger Hill, I’m just trying to think. They always get one small section right and then blow it. They’re close on some things and yet they miss the mark cause it pathetic, cause it’s easy to do, there was one ‘Charlie Mopac’ or something which was real close.

CC: Given Oliver Stone's Veteran exprience, how do you view Platoon?

BS: Yeah, you know, the good and evil thing the two sergeants that’s a bit much I kinda figured on more yet he’s out to make a buck. Also you know he has to make it for... I hate to use this expression but I will -‘For the masses’ for people to understand. There were parts of it I thought that were superb - the horror and the fear conveyed real well in there, real well, and I liked that part of it, but the parts that were weak again - the one very evil sergeant and one very very good sergeant - I said ‘man it wasn’t that clear cut to be Vietnam’. It was not clear-cut - nothing was that clear cut everything was pretty muddy pretty murky and he didn’t craft that. It seemed a little bit more concrete. But he cut the horror - the absolute horror of what it feels like when they’re on ya, which I appreciate that and the nice thing it made enough awareness for Vietnam Veterans saying " well they got a glimmer of what it might have been like".

CC: Any truth to the rumour that ‘Ollie’ might be making Southeast Asian Book of the Dead into a film ?

BS: No, no, that’s not what I would call it. I just got a note from Rollins a couple weeks ago saying he had showed Oliver Stone a copy of the book and Rollins was having dinner with him and that’s all I know now. Hell I’m ready to retire that would be cool as shit you know, we’ll se if he (Stone) has got some big balls. I wanna see if Stone has the real ‘cahoonies’ to do this one, what I’d like to see is more of is less on Vietnam and a whole lot more on the last 25 years and that’s what I don’t see being done in the movies. I’m saying all my friends are dead y’know, most of them are dead from Agent Orange or suicide - by suicide I’m not saying one barrel in the mouth and pulling the trigger- I’m talking about drugs and alcohol they’re all fucking dead. You know that’s just astounding to me, I’m 43 years old and most the people I knew when I was 18 are all dead. That is just, I mean that’s what old men think about all their friends are dead, shit all my friends are dead!!

CC: I was going to ask you this question last but are you surprised to be alive now?

BS: Oh yeah it’s absurd it’s totally fucking absurd that I’m still around. I still laugh about it, I mean every morning is a good day for me, everyday is a good day, y’know it’s always amazing to me and you can ask my wife, I wake up in the morning and it’s a good day it’s a good godamn day I woke up! And that’s the way I lived my life. I mean even I have bad days like everyone else but it’s still amazing that I’m still awake I’m alive, I’m here. I never counted on this one it’s been difficult cause I never planned on being alive, it’s very difficult to figure out the rest of my life I don’t really I just let things happen cause I really go one day at a time I’m really glad to be alive today, it’s not like some kinda celebration. I’m still alive I didn’t drop dead, there’s been no heart attack ‘sonofabitch’ this is amazing. I have a lot of cynicism for the world but not for myself, I’m just fucking impressed I’m still around, so - everyday is pretty precious I don’t think I’m going to be around for ever. Vietnam did teach you that you can drop dead right now tonight right now on this phone call and there’s are no guarantees that there are no implied warrantees for this life, you will drop dead it’s just a matter of time. So when you’re around you better fucking appreciate the fact that you’re around one more day and enjoy that day, and I’m a big believer of that. What you can do and what you will do is not what you should have done. What great fucking quotes man I’m giving you them easy tonight (laughter).

CC: When did you decide to become a writer?

BS: 1978, I was going to the University of Pittsburgh and was fiddling around wasting my G.I bill and though well here’s four free years of collage, I failed miserably in Business, so I took some English classes and loved them and figured "well, I’ll give it hell" and so I found a good professor and I started to write. I didn’t start to write about Vietnam till about ‘84. Up until then I wrote a couple of books and they’re way outta print... I didn’t write them for therapy cause I don’t believe on writing for therapy I never wrote one godamn word for therapy. I just wrote because I wanted to write. I didn’t write it cause it was going to make me feel better or ease my mind it really has never done that. I never wrote I just write.

CC: How did you hook up with Henry Rollins publishing company 2.13.61 ?

BS: A friend of mine Blackie Hix, had sent him about 10 of my poems in the late 80’s, I got a letter from Henry Rollins saying " I wanna be your publisher, I’ll publish anything you got " I thought "yeah and sure", I had a lot of people say this, and he sent me a whole bunch of his books and I thought "Hey this might be cool, I’ll give him a shot" and so I’m glad he did. First a book of mine Human Shrapnel and I thought O.K and he said "just keep writing I’ll publish them". And then my last book Southeast Asian Book of the Dead and he’s geared up to do the next one!

CC: What’s going to be the title of your next book ?

BS: I have a bunch of new titles. One is called (from a Roky Ericson song) ‘Swing a Bloody Hammer’ which I kinda like, another one would be ‘Living Hell’, and the third one I wanna go with I’m pushing on this title ‘Lifetaker’. That’s the one I wanna go with..

CC: What would be your favourite music at the moment ?

BS: I’m listening to a band that Jack (The Stump Wizards) turned me onto The Telecasters a guitar band from out of LA or somewhere, The Lyres from Boston, The Splatterheads - I’ve been playing the shit out of that band for the last 6 months ( Bot the album) What a band Jesus Christ! Just kicks. I’m away from the CD player I just lose track but the Splatterheads are what rock’n’rolls all about.... Pegboy, another band I’ve been listening to. I love it, being 43 years old and my whole generation is in classic rock and all that crap arse music and it’s like NO! that shit just bores me to death. What’s happening now is we’re living a renaissance of music. There’s so many bands now that are just terrific, you can’t even keep up it’s great, I’m glad that I lived this long to keep up cause I bitched and moaned 15 years ago in the late 70’s and said "boy rock’n’roll is shit". Now this is Molly Hatchet time and now it is just superb and you’re just limited by your wallet, there are that many great bands, you’re only limited by your wallet.