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Truitt Accuses Navy Of Smears, Talks of Iowa Turret Drug Use

July 3, 1989

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ The sailor who said the Navy tried to make him a scapegoat in the blast that killed 47 men aboard the battleship Iowa charged Monday that drug use was widespread on the ship.

Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Kendall Truitt also accused the Navy of having ″a motive of the week″ in its investigation of the explosion, and he and his wife and their parents complained of harassment by the Navy and the news media.

Truitt said drug users aboard the Iowa included sailors who worked in the 16-inch gun turret where the explosion occurred. Truitt also worked in the turret.

″On the Iowa, a lot of the guys with us had serious drug problems. t’s pretty bad when your guys are dealing with gunpowder and half of the individuals are doing drugs,″ Truitt said at a news conference.

The sailor said his friend, Gunner’s Mate Clayton Hartwig, who was killed in the April 19 explosion, had informed the Naval Investigative Services of drug use by other seamen while stationed at the Navy’s base at Guantanamo, Cuba. Truitt said he had talked to an officer aboard the Iowa about the problem.

He said the two men were among the few in the turret who did not use drugs.

A Navy spokeswoman with the Atlantic Fleet public affairs office in Norfolk, Va., said she could not comment on the drug-use allegations or any of the statements made by Truitt of his family.

″It’s a Navy policy not to comment until an investigation is completed,″ Chief Petty Officer Glenna Houston said.

Also at the news conference, Truitt’s attorney, Ellis Rubin, again demanded that the Navy formally apologize for smearing Truitt’s name by leaking false allegations that he was under investigation in connection with the Iowa blast.

Rubin said last week that two NIS agents had apologized to Truitt and he demanded the Navy officially clear Truitt and tell the public he was not homosexual and was not involved in a murder-suicide pact that resulted in the explosion.

Published reports earlier said that the Navy was investigating the relationship between Truitt and Hartwig and the possibility of a suicide or murder pact between the two sailors. Truitt was the sole beneficiary on Hartwig’s double-indemnity life insurance policy.

The attorney also said he was considering legal action against the news media which published and broadcast the leaked information.

″There are so many things in this investigation that are untrue that it is ridiculous,″ Truitt said, adding that most of the leaks had been debunked.

Truitt was accompanied by his wife, Carole; his mother, Charlotte Truitt; and his wife’s parents, Ray and Micki Smith.

Truitt’s wife said Navy investigators last week extensively questioned her about her sex life, including whether of not she had ever been involved in a menage a trois or whether she had sex with Hartwig.

She said she wanted an apology from President Bush.

Truitt was reassigned to the Mayport Naval Station in June.

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