Henry Rollins is a musician, activist and world traveler. Though a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq, he participated in several USO tours for troops involved in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
USNI News spoke with Rollins on Tuesday about his experiences on tour with the U.S. Navy, a trip to North Korea and visit to the USS Pueblo (AGER-2).
Rollins: A few years ago I was in Afghanistan with the USO. We were at one of two forward operating bases on the Afghan-Pakistan border and I meet some Marines, kind of the A-Team guys, these massive men, and they are getting ready for this mission. All of a sudden out of this desert-brush environment there are all these guys with Navy shirts on.
We’re in Afghanistan, not near any body of water. What’s the Navy doing here?
“We’re their medics. The Marines have no medics. We’re their medics.”
I had never known there was that association between the Marines and the Navy, as far the Navy being there to patch up the Marines. That part was new to me.
Rollins: I was in North Korea a couple years ago. There’s only one naval vessel that’s not in the property and possession of the U.S. Navy, the USS Pueblo. (The Pueblo was captured by North Korea in 1968 and her crew was held hostage.)
It’s tied up next to the Taedong River. I was there in Pyongyang and the surrounding areas for about a week and there was an obligatory visit to the Pueblo. There was a woman in a uniform and she was speaking through a translator with a smirk on her face that was like, “We got your boat.” It’s not the biggest boat, it’s a fantastic boat but it’s not like they got the biggest boat in the Fleet. But the way the woman was talking it was like “Aha, aren’t you impressed with the might of the North Korean navy?”
Well, I have get back to Beijing; I can’t be [acting] like “I have five of these [ships] in my garage.” I had pretend I was thinking, “Wow, great catch.”
They have a propaganda film, complete with marching music and a voice-over saying, “And again the North Korean navy triumphs.”
You have sit and watch it. I was trying to stifle my laughter. It was like something out of a movie.