Raid On Stockton
Don named himself Field Marshal, Hap General, and fans honorary admirals and generals. Identification cards were issued. Light plane enthusiasts and small boat skippers from all over the Bay Area enlisted. Every listener wanted to get in on the fun.
The KSFO team issued one of the cleverest press releases ever written in the form of a wartime dispatch:
September 4, 1958: COMMUNIQUÉ issued from Jorge Jornocki, S.H.L.E.F.O.T.G.B.A.I. War Correspondent (Somewhere in the Bay Area)
Flocks of wildfowl, startled from their roosts in nearby marshlands, darkened the dawn sky as elements of the Sherwood Harper Liberation Expeditionary Forces of the Greater Bay Area, Inc. launched their first aerial raid against the City of Stockton on the San Joaquin River.
Dubbed a “complete success” by officers in charge, the raid was made without casualties.
The sortie was under the personal supervision of Field Marshal Don Sherwood, commanding officer of the S.H.L.E.F.O.T.G.B.A.I., while General Harper piloted the lead plane.
Early reports from the Stockton area indicated the citizens of that municipality were “stunted” by the suddenness of the attack. However, it has since been learned that the correct word was “stunned.”
No definite information was released on the types and quantities of ammunition used. A usually reliable source in the ordnance section, however, indicated that somewhere between twenty and fifty thousand missiles were released over Stockton.
An aerial observer reported that the missiles appeared to be multicolored and rectangular in shape. He said that the city’s streets were rainbow-hued as the flight wheeled onto its return route after the completion of the raid.
Field Marshal Sherwood cut a dashing figure as he hurried with long strides to his waiting aircraft as the raid was launched. He was wearing his now-famous gold uniform with scarlet breeches, liberally trimmed with gold braid.
The Marshal scornfully brushed aside an aide’s offered pistol and carried, instead, as his sidearm, a four-foot cavalry saber that had been used in the Indian Wars by a forebear.
“I come from a long line of simple fighting men,” the Marshal explained, as he climbed into his plane, “who prefer the old reliable weapons of history.”
A tense group of ground personnel, anxiously awaiting the Marshal’s return from the raid, broke into a ragged cheer as the plane taxied back to its hardstand.
Asked for his personal evaluation of the Stockton situation after the successful attack this morning, Marshal Sherwood replied, between puffs on a large black cigar, that he thought the city was a “sitting duck.”
He further elaborated by stating that the city would be his “before the frost is on the ‘punkin’.”
This remark, which close associates have come to regard as typical of the Marshal’s military genius, caused a spontaneous shout of “SCHARGE — on to Stockton!” to burst from the throats of his troops.
“SCHARGE” (“Charge!” with a drunken slur) became the slogan. The paper leaflets dropped on Stockton carried the message: “CONSIDER YOURSELF BOMBED! STOCKTON: SURRENDER! (OR ELSE).”
Following the first raid, Stockton pressed their truce offer by sending Don and Hap two harem girls in an armored car. They were delivered to KSFO headquarters at the Fairmont Hotel.
The two delirious rebels carried their trophies through the hotel lobby to the studios.
“I thought they meant peace offering,” Hap says, ”but Don thought it was a ‘piece’ offering! He, being the wiser of the two of us, kept his for three days!”
Playing soldier has its own reward.
“Everyone assumed that because I was Don’s friend and because we played together, we partied together. I soon had a much-undeserved reputation for being a ‘womanizer.’ My wife of that time was not exactly amused! Nor was she thrilled that I got letters from young women asking to fly with me. Of course, I assured her it was all in the line of duty.”
KSFO issued “SCHARGE” buttons along with Sherwood Invasion Money with a printed worth of one thousand-and-a-half dollars, “depending on the success of the invasion of Stockton.”
Copyright © 1989 by Laurie Harper. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with the author’s permission.