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CSUMB contributes to exhibit of Seaside history

Photos, letters, uniforms and newspapers from Fort Ord are among the items currently on display at Seaside City Hall, part of an exhibit of the city’s history. The show features the work and collections of CSU Monterey Bay alumni, faculty and staff.

Elements of two student capstones are part of the exhibit. Marisa Mercado’s project, done for her degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences in 2005, concerned the trial of Army Pvt. Billy Dean Smith. In March 1971, a grenade exploded in a barracks in Bien Hoa, Vietnam, killing two officers and wounding a third. Smith, a 23-year-old African-American draftee from Watts who had spoken out against the war, was accused of “fragging” – assassinating with a fragmentation grenade – the officers. His arrest made him a focal point for anti-war activists. Smith spent 20 months in the Fort Ord stockade, mostly in solitary confinement, awaiting trial. The court-martial attracted nationwide media attention, in part because of the racial overtones and in part because Smith was the first American soldier to be tried in the United States for fragging. After a trial that lasted two months, he was found not guilty of the murders. John Klein’s capstone, done for his degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences awarded in 2000, was a look at anti-war newspapers written by soldiers stationed at Fort Ord. Klein stumbled upon them while researching the authorized Fort Ord newspaper, The Panorama. "I compared constructions of manhood present in both papers and found that although they might have viewed duty or following your conscience differently, they both relied on patriarchal notions of women's work and sexual conquest to define what it means to be a 'man,' " Klein said. Objects and newspapers from the collection of Steven Levinson, lecturer in Cinematic Arts in Technology, and items from the collection of the Fort Ord Alumni Association are also included. CSUMB web programming specialist and alumnus Kevin Miller designed the explanatory panels. The Seaside Art and History commission organized the show. It will be on display during normal business hours at Seaside City Hall, 440 Harcourt Ave., through Oct. 25. A reception is scheduled from 1 to 4 p.m., Oct. 13. *Top Photo: Billy Dean Smith during his murder trial at Fort Ord, taken by a UPI photographer on Sept. 6, 1972. The photo is among the items on display at Seaside City Hall**Bottom Photo: One of the display cases at the Seaside exhibit. Photo by Steven Levinson*