US Navy radioman ALLEN R. SCHINDLER, JR. is brutally murdered by shipmates for being Gay, precipitating first military, then national debate about Gays in the military that resulted in the United States “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy. Schindler was from a Navy family in Chicago Heights, Illinois and was serving as a radioman on the amphibious assault USS Belleau Wood in Sasebo, Japan.
According to friends of his, Schindler had complained repeatedly of anti-Gay harassment to his chain of command in March and April 1992, citing incidents such as the gluing-shut of his locker and frequent comments from shipmates like “There’s a faggot on this ship and he should die.”
While on transport from San Diego to Sasebo, Nagasaki, Japan, The Belleu Wood made a brief stop in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Afterwards en route to Japan, Schindler made a personal prank announcement “2-Q-T-2-B-S-T-R-8” on secured lines reaching much of the Pacific Fleet. When he was brought before the disciplinary “captain’s mast” for the unauthorized radio message. Schindler requested the hearing be closed. It was open, with two to three hundred people in attendance. Schindler was put on restrictive leave, unable to leave the ship until a few months after arriving to Sasebo and four days before his death.
The captain had been visited by Schindler, who had many times requested to be transferred to another location because he was being threatened by other shipmates for being Gay. The captain denied Schindler’s request and kept the man’s sexuality and death a secret for months. It was not reported until a special team composed of a psychologist, two lawyers, a counselor, and a corpsman from Yokosuka incidentally met at a bar in Sasebo.
Airman Apprentice Terry M. Helvey who was a member of the Ship’s weather department stomped Schindler to death in a toilet in a park in Sasebo, Nagasaki. Schindler had “at least four fatal injuries to the head, chest, and abdomen,” his head was crushed, ribs broken, and his penis cut, and he had “sneaker-tread marks stamped on his forehead and chest” destroying “every organ in his body” leaving behind a “nearly-unrecognizable corpse.” Schindler was left lying on the bathroom floor until the Shore Patrol and the key witness to the incident (Jonathan W.) carried out Schindler’s body to the nearby Albuquerque Bridge. Jonathan W. witnessed the murder while using the restroom. He noticed Helvey jumping on Schindler’s body while singing, and blood gushing from Schindler’s mouth while he attempted to breathe. The key witness was requested to explain in detail to the military court what the crime scene looked like, but would not because Schindler’s mother and sister were present in the courtroom.
After the trial, Helvy was convicted of murder and the captain who kept the incident quiet was demoted and transferred to Florida. Helvey is now serving a life sentence in the military prison at the United States Disciplinary Barracks, although by statute, he is granted a clemency hearing every year. Helvey’s accomplice, Charles Vins, was allowed to plea bargain as guilty to three lesser offenses, including failure to report a serious crime, and to testify truthfully against Terry Helvey and served a 78-day sentence before receiving a general discharge from the Navy.