Former Winner resident writes book on racial tensions at sea

Marv Truhe’s new hardcover book, “Against All Tides, The Untold Story of the USS Kitty Hawk Race Riot” was released on Oct. 11. The book was released on the 50th anniversary of the race riot which is the subject of the book.

Truhe grew up in Winner. He graduated from Winner High School in 1963. While attending high school Truhe worked at the Winner Advocate.

He has a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in 1967. He also has an honorary doctorate from School of Mines in 2003.

He received his law degree from Northwestern Law School in 1970.

Truhe was on active duty in the U.S. Navy from 1970-74. He served aboard the USS Kitty Hawk off the coast of North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

He served as a lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

After his military duty, Truhe returned to South Dakota and was an assistant attorney general in the AG office in 1974 as head of trial division.

He was in private practice from 1975-2007 in Rapid City working corporate, mining and environmental law.

Truhe retired in 2008 and moved to Colorado with his wife, Nicki.

Truhe says the book is a story of racial injustice and is a first person account of Truhe’s experience as a US Navy JAG lawyer during the Vietnam War.

An interracial confrontation occurred aboard the ship while it was conducting bombing runs into north Vietnam.

Truhe represented several of the 25 black sailors who were unjustly charged with rioting and assaults.

The book covers riots and the court martial trails that followed.

Truhe said his goal in writing the book was to set the record straight because of all the one sided and erroneous chronicles of the incident.

“I wanted to write the complete story in a fair and balanced manner,” he said.

He started writing the book after the special court martials were completed and while Truhe was serving as a military judge.

He collected thousands of pages of original source documents: Navy investigation reports, hundreds of sworn statements and medical records, Congressional subcommittee hearing testimony, his own case files and interviews with client witnesses.

Truhe retained these documents for 50 years (six banker boxes) and again took up writing the book in January 2021.

In January 2022 he presented his manuscript to the publisher for editing. Editing was completed in July and the book came out in October.

Truhe said his inspiration and goal in writing the book was to set the record straight because of all the one-sided and erroneous chronicles of the incident.

Among the injustices he said were 25 black sailors were charged with rioting and assaults against white sailors, but no white sailors were charged.

He said this was a totally one sided investigation. Truhe added Navy officials  withheld critical evidence from defense lawyers.

Photos and details are in the book’s website,

Truhe was invited to give a book presentation at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

The newspaper in San Diego, Calif., wrote a front page story on the book Nov. 20.

In the newspaper story, Truhe said there was deep-seeded racism in Navy, an institution he respected then and respects still. Questions about fairness in the legal system, an arena where he would do his life’s work. Questions about integrity and honesty.

That’s why he kept those five boxes, to look for answers. It’s why he turned what was inside into a book which offers the most complete picture yet of what happened on board the aircraft carrier and in the trials that followed.

Writing the book took Truhe 18 months of 12 hour days, time spent sifting through documents, remembering details, reliving the story.

“I am not usually an angry person but I was angry as all this unfolded 50 years ago,” he said.

In end, 23 Black Kitty Hawk sailors faced court-martials in San Diego, most of them accused of rioting and assault. Only one white sailor was charged with assault, three months after the riot. He was acquitted.

Of the black defendants, seven accepted plea deals admitting to one or more reduced charges and received minimal sentences such as time-served or  fine. Ten were convicted at a trial of one or more offenses and also received minimal sentences.

Six others were exonerated. Three had their charges dismissed before trial, two were acquitted.

Worried that the book might come across as a “one-sided rant by a disgruntled defense attorney” Truhe said he took pains to be balanced in the depiction of events. The 320 page book includes 1,100 footnotes.

The book can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes&Noble and other locations.

Truhe  and his wife live in a retirement community in Broomfield, Colo. His wife is from Colorado and they were married in 1970 just before he went on active duty. The couple have been married for 52 years.

They have a son, Eric, his wife, Leigh, both attorneys, live nearby with two children.

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