The late 1970's saw country after country falling under a juggernaut of Communist revolution. By the early 1980's Americans were growing concerned that in not too many years, either revolution or invasion would find its way to our hometowns. Some of us were determined to stop it -- but how? Frank Camper started The Mercenary School which taught combat skills painfully learned during the Vietnam War. I was one of his students. Let me tell you my story. By 1979, Afghanistan had been invaded by the Soviets. Rhodesia was in a state of turmoil -- a valuable source of chromium necessary for the US nuclear arsenal. The Shah had abandoned Iran. Nicaragua was gone. Things looked really bleak when I decided I was fed up and was not going to take it anymore.

I found Frank Camper and The Mercenary Association in 1982. The Mercenary School was a real eye-opener: one week of hard combat techniques and another week of staying away from people who want to capture and torture you.

At Merc School, September 1984
"Photo Alex Ethridge, Birmingham, Alabama USA"

Frank Camper said that the way you teach people to learn is to let them make their own mistakes first. And if it hurts, they come back to a second session ready to learn. During the day, lessons were taught in how to travel and operate in a hostile combat environment. When darkness fell, teams were sent out on patrol missions to engage the "enemy," other teams also stalking through the woods. A contact meant much spraying of CS, rifle butts to the stomach, and fistfights in the darkness. Rule #1: Don't kill anybody. Rule #2: Don't get captured. Otherwise, everything was fair game. And then there were the Death Merchants. Those were graduates that showed up unannounced and went through the woods terrorizing and capturing students.

The student body was international to the extreme. Several foreign languages could be heard spoken at any time. I have trained with persons from Canada, England, Germany, Panama, Mexico, Japan, Spain, Israel, Norway, and France.

Some mainline "merecenary" publications from that time period said that the Mercenary School was "running around the woods and learning a few combat techniques, but don't stake your life on it." The person who made those remarks on a national broadcoast later shot himself in the knee clearing his .45!

This writer graduated The Mercenary School with full honors in July, 1985 in class "Yankee Clipper." I have scars and screwed-up sinuses from CS to attest to that.

Some of the "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) are:

Q. Did any of the graduates of the Mercenary School actually get hired to do merc work?

A. Some of the training cadre had already done that type of thing prior to coming to the Mercenary School. So they had prior experience to advise graduates on postgraduate employment opportunities.

Q. Did any of them get killed?

A. There is risk involved even in getting out of bed in the morning. Nobody lives forever.

The mid-1980's was a real hotbed of civilian paramilitary activity. In addition to the Mercenary School, there was also Tom Posey from Decatur, Alabama, that formed a group named Civilian Military Assistance (CMA). Under pressure, Posey changed the name to Civilian Materiel Assistance. After 1979, the Sandinistas might have been in control of what passed as a government for Nicaragua, but people were coming from everywhere to fight against them. The Mercenary Association, CMA, and other entities which I shall not identify, worked together to get people on the ground to screw up Daniel Ortega's hold on power in Nicaragua. The National Security Council began to take notice and offer some assistance.

The FBI liked Frank Camper, but the ATF did not. From what I have gathered from newspaper reports, the FBI worked closely with Frank, especially in the Sikh incident. The ATF did not like Frank because, as was published in an NRA publication, they are "jackbooted thugs." They don't like citizens having as much firepower as them and, as I dare say, better tactics.

The FBI deserves a lot of respect; the ATF appears to me to be a bunch of in-country Rambo wannabes. Look how the ATF screwed up the Waco thing -- I'd give them 48 hours at the Merc School before all of them were rounded up like this poor soul who let himself get caught.

"Photo Alex Ethridge, Birmingham, Alabama USA"

I think that Frank Camper provided a valuable service exactly when it was needed.

The school no longer exists. Those of us who attended will always remember the experience we had and the things it taught us. There are no plans to open it back up. PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME ABOUT OTHER SCHOOLS-BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW OF ANY.


"Photo Alex Ethridge, Birmingham, Alabama USA"


View My Guestbook
Sign My Guestbook


web counter