The past 10 months have been difficult for the three-man crew of the train that maimed protester Brian Willson while he knelt on the tracks to protest U.S. Central American policy.
The crewmen told the San Francisco Chronicle in an exclusive interview published Thursday that they feel they were as much victims of Willson's actions as he was of theirs."They day I went back to work (at the Concord Naval Weapons Station), nobody came down to say `Welcome back, how are you doing?' " said Robert Mayfield, 41, the train's brakeman. "The day Brian Willson came back (to the train tracks), Mayor Mike Warren went down and shook his hand."
Mayfield, conductor Ralph Dawson, 38, and engineer David Humiston, 49, were aboard the munitions train that rolled over Willson last Sept. 1, mangling his legs so badly they had to be amputated at the knee. While Willson became a hero in the anti-war movement, the crewmen have become the objects of investigations and lawsuits.
They said they each see a psychiatrist weekly and have not been able to continue working.
When the three civilian crewmembers applied for disability pay, the federal government balked. When they asked for money for their psychiatric visits to overcome the trauma, the government stalled. Now Willson is suing them, and they have become embroiled in a fight with the federal government over the amount of their attorney fees.
"Here they want to pay compensation to these Iranian people (the families of those aboard the Iran Air flight shot down by a U.S. ship), and they don't want to pay our attorney," said Dawson.
"It's scary to think that you work for somebody, you do the job they ask, and they don't back you."
The most frustrating part of their ordeal, the crew members said, has been watching Willson calling them puppets in a government plot to assassinate him.