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Defaced bills appearing in Oak Harbor
No one is taking credit — or blame — for money stamped with anti-military messages being circulated in the community.
A defaced $5 bill was brought to the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station’s public affairs office as recently as Monday, according to Public Affairs Officer Mike Welding.
An enlisted sailor turned in a bill with the words, “NAS Whidbey burns 24 million gallons of toxic jet fuel yearly,” Welding said.
Welding said he’s been aware of the currency circulating for the last few months.
An image of another defaced bill surfaced online recently saying, “NAS Whidbey stop the Growler air war on citizens, move to China Lake, CA’s 1.1 million acres.”
A couple of citizen groups have been increasingly critical of the noise produced by the Navy’s new EA-18G Growler, both at the base’s main airfield Ault Field, and Outlying Field Coupeville, where the Navy conducts touch-and-go training.
Other stamped messages, such as “Military = Welfare in Uniform,” were reported.
Over the past couple of months, BBQ Joint owner Sonna Ryan said she was paid with a few of the bills, which she immediately took out of circulation.
“We don’t want people to think that that’s our sentiment,” said Ryan, whose restaurant is located in Oak Harbor.
“I find it offensive to our military. We just appreciate them so much.”
Central Whidbey-based Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve, or COER, is not responsible for defacing the bills, said Michael Monson, president of the anti-noise group.
COER filed a lawsuit against the Navy last year over jet noise and is known for using protest tactics such as flying the American flag upside down during a recent protest at OLF Coupeville.
“I have no idea … I would never do something like that,” Monson said. “We’re protesting something we feel is immoral. There’s no way we would do something illegal.”
It’s possible that either someone supportive of COER’s protests is doing their own thing, or someone is circulating the bills to make the group look bad, said Monson.
“I have no idea whatsoever,” Monson said.
Another north end group, Concerned Island Citizens, said it’s not responsible for the defaced bills.
CIC organizer Becky Spraitzar, who lives under the Ault Field flight line, said that, while her group is critical of the amount of jet noise they deal with, they believe the Navy shares the responsibility with county leadership and legislators.
Spraitzar, a self-proclaimed “Navy brat,” said she saw one of the bills posted online and contacted Monson to see “if he needed to clean up his group.”
“I said, ‘This is not right,” Spraitzar said. “’If any of your people are doing this, you need to tell them to cease and desist immediately because it’s illegal.’”
Defacement of currency is a violation of the United States Code. It can carry a sentence ranging from fines and up to six months in jail, according to the United States Department of the Treasury.
Defacement of currency to the point that it can no longer be circulated falls under the jurisdiction of the United States Secret Service.