John Kastner


John Kastner


John Kastner dropped his daughters off at summer camp, to return to a city on fire in July, 1967.


Detroit Historical Society




Detroit Historical Society, Detroit, MI






Written Story


Detroit Police Headquarters; Detroit, Michigan


One morning in the summer of 1967, Shirley, my wife, and I had driven our daughters Doreen and Cheryl to a summer Girl Scout Camp at Metamora, which is about 30 miles North of Detroit. While at the camp, we met two of our neighbors who likewise had driven their daughter up to the camp. The 4 of us decided to stop at a bar on the way home and have a nice cold beer.

While at the bar, I noticed a TV was on, and it was showing pictures like a city burning. I asked the bartender while pointing at the TV what was going on – He stated that the city of Detroit was burning – he further stated that the Blacks were rioting – I then took a closer look and then confirmed to myself it was Detroit. Returning home and pulling up my driveway, I could hear my telephone ringing off the hook. I raced into the house and answered the phone – my boss was on the line and told me to get into work immediately that the blacks were rioting.

I quickly dressed for work, put my shotgun into the trunk of my car and drove to the Police Headquarters where I worked at that time. I was then put on active duty. While on stand-by in the station room I watched two civilians walk into the room. One was General Throckmorten - He spoke with the Commissioner who then walked to a large map of the city and the General asked him to point out the trouble spots. The Commissioner with a pointer in his hand placed it over the map and shakenly said “All over the city”. Throckmorten walked over to a telephone and dialed several numbers and then said “Throckmorten here, SEND IN THE 82ND AIRBORNE DIVISION”. He then hung up the phone. Approximately four hours later, the 82nd Division arrived by truck from Selfridge Airbase to Police Headquarters. During the time they arrived, prisoners in the County Jail—which was across the street from Police Headquarters—were rioting. At that time the 82nd airborne troops, rifles with bayonets attached, entered the County Jail, and within five minutes there was complete silence.

The 82nd Division, along with the Michigan State Police and the Detroit Police patrolled the city and within 48 hours, things were back to normal. During this time there were hundreds of black males arrested for rioting and with no room to put them, the city placed a large number of city busses on Belle Island. All prisoners from that day on were transferred to those buses, handcuffed to their seats. They were fed 3 bologna sandwiches a day for the duration of the riot.

After 4 days we were allowed to go home.

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John Kastner

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“John Kastner,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed September 22, 2023,

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