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GI's Seek Sanctuary In Honolulu Church

Some two dozen GIs opposed to the Vietnam war have sought sanctuary at the Church of the Crossroads in Honolulu. The action began August 6 at a Hiroshima Day demonstration, when a member of the Air Force named Louis Parry announced that "further cooperation with the U.S. military on my part would be to commit crimes against humanity."

Parry, surronded by civilian supporters, then took sanctuary in the church.

On August 9, Parry was joined by five other servicemen. One of them, Marine Pfc. Vincent Ventimiglia, announced that he was a member of Military Intelligence who had been ordered to bring in the "defectors," but had decided to join them instead. Another of the GIs who took santuary that day was on R&R from Vietnam

Since that time, the number of GIs in the sanctuary has fluctuated around two dozen, about one-third of them Vietnam veterans. Ventimiglia was arrested August 20 when he left the sanctuary to try to meet his parents at a Honolulu hotel. Four of the servicemen have left the sanctuary and surrendered to authorities voluntarily.

The military has so far not made any move to break up the sanctuary and arrest the GIs. The New York Times quoted "officials" to the effect that they would ask local police to arrest the GIs for desertion once they had been AWOL for thirty days.

The custom of sanctuary is not legally recognized today, but has been invoked by several churches as a protest against the Vietnam war.

GI Press Service, vol. 1, no. 6

 

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