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GI's Organizing At Fort Bliss

Antiwar GIs stationed at Ft Bliss, Texas, have formed an organization called GIs for Peace. The group is described by its members as a "broadly based coalition of Ft Bliss soldiers who are concerned about social injustice, the Vietnam war and the increasing militarization of American society."

The stated position of the organization is that it is an "above-board, nonviolent movement." Paul Nevins, a member of the steering committee, describes the philosophy of GIs for Peace: "What we are asking for is our rights. We still believe that American society can be radically transformed for the better through non-violent action. As every soldier knows, America has witnessed too much violence. We desperately need a peaceful alternative."

GIs for Peace is seeking Congressional and federal court intervention to block attempts by the Army to get rid of Pfc. Gene Koffkin, a member of the group's steering committee, by shipping him to Vietnam.

Since last February, the Army has been trying to send Koffkin to Vietnam in spite of the fact that he suffers from narcolepsy (sleep paralysis).

When Senator Alan Cranston of California inquired about the matter, the Ft Bliss Adjutant General promised that Koffkin would be removed from the Vietnam levy and that medical board proceedings would be held to determine his fitness to remain in the service.

Figuring that everything was now swept safely back under the rug, the Ft Bliss brass then ignored their promise to Cranston and on August 9 ordered Koffkin to report to Ft Lewis August 18 for embarkation to Vietnam.

GIs for Peace contacted the American Civil Liberties Union and Cranston, and on August 13 the Army began to retreat a little, by granting Koffkin a five week extension of his reporting date.

GI Press Service, vol. 1, no. 7

 

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