Library - Reading Room
Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Richard Chase -- Sentenced
Private Richard Chase was convicted at a December 20 Court-Martial of refusing an order to train for riot control at Ft. Hood. He was sentenced to two years of hard labor at Leavenworth and a Dishonorable Discharge.
Ft. Hood is predominantly comprised of GIs who are back from Vietnam and serves as a priority riot control center. The military thinks that once GIs have been forced to wage war against the people of Vietnam, they will easily adapt to fighting against people struggling for justice in this country.
A year ago, last January, Chase was assigned to HHC 1/66th where he applied for Conscientious Objector status because he refused to participate in riot control training. At that time he was given "official C.O. status" and became a company clerk. However as he became involved in the GI antiwar movement at Ft. Hood, through the Oleo Strut Coffeehouse in Killeen and the GI newspaper at Ft. Hood -- Fatigue Press, the brass began to take a less benign attitude towards Chase. On September 11 they gave him a direct order to participate in riot- control training -- an order they well knew he would refuse. Charges against him were read, and by Oct. 18 he was placed in the Ft. Hood Stockade. A major part of his pre-trial confinement was spent in solitary confinement during which time he was beaten four times by guards.
In the Court-Martial itself, defense attorneys Cam Cunningham, Jim Simons and Ken Cloke argued against riot control showing the unconstitutionality, illegality and political nature of riot control. They also exposed the stockade system as an institution which exists for the purpose of physically and otherwise intimidating GIs into being "good soldiers."
The Chase defense has received wide support nationally and in the Austin and Killeen area. During the trial itself, the courtroom was constantly crowded with GI and civilian supporters of Chase. The Richard Chase Defense Committee reports that many GIs showed their solidarity with Chase by flashing the V-sign and the clenched fist as they drove by the building where the court martial was taking place.
Appeals are presently being filed in both Military Appelate and Federal Courts. A suit is also being filed in Federal
Court against the U.S. Army. This suit consists of four major issues: the right of Chase to be tried by his peers rather than a board of lifers; the negligence of the Army to follow its own regulations with regard to CO status; (Chase was never given the proper forms when he requested CO status) the right of GIs to take part in political activities during off-duty hours while not in uniform; and the unconstitutional nature of riot control itself.
The Defense Committee will continue to lead the fight to free Richard Chase. They -ask that petitions, letters and telegrams of support containing the two demands of the Richard Chase Defense Committee be sent to Maj. Gen. Beverly Powell, the commanding general of III Corps, and Maj. Gen. Wendell J. Coates, commanding general of the 2nd Armored Division. The 2 demands are:
1) The immediate freedom of Richard Chase and the dropping of all charges against him.
2) An end to the brutality and inhuman conditions in the stockade.
GI Press Service, vol. 2, no. 1