Library - Reading Room

Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!

From California To The New York Islands

Highlights of Armed Farces Day, 1972 (you won't read inmost local papers):

Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station (North Carolina): One of the few posts not to cancel official Armed Forces Day activities: 3,000 anti war leaflets announcing counter-Armed Farces Day rally showered down on spectators and the brass' reviewing stand from the parachute of a Marine jumper in one of the official displays.

Great Lakes Naval Training Station/Glenview Naval Air Station (Illinois): Over 3,000 people representing a broad coalition under GI leadership participated in a rally across from the main gate to Great Lakes.

Fort Campbell (Kentucky): 150 - 200 active duty Vietnam veterans from the 101st Airborne and the 173rd Airborne marched, rallied, and heard another long-term Vietnam vet, Dave Dellinger, as well as active duty GI's speak.

Fort Dix/McGuire Air Force Base (New Jersey). 750 marchers who braved record rain storms found that even military dependents' quarters had been penned up by rolls of barbed concertina wire around their private'' quarters.

Fort Ord (Monterey, California): Display booths, a rally, and a march of 400, mainly active duty GI's and Vietnam Vets from all over California, ending at the Monterey Presidia, where vets turned in their medals, burned discharge papers, and threw a coffin over the fence.

Mountain Home Air Force Base (Idaho): Despite intense harassment by the brass, people from the Covered Wagon Coffeehouse and the GI paper Helping Hand led 200 active duty GI's and 300 civilians on a ten-mile march to the base gates; they also organized to send seven McGovern-peace delegates to the Democratic national convention front Idaho.

Travis Air Force Base (California): 400 people slowed traffic into the base, leafleting with a new issue of Travisty forcing cancellation of official events, and receiving a warm reception from airmen, who were mostly restricted to base. Afterwards, at their center, lane Fonda put on a slide show and Len Chandler sang for a packed audience of GI's

These are just a few of the highlights from the 25-30 Armed Farces Day actions, large and small, that occurred on or around May 20. Most of what happened, at remote posts like Cherry Point, Mountain Home, Clarksville, and Monterey, didn't make a big splash in the national press-which apparently measures protests in units of 100,000 or more bodies, bloodied heads or arrests. But for the active-duty GI's and their supporters, Armed Farces Day 1972 meant a good and firm step forward in their efforts.

In the east, very heavy rain storms practically drowned participants in activities from Portsmouth (New Hampshire) Naval Air Station and Pease AFB; Westover AFB (Massachusetts); Fort Devens and Hanscom Airfield (Massachusetts); McGuire AFB and Fort Dix; and at Andrews AFB (Maryland). At Devens, where the base was open for the official "Professionals for Peace" day, 30 people were arrested for participating in or cheering on guerrilla theatre skits. Speakers during the three days of events included Dr, Howard Levy; professors Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn; Pat Litchfield, a Cold Star mother; and Nguyen Hoi-Chan, a south Vietnamese student. In Portsmouth, the brass tried to keep GI's away from Armed Farces Day events with weekend passes to go home and with tree steak and beer feasts. Nevertheless, demonstrators held a mock trial of General "Waste-more-land" and of President Nixon, and marched the guilty parties in stocks through the streets of that New England city.

Al Fort Bragg, North Carolina, two battalions of the 82nd Airborne were sent on maneuvers from Operation Exotic Dancer, and the others offered free bus rides by the brass to Myrtle Beach. Nevertheless 150 GI's joined in a very spirited series of activities. Many GI's were angered by he military's cancellation of pending discharges scheduled under the ''Earlyout'' program; apparently the Army miscalculated about the number hoi GI's who would seek discharges or the number who would enlist, or it felt the need to beef op forces for the escalation. Whatever the explanation, GI's expecting to leave between May 18 and June 30 found themselves with 90-day extensions of their terms.

At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, about 350 airmen, Vietnam veterans, and civilians forced a last-minute cancellation of the official program. Instead, the base commander assigned SOD GI's to riot duly, cancelled all leaves, reinforced security, and gathered much of his staff around him to protect" the main gate. Two of the speakers at the Dayton rally, George Smith, author of POW, and Bill Marshall, a quadriplegic and Michigan coordinator of VVAW, tried to enter the base hut were stopped and presented with elaborate security'' run-downs on them, evidently prepared by Military Intelligence!

In Killeen, Texas, GI's from Fort Hood and the Oleo Strut coffeehouse obtained a federal court order permitting them to rally at a downtown parking lot. The demonstration this year focused both on the U.S. escalation of the IndoChina war and on the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In Albuquerque, representatives of the National Indian Council, local Chicano and women's groups, joined active-duty GI's from Kirttand All Sandia and Manzawa Army Bases, despise threats that GI's participating in the march there would be shipped off to Vietnam.

In Orange County, California, about 500 people joined in a march on a Helicopter station. But at Long Beach and San Diego, two of the major naval stations on the Pacific coast, demonstrations were smaller than had been originally anticipated. That was no surprise, however, since so many sailors recently stationed at these bases have been shipped out to Vietnam, and many of those remaining were sent out on overnight shakedown cruises the very weekend of Armed Forces Day! Nevertheless, Vietnam Vets appeared in fire official San Diego AFD parade as the San Marcos Drum and Bugle Corps, much to the consternation of parade organizers and the amusement of spectators.

All in all, these and other activities indicated the continuing vitality, ingenuity, and spirit of the CI movement and its broad, locally-based character. Almost all of these events were organized and shaped by active-duty servicemen and women, and while many GI's were restricted to base, given riot control duty, sent on maneuvers or otherwise prevented from participating, reports from the field tell that rapport between GI's -even those stuck carrying M-16's to ''fend off" demonstrators-and the anti-war civilians who came out to support them was never better.

About Face! The U.S. Servicemen's Fund Newsletter, vol. 2, no. 4


© 2005 Displaced Films. All Rights Reserved