Library - Reading Room
Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Soaring desertion rates and falling reenlistments in the Armed Services show the growing hatred for the Vietnam war among GIs. On 5 Mar. 69 the Subcommittee on the Treatment of Desertion from Military Service of the Senate Armed Services Committee revealed that in the year ending 30 June 68, a GI deserted on the average, once every 10 minutes.
The report showed that 53,357 desertions (men gone over 30 days) in fiscal year 1968, compared with 40, 227 in fiscal 1967. Fewer than 300 of the 1968 deserters were brought before military courts and less than 1/10th of 1% of deserters convicted. AWOLs increased from 134,668 to 155,536 in the same period. Of course ... this doesn't come close to the rates achieved by the Saigon government.
The Swedish government has announced establishment of a special refugee camp for US deserters, where they will be prepared to fit into Swedish life, an unprecedented blow to US prestige. Canada is welcoming many thousands of young American draft dodgers and deserters.
When a Ft. Dix court-martial handed out 4 years at hard labor 6 May 69 to Edwin Arnett, the first GI to be tried for desertion from Vietnam to a foreign country, Arnett, who returned voluntarily from Sweden, said "I think now that nobody will return."
In 1966, 66.5% of black GIs in the army reenlisted and 20% of whites. In 1967, the rate fell to 31.6% and 12.8% respectively, and the decline presumably continues.
The AWOL Press, no. 9