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Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
GIs United Formed
GIs United Against the War in Vietnam has formed on the West Coast, and, as Andrew Pulley put it, "The minds of the establishment are going to be blown."
Andrew Pulley was a leader of the Ft. Jackson GIs United, a group of soldiers who won national publicity and sympathy in their attempts to gain the right to hold meetings on post to discuss the war in Vietnam. Pulley was also one of the Ft. Jackson 8. Now that the army has backed down in the case of these men, Pulley has been discharged, and he came to the Ft. Lewis area on tour for the GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee. He spoke at the Aug. 13 meeting of GI-CAP.
First Pulley described how GIs United at Fort Jackson had been organized. It had started as a group composed of Black and Puerto Rican GIs. They adopted a statement of aims declaring their support for self-determination of the Vietnamese and of third world groups in the U.S. and declaring their intent to oppose the war in Vietnam. They invited white GI's who agreed with their aims to join them, and many did. And they began to grow. They circulated a petition demanding the right to meet on base and gained 300 signatures in 3 days. One GI was arrested for circulating the petition but was then acquitted. The army began to sweat, and
decided they would have to get the leaders. Their chance - or so they thought came at a spontaneous rap session on the barracks lawn, which was attended by over 200 GI's. Pulley, Joe Cole, and others spoke about the war and about racism, and their opinions on what causes these things and how to end them. Although the army authorities made no move to break the meeting up, the next day 9 Gi's were arrested. One of them turned out to be an army spy. Charges against him were quickly dropped. The remaining 8 were charged with disrespect, failure to disperse, etc. But a national campaign was started to defend them, and in the face of it, the army backed down and dropped all charges against the men.
After Pulley's speech, there was a lively discussion about ways of organizing. Pulley attacked the idea that GIs should go underground, and defended open organizing. But the most interesting and most productive discussion came later, at a GIs-only meeting which was held at the home of a GI. Both civilians and GIs had felt that such a meeting would be a good way for the GI's to develop their own leadership. There was a feeling of real enthusiasm and ambition at this meeting, as we discussed with Pulley the most effective ways of organizing, and how we could combine on-post activities with participation in mass actions. As a result, we voted to form a GI's United Against the War in Vietnam at Fort Lewis and McChord. It was agreed that our main purpose would be two-fold; to oppose the war in Vietnam and to demand an end to racism in the army. Racism is used by the military authorities to promote division and prevent the joining of black and white GIs in a common purpose - such as oppostition to this war which is in the interests of none of us.
It was agreed that we should organize for these aims openly, attempting to build a mass movement, and to contribute to the national mass movement. We will use our constitutional rights to the fullest extent and whenever the army tries to deny us these rights we will fight back and expose the actions of the army and it's attempt to silence dissent. If we do this, the army will learn that it has to pay a high price to repress us, because each attempt will result not in our silence but in our being able to reach more people with the truth. Come and help us organize GIs United. We have so much to gain by getting together.
Counterpoint, vol. 2, no. 15