Library - Reading Room
Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Free All Political Prisoners
Fort Hood... On December 20th the Court Martial of Pvt Richard Chase for refusing an order to train for riot control ended with Chase being convicted and sentenced to two years hard laabor at Leavenworth and a Dishonorable Discharge,
Fort Hood is the largest Armored Post in the U.S. Army, Because it is comprised mainly of GIs who are back from Nam, it serves as a priority riot control center. The Brass thinks that once GIs have been forced to wage war against people fighting for liberation in Vietnam, they will easily adapt to fighting against peoples struggling for justice in this country.
Fortunately, the Brass has been mistaken in their analysis. There has been a history of resistance to riot control at Fort Hood. The Fort Hood 43 (Black GIs who refused to go to Chicago for the Democratic Convention in August of 1968) is the most widely known example. Opposition ranges from turning mock riots into rebellions against the Brass to disruption of indoctrination classes. We must view Chase's case not simply as a moral stand, but as a part of the continuing history of resistance to riot control at Fort Hood.
In January, 1969, Chase was assigned to the 2nd Armored Division, where he informed his First Sergeant and Commanding Officer that he was a Conscientious Objector and could not participate in riot control training. He was given "unofficial C.O. status" and became the company clerk.
But in June, he began talking to other GIs about the war in Vietnam and the need for GIs to organize to defend their rights. He started working on the antiwar GI paper Fatigue Press and frequenting the Oleo Strut coffeehouse.
The Brass decided to get rid of this "troublemaker." On September 11, Chase's CO gave him a direct order to participate in riot control training - an order which the officer knew he would refuse. Chase, citing the way in which riot control units have been used to suppress the legitimate protests of Black communities, declared that he would not help the Army train for the suppression of people whose protests he fully supported. Chase was then read general court martial charges for refusing the order. Two weeks later he was placed in the stockade in "pre-trial confinement." (By way of contrast, note that Lt. William Calley, who is charged with the murder of more than 100 human beings, is allowed the freedom of Fort Benning.) Then he was placed in solitary confinement for 10 days and was beaten by guards on four separate occasions. Chase was back in solitary again November 29th and stayed there until his trial began on December 18th. During his incarceration Chase was denied access to attornies and his mail was stopped.
The pressure the Richard Chase Defense Committee put on the Brass is the only reason Chase was not given a full five year sentence. Although the Committee demand to free Chase was not met, they will continue to press that demand until Chase is freed. Appeals are being filed in both Military Appellate and Federal Courts. Chase said: "They couldn't prove I was guilty because everyone knows I am innocent. I say Free Chase! Free Huey Free the Vietnamese ! Free All People! Power to the People!"
Chase and other GIs don't view this as defeat. When Chase was sentenced instead of saluting the officers on the board he gave them a clenched fist and a V sign and walked away. FREE RICHARD CHASE!
Left Face, no. 5