Library - Reading Room

Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!

A Report From Tacoma

I'd like to begin by explaining that he reason this is being written by an individual instead of collectively is that I'm "on vacation" in San Francisco for a few days and staying with Donna who has just, informed me that she wants to begin putting the newsletter together tomorrow and needs the Tacoma report immediately. A public apology is in order, both to my fellow staff members and to everyone reading this, and I do sincerely apologize for my effrontery.

After going through a severe staff shortage (at one point there were only two full-time workers) followed by the pains of trying to get a suddenly too large staff together we have finally gotten the staff into good working condition. Presently there are six of us: Stan Anderson (who was part of the original Shelter Half staff, left for a few months to work in the UFO and has now returned), Barbara Garson, Jane Margolis, Jim Moraga, Matt Rinaldi and myself (Judy Olasov). Needless to say, during our "critical periods" we were forced to concentrate on keeping the coffee house going physically and there's really nothing to say about that except that we (somehow) managed to make it through. Barbara, when she arrived at the end of May, started right in doing some great publicity work (which, of course, we knew all along was necessary but never seemed to have the time to do consistently or effectively, with the exception of spasmodic leafletting) which has introduced many new guys to the Shelter Half. (Hint: Barbara discovered that since we're a non-profit corporation many radio stations will advertise our films, entertainers, etc. as "public service announcements".) Barbara has also made arrangements with a Seattle radio station for us to have a regular program which will be a sort of "Radio Free Fort Lewis" until the fort succeeds in pressuring the station to kick us off the air.

Our mimeo machine was broken for a while, but we got it repaired several days ago and are keeping it in the coffee house. We've put up a sign announcing that the machine is available to anyone desiring to make use of it and hope that the resuit will be the growth of company newspapers.

Nixon's "first big pull-out" was an incredibly cruel joke. The vast majority of the 814 men were due to get out of the Army immediately upon their return. Their last week in Nam was spent practising drilling and marching, then they get back to the States, are issued new jungle gear and fatigues (wonder how much that cost?) minus-field jackets and have to march and stand through ridiculous speeches in cold rain. Meanwhile, Fort Lewis, which usually ships out 800 men a week to Vietnam, has been shipping out 800 a DAY since June 27 (about the time Nixon first made his announcement) with no let-up in sight. The present figures for Lewis average out to four guys going over for each one coming back. Yeah, Dickie baby, tell us how you're gonna get our men out of Vietnam

Meanwhile, as more men file for CO status, the brass gets more uptight. The new commander of the holding company in overseas Replacement has announced that he can't stand CO's and has told men that if they withdraw their applications they'll be given Article 15's and light sentences but if they don't they'll get 6 months' confinement with a 2/3 pay cut and still go to Nam. He won't allow men to see the Inspector General and has been speeding up their trials (one day 150 men were tried). And, of course, the hijackings continue.

A military counselor from Seattle has been coming to the coffee house once a week. Sometime in September we'll be getting our "own" military counselor who will be in the coffee house every night.

We've been showing films every week and would greatly appreciate it if the other coffee houses would recommend good films to us. There's usually a fairly good number of men at the films, but there are relatively few good discussions afterwards (probably due to poor selection of films).

I guess most of you have heard about the "invasion" of Fort Lewis and are wondering what it was all about. It was simply a publicity stunt on the part of about 30 civilians (YSA and Swp). They entered the fort on rafts on American Lake and were immediately kicked off post. They declared the invasion a success because it was an overwhelming failure (rationale: if the U.S. can say it's winning in Vietnam when they're failing overwhelmingly... ). My personal opinion is that stylistically it was a gassy thing, but politically and strategically their timing was way off because of the peculiar condition Lewis is in right now. Sometime in the middle of May the brass at Lewis discovered that some weapons were missing. A rumor started circulating that more weapons were going to be stolen. The guard all over base was. doubled and each guard was issued five rounds of live ammo for his M-16 or .45. Shortly thereafter the sniping began. No one has any idea who was doing the sniping, but whoever it was was totally indiscriminate. We know definately of only one sniper death (a man who was shot while on guard duty) because the Army is trying to cover it up, but we're pretty sure that several men have been killed and several others wounded. The snipings seem to have stopped and it's my personal opinion that conditions would have returned to normal had it not been for the announced "invasion" which seems to have served to fortify the'' brass' uneasLness. So, the guard continues to be.1 double, the men are still issued live ammo and a man was killed four days ago when a guard's gun went off accidently. Needless to say, it is the average EM who is suffering by having to pull guard duty twice as often.

Stan and Randy's appeal is presently scheduled for sometime in January. We're going to keep trying to put it off as long as possible because our lease expires in a year and it's pretty definate that the landlords won't renew it. (Our landlords, by theway, are the International Order of Odd Fellows. They hold meetings and drills upstairs and occasionally one of them comes clomping in in full regalia, sword clanking at his side, to announce that if we don't turn the volume on the stereo down he's going to terminate the lease and padlock the door.) If we have to move we plan to move out of Tacoma to one of the small towns closer to base. Therefore, since the only reason for fighting-the conviction is to protect our license we'' Oould drop the appeal if the coffee house were no longer under. Tacoma jurisdiction.

Guess that's it until next time.

New SOS News, vol. 1, no. 4


© 2005 Displaced Films. All Rights Reserved