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VVAW's Memories of 1971 Guestbook

1971 was a year of intense struggle, and growth, for VVAW.

2021 is the 50th anniversary of many of VVAW’s iconic actions - national, regional, and local:
the Playboy ad, the Winter Soldier Investigations, Operation Dewey Canyon III, Operation POW, Operation Peace on Earth, and more.

VVAW is collecting the stories, photos, and videos we have in an easy-to-access location on our website www.vvaw.org/1971_50years/.

We would like to invite you to add your stories, for publication on our website and possibly in The Veteran as well.

If you'd like to sign this guestbook, please use the form at the bottom of the page.

To submit longer articles or photos, email vvaw@vvaw.org.


12/4/20 at 12:19— Marty Webster writes:
There will always be a VVAW

12/9/20 at 08:35— Andy Berman writes:
I was in basic training at Fort Lewis when VVAW held Dewey Canyon III in Washington, DC in the Spring of 1971. The intense drama of Vietnam vets throwing their medals over the fence onto the Capitol was reflected in the demeanor of the new recruits. You could see it in their eyes and hear it in their nervous conversations about what was happening 3000 miles away. A few made crude disparaging remarks about it. Most were sober and struggling to understand it. Many of those recruits later wound up in Vietnam. I often wonder how the VVAW demonstrations impacted them when they arrived in Vietnam.

12/9/20 at 10:38— Patrick Francis McCann writes:
1971, December 4th to be exact, was when this active-duty GI (USAF) began his 50-year journey as a freedom fighter. I attended the 2nd anniversary of Fred Hampton's murder by the Chicago police and the FBI. Left the Southside Chicago church that night no longer 'their' soldier. Been a member of VVAW since 1973.

12/9/20 at 11:24— Bart House writes:
I was 18 that year.
This was the first draft year that Selective Service abolished the College Deferment.
I was totally against the War.
I applied for Conscientious Objector Status from my local draft board.
I was denied. I appealed. I was denied again
I enlisted in the Navy in 1972

12/9/20 at 11:42— Jim Wohlgemuth writes:
1971 and I was still on the Westchester County LST 1167 off the coast near the Mekong. We just floated back and forth supplying attack helicopters and PBRs. My frustration at our mindless assignments was numbed by visits to Hong Kong, Singapore, Subic, and Yokosuka and being 500days short and counting

12/20/20 at 16:42— Paul Tabone writes:
1971 meant I was back in the world for a whole year that July 20th. Being lucky and drawing an 11B MOS gave me the opportunities to see the war up front and personal. Fortunately I had more good times than bad in the Northern I Corps. I did go to a VVAW meeting in my town but at that time I couldn't connect. Some years later I finally decided that I owed it to myself and joined again, this time as a Life Member. I tend to be more a supporter than a doer, but that's my problem, nobody else's. I have learned that I trust nothing related to the US Military. Never did and never will. The USG is only concerned with making the military bigger and bigger. Now we even have a "Space Patrol" WTF?

12/23/20 at 15:10— John Zutz writes:
I came home from Nam on Veterans Day '69, but I still had more than 6months left to serve, so they wouldn't discharge me. I was stationed in California when the "big" actions happened, but I could buy Playboy at the PX. I kept the flag-draped casket inside my locker, and I still have it on my wall. I was a late comer, but I thank all of you who led the way.

12/28/20 at 10:11— Joseph T. Miller writes:
Chicago, April, 1971. Since I was not able to attend any VVAW events away from home, my wife Linda and our daughter Lisa joined me in the April 24, 1971, march in Chicago. Lisa was only five, so we had her in a stroller. As we marched, the chants bounced off the buildings on State Street. "One, two, three, four, we don't want your fucking war!" was among the most popular. The next day, we were at my folks' place for Sunday dinner. Five-year-old Lisa, dressed in her Sunday finest, began marching around the living room shouting "One, two, three, four, we don't want your fucking war!" My wife laughed, my parents were shocked, and I caught hell that day. I was so proud of my daughter, though. I still am.

1/14/21 at 12:55— Jeffrey Goldin writes:
I was the 1st person in the USAF to go on a hunger strike in protest to the Vietnam War. That was in April 1968. I was handcuffed to my bunk and beaten by the APs assigned to watch over me. You can read about this in "Sir No Sir". I received an Undesirable Discharge in 1968, I became very active in the movement to end the war. In 1977 I received amnesty from President Carter and was upgraded to an Honorable Discharge.

1/27/21 at 11:23— Bobby Clarke writes:
I spent two years in Thailand loading weapons on F4 jet fighters 1968-1970. While still serving back in the states I saw an ad for VVAW in Playboy. When I was discharged I investigated VVAW locally and there was no official Pittsburgh Chapter. I did become aquatinted with a vet who had been to Dewey Canyon and together we started up the Pittsburgh Chapter. I’m mentioned in the attached VVAW article.
http://www.vvaw.org/veteran/article/?id=3888

1/28/21 at 08:36— Mike Turek writes:
With help from the Hawaii People’s Coalition For Peace and Justice, we planned an anti-war demonstration. On a Sunday in May 1971, 70 short haired young men, soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen dressed in Hippie garb demonstrated against the Vietnam War and Militarism at the front gates of Schoffield Barracks Army Base.

1/29/21 at 13:08— Joe Bangert writes:
Ah! 1971. Where to begin.
Maybe Allamuchy?

2/14/21 at 09:52— Thomas Nelson writes:
US Army veteran I returned from RVN 8/70 I had been overseas for 18mo and wasn’t 20yo yet. I was with the 5th Mech in N I corps. The guys who participated with me during Dewey Canyon III have passed we spent I don’t know how many days there it was Amazing!
To those who didn’t run
From those who didn’t forget!

2/14/21 at 15:19— Jim Payne writes:
In July, 1970 I was discharged from the USAF to attend school at the Univ. of Wisc.-GB. There I met fellow vet Bill Van Oss and together we started the UW-GB chapter of VVAW signing up many vets and marching in Madison.

2/23/21 at 04:52— Dave Carr writes:
February 1971: with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Danang.
April 1971: with the VVAW in DC for Dewey Canyon III.
Made my head spin.

3/14/21 at 07:30— Dave Carr writes:
Immediately after Dewey Canyon III, I wrote an article for the 'Pittsburgh Fair Witness' newspaper detailing the events. It was written as a letter to someone who was still in Viet Nam. I couldn’t find a copy of it but no matter. There are many other, more complete sources. See, for example, Gerald Nicosia’s 'Home to War' where he devotes 60 pages to DC III, plus all the info here on vvaw.org. Rather I will just relate a couple memories.

Memory 1: I'm sure many there remember the concerted effort to work with the DC Park Police to get enough trash cans etc. so we could keep our section of the Mall clean - a task we knew well.

Memory 2: I think the following occurred on Wednesday night, but I could be wrong. The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite devoted a good portion of that evening's program to interviews with folks at DC III. Also there were a number of "government provocateurs" that were hanging around. With their relative clean looks and new-looking jeans they stood out like sore thumbs. It appeared that they were trying to provoke a violent response from us. We basically ignored them but they were becoming a pain so one of the organizers got on the microphone and asked us all to go to our own areas (we were divided into state or city or other groups where we had set up our sleeping bags and gear), sit down, and don't let anyone into our area that we didn't know. That left two or three(?) dozen of these provocateurs walking around...with nothing to do. They left. Sorry Tricky Dick, it didn't work.

3/25/21 at 07:02— Otmar Fischbach writes:
It is April, 1971. this is a peace rally gathering at the great mall in Washington DC. I was there (somewhere in the crowd on the left side of this photo). The rally was sponsored by 'The Vietnam Veterans Against the War.' Navy veteran John Kerry was there and would address the congress, calling for an end to the Vietnam war. Later that day, small white milk truck type vans pulled up to the gathering and with a bullhorn announced that Richard Nixon had made a speech to the nation saying he did not believe even a third of the people gathered at the mall were actually military veterans. So the guys on the truck wanted the names and military serial numbers of any veterans there. Write your name on a piece of paper and they would present those names to Richard Nixon. People were running up to the vans to give them a piece of paper; I was one of the many that handed over my name to the people in those vans. much later, thinking back on the event, I realized that I never heard another word about Nixon having read the names, or accepting the fact that there were veterans calling for an end to the war. I never heard anything more about it until .. until years later when the Watergate investigation revealed that Nixon had compiled an enemies list. It was further explained that Nixon had two such lists; one was of celebrities and well known personages that expressed opposition to the war, like Jane Fonda, Abby Hoffman, Joan Baez, etc.; the other list was of regular citizens that were not so well known. It was reported that Nixon had more than 50 thousand names on that second list. When I heard that I asked myself, "Where in the hell did Nixon get 50 thousand names from..?" .. and then I thought back to that day in DC, when those vans pulled up, with bullhorns and they wanted ........ and i realized that Tricky Dick had struck again.

3/25/21 at 05:59— Michael F. Turek writes:
By 1971 I was fed up with the military, agreeing with Charles Simic, a U.S. Army veteran who had lived under communism in Eastern Europe. “Being in a military is like being a citizen of a totalitarian state. Nobody gives a damn who you are and what you think.” Adding to my disenchantment were the invasion of Cambodia, Kent State, Woodstock, Vietnam Veterans Against the War – the Winter Soldier Campaign, napalm, carpet bombing, body counts, My Lai, nuclear war games and a growing chorus of anti-war protestors. I decided to do something, I became involved in the G.I. Movement Against War and Militarism.
With help from the Hawaii People’s Coalition For Peace and Justice, we planned an anti-war demonstration. On a Sunday in May 1971, 70 short haired young men, soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen dressed in Hippie garb demonstrated against the Vietnam War and Militarism at the front gates of Schoffield Barracks Army Base.
The G.I.s were quiet, at ease, some with signs, mostly saying hurray for our side. Cars drove past, some people waved their hands, fingers spread in the peace sign, others gave us the finger. On the other side of the gates white helmeted MPs stood at parade rest and men in civvies took pictures with expensive cameras, their long telephoto lens sweeping the crowd. No one was in uniform and we had a permit. We were legally expressing our First Amendment rights, something we were told we were fighting for.
On that sunny Sunday morning in May we weren’t rounded up by the MPs or busted by the police. After an hour or so we disbanded, heading back to our barracks and ships. Several weeks later I received orders for Thule Air Base, Greenland.

3/26/21 at 08:09— Joseph Griffin writes:
Count me in! Joined VVAW while passing out flyers for massage parlor. Hungry. Went upstairs talked with Ed Damato. Had done 3 years in 3d armored division 66-68 1049d in 67 to take my twin brothers place in vietnam. He did the sanh for 77 days and survived. He wouldn't leave. I did not take THE december 22 plane. Army comm center wiped out february 10 68. Rode to DC with Ed and threw my ndm over the fence. Kept phtogs from stealing medals other side of fence. Was arrested Supreme Court. Probably only vet dewey canyon that did not serve in vietnam. Proud to serve til 74 in VVAW.

3/26/21 at 08:10— Sam Adams writes:
I was in VN, a grunt in the 101st, when I read about DCIII in Stars and Stripes. You guys were my heros. Joined VVAW in 72, 1st week home, at the Philly office on S. 13th street. Rolled down to the Repub Miami Convention in 72. ALL THE WAY!

3/26/21 at 08:11— Mitchell Bober writes:
First: It was cold for April in DC. I had only been back in world for a few weeks and hadn't adapted to winter. My sleeping bag was summer weight. I froze. Damn it was cold.
Second: several Maryland vets visited with our Senator, Charles "Mac" Mathias (R-MD) in his office. Old style Republican--fiscal conservative, social progressive--decent person. We were hoping to get a state flag or banner to hang in the tree where we were gathered. We thought he could help. I was stunned when he gave us the silken beauty that stood next to his desk. Just like that!
We told him that we would return his flag on Friday. I thought he believed that the flag was history, never to be seen again. Friday afternoon we returned the Senator's flag. He must have been surprised.
Before we broke camp, VVAW planted a tree on the Mall. Being there helped this vet!

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