The VVAW 50th Anniversary Guestbook
Five decades of struggle—and five decades of memories.
We realize everyone can't be in the same place for VVAW's 50th anniversary celebrations.
You can use the form below to share your memories and stories below to the VVAW web-site.
Share thoughts of fallen comrades, stories of VVAW actions, anything related to VVAW's 50 years of struggle.
We know you have the stories, take this opportunity to share them.
If you'd like to sign this guestbook, please use the form at the bottom of the page.
7/11/17 at 21:51— Tim Connelly writes:
I was with 142nd Med Det. Long Binh in 1971. We ran a dispensary. One day, the x-ray tech got some info in the mail from VVAW. Some literature along with a few buttons. I was hooked because I hated what the crap that was going on. I wish I still had that button.
7/11/17 at 23:50— Muriel Hogan and Fred Wallace writes:
Fred was a draft resister and an activist with CAMP in Chicago. I was an Air Force brat looking for allies on the left. VVAW recruited us because they needed help with research on Agent Orange. VVAW is a true working-class organization. It's been a wonderful ride!
7/12/17 at 07:19— Peter P Mahoney writes:
This is an old story. Back in 1973, I was on trial in Gainesville Florida for conspiracy to incite a riot at the Republican Convention in Miami Beach, the Gainesville 8 case.
I had just had a particularly bad day in court. The man I had considered to be my best friend had just turned up on the witness stand as an FBI informer, and proceeded to testify (and lie) against me.
After the court day, we were on our way for the marathon lawyer/defendant meetings that happened every day, and we stopped by a local pizza parlor to grab a couple of pies for the evening.
The guy behind the counter was classic redneck -- t-shirt, crew cut, beer belly, an American flag on the wall behind him. Needless to say, me and my fellow defendants were rather well-known in those parts in those days, and our bearded, pony-tailed, anti-war-buttoned appearance contrasted rather starkly with our pizza parlor host. As we were waiting for the pies, the man continually scowled at us in what seemed to be a particularly disapproving way; I was honestly worried he might jump over the counter and assault us, or maybe just refuse to sell us pizza.
I was wrong.
When the pies came, the man gave them to us, shook our hands, and wished us good luck. He also refused to take payment for the pies.
I needed that.
7/12/17 at 09:59— Katherine P. Meloan writes:
In memory of Thomas Bond Gerding, Sgt, 5th Marines, In country 1965- 1967. Tom embodied the highest ideals of the Marine Corps. He was a fierce warrior, a true and loyal friend and, somewhat paradoxically, a sweet and gentle soul. Tom was a fine musician, sharing his love and vision of peace through his music, and the example of his generous, selfless life. He died of a rare cancer, almost certainly from agent orange, while waiting patiently for years for a decision on his VA disability claim that never came. You are sorely missed and deeply loved Dearest Brother. Always and forever, Your Katie
7/12/17 at 10:54— Robert Lindstrom writes:
In 65-66 I was a corpsman with 2nd platoon, H/2/9 3rd Mar Div. We were digging in in the loose red soil near a ville outside Da Nang. I was right next to one of the platoon Sargeants. I had a modest hole, the Sgt went deep,laid some bamboo across the top,covered that with a C-rats jacket, and shoveled dirt over all that.
Next morning I awoke to a hell of a racket cursing and loud animal noises.
Seems a large hog had wandered across,and went through his cleverly camoflaged roof. An old Vietnamese farmer stood by shaking with laughter.
As the animal made his unceremonious escape, I said:"I know we been out here a long time Sarge,but GOD-DAMN SHE WAS UGLY!!!
7/12/17 at 11:55— Marc E. Chartier writes:
Corpsman, RVN, 1969
7/13/17 at 17:51— William M Kellogg. writes:
I was in Germany, 1962 to 1965. The "Overseas Weekly" was writing articles about issues in Vietnam. That is why I joined the VVAW. One of the guys in the 4th Armored Division.
7/14/17 at 16:26— Rich Kopro writes:
I've been a quite member of VVAW for several years. All I wish to say is RIP to my friend and classmate EUGENE HENDRICKS, USAF, shot down and killed in Vietnam.
7/14/17 at 21:39— Bill Tiwald writes:
I am a peace activist for what is now nearly 50 years. The Vietnam War Veterans and the Vietnam Veterans Against the War are the salt of the earth that make me proud.
7/15/17 at 20:09— Michael Nosera writes:
My favorite phrase: What're you going to do Lieutenant? Draft me and send me to Vietnam?
7/17/17 at 16:18— Jerry Gioglio writes:
Not feeling much like a civilian or a veteran, I came late to VVAW--not until the 1980s when vets of all stripes (combat, era, resisters, etc.,) began to share their stories...been a member since. Good people, on the right side of history; patriots waging peace, using the "weapons of the Spirit." Thank you.
7/18/17 at 03:46— Thomas [Tom] Baxter writes:
I was with the 618 and 509 HEM Co (GS) 1967-1969. Help start the local chapter in Tallahassee in 1970. Spent a lot of April-May 71 in DC. Stayed on for non-VVAW endorsed MayDay actions, got illegally detained and ended up getting $1000 for every night I spent imprisoned. Been a VVAW and ACLU member ever since. Any more Capitol Steps vets out there?
7/20/17 at 05:57— maurice simon writes:
drafted 68-69, 15 months in Nam; combat medic 1st infantry. member VVAW since 71 Suffolk County Community College, NY. bless the animals and those who save them.
7/21/17 at 07:30— Mike Woloshin, Chicago Chapter writes:
VVAW Memories: Becoming 1/4 of the Wright College Chapter (Sept. 1971); Maoists: On a working party to move the "Chicago Seed" office, dogs confined to office for security shit everywhere. One Maoist exclaimed, "It smells like pre-revolutionary China in here." I couldn't stop laughing! Does shit smell any sweeter after the Chinese revolution than before? (March 1973); Rejoined Chicago Chapter 1980; Bill Davis barbecuing stewing chickens tougher than old boots. Razzed him for that for years! Events: Milwaukee Chapter Campouts (1980's); Dewey Canyon IV (D.C. 1982); Anniversaries: 20th (Chicago 1987), 25th (NYC 1992), 30th (Chicago 1997), 35th (Milwaukee 2002), 40th (Chicago 2007). Remembering Brothers Passed: Bill Davis, Chris Molloy, Lee Channing, Mike Sutton, Dave Cline, Dave Curry, "Wacky Jack" McCloskey and too many others to list here.
7/23/17 at 14:46— Judy Posusney writes:
VVAW is so much a part of my life that I can't remember when it started. I just remember being a college student and vehemently anti-Vietnam war. My brothers from high school disappeared and those in college were next to go. The war made no sense to me or my working-class family. The government was the only one interested in the war and me and my friends were angry. To say the least. So every demonstration I could get to I did and loved it. I was able to shout yell and scream out now, or stop the war, or bring our boys home.
I was living in jersey city, NJ when I met dave blalock, and dave cline through my soon to be first husband mike grew. And I met more Vets after that...I was a singer in one anti imperialist group or another, and we sang at the bulk mail center in JC, NJ during the national strike. A number of Vets worked there.
My memory fails me a lot from then, but I can say that VVAW was always present at the demos, leading the fight. I will never forget the sights and sounds of them marching in cadence in Manhattan. The buildings echoed with the sound of their boots hitting the ground. Serious shit. Still gives me chills!
These men fought a war, came back, and then fought the establishment here at home. They fought to bring the rest of their brothers home. And against the lingering effects of agent orange...test, treat, compensate. Single type discharge for all Vets.
And they are still here and fighting for peace and justice.
Peace and love to you all.
7/23/17 at 17:20— Jack Mallory writes:
When I get the, "Thank you for your service," platitude, the only way I can respond politely is by telling myself that they are thanking me for my work with VVAW. That is the one thing I can be proud of from from my time in the "Vietnam" War. Thank you, brothers and sisters.
7/23/17 at 18:57— Helen Schneider Willey writes:
Guerilla theater in the main park (can't remember it's name this minute) in St Louis. Part of the idea of bringing-the-war-home thinking (for all those folks who could ignore the nightly news).
We'd have people out having a picnic on the grass. Then "soliders" would sweep down using the then-available-toy-guns-that-looked-real on those picnic-ers....just acting, no fake blood or anything.
Then, we'd hand stand up and hand-out flyers about ending the War.
Also, having those toys in the back of my car (ancient VW, so behind the seat and they'd poke up). Met vets that way, 'cause to the non-vet populace, these were toys. To a vet.....it was WTF's in the back of your car, lady?
7/23/17 at 19:29— Stiofain Goff writes:
About 1972, VVAW (L.A.) had a space at The Peace Action Committee office, believe it was on Arlington Blvd. It was in a largely in a black neighbour, half a block
away was a beer bar, it had great cheeseburgers and, I dare say, unbelievable peach!
As far as war: I landed in the night at Tan Son Nhut AB on 29 Jan '68.
7/24/17 at 02:44— tina braxton writes:
I wasn't a soldier. But I joined your marches, whenever possible. Brought my children, in their strollers. Very proud to share the streets with you.
7/24/17 at 08:04— Rick Chalek writes:
Member since January 1971, and "veteran" of Dewey Canyon III. Wherever my medals and ribbons 'live' today, I'm still proud to have divested myself of them on the Capitol steps that day in April. Proud to have sat directly behind John Kerry at both the Sen. Armed Svcs. and Sen. Foreign Relations Committee hearings that April, and even prouder to have made it to Nixon's "Enemies List." Peace in the World, please.
7/31/17 at 19:29— Frank Toner writes:
I was a medic and also a Conscientious Objector. I was with an artillery unit but never formed a close or lasting relationship. I found out about VVAW about a month before the Winter Soldier hearings in Detroit. I joined immediately and felt right at home. Besides driving a car full of people to Detroit, I had no other responsibilities. So I soaked in the testimonies and went to the great "Crosby Stills, and Nash concert--still my favorite concert ever.
Dewey Canon III was amazing and I was more than happy to throw my medals onto the steps of Congress. After that I made the decision to organize locally and was pleased to help make the Brooklyn Chapter one of the biggest VVAW chapters in the country. We truly became a community for peace and at last I formed some of the closest and lasting friendships of my life.
8/1/17 at 16:42— Mark Fleming writes:
I was a grunt with the 1st Cav in Vietnam when I read about Dewey Canyon III and was electrified to learn that GIs and veterans were protesting the war. I immediately became a sympathizer. Back home, between the complete drawdown of American forces and the challenge of becoming a civilian once more, I lost track of VVAW but was happy to find out that it was still active in the mid-80's. I've been a member ever since.
8/2/17 at 14:26— Andy Berman writes:
History will record, indeed it has already recorded, VVAW as the most effective anti-war organization in contemporary American history. I am proud to have been a member and supporter of VVAW for virtually all of its history. I was in basic training at Fort Lewis when the medals were tossed over the fence at Dewey Canyon III. I saw in the faces of my fellow soldiers that something historic was happening and it would finally move the American public to stand against the war. But VVAW's honor did not end there. Over the years it has proven to be a reliable custodian of progressive thinking on the difficult issues of our times. That VVAW broke with much of the US left over Bosnia showed above all that it was not beholden to dogmatic ideologies. With regret I cannot attend the 50th Anniversary celebrations, but my heart and mind will be there and with VVAW forever.
8/3/17 at 18:42— Jim Hale writes:
Proud of all we've done. Was with Miami Fla chapter, Scott Camil my reg coordinator. Still bros! Proud of Last Patrol (for all coming to my home county!) and the Silent March on Miami Beach to confront Nixon. Remember Flamingo Park! Proud of our War on the VA! Occupations and non violent civil disobedience at Miami VA and so many others actually pushed PVS to = PTS.
I wont make it up there, Arkansas is too far. I'm kinda old. I'm on facebook Hoa Binh
8/3/17 at 19:22— Joseph T. Miller writes:
I joined VVAW in Chicago in late 1970. I was recruited by Bart Savage. I was as active as I could be, since I had a family, a full-time job, and I was taking a full schedule of classes at Circle Campus. Meetings took place in a sparsely-furnished North side apartment, and I recall attendance being around 30 or 40 guys. I recall one action at O'Hare Airport on New Year's Eve 1971, handing out leaflets telling folks that troops from Vietnam should be coming home on those planes. Then, on "Armed Farces Day" in May 1972, we participated in a large march around the perimeter of Great Lakes Naval Training Center, where I had first trained back in 1961. My family and I left Chicago in June of 1972, but I always felt I continued to be a member of VVAW. Often wonder whatever happened to Bart Savage?
8/10/17 at 07:53— Daniel C. Lavery writes:
A Vietnam Confrontation at Berkeley
(Excerpt from All the Difference)
When the ship I navigated, USS Oak Hill, docked in San Francisco, before we took 300 marines to Vietnam, I called friend Jerry Cohen, whom I had met in Japan. He attended Law School in his third year at UC Berkeley.
“Jerry, my ship’s going to dry dock in Oakland. Let’s get together.”
“You should play softball with some of my friends.”
“I’d love to.”
I wondered what changes Jerry may have undergone in a city filled with radical politics, the free speech movement, and anti-Vietnam War protests.
He waited at his apartment with other Berkeley grad students in jeans, baseball hats, and tennis shoes. Most had long hair, beards, and mustaches.
After that spirited game, he invited us to his apartment. Jerry and his wife had an enormous library filled with great literature, history, politics, philosophy, law, and much more. Jerry mixed gin and tonics and served pepperoni pizza. His friends studied Law, English, Comparative Lit, and History. Jerry asked, “What does a navigator do to get your ship through the Golden Gate Bridge?”
“Ensure we passed safely under the Golden Gate at 8:00 A.M.”
Remarks flew: “Wow,” “That’s cool,” and “How did you do that?”
“The navigator keeps accurate estimates taking account of wind, and current to adjust our speed to avoid other craft entering and leaving San Francisco Bay.” Making an exact arrival time seemed simple to me as I had radar fixes, and quartermasters citing landmarks visually as I charted our approach. The group of students, however, made it sound difficult and congratulated me on what seemed to them remarkable.
The mellow mood shifted dramatically as Jerry spat out, “Lavery, why the hell are we in Vietnam?”
“To stop communist aggression into a neutral weak country that needs our military support.”
Unexpected laughter greeted my simple explanation.
“A tall bearded law student said, “Where did you learn that?”
“Naval Academy courses in Far East History and counter-insurgency, and Defense Department articles.”
A history student asked, “Don’t you remember Dien Bien Phu?”
“The French colonial army lost the civil war to the Vietminh. The seventeenth parallel separated North and South Vietnam at the Geneva Conference with an agreement that free elections would take place in two years. One dictator after another ruled the South, they held no elections, and we backed them ever since.”
“So you don’t think the Viet Cong are communist terrorists?”
“The Viet Cong are fighting a civil war against the unpopular regime. Ho Chi Minh assists with supplies and his army.”
His explanations calmly cut into my simplistic statement but I felt compelled to defend our position. “After our ships were attacked by torpedo boats at the Gulf of Tonkin, Congress authorized President Johnson to respond with an executive order to repel unprovoked aggression.”
Jerry added, “That was a false report. Our ships were not attacked on August 4, 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin, but Johnson used the Congressional resolution to launch an illegal war on North Vietnam. Two nights before the claimed attack, our airplanes and CIA boats bombarded the North Vietnamese coastline and islands.”
My anger grew. I had friends in Vietnam. Some had died there. After a deep breath, “How did you learn that?"
Jerry admitted, “We attended a teach-in by Norman Mailer who demonstrated the lack of international support for Johnson’s war, the illegal and false basis for it, and the hideous civilian casualties.”
“That’s a bunch of left wing crap.”
The history student added, “An expert described the burns to humans from napalm and explained how our anti-personnel bombs sent millions of razor sharp fletchets spinning to the ground and slicing up any living thing in an area the size of a football field.”
Another responded, “They characterized the B-52 carpet-bombing as a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.”
I could not counter their passionate, historical, and humanitarian arguments.
Jerry continued, “Johnson used the domino theory to justify invading Vietnam to stop the communist from expansion in South East Asia. He claimed if we didn’t prevail, all the neighboring countries would soon come under communist rule from Russia and China. Most scholars disagree with that assessment because the Chinese are traditional enemies of the Vietnamese.”
I had to challenge these critics when our troops were involved in combat, “You sound like you’ve been persuaded by left-wing radicals who don’t have access to our intelligence reports.”
Jerry said, “Much of that information comes from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearings. What’s left-wing about that, Lavery?”
After a moment of silence to consider his remark, I asked, “Do you have a copy I can read?”
“Sure. I’ll grab it off the shelf.” He found it among an array of books and handed it to me.
I scanned the book that included testimony from Dean Rusk, Secretary of State, and George Kennan, a well-respected expert in foreign relations. “Thanks, I’ll read it this week. What else do you suggest?”
“Ramparts, the New York Review of Books, and I.F. Stone’s Weekly. Take a few to check them out.”
“You must know they’re full of radical propaganda.”
“You don’t think the military feeds the troops propaganda?”
“I‘ve always gotten plenty of information from the Navy, Newsweek, and CBS. I’ve never heard anyone call that propaganda.”
“Read the Fulbright hearings, and you’ll see a lot of what the public is fed on is propaganda from the military industrial complex.”
This confrontation with sharp minds made me realize I hadn’t taken the time to study the background of the conflict. Gradually, I learned that many popular authorities, like Senators Fulbright, Frank Church, George McGovern, Wayne Morse, and others had made dissent against this War respectable.
These sources caused me to view more critically the Defense Department information. I started to ask myself why I had let my purpose in life drift so far from the values that had almost led me into the ministry. I began to consider for the first time that the peace marchers might be right. They weren’t wild-eyed radicals bent on tearing down America. They were impressive and intimidated me with their arguments.
I grew suspicious about our government’s motives. My father, teachers, and professors assured me that the United States had always done the right thing. Now the Vietnam War, which claimed thousands of American and millions of Vietnamese lives, seemed a horrendous mistake.
Berkeley will always stand as a beacon to me lighting a path for my future. This confrontation helped me learn to question authority. It sparked an awakening of critical thinking and moral outrage against our killing machine in Vietnam based on a lie. The empathy I had learned from my grandmother Ruthie, and now the Peace Movement returned and kindled inside me a new commitment to join Vietnam Vets For Peace. Finally, I was on fire!
8/10/17 at 09:27— Donald L. Mercer writes:
Went to OCSMCS~40thOCS, Quantico, VA as an enlisted member! Learned from EM's the terrible costs of the War while on Liberty going to the EM Club @ Quantico and talking with other EM's, who rotated back from that Hell! I was Gung Ho til then! Worked at AFES for almost 4 years before and after. I marched with VVAW at several events held in Milwaukee after and felt a kinship with them that lasts to this day!
8/10/17 at 09:50— John Fullerton writes:
I served on active duty in the Navy from 1962-1966, with no time in Vietnam or the Pacific theater. I completed my reserve time in 1968 convinced our U.S. involvement in Vietnam was wrong, counterproductive, and devastating to many of our veterans and to our economy. I joined VVAW about that time and have given monetary and prayer support ever since. I was pleased to see VVAW kind of reactivate itself with the 1st Gulf War and ever since. The mission of VVAW and its voice are very important in our national dialogue.
8/10/17 at 10:10— Edward Laurson writes:
In memory of Capt. Hugh Thompson Jr who did his best to stop the My Lai Massacre in 1968. His bravery and the action he took was courageous and helped expose US involvement in Vietnam.
Bless all in VVAW and the change that we all brought. Sgt E-5 Edward Laurson member since 1972.
8/10/17 at 11:48— Allen L Meece writes:
Sonar technician on USS Edwards that did gunfire support in the Danang area 1964 - 66. Viet Nam was a and there was a war there just because the capitalist knew there were socialists there. It felt so un-American to be killing little people in flip flops and rifles, in their own country, with our high tech materiel and big money.
It's great to have the VVAW still telling war like it is, fifty years after that imperialistic fake war began. Too bad this country never learns the Viet Nam lesson and is still tying to violently dominate socialism. There will always be a need for veterans to use their warfare credibility and speak out against the war-mongering big shots.
8/12/17 at 06:37— Mic Terry writes:
Ijoined VVAW a year after getting back from Vietnam when I met John Lindquist after getting in line behind him in a bank. I was a member of the Milwaukee Chapter and later the Chicago Chapter.
Even though I now live in New Zealand, I still wear my VVAW button and have found nothing but compliments about it here.
I miss you all but my health is poor and I can't make the journey back for the 50th.
You still have my heart and mind VVAW!
8/12/17 at 18:55— Steve Greene writes:
1967. Handing out leaflets anywhere from Times Square to Greenwich Village (the internet hadn't quite been invented yet). Having recently returned from Nam, I was now a foot soldier for Jan Barry (Crumb). Could not imagine the force for peace that VVAW would become. And I want to honor the many, many veterans who made this happen. I do want to pay tribute to Jan. Without his strength and guidance, things would have been very different.
8/13/17 at 07:44— Robert Mc Laughlin writes:
I was working independently as an anti-Viet Nam war vet in Middletown, CT.. When at the November 15, (I think) 1969 anti war March in Wash D. C. I saw a VVAW Connecticut banner and struck up a conversation with Andy Mellor and joined VVAW and was involved in every VVAW Operation Including Deweey Canyon III and the RNC in Miami 1972.I continued to be involved with VVAW up to 1975. When I moved to California. So I've been out of touch with all my former VVAW CT. comrades since then and I intend to be at the NYC VVAW 50th Annivercary Bash and hope to see some of them there. Bobert B Mc Laughlin
8/13/17 at 10:29— John Ketwig writes:
VVAW 50th Anniversary
Please pardon me. I wrote this in response to the request for 50th anniversary articles, then looked at the website to find mostly short, one or two-sentence comments or memories. This is what I feel needs to be said at this moment. I hope it doesn’t offend anyone.
Once upon a time, our government sent millions of us halfway around the planet to a primitive, poverty-stricken little country where we would be expected to stop the spread of communism. Very few of us were eager to go, but we went. Our reasons and rationalizations were numerous, but we went and we witnessed the most important event of our time. Some saw it from the Army perspective, some from the Navy or Air Force, or the Marines or Coast Guard, the SeaBees or as employees of a defense contractor, or even as journalists, officials of our government, or agents of the CIA. The war lasted almost ten years, and towards the end it looked far different from what it had seemed in the early days. Some of us saw it from Saigon or Cam Ranh Bay, the Mekong Delta or the Central Highlands. Some found themselves in Cambodia or Laos. There was no singular experience that defined our Vietnam, except that we all came home scarred.
We came home to find we had been caught in a time warp. Things were changing drastically in those days. America was dealing with civil rights issues, a communist enclave 90 miles from Florida, Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan introduced shocking new concepts of something called “feminism” and suddenly men were chauvinist pigs, there were a series of tragic assassinations, televisions appeared in the majority of American homes and changed our cultural landscape, from Mickey Mouse Club and Captain Kangaroo to Disney and Morey Safer’s reporting from the war zone. Society tried to deal with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, Racquel Welch and Twiggy, Playboy magazine and changing attitudes toward sex, Alan Shepherd and Apollo flights to the moon and back, John Wayne movies, muscle cars and early concern about the environment, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, “The Graduate” and “Easy Rider,” the Weathermen and the Symbionese Liberation Army, the Berrigan brothers, Hunter Thompson and Timothy Leary, Communist China, Woodstock, protest marches and LBJ, then Nixon. The image of the mushroom cloud hung over us like a massive umbrella. Goldwater introduced a new political idea, conservatism, and hippies dropped out and formed communes. There was a Summer of Love in San Francisco, and a year later war erupted in the streets of Chicago during the Democratic National Convention.
We ETS’d in Vietnam, caught a ride on a “freedom bird” and came home expecting life to be the way we had left it. Many of us brought baggage, a vast array of spiritual symptoms that society ignored. There were far more important concerns in those days. Thank God, a few insightful brothers, fellow vets, recognized the problems. They set up “rap groups” or meetings. They listened, and they understood. Some formed groups and added their voices to the great chorus of change that was sweeping across America in those days. One of those groups was Vietnam Veterans Against the War. As we got off the planes from Vietnam, we found a shocking scene of turmoil and fighting, but there were a few precious folks who smiled and held out a hand and said, “I understand, brother. I’ve been there. Let me give you a hand. Tell me what’s troubling you, and I won’t be judgmental. Maybe we can make things better. Do you dare to try?” Like tour guides, they introduced us to the changing America. They pointed out the landmarks and pitfalls. They reassured us, scraggly and disheveled as we were back then, that we were still bonafide American citizens, that our opinions counted, our experiences mattered, and our anger and indignation were justified. Academia looked on from a careful distance and invented a term for our accumulated distress. PTSD they called it, a medical category. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. We know that the D stands for Damage; that our memories and reactions do not constitute disorderly conduct. God bless Maude DeVictor who shined a light too bright to be ignored on the aftereffects from Agent Orange. Sadly, our government which spends a trillion dollars a year on its militaristic imperialism has never shown much compassion to the innocent victims of Agent Orange, Atomic weapons testing, Gulf War Syndrome, Depleted Uranium, or the poisons spewing from burn pits in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Radford, Virginia.
America’s militarism did not benefit the Vietnamese, and it has not benefitted the people in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else. It has not benefitted the common G.I. A few Generals have been “decorated”, and a lot of corporations have gotten rich. The quality of life of the average American, and especially the veterans, have not improved one bit. The trillions spent on death and destruction could have done so much good! The benefits of peace are obvious, but very few Americans know because those truths are systematically obscured. VVAW has never lost its purpose or its hope. Today, in the time of Trump and meaningless “conservatism,” our authentic testimony still relevant and necessary.
What a lonely world it would be if not for VVAW! We would suspect we are crazy, that our anger, bitterness, and concerns were one-of-a-kind and just over-reactions. Many of us are so out of touch with the evening news we feel estranged from the great American community, and maybe we are. But we’re not alone. We are members of a unique club, a fraternity of sorts. From time to time, we have been part of a movement, and have achieved some success. We have certainly made a lot of lifers and politicians nervous. But our real accomplishments are more internal, supporting each other, understanding, and finding avenues where we can still protest. What a great comfort that has been, for half a century! If America makes it another 50 years, which seems doubtful at the moment, we won’t be around for a 100th anniversary. But the history of VVAW will be known, and its legacies will inspire others. If America survives another 50 years, there will certainly be fresh crops of veterans. They won’t find much solace or help from the government, whether it swings conservative or liberal. But the example of VVAW will defy all the rhetoric, bullshit, and empty promises that flow from Washington. The black stone wall will still be there to incite questions, and the history of VVAW will answer them. New generations of vets will fly home from far-off conflicts, bringing with them internal conflicts that only other veterans can appreciate. As they seek to cope, VVAW will always be the benchmark, the most realistic model.
I regret that I cannot make either of the 50th anniversary get-togethers. Peace, my friends.
8/13/17 at 19:36— Mark Oehler writes:
I returned to Milwaukee, Wisconsin early June 1970. July 4 at a party on a roof top on Brady St suddenly fire works from the lake shore, I sat them out in the stair well. I hadn't realized, until then, that I was still in Vietnam in my mind.
That fall I had some meager GI bill money to attend UWM, a place with no active Vet group, but I found and joined VVAW. We left Milwaukee in early 72 to the Missouri ozarks, no anti-war group there then.
Luckily I found a kindred soul or two and kept the anti-war spirit alive. So, now 47 years later the war drums are beating again and our unity will be tested. Carry on my friends.
8/15/17 at 23:16— Donald E French writes:
On the most recent moving wall that came to Eugene,OR, I had a bouquet of flowers & was approaching the wall when a volunteer asked if I needed help in finding the name. "No, my best friends name(Eric Anderson) isn't on the wall", he died of cancer/agent orange. My service- USMC 69-70
8/17/17 at 11:45— Steve Spears writes:
On board the USS independence CV-62 out of Norfolk Va. Was on board at the time when Nixon resigned from office . Communication department . Cruised 1972-1973, to Mayport and Jacksonville FL. Tha across the Atlantic to Rock of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea to ports of Naples Italy, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona Spain, Cannes,France and around the med including around Cypress where Turkey and Greece had a major dispute.
8/31/17 at 22:35— Candi Frawley Mestayer writes:
First heard of VVAW in 1972 in St Louis, MO, at a local community college. I was 17, and knew immediately that this was the anti-war group for me. The StL chapter hosted the Milwaukee VVAW Chapter, friendships were made, and I soon moved to Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Chapter was the social and political center of our lives; it was the glue that held (and helped) a diverse group of people unite and survive. A shout out to John Lindquist and Annie Bailey who gave their time and money, as well as opened their home, to the many vets who sought refuge, compassion and understanding. I am not a veteran, but have always been proud to stand beside my VVAW brothers and sisters, the true anti-war patriots.
9/4/17 at 09:57— Ken Howland writes:
I was drafted by my Rochester N.Y. Draft Board from San Francisco at the Oakland Induction Center- 6PM March 12, 1963 . Due to a track injury, I had not expected to pass the physical---Surprise! I did.
I had gone to California to become a resident so I could afford to go back school and study the Russians
Knew nothing about a far-off place called Vietnam until I saw a film in bootcamp. I was 24 years old with a Bachelors Degree in Biology from Michigan State University. I was an Expert Marksman and considered
applying for the Green Berets.
But first, I decided to go to the library on a Sunday morning and read about this place called Vietnam that I had never heard of before.
I learned that the French had been defeated at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 when I was studying Greeks and Romans in high school. Since I looked more like the French, I decided that the Vietnamese might not want me in their country either.
I served 2 years as a medic at Fort Meade and 3 days as an MP during the Dr.Martin Luther Jr. March on Washington.
Discharged March 11, 1965, I thought that I would be on my way to Vietnam. But, luckily was not.
My first protest was in Washington D.C. ---April 17, 1965---I have been a peace activist off and on ever since---- Especially, since the Iraq War.
Thank you for all that you do. Ken Howland
9/4/17 at 09:57— Jessica Sand writes:
I have been opposed to war all of my adult life and I raised 2 anti-war children and have 3 anti war grandchildren. Peace still seems a distant dream. Will the lion sit down with the lamb in my life? Probably not but we must continue to strive to "use our words" as they say to toddlers and oung children.
9/4/17 at 12:58— ROBBIE DUNNE writes:
I was with you people at the New York natl. office and at the new Year's Eve protest in time,s square ( door knobs and bed sheets and a casket.)valley forge, Dewey canyon 1972 Repub. convention trip dance NGOs on the seps of the surpreme court amazing trip to PARIS and many other events all the best to you good folks.i have a good size's package of newspaper clipping from 1971to 1973 , where should I send them?
9/4/17 at 13:38— Larry Craig writes:
Wish I could find the guy who worked the VVAW table at the McCarthy campaign office in LA 1967
9/5/17 at 09:43— Patrick Finnegan writes:
I got affiliated with VVAW in 1972 thru the San Francisco chapter.
I was living on David Harris's " People's Union Co-Op Farm",outside of Fresno, Ca. Thge " Last Patroll was being formed and I giot in on it. I didn't hav a nickle to my name but I got hooked up anyway. In fact I drove the lead california truck for most of the miles to Miami. THe truck belonged to Bob. Bob was a left-over 101st grunt that had just become a new father. somewhere along the way we picked up the contingent from the mid-west and with them came another left-over 10st grunt named Mingo. Mingo came with a 750 triumph that rode alot of the miles in the truck
I remember VVAW as a shiteload of kleft-over paratrooper and marine grunts.
Guys that had enlisted foir the heartiof the War and then somewhere along the line realized they had been lied tio.
It was all lies.
Their closer then blood brothers were being killed and maimed for no other reason then to line the pockets of some fat pig, whose pockets were already over lined.
Millions of innocent South-East asians were killed and maimed in our names.
! would hav been too many but we are talking and acknowledging millions. whole generations of a people were decimated.
Yeah and we did it.
I was young. I was duped.
But there's no denying I/we did it.
VVAW offerred the sanctuary of reason to that madness
We showed up at Miami and threw some eggs.
Now we are in our comfy homes having eggs for breakfast without having to gently shoplift them from the local supermarket.
TIMES ARE WORSE THEN THEY EVER WERE.
I CAN BARELY WALK 100 YARDS. LAST I HEARD, MINGO DIED OF SOME RARE STOMACH CANCER.
It's worth screaming about.
Give me a yell if you come up with something to do
9/5/17 at 10:47— Robert Hanson (aka "the Scholar") writes:
I was a typical 19-year-old during my tour in Vietnam. I served with the 173rd Airborne, Co. B (Med) at LZ English, 1968-69. It took me about two weeks to figure out what that war was about. I returned to the US in June of '69, with 15 months left on my enlistment, and almost immediately found the Monterey chapter of VVAW. I was involved through my discharge in 1970, and continued until I returned to Wisconsin in 1973, where I got in contact with the Madison chapter, although I was less actively involved. I still have great memories of VVAW facing down the TAC squad in San Jose, and other moments of truth from California...Moratorium Day 1971, the Naval Postgraduate School in 1972...In Madison, I met Sukie and Jim Wachtendonk, who have been a constant inspiration to me ever since.
9/6/17 at 09:25— Mark Fleming writes:
In 1971 I was a reluctant grunt with the 1st Cav when I learned about VVAW and Dewey Canyon III. I was electrified by the sight of Vietnam veterans protesting a war that was wrong in so many ways. VVAW has inspired me ever since I first read about them in Stars and Stripes. Speaking out against war as a veteran is the only meaning I find in my military service.
9/8/17 at 01:51— Mark Fooks writes:
Drafted on my 21st birthday, joined up for 3 in basic at Ft Bliss and had AIT at Ft Eustis then to Ft Lawton Wash to work at Pier 91 with the Navy. Finally got orders to Vietnam and worked as a Stevedore on Victory ships at Newport on Saigon River near Saigon. Had some fire fights, lots of mortar and rocket attacks, sprayed with Agent Orange daily and unloaded it and four other colored barrels monthly. Early out for school at Ft Eustis and eventually settled down to become a City Manager type. Managed to get 40% disability and war is just a big ass question mark in my mind now as to what the hell were we doing over there for ten years. I am guessing the Middle East boys and now girls will be wondering the same thing. Congrat's to all of us who made the trip and got back home with most of our whits. God bless to all who didn't and or couldn't live with what they experienced.
9/9/17 at 10:22— Pete Zastrow writes:
I spent some time with and in VVAW during its faded years. Somehow the lessons we learned stayed alive. And are more relevant today than ever. Hello to all good folks there.
9/11/17 at 06:11— Meg Miner writes:
Congratulations to VVAW as an organization for your consistent message of/advocacy for peace, justice and veterans' rights. I only know a tiny fraction of our membership but knowing the positive impact they've had on my life, I can only imagine how many you all have helped across the country and the world. Thank you all for all you do and for being inclusive of veterans like me, who became aware in another era, and for welcoming civilians, too. Please know that your examples of endurance and clarity of purpose are constants in my life. Be peace.
9/14/17 at 12:55— John Prados writes:
My heart is full as I think of all you guys and gals. Congrats to all on the 50th. I was set to go to the NY event but now I have to be somewhere else at the same time. I'm so sorry to miss the reunion. Friends from the New York chapter will remember the "Columbia contingent," and some of you I worked with at the national office too. Though I can't be there I've put a post on my website (johnprados.com) that contrasts the new Burns-Novick documentary with the spirit of VVAW.
9/14/17 at 16:19— Leon Wengrzyn writes:
Did a tour in Dong Ha, very bad. Did a tour at Dewey Canyon III, very good. Just what I needed. Thanks VVAW.
9/17/17 at 07:21— Bill Ehrhart writes:
Making the Children Behave
Do they think of me now
in those strange Asian villages
where nothing ever seemed
and my few grim friends
moving through them
When they tell stories
to their children
of the evil
that awaits misbehavior,
is it me they conjure?
9/28/17 at 11:42— Joe Bangert writes:
I salute all VVAWers on the 50th anniversary of the founding of VVAW! Thank you Jan.
10/1/17 at 19:33— Wayne M. Gsell writes:
Thanks to the VVAW for speaking and promoting truth and peace for 50 years ... and until all war ends.
10/10/17 at 22:53— Larry Goforth writes:
Was with the 9th Inf Div HHC in '69. Best wishes to all and congrats to the VVAW's anniversary!
11/11/17 at 13:28— laurence willborn writes:
Was drafted in spite of factors; assigned to Big Red One. Refused deployment, threatened to "counter-sue" for war crimes, fought the ARMY to 'non-judicial' drop of all charges. Anti-war struggles must continue.
12/6/17 at 01:26— Susan McCloskey writes:
I grew up in the VVAW...literally. As Jack McCloskey's youngest daughter, I can remember being three or four and drawing in my coloring book while a rap group was happening beside me. There was a lot of swearing, some tears, and also laughter. Dad would try to explain to me about the war, about being haunted, about talking as the best way out. He was a pacifist, but also would remind me never to confuse the war with the warrior.
I was too young to understand the depth and betrayal that existed within the government and the VA as the men and women who fought in Vietnam came home. But I wasn't too little to know that there was saving grace in those rap groups, that it was in the VVAW and the advocacy and community that was created there, that became the true center of serious healing.
Congratulations to 50 years!
1/24/18 at 18:11— Daniel Raphael writes:
I have long been aware of and grateful for VVAW. I was a volunteer with Pacific Counseling Service during the Nam war, and worked in a civilian job as a CO. That, and many demonstrations, etc., was the sum total of what I did during/about the war.
I tell you this because I considered joining, as I know you allow non-GI supporters. But you folks are, in my view, such an extraordinarily important and laudable part of the real resisteance to militarism and its evils, that I couldn't bring myself to put myself among you. You are the best of the best.
Solidarity forever, and peace now.
2/7/18 at 17:15— Terry Wiggins writes:
My young uncle, only five years older than me, was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corp. He went to Vietnam in the fall of 1968. The talkative, friendly young man that left never returned. I grieve for what he lost and the person he once was. I love him deeply and dearly, but no longer have a close relationship like we did before he left.
2/19/18 at 17:33— Joh writes:
I joined the VVAW when I returned from the war (USAF 1966-1970), and was the head of the Western New York speakers bureau, and I organized the parade (with veterans and local students) in Gainesville. The VVAW helped me recover from what I experienced when I discovered that others felt the same way about that evil war. Alas, our chapter (Buffalo) was infiltrated, we had a lot of people start hanging out who weren't into our core purpose, and it became more ideological purity than a band of brothers. I miss the spirit and I think our work helped move the country.
2/21/18 at 15:34— William R Everdell writes:
So I'm writing again, having left out the period after my middle initial. My orders out of USMC infantry training at Camp Lejeune in 1966 were for Vietnam via San Diego. I was just leaving my family's house in New York to have a lugubrious farewell dinner with them and my new wife before driving to San Diego when the phone rang and my orders were changed, so I spent the rest of my 2-year enlistment as a French interpreter-translator at US Naval Activities, Morocco. A lot of skins, probably too many, were saved by education then. Mine was one. I did, however, have the honor of marching down the streets of lower Manhattan with war protesters in 1968 wearing my dress blues, much to the consternation of the New York City police security force. A more honorable act was turned in by my old schoolmate John Kerry, when he returned his medals and tried to explain to Congress why the War was so wrong, but I was in Morocco and missed it. I did however, show up for the 50th anniversary gathering in mid-Manhattan last year, and although I am only a Vietnam-Era veteran I remain a loyal member of VVAW, retired after teaching History to 4th-12th graders for 44 years. And I am more grateful to all of you than I can say for raising the standard to which the wise and honest can repair (as Washington once said).
2/24/18 at 10:47— William J Dunn writes:
Served with the 7113th Special Activities Group in Berlin 1963 to 1967. I always opposed the war. Was not popular during Officer Training School due to my voiced opposition to the war. This was 1963 and I thought the fighting of a war on the other side of the world to oppose some peasant Communist group was sheer stupidity!
3/1/18 at 13:54— George T. Critch writes:
I had my political awakening while serving in Vietnam and although I volunteered to go on a “special mission” with a USCG unit in 1968, I can only offer that I went out of youthful curiosity. Why I was in the USCG and not the USA is a question for later. But, I feel compelled to write because the experience has strongly affected the remainder of my life. I was only 18 at the time and caught up with the military routine and accepted what was told to us. We participated in numerous operations while deployed there, but one in particular stands out as the transformative moment for me. We were supporting a Navy Seal operation in the Delta and had berthing and a medical team on board for them as they returned to us constantly during the OP. We supplemented the swiftboats with personnel as needed. On the eve of the operation we were treated to a movie, John Wayne and the ‘Green Beret’. After the movie we were given a pep rally by our ‘Co’ and he ended his speech with ‘let’s get some meat’. After several days of constant support, we were pretty tight to the beach, and had been laying gun fire support in under the direction of Army spotter planes, when we got an after mission report and a huge ‘atta boy’. The report confirmed numerous KIA’s, tunnel collapses, and many secondary explosions. I fell in with the typical after mission glow of success. A good friend of mine had missed the report and action because he was off watch and removed from the exterior because of his MOS. When he wandered out on deck I gave him the good news concerning the report and his response was, “how many churches and school buses did we hit”? That question of his still rings in my ears (along with the tinnitus). My friend was a couple of years older than me and had spent time in college. His father was a Colonel in the Air Force, so his experience was much wider than the myopic world view from the inner city of Camden, NJ. During The remainder of my time in Vietnam, every time we harassed subsistence fishermen and their families in the middle of the night in search of gun runners and contraband, I would think ‘these are poor people and they don’t war’. Every time we turned prisoners (draft dodgers probably) over for interrogation, I would have a heavy heart as I knew they didn’t want war. From that moment on, my entire outlook to our mission changed as did my education toward our country’s involvement in global affairs. I am still friends with my political mentor and I still question my country’s involvement in global affairs. After my discharge, I walked many times around state capitols on candle light vigils to end the war. I remember when the guys were throwing their medals back in Washington and I flushed mine down the john one night after too much beer. I never formally joined the VVAW but I send some money when I can. Our country can’t keep from involving itself globally and the population doesn’t seem as involved in resistance as we were. I attribute this to a combination of cognitive dissonance and ‘perception versus reality’.
My new mantra is ‘Welcome to the edge of extinction, where deception and insanity reign’. Once you go down the rabbit hole you are lost forever in the search for the truth.
Thanks to the VVAW; There is no way to peace, PEACE IS THE WAY.