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Remembering David Curry
By Tom Ashby
Thanks to Barry Romo for authoring the article "Remembering David Curry" in the Fall 2015 issue of The Veteran.
David and I met when he was Mississippi State Coordinator for VVAW. I was, at that time, State Coordinator in Alabama. Our friendship continued as he directed the Vet Center in Mobile while I was with the Birmingham Vet Center. Mr. Romo's biography on David mentions he was framed for selling drugs (conspiracy to distribute cocaine). Who would, and why, do such a thing as frame a sociologist? Critics of his politically unpopular views on civil rights, perhaps. His views and public statements certainly did not endear him to Judge Hand. More likely the framing I believe was for two primary reasons: 1) stop the veterans movement in Alabama and 2) elevate Jeff Sessions to the US Senate, a seat in which he, to this day thirty-four years later, still sits.
So, US Attorney of the Southern District of Alabama, Jeff Sessions, under the tutelage of then Alabama Senator Jeremiah Denton, a noted former POW and Vietnam War hero, became a major architect of the so-called frame-up. Denton detested rank and file Vietnam vets who spoke against the US policy and who were, in his view, a bunch of drug addicted misfits. I know Denton felt this way because he told me so himself. Misfits who somehow received federal funds to open a service center for Vets in his home state, in Mobile.
David Curry, Don Reed, Director of the Birmingham Center, and I were targets of the set-up. Trials in Birmingham and Mobile followed. The inevitable outcome, convictions for all. With players like Grady Gibson, FBI agent provocateur, expert witness, practiced liar, and as a crowning testament to his character, convicted murderer and Brevard Hand, Federal Judge in the Southern District of Alabama (Hand's back story is relevant and explains, in part, his later treatment of David).
At trial with Hand presiding and Sessions prosecuting, Grady gave a stellar performance. David and I were made out to be partiers, drug abusers, and sociopaths unconcerned for our clients. There was little evidence other than Grady's testimony of any wrongdoing. Nothing else supported the conspiracy charge. Session and Hand were in lock step throughout.
The fact that the conviction and incarceration followed David the remainder of his life is a sad fact indeed. David stood strong in Vietnam, in court and in prison. My life was made better by having known him. Janet and Zoe should be very proud. Know that David is remembered in Alabama.