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Celebrating the Life of Terry J. DuBose, A Leader of VVAW in Texas
By Alice Embree and Renee DuBose
Terry J. DuBose passed away on October 29, 2018, at the age of 74. He was raised in the cotton country of Brownfield, Texas. He graduated from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, knowing very little about the American War in Vietnam. Despite good grades and a senior year as student body president, he was told in job interviews to "come back with a draft deferment." In Celebrating The Rag: Austin's Iconic Underground Newspaper, Terry describes his journey to Vietnam and back:
Alan Pogue and Terry DuBose, October 13, 2017.
"In August, 1966, I enlisted in the Army, and was brainwashed into volunteering for combat in Vietnam. [He deployed as a First Lieutenant.] After Vietnam and being discharged from the Army I moved to Austin, Texas, because if I still could not find a job, I could at least enroll at UT Austin under the GI Bill... I did get a job [at the] Texas Comptroller's office, in 1969. After the Kent State Massacre [in 1970], I left my desk and joined the protest march from the UT campus to downtown. Later I quit my job and hitchhiked to the West Coast, but by September 1970 I returned to UT... There was no 'spitting' at me, only concerned students wanting to understand my experience and the war."
Among those students who befriended Terry was Steve Russell. He had served in the Air Force as an enlisted man from 1964 to 1968 and took up the anti-war cause immediately upon being honorably discharged. Steve, who was in law school, was part of the vibrant circle of support Terry found in Austin. Here is his memory of Terry:
"The Vietnam War was an ugly operation, beginning to end, and the foolishness of stepping into the shoes of colonial masters just evicted is crazy-making. Because it was so ugly, a lot of the public debate was as well. Terry DuBose conducted opposition politics on a whole other level, and by his example demonstrated his opponents were barbarians without using the term."
Terry first helped set up a draft-counseling center at the Methodist Student Center in Austin. The Methodists provided a mimeograph machine, and the University of Texas student government provided access to supplies. His first action, at the urging of a young airman, was anti-war leafleting at Bergstrom Air Force Base. Terry went on to become a very effective state-wide coordinator of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) between 1970 and 1972. He also served on the VVAW state-wide coordinating committee. Terry spent a lot of time talking to veterans across Texas and active-duty GIs at the Oleo Strut, the GI coffeehouse in Killeen, Texas, near Fort Hood.
In 1971 Terry learned from Randy Floyd at UT Arlington about a protest being planned in Washington, DC. In Celebrating The Rag, Terry describes working with Randy Floyd:
"Randy was a former US Air Force pilot who had testified at the Paris Peace Talks. He had contact with the VVAW, and a Unitarian Church in Arlington had loaned an old school bus to get all the veterans we could get to go to Washington for VVAW's Dewey Canyon III. When we returned to Texas, Randy moved to Austin, we formed the Texas VVAW. Larry Waterhouse and I were named co-Coordinators."
Texas VVAW worked with the staff and GIs at the Oleo Strut to silk-screen t-shirts and posters. When Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, and The FTA Show staged a benefit in Austin for the Oleo Strut, VVAW served as security, and then bartenders at a fundraising party.
After the April veterans' demonstration in Washington, DC in 1971, Terry returned to Texas to be on the front lines of a May anti-war demonstration at the LBJ Library dedication in Austin and traveled to Killeen later that month when Pete Seeger showed up to entertain GIs near Fort Hood.
Later in the fall of 1971, veterans staged a VVAW RAW (Rapid American Withdrawal) campaign. Terry also tells that story in Celebrating The Rag:
"The RAW march from Ft. Worth to Dallas, was fashioned after the original VVAW RAW march which was from Morristown, NJ, to Valley Forge in Pennsylvania in Sept. 1770. The Texas VVAW RAW march was guerrilla theater along the route from Ft. Worth through Arlington, Grand Prairie, into Dallas. VVAW and volunteers conducted 'Search and Destroy' operations with dramatic questioning, screaming, and torture in parks, malls, and public places along the way; with a bivouac (campout) halfway through the route in a public park south of Arlington."
In 1972, Terry resigned his VVAW position. John Kniffin became the Texas VVAW Coordinator, leading VVAW until the end of that war. John and Bill Patterson of El Paso were both tried as part of the "Gainesville Eight," VVAW falsely accused of conspiracy to violently disrupt the 1972 Republican Convention in Miami. They were successfully defended by an Austin law collective, Simons, Cunningham, and Coleman. Both John and Bill died of Agent Orange-related liver cancer.
Terry J. DuBose helped organize the UT shuttle bus drivers into Amalgamated Transit Union 1549 before he began his studies in health science. He always said he was recouping his Karma. He must have recouped it in spades before his death in October 2018. He was a pioneer in the field of diagnostic sonography, training at Harvard, Yale, Baylor, and the University of California, teaching at Austin's Seton Hospital, and then joining the faculty at the University of Arkansas.
When Terry retired from teaching, he resettled in Austin to be near his Austin family. In 2012, he traveled up to Killeen again to join soldiers from Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) as they marched in a Veterans Day event to advocate for the right to heal. Terry also spent time with soldiers at Under the Hood, a GI coffeehouse in the tradition of the Vietnam-era Oleo Strut.
Steve Russell, the veteran turned judge and then law professor summed up Terry's character this way:
"Terry conducted himself with a quiet dignity I always envied. He was the antithesis of Trumpian politics, in both substance and style. He demonstrated that courage need not announce itself. He was the only man I ever knew who I could describe with the worn phrase 'an officer and a gentleman' without irony."
Terry was an extraordinary husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, and human. His passion encompassed many things, but he was most proud of his involvement in VVAW.
Terry is survived by his sister, Betty, his wife, Lucy, his daughter, Renee, and his two grandchildren. A celebration of his life was held in Austin on December 1, 2018. The Terry J. Dubose Scholarship Fund was established in his honor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Science.
Renee DuBose is Terry's daughter. Alice Embree is a long-time friend and does a lot of Rag Radio stuff.
Terry DuBose on left, holding banner and beer can.