VVAW: Vietnam Veterans Against the War
About VVAW
Contact Us
Image Gallery
Upcoming Events
Vet Resources
VVAW Store


Media Advisory: On Memorial Day, Veterans, Peace Activist and Friends Will Honor Long-Time Vietnam Veterans Against War Leader Barry Romo by Uplifting the Past and Future of the Anti-war Veterans Movement


[Printer-Friendly Version]

Mr. Romo, who died on May 1, 2024, was a central leader during the peak of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He remained active with VVAW until the end of his life. Mr. Romo was part of a legacy of anti-war activism by veterans that was chronicled by historians, media organizations, and academics.

Barry Romo (right) protesting on the capitol steps in Washington DC. in 1971 (VVAW)

Contact: Roberto Clack, Media Coordinator, send to roberto@chicagoworkerscollaborative.org and robertjclack@gmail.com to ensure timely response, 312.450.1972

Secondary Contact: Joe Miller, National Coordinator, VVAW, joemillerzh@mac.com, (217) 903 4558

Chicago: Members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), About Face: Veterans Against the War (Iraq Veterans Against the War), and friends will gather to observe Memorial Day to say goodbye to long-time VVAW member and leader Barry Romo and uplift the past and future of the anti-war veterans movement. For decades Mr. Romo was a core leader of VVAW including during its peak in the 1970s. Mr. Romo's life has recently been written about by the New York Times, Washington Post, Block Club Chicago, and Chicago Sun Times chronicling his trip to North Vietnam during the 1972 Christman bombing, his work with Joan Baez and Jane Fonda and his decades of work opposing U.S. wars along with his local community work. His life's work of fighting for peace and justice is reflected in the current movement against the war and genocide in Palestine.

“Barry Romo was a true American hero. Not only because of his service in the military, but more importantly because of his service to the cause of peace,” said Richard Stacewicz, author of Winter Soldiers: An Oral History of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. “His journey from enlistee to anti-war activist epitomized the lives of thousands of other veterans who returned home from Vietnam. Their activism and organizing within the military helped contribute to bringing the war to an end. Barry played a pivotal role in organizing and participating in numerous actions including the Winter Soldier Hearings and Dewey Canyon III. He was also an instrumental activist in bringing recognition to PTSD as a malady of war. PTSD is currently recognized as a syndrome that affects many victims of traumatic experiences. He also helped bring the effects of Agent Orange to light. Veterans of later wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have benefitted from the groundwork laid by Barry and the VVAW to receive compensation for their exposure to toxic chemicals. Finally, Barry continued to speak out against all of America’s wars since the Vietnam debacle. He also helped to counsel veterans returning from these latter wars as well. He was a true hero for peace.”

What: Anti-war Memorial Day Observance and Remembrance of Barry Romo

Who: Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Chicago About Face: Veterans Against the War (Iraq Veterans Against the War), Friends of Barry Romo

When and Where: Monday, May 27th, 11am at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, 24 E Wacker (along Chicago Riverwalk)

Speakers: Joe Miller, VVAW, Meg Miner, VVAW, Joan Davis, Friend of VVAW and Widow of Bill Davis, Aaron Hughes, Iraq Veteran, and more.

While Mr. Romo is best known for his work opposing the Vietnam war in the 70s, he remained dedicated to promoting peace and justice until his death. This included Mr. Romo participating in peace delegations to Columbia, the Philippines, and eventually back to Vietnam in the following decades. Mr. Romo and VVAW also raised money to help build libraries in Vietnam as part of his work in support of reconciliation with the Vietnamese people. Mr. Romo spent decades sharing his experiences about Vietnam with high school and college students throughout Illinois reaching thousands of students throughout his life. Mr. Romo was also an active union leader as part of his job in the US Post office where he worked since the late 70s. When he retired, Mr. Romo filled a mentorship role with returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans during the 2000s, including supporting Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) which was founded in 2004.

“When I returned from a year-long combat deployment to Iraq in the spring of 2004, I was completely disillusioned with the US military and government and felt compelled to do anything I could to end the brutal occupation that I'd participated in.” said Kelly Dougherty, IVAW’s first Executive Director. “I was completely unaware of the rich legacy of resistance to war by active duty service members during the Vietnam War and beyond. Thankfully I met other Iraq veterans who knew the history of Vietnam Veterans Against the War and Veterans For Peace and, with the support of these organizations, we founded IVAW. As young veterans who were learning how to become politically engaged anti-war organizers, we learned so much and took inspiration from our VVAW elders.”

“Barry Romo, in particular, amazed me because he helped to organize so many of the VVAW actions during the Vietnam War that IVAW adapted in our struggle to end the occupation of Iraq. Not only had he been at the forefront of the movement to end the Vietnam War, he never stopped working for peace and social justice his whole life. In 2004, Barry Romo was still part of VVAW, he was still talking about his experience, he was still organizing. It is easy to become burned out or cynical, but Barry never stopped advocating for a better world. Barry was a friend and mentor to many IVAW members, and could always be counted on, whether you were seeking advice on an issue related to anti-war organizing, or just needed someone to talk to. He also, in his role with VVAW, ensured that IVAW had financial support when the organization really needed it.”

More recently, he supported About Face: Veterans Against the War members and other veterans making “Veterans for Ceasefire” banners and attending memorial actions for Palestinians killed in Gaza. The last event he attended was the opening of More Beautiful, More Terrible: Humans of Life Row, an exhibition at Co-Prosperity organized by people facing life sentences in Illinois prisons including incarcerated artist, Chicago police torture survivor, and Marine Corps veteran Darrell Fair. Romo was there to support Mr. Fair, his family, and people impacted by long term sentences and mass incarceration. Mr. Romo endlessly cared for people, especially fellow veterans, and continuously contributed to the movements for peace and justice until his death.

Barry is preceded in death by countless VVAW and IVAW/About Face members, many of whom became victims of war after they came home. Barry is survived by his two children, Kyle Copeland and Jessi O'Reilly-Jones, his niece Beverly Mendoza and the entire Mendoza family, and his ex-wife Alynne Romo.

Bill Davis (left), Mayor Harold Washington (middle), Carlos Cortez (3rd from right), Barry Romo (right) in 1983.

Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) is a national veterans' organization that was founded in New York City in 1967 after six Vietnam vets marched together in a peace demonstration. It was organized to voice the growing opposition among returning servicemen and women to the still-raging war in Indochina, and grew rapidly to a membership of over 30,000 throughout the United States as well as active duty GIs stationed in Vietnam. Through ongoing actions and grassroots organization, VVAW exposed the ugly truth about US involvement in Southeast Asia and our first-hand experiences helped many other Americans to see the unjust nature of that war.

Commentary on VVAW.org: