Vietnam Full Disclosure

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1969

1969

 

Negotiations begin in Paris between the US, South Vietnam on the one hand and the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) and North Vietnam on the other.

                  Ho Chi Minh (Hồ Chí Minh), President of the DRV and the global face of Vietnamese resistance, dies at the age of 79.

                  President Nixon announces his policy of ‘Vietnamization’ to continue the war while limiting US casualties. He also authorizes the ‘secret’ (to Americans) bombing of Cambodia and Laos directly supervised by Henry Kissinger.

                  Largest antiwar demonstrations to date and resistance among GIs spreads.

 

January-June President Nixon and H. Ross Perot secretly plan a massive POW/MIA campaign to build support for continuing the war.

January 1 Henry Cabot Lodge, former American ambassador to South Vietnam, is nominated by President-elect Nixon to be the senior U.S negotiator at the Paris negotiations.

January 20 Richard M. Nixon is inaugurated as the 37th U.S. President and declares “…the greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker. This honor now beckons America…” He is the fifth President confronting Vietnam and had successfully campaigned on a pledge of “peace with honor.”

January 22-March 18 Operation Dewey Canyon, the last major operation by U.S. Marines begins in the Đa Krông valley. a sweep of the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN)-dominated A Shau and Song Đa Krông Valleys by the 9th Marine Regiment.

The 56 days of combat do not stop the overall flow of North Vietnamese men and materiel into South Vietnam. The 9th Marine Regiment and attached units were awarded the Army Presidential Unit Citation for their actions in Operation Dewey Canyon.

January 25 Paris negotiations open with the U.S., South Vietnam, North Vietnam and the NLF all in attendance.

                  Article entitled “I Quit” by Green Beret Master Sergeant Donald Duncan appears in Ramparts magazine.

January 31 Susan Schnall is court-martialed in San Francisco for actions which, the Navy said, would “impair the morale, loyalty and discipline of the members of the armed forces (and) conduct unbecoming an officer.” (See entry for October 14, 1968).

 

February Fort Gordon – Pfc. Dennis Davis editor of (the antiwar newspaper) Last Harass) is given an undesirable discharge.

February 14 The first three of 27 Gls charged with mutiny at the Presidio are found guilty and sentenced to 14, 15, and 16 years at hard labor by a court martial at the San Francisco Presidio stockade (see entry for October 14, 1968). By this time, three of those charged (Blake, Mather, and Pawlowski) had escaped to Canada. On appeal, the long sentences for mutiny were voided by the Court of Military Review in June 1970, and reduced to short sentences for willful disobedience of a superior officer. Rowland, for example, was released in 1970 after a year and a half imprisonment. See The Unlawful Concert by Fred Gardner for a fuller description of the case.

February 20 Tacoma – the Shelter Half coffee house’s business license is revoked. See October, 1968 entry.

February 22-23 NLF attack 110 targets throughout South Vietnam including Saigon.

February 25 36 U.S. Marines are killed by NVA (PAVN or VPA) who raid their base camp near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

 

March Letters from Vietnam veteran Ronald Ridenhour results in a U.S. Army investigation into the My Lai (Mỹ Lai) massacre.

                  US forces in Vietnam peak at more than 540,000.

                  Polls indicate that 19% of Americans want the war to end as soon as possible, 26% want South Vietnam to take over responsibility for the war from the U.S., 19% favor the current policy, and 33% want total military victory.

National Draft and Military Law Panel of the National lawyers Guild files suit to protect the rights of GIs marching in Easter antiwar demonstrations.

March 4 President Nixon threatens to resume bombing the DRV (North Vietnam) in retaliation for NLF attacks in the South.

March 15 U.S. troops go on the offensive inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) for the first time since 1968.

March 17 President Nixon authorizes Operation Menu, the secret bombing of Cambodia by B-52s, targeting enemy supply sanctuaries located along the border of Vietnam.  See March 18, 1969-May 26, 1970 entry below for further details.

March 18 Reps Jeffrey Cohelan and Robert Leggett, both California Democrats, accuse the Pentagon of handing out “unconscionable, excessive, and unfair” sentences to soldiers convicted in a sit-down protest at the Presidio Stockade. See entries for October 14, 1968 and February 14, 1969.

                  Fort Lewis – Pvt. Isaac Barr, who had refused orders to Vietnam, is dragged on to a plane and shipped to Vietnam.

Fort Jackson – Founder of GIs United, Pvt. Tommie Woodfin, is” acquitted of charges of circulating GIs United petition asking for a post meeting to discuss the war.”

March 18-May 26, 1970 Operation Menu – the secret bombing of Cambodia and Laos — the codename of a covert United States Strategic Air Command (SAC) bombing campaign conducted in eastern Cambodia and Laos — is launched. Operation Menu was succeeded by Operation Freedom Deal, which lasted until August,1973. Operation Menu marked an illegal invasion of neutral countries which had not attacked the US and with which the US was not at war, setting a dangerous precedent for future preemptive military actions. Eventually more bombs were dropped on Laos and Cambodia than combined on Germany and Japan in World War II. Laos became the most bombed country in history. Agent Orange was also widely sprayed. The targets of these attacks were presumed sanctuaries and base areas of the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and forces of the NLF, which Nixon and Kissinger thought, utilized them for resupply, training, and resting between campaigns across the border in the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). The US also built up General Vang Pao’s Hmong forces in the northern and southern regions of Laos.

The impact of the bombing campaign on the Khmer Rouge guerrillas, the PAVN, and Cambodian civilians in the bombed areas is disputed by historians, though undoubtedly it led to the collapse of a neutralist Cambodia.

An official United States Air Force record of U.S. bombing activity over Indochina from 1964 to 1973 was declassified by President Bill Clinton in 2000. The report gives details of the extent of the bombing of Cambodia, as well as of Laos and Vietnam. According to the data, the Air Force began bombing rural regions of Cambodia along its South Vietnam border in 1965; the bombings were an escalation of what had previously been tactical air attacks. Newly inaugurated President Richard Nixon authorized for the first time use of long-range B-52 heavy bombers to carpet bomb Cambodia.

This bombing campaign was carried on in extreme secrecy was closely supervised by Kissinger with the help of Air Force Colonel Claude Sitton. A duel reporting system (to circumvent the Strategic Air command’s normal command and control system) wars set up to pretend that South Vietnam was the target of the Cambodia and Laos bombings. The real documentation was destroyed (in a special furnace) while false documentation was created to justify expenditures.

The simultaneous rise of the Khmer Rouge and the increase in area and intensity of U.S. bombing between 1969 and 1973 incited speculation as to the relationship between the two events. Ben Kiernan, Director of the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University, argues:

“Apart from the large human toll, perhaps the most powerful and direct impact of the bombing was the political backlash it caused…The CIA‘s Directorate of Operations, after investigations south of Phnom Penh, reported in May 1973 that the communists there were successfully ‘using damage caused by B-52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda’… .The U.S. carpet bombing of Cambodia was partly responsible for the rise of what had been a small-scale Khmer Rouge insurgency, which now grew capable of overthrowing the Lon Nol government”

March 20 Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Lee Weiner, and Bobby Seale., collectively known as the Chicago 8 are indicted for alleged actions at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago — charged under the anti-riot provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 which made it a federal crime to cross state lines with the intent to incite a riot. The Chicago 8 indictment alleged crimes of three kinds: that all eight defendants conspired (together with another sixteen unindicted co-conspirators) to cross state lines to incite a riot, to teach the making of an incendiary device, and to commit acts to impede law enforcement officers in their lawful duties; that David Dellinger, Rennie Davis, Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and Bobby Seale individually crossed state lines to incite a riot; that John Froines and Lee Weiner instructed other persons in the construction and use of an incendiary device.

                  Black Panther, Bobby Seale, the eighth man charged, had his trial severed during the proceedings, lowering the number from eight to seven. The evidence against Seale was slim as he was a last-minute replacement for Eldridge Cleaver and had been in Chicago for only two days of the convention. On November 5, 1969, Judge Julius Hoffman sentenced him to four years in prison for 16 counts of contempt, each count accounting for three months of his imprisonment, because of his loud protests, and eventually ordered Seale severed from the case, hence the “Chicago Seven“. During the trial, one of Seale’s many protests led the judge to have him bound and gagged,

The 16 unindicted co-conspirators are: Wolfe B. Lowenthal, Stewart E. Albert, Sidney M. Peck, Kathy Boudin, Corina F. Fales, Benjamin Radford, Thomas W. Neumann, Craig Shimabukuro, Bo Taylor, David A. Baker, Richard Bosciano, Terry Gross, Donna Gripe, Benjamin Ortiz, Joseph Toornabene, and Richard Palmer.

March 21 Fort Jackson – Fort Jackson 9 (later 8), are arrested for “holding an illegal demonstration, … breach of the peace, … and disobeying an order.” See entry for May 20.

March 22 In this wide ranging discussion of Vietnam strategy, probably drafted by NSC staffer Morton Halperin, the central role of the Soviet Union in White House thinking about a diplomatic solution to the war is evident; so are ideas closely related to linkage and the Madman Theory-that Nixon is out of control and is capable of even seemingly irrational actions. According to Kissinger/Halperin, “There is no question that the Soviets could play a major role in bringing the war to an end if they decide to put pressure on Hanoi.” To accomplish that, it was necessary to “change the current Soviet calculation of gains and risks” associated with pressuring their Vietnamese allies. One way to do that would be for the Soviets to see risks in not helping Washington: “Within Vietnam we must worry the Soviets about the possibility that we are losing our patience and may get out of control.” Escalatory measures might be “considered in this light.”

March 28 Fort Dix – SP/4 Allen Myers is arrested for posting sticker advertising April 5th GI-civilian demonstration in New York.

Tacoma – Founders of The Shelter Half coffeehouse are tried for “contributing to the delinquency of a minor.” See entry for October, 1968.

 

April U.S. combat deaths in Vietnam exceed the 33,629 men killed in the Korean War.

                  Fort Carson – Four GIs are restricted to post for possession of The Ally.

GI paper About Face lists 147 RITAs (Resistance or Resisters Inside the Army) as political prisoners held against their will in US military stockades.

April 9 300 anti-war students at Harvard University seize the administration building, throw out 8 Deans, and then lock themselves in. They are later forcibly ejected.

April 6 A spontaneous anti-war rally in Central Park is recorded and later released as Environments 3.

April 14 Norton AFB – Airman First Class David Mays, who spoke at a GI – Civilian Demonstration in Los Angeles is charged with insubordination.

Fort Gordon – Editor of The Last Harass is given early release under less than honorable conditions to “prevent him from carrying on his antimilitary organizing in the reserves.”

April 19 Fort Sill – Pvt. Andy Stapp, founder of American Servicemen’s Union, is given a dishonorable discharge. See entries for June 1, July 31 and December 25, 1967.

April 23 Fort Dix – Sp/4 Allen Myers is acquitted on charge of having put up an antiwar sticker and distributed unauthorized material. See entry for March 28.

April 30 U.S. troop levels peak at 543,400. There have been 33,641 Americans killed up to this point in the war, more than in the Korean War.

May 6 Fort Dix – Edwin Arnett, the first GI to be tried for desertion from Vietnam to a foreign country, is sentenced to four years at hard labor.

May 8 The NLF puts forth its 10-point position at the Paris negotiations calling for (1) respecting Vietnam’s independence, unity, and territorial integrity as recognized by the 1954 Geneva Agreements, (2) total US withdrawal, (4 & 5) establishment of a provisional, coalition government, (6 & 8) a neutralist foreign policy, (7) the DMZ as only a provisional boundary, (9) mutual release of POWs and the US bearing full responsibility for the devastation of Vietnam, and (10) international supervision of the withdrawal of foreign troops and war material.   This remained the consistent position of the NLF — and then its replacement Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG); see June 8, 1969 entry — throughout the Paris negotiations. This position may be compared to the actual Peace Accords of January 27, 1973 (see https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Paris_Peace_Accords).

May 9 The New York Times (in an article by military reporter William M. Beecher) breaks the news of the secret bombing of Cambodia. As a result, Nixon orders FBI wiretaps on the telephones of four journalists, along with 13 government officials to determine the source of news leak. Beecher claimed that an unnamed source within the administration had provided the information. Nixon was furious when he hears the news and orders Kissinger to obtain the assistance of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover and discover the source of the leak. Hoover suspected Kissinger’s own NSC aide, Morton Halperin, of the deed and so informed Kissinger. Halperin’s phone was then illegally tapped for 21 months. This was the first in a series of illegal surveillance activities authorized by Nixon in the name of national security.

By the summer, five members of the United States Congress had been informed of the operation. They were: Senators John C. Stennis (MS) and Richard B. Russell, Jr. (GA) and Representatives Lucius Mendel Rivers (SC), Gerald R. Ford (MI), and Leslie C. Arends (IL). Arends and Ford were leaders of the Republican minority and the other three were Democrats on either the Armed Services or Appropriations committees.

May 10-May 20 Forty-six men of the 101st Airborne as part of Operation Apache Snow (May 10- June 7) die during a fierce ten-day battle at ‘Hamburger Hill’ in the A Shau Valley near Hue. 400 others are wounded. After the hill is taken, the troops are then ordered to abandon it by their commander. The NVA (PAVN OR VPA) then moves in and takes back the hill unopposed.

The costly assault, and its confused aftermath, provokes a political outcry back in the U.S. that American lives are being wasted in Vietnam. One Senator labels the assault “senseless and irresponsible.”

It is the beginning of the end for America in Vietnam as Washington now orders MACV Commander Gen. Creighton Abrams to avoid such encounters in the future. ‘Hamburger Hill’ is the last major search and destroy mission by U.S. troops during the war. Small unit actions will now be used instead.

A long period of decline in morale and discipline grows among American draftees serving in Vietnam involuntarily. Drug usage becomes rampant as nearly 50 percent experiment with marijuana, opium, or heroin, which are easy to obtain in Saigon. U.S. military hospitals later become deluged with drug related cases as drug abuse causalities far outnumber causalities of war.

May 14 During his first TV speech, President Nixon presents an 8-Point peace plan in which America and North Vietnam would simultaneously pull out of South Vietnam over the next year. The offer is rejected by Hanoi, as it viewed all Vietnamese forces as legitimate participants in the conflict (Point 3 of their May 8 Ten-Point plan) and not as outside interlopers.

May 20 Army announces it is dropping charges against the Fort Jackson 8. See entry for March 21.

May 22 Canadian government announces that immigration officials would not and could not ask about immigration applicants’ military status if they showed up at the border seeking permanent residence in Canada.

                  Wright-Patterson AFB – Airman 1/c Larry Friedberg and Sgt. Rossarie Bisson are arrested for distributing leaflets announcing May 31 anti-war march in Dayton.

Pentagon drafts Guidance on Dissent as a guideline in the handling of “dissenters.” The letter gives instructions to commanders on how to handle many facets of dissent ranging from possession and distribution of political materials, Servicemen’s Unions, and demonstrations to the publication of “Underground” newspapers.

 

June 5 More than one hundred imprisoned soldiers rise up against deplorable and inhumane conditions at the Fort Dix stockade in New Jersey. The prisoners are made up of AWOLs, Vietnam War resisters and conscientious objectors from working class and rural backgrounds. 38 men are charged with rioting and arson. Dubbed the “Fort Dix 38,” they face court-martials and as a result some of the men were sentenced to military prison.

June 6 Washington DC – Mendel Rivers, Chairman of House Armed Services Committee, writes Rear Admiral Johnson, Chief of Legislative Liaison at the Pentagon, that OM The Servicemen’s Newsletter reflects a “gross abuse of the Constitutional right of free speech.”.

June 7 Fort Ord – 14 Presidio 27 defendants are convicted at General court martial, and sentenced to terms ranging from three to 15 months. See entry for October 14, 1968, February 14 and March 18, 1969.

June 8 The Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam, or PRG, is formed as an underground government opposed to the South Vietnamese government of President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu. Delegates of the National Liberation Front (NLF), as well as, the Alliance of National, Democratic and Peace Forces, the People’s Revolutionary Party (the South Vietnamese Communist party) and an “assortment of mass organizations, ethnic groups, and geopolitical regions.” “South Vietnam is independent, democratic, peaceful, and neutral”, according to one banner displayed prominently at the convention.

The PRG reflected a number of nationalist, anti-imperialist and communist political viewpoints. The PRG was envisioned as a political counter-force that could influence international public opinion in support of reunification and in opposition to the United States and the Republic of Vietnam.

The declared purpose of the PRG is to provide a formal NLF governmental structure and enhance its claim of representing “the Southern people”. Included in this strategy was the pursuit of a negotiated settlement to the war leading to reunification, organized during the initial phase of Vietnamization.

During the period 1969–70, most of the PRG’s cabinet ministries operate near the Cambodia border. The PRG came to be recognized as the government of South Vietnam by most Communist states.

President Nixon meets South Vietnam’s President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu at Midway Island and informs him that U.S. troop levels are going to be sharply reduced. During a press briefing with Thiệu Thiệu, Nixon announces “Vietnamization” of the war and a U.S. troop withdrawal of 25,000 men. In light of still-secret talks opening up with China for the first time in decades, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger calls Vietnam a “sideshow”.

June 27 Life magazine displays portrait photos of all 242 Americans killed in Vietnam during the previous week, including the 46 killed at ‘Hamburger Hill.’ The photos have a stunning impact on Americans nationwide as they view the once smiling young faces of the dead.

 

July        President Nixon, through a French emissary, sends a secret letter to Ho Chi Minh (Hồ Chí Minh) urging him to settle the war, while at the same time threatening to resume bombing if peace talks remain stalled as of November 1. In August, Hanoi responds by repeating earlier demands for NLF participation in a coalition government in South Vietnam.

                  Camp Lejeune – Display of ‘peace symbols” outlawed.

Colorado Springs – Home Front coffee house loses its lease after the FBI visits the landlord.

The New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (New Mobe), is formed at a conference held in, Ohio. The host organization for the conference is the Cleveland Area Peace Action Council.

July 2 Wrightstown – Sgt. Harold Hariston (McGuire AFB), Specialist 4 Hal Muskat (Fort Dix) and 2 staff members of the Fort Dix coffee house file a $1,000,000 damage suit against the commanding general of Fort Dix and state and local officials for harassment of employees and patrons of the coffeehouse.

July 8 The very first U.S. troop withdrawal occurs as 800 men from the 9th Infantry Division are sent home. The phased troop withdrawal will occur in 14 stages from July 1969 through November 1972.

July 16 Activist David Harris is arrested for refusing the draft, and would ultimately serve a fifteen-month prison sentence; Harris’ wife, prominent musician, pacifist and activist Joan Baez, toured and performed on behalf of her husband, throughout the remainder of 1969, attempting to raise consciousness around the issue of ending the draft.

July 17 Secretary of State William Rogers accuses Hanoi of “lacking humanity” in the treatment of American POWs.

July 22 The New York Times reports that the Pentagon admitted at a pretrial hearing for Navy seaman Roger Priest, that he had 25 military agents assigned to his case, that attempts had been made by these agents under assumed names to receive copies of his paper, and that special arrangements had been made with the Washington DC Sanitation Department to collect his trash and deliver it to Naval Intelligence. He is charged with soliciting men to desert, disrespect toward Gen. Earl Wheeler, J. Edgar Hoover, and Melvin Laird (a result of a headline in this paper, Om: “TODAY’S PIGS ARE TOMORROW’S BACON”), intending to interfere with, impair and influence the loyalty, morale and discipline of the military and Naval Forces of the U.S., and that “Roger Lee Priest, journalist seaman apprentice, U.S. Navy, did, at Washington, District of Columbia, on or about 1 June 1969 in the June issue of a pamphlet entitled “OM The Liberation Newsletter” wrongfully used contemptuous words against the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, L. Mendel Rivers.

July 25 The “Nixon Doctrine” is made public. It advocates U.S. military and economic assistance to nations around the world struggling against Communism, but no more Vietnam-style ground wars involving American troops. The emphasis is thus placed on local military self-sufficiency, backed by U.S. air power and technical assistance to assure security.

July 30 President Nixon visits U.S. troops and President Thiệu in Vietnam. This is Nixon’s only trip to Vietnam during his Presidency.

                  At a press conference called by the GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee, Bob Kukiel (who was discharged from the Marine Corps 3 months early on July 1 after requesting permission to distribute GI paper Head-On! at Camp Lejeune) refuted Rep. Mario Biaggi’s attempt to use clashes at Camp Lejeune between blacks and whites as an excuse for a witch hunt attack on all dissent in the military. Kukiel, who became opposed to the war while fighting in Vietnam, described the unlawful harassment meted out to him and other antiwar Marines and to anyone found with a copy of Head-On!.

July 31 The New York Times publishes the results of a Gallup poll showing that 53% of the respondents approve of Nixon’s handling of the war, 30% disapprove, and the balance have no opinion.

 

August GI Press Service report that “in an effort to stifle dissent in Armed Services, draft boards ordered to defer any person working for an underground newspaper.”

August 4 Henry Kissinger conducts his first secret meeting in Paris with representatives from Hanoi including Xuân Thủy.

August 6 Supreme Court Justice William 0. Douglas orders Howard Levy be released on $1,000 bond. See entries for December 28, 1966, May10-June 2 and June 2, 1967 entries.

August 9 Fort Dix – Spec/4 Hal Muskat is sentenced to seven months at Hard Labor for distributing an antiwar newspaper and for “contemptuous utterings to the court.”

August 12 The NLF begins a new offensive attacking 150 targets throughout South Vietnam.

August 15-18 The Woodstock Festival (billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music”) is held at Max Yasgur‘s farm in Bethel, New York. During the rainy weekend, 32 acts performed outdoors before an audience of 400,000 people.

August 25, 1969 Company A of the 3rd Battalion, the 196th Light Brigade, refuse to advance further into the Song Chang Valley of Vietnam after five days of heavy casualties; their number had been reduced from 150 to 60, one of countless mutinies in Vietnam.

 

September 2 Ho Chi Minh (Hồ Chí Minh) dies of a heart attack at age 79. He is succeeded by Lê Duẩn, who publicly reads part of the last will of Ho Chi Minh urging the North Vietnamese to fight on “until the last Yankee has gone.”

September 5 The U.S. Army brings murder charges against Lt. William Calley concerning the massacre of Vietnamese civilians at My Lai (Mỹ Lai) on March 16,1968. (See entries for March 16 and Mar 28, 1968, March 31 and November 12, 1970, and March 29, 1971.)

                  Fort Knox coffee house closed by police and landlord refuses rent on advice of county attorney.

September 12 Honolulu – MPs raid a church, capturing 12 of 23 anti war GIs who have taken sanctuary there for 38 days. The other GIs escaped.

                  Washington DC – Pentagon issues “Guidelines for Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces.”

September 16 President Nixon orders the withdrawal of 35,000 soldiers from Vietnam and a reduction in draft calls.

 

October An opinion poll indicates 71 percent of Americans approve of President Nixon’s Vietnam policy.

                  Nixon asserts: “I’m not going to be the first American president to lose a war.”

At the same time, 58% of Gallup respondents say U.S. entry into the war was a mistake.

CIA-trained secret army under Vang Pao seizes the Plain of Jars and Communist-controlled Xieng Khoang.

After a series of reports in The New York Times, a subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chaired by Stuart Symington holds closed hearings on the US ‘secret’ war in Laos.

October 1 Meade County Judge rules that Fort Knox coffee house landlord had right to evict coffeehouse for non-payment of rent, in spite of the fact that the coffee house staff had attempted to pay the rent.

October 9 Muldraugh – Fort Knox Coffeehouse is firebombed.

                  Bad Kreuznach, West Germany – Base locked down to stop on-base demonstration.

October 12 Led by 100 women, close to 10,000 demonstrators march from the GI coffeehouse Fort Dix in solidarity with the Fort Dix 38. See entry for June 5.

October 13 A group of GIs based around the Shelter Half use its facilities to produce the first issue of a new paper, Fed Up, followed a week later by a meeting on base to form a local chapter of the American Servicemen’s Union (ASU). When military police break up the meeting, the soldiers continue talking in the brig, and the ASU was born. The army eventually dropped all charges, and the newly formed ASU local, strengthened by its victory, grew to upwards of 75 members. The ASU and Fed Up organized not just around the war, but around radical issues that antiwar soldiers and the antiwar movement were drawn to: the ASU worked with the United Farm Workers to boycott non-union grapes and lettuce on base, and Fed Up featured articles on racism, imperialism, and capitalism.

October 15 The ‘Moratorium’ peace demonstration is held in Washington and several U.S. cities. The Moratorium developed from Jerome Grossman‘s April 20, 1969, call for a general strike if the war had not concluded by October. David Hawk and Sam Brown, who had previously worked on the unsuccessful 1968 presidential campaign of Eugene McCarthy, and assisted by the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam changed the concept to a moratorium and began to organize the event as the Vietnam Moratorium Committee with David Mixner, Marge Sklenkar, John Gage, and others.

The event is a clear success, with millions participating throughout the world. Boston is the site of the largest turnout; about 100,000 attended a speech by anti-war Senator George McGovern. Future U.S. President Bill Clinton, then a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, organizes and participates in the demonstration in England; this later became an issue in his Presidential campaign. For video, see https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=october+15+1969+vietnam+moratorium+day&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-004.

Demonstration organizers receive support from North Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Van Dong (Phạm Văn Đồng), who stated in a letter to them “…may your fall offensive succeed splendidly,” marking the first time Hanoi publicly acknowledges the American anti-war movement. Dong’s comments infuriate American conservatives including Vice President Spiro Agnew who lambastes the protesters as Communist “dupes” comprised of “an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals.”

October 27-30 Called Giant Lance, the operation launches 18 B-52 bombers, each armed with nuclear weapons, toward the eastern border of the Soviet Union. The bombers even required mid-air refueling – a procedure that posed the risk of the aircraft colliding and dropping their nuclear bombs at the border, something hardly advisable in such tense times, even if they weren’t armed.   Halting at the edge of Soviet airspace, the nuclear-laden bombers prowl the skies for three days, taunting Soviet aircraft that had been launched in response. On the diplomatic side, Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev sends the Soviet ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Dobrynin, to meet with Kissinger and Nixon. At this meeting, Nixon continues with his “madman” ploy – lashing out at and even threatening the ambassador, who reported to Moscow: “Nixon is unable to control himself even in a conversation with a foreign ambassador.” Believing they have achieved their goals, on October 30, 1969, Nixon recalls the bombers and ends Giant Lance.

October 30 Fort Knox coffee house is firebombed again

Organizers of Fort Knox coffee house are indicted by Grand Jury of “criminal activity” at the coffeehouse

Rep. Bob Wilson, Republican of California and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, issue a press release saying that the Defense Department is warning military personnel “against associating themselves with the so-called ‘March Against Death,’” which is the up-coming anti war Moratorium demonstration scheduled for November 15

 

November 3 President Nixon delivers a major TV speech asking for support from “the great silent majority of my fellow Americans” for his Vietnam strategy. “…The more divided we are at home, the less likely the enemy is to negotiate at Paris…North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that.” He articulates his “Vietnamization” strategy of protracted withdrawal of American ground troops… increased training of the South Vietnamese army along with continued air support. “Vietnamization” is Nixon’s alternative to what he terms “precipitous withdrawal”.

November 5 Judge Julius Hoffman sentences Bobby Seale to four years in prison for 16 counts of contempt, each count accounting for three months of his imprisonment, because of his loud protests during the Chicago Conspiracy trial. See March 20 entry.

November 15 The ‘Mobilization’ peace demonstration draws an estimated 500,000 -1 million demonstrators are in Washington for the largest anti-war protest in U.S. history up to that point. These protests were organized by the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (New Mob) and the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (SMC).   Over 500,000 demonstrators gathered across from the White House for a rally where they were led by Pete Seeger in singing John Lennon‘s new song “Give Peace A Chance” for ten minutes or more. His voice above the crowd, Seeger interspersed phrases like, “Are you listening, Nixon?”, “Are you listening, Agnew?”, “Are you listening, Pentagon?” between the choruses of protesters singing, “All we are saying … is give peace a chance”. This massive Saturday march and rally was preceded by the March against Death, which began on Thursday evening and continued throughout that night and all the next day. Over 40,000 people gathered to parade silently down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. Hour after hour, they walked in single file, each bearing a placard with the name of a dead American soldier or a destroyed Vietnamese village. The marchers finished in front of the Capitol building, where the placards were placed in coffins. The vast majority of demonstrators during these days were peaceful; however, late on Friday, conflict broke out at DuPont Circle, and the police sprayed the crowd with tear gas. The people of Washington, D.C., generously opened schools, seminaries, and other places of shelter to the thousands of students and others who converged for this purpose. A daytime march before the White House was lined by parked tour buses and uniformed police officers, some flashing peace symbols on the inside of their jackets in a show of support for the crowd.

                  Solidarity events by GIs, including whole units, were held throughout South Vietnam. For video of the DC event, see https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=A0LEVjKwX9dV_8wAxEMnnIlQ;_ylc=X1MDMTM1MTE5NTY4NwRfcgMyBGZyA3locy1tb3ppbGxhLTAwNARncHJpZAMxQ1pMTnpMaFJpYVpGUHE4Y1AxcHlBBG5fcnNsdAMwBG5fc3VnZwMwBG9yaWdpbgNzZWFyY2gueWFob28uY29tBHBvcwMwBHBxc3RyAwRwcXN0cmwDBHFzdHJsAzM5BHF1ZXJ5A05vdmVtYmVyIDE1IDE5NjkgdmlldG5hbSBtb3JhdG9yaXVtIGRheQR0X3N0bXADMTQ0MDE3ODc3OQ–?p=November+15+1969+vietnam+moratorium+day&fr2=sb-top-search&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-004 .

President Richard Nixon responds to the march, “Now, I understand that there has been, and continues to be, opposition to the war in Vietnam on the campuses and also in the nation. As far as this kind of activity is concerned, we expect it; however under no circumstances will I be affected whatever by it.”

Activists at some universities continued to hold monthly “Moratoria” on the 15th of each month.

November 16 For the first time, the U.S. Army publicly discusses events surrounding the Ny Lai (Mỹ Lai) massacre.

November 19 Washington DC – Military judge throws out solicitation charge against Roger Priest. He is overruled by Rear Admiral George Koch, Commandant Washington naval District. See entry for July 22.

 

December Fort Dix – Bill Brakefield (Fort Dix 38) is convicted on charges stemming from the June 5 Stockade rebellion at Fort Dix and sentenced to 3 years at hard labor.

December 1 The first draft lottery since World War II is held in New York City. Each day of the year is randomly assigned a number from 1-365. Those with birthdays on days that wind up with a low number will likely be drafted.

December 8 Fort Dix – Terry Klug (Fort Dix 38) is acquitted at a general court martial of charges that he helped incite, and participated in, the June 5th riot at Fort Dix.

December 15 President Nixonwithdrawss an additional 50,000 soldiers from Vietnam.

December 20 Henry Cabot Lodge quits his post as chief U.S. negotiator at the Paris negotiations.

                  The Chicano Moratorium (formally know as the National Chicano Moratorium Committee) organized its first demonstration on December 20, 1969, in East Los Angeles, with over 1,000 participants. The Chicano Moratorium was a movement of Chicano activists that organized anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and activities in Mexican American communities throughout the Southwest and elsewhere from November 1969 through August 1971. “Our struggle is not in Vietnam but in the movement for social justice at home” and “fight for Aztlan, not Uncle Sam,” were key slogans of the movement. It was led, largely, by activists from the Chicano student movement and the Brown Beret organization.

December 23 A delegation from Women Strike for Peace (WSP) returned from Hanoi with letters from 132 POWs, an official DRV list of 5 airmen who ahd died in crashes.

December 27 Columbia, S.C. – A federal Judge rules that GIs don’t have the Constitutional rights of free speech and freedom of the press.

December 30 The US presents to the DRV and PRG delegations in Paris a list of missing US personnel in Souheast Asia adding “We are holding the Communist authorities in Southeast Asia responsible for every individual on this list whether or not he is internally classified by he services as captured or missing.”

 

By year’s end, America’s fighting strength in Vietnam has been reduced by 115,000 men. 40,024 Americans have now been killed in Vietnam. Over the next few years, the South Vietnamese Army will be boosted to over 500,000 men in accordance with ‘Vietnamization’ of the war in which they will take over the fighting from Americans.

5,000 young people had turned in their draft cards and some 10-25,000 “delinquent cases” were reported to the Department of Justice between 1966-69. 69% of students identify as “doves”.

As the state of relations between the Soviet Union and China deteriorate and rail supplies from Russia to Vietnam which must pass through China decrease, Vietnam comes to rely on more shipping traffic.

 

 

 

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