“This is my memory of meeting anti-war POW Col. Edison W. Miller.
On October 20th, 1977 as I waited for a press conference before returning to the US, Gloria Emerson and Cora Weiss introduced me to Col. Edison W. Miller. They introduced Miller saying he had just flown into Buffalo that morning to attend the news conference and walk across the Peace Bridge with me. They introduced him as a former POW. I asked him why he was there and he told me he simply wanted to walk with me.
My memory of the press conference is hazy. I know he spoke and Cora, along with Gold Star Mothers for Amnesty spokesperson Patricia Simon and attorney Ramsey Clark. A short You Tube video is here:
Anyway we headed out across the Peace Bridge, about fifty vets, my father, co-defendants of the Buffalo Nine trail — the usual rag tag assortment of anti-warriors. I remember being afraid but feeling really amped up, adrenaline pumping and my brain as clear. About halfway across the bridge I found myself between General Clark and Col. Miller. Ed started telling me about the day he was shot down and bailed out. He had broken his back upon landing and was unable to do much. Shortly thereafter, he was captured by either PRG/NVA (?) soldiers, placed on a stretcher, and carried by two men. As time passed, he came to understand he was being carried up the Ho Chi Minh trail. They eventually reached Hanoi. He was interred for five years, made anti-war statements, and was released. Upon release, he was transported to Hawaii for a physical and debriefing by “military authorities”.
He’s telling me this story as we’re walking towards US Customs holding hands and I’m about to be arrested. He says that the amazing part about the whole story is that when he received his medical discharge, Naval surgeons told him the only reason he was able to walk was due to the medical treatment he received from the day he was captured. Furthermore doctors told him that had he been “rescued”, surgery would have been performed and recovery of full mobility would have been slim.”
2016 National Book Award Finalist, Viet Thanh Nguyen:
“All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory . . . . Memory is haunted, not just by ghostly others but by the horrors we have done, seen, and condoned, or by the unspeakable things from which we have profited.”
The Full Disclosure campaign is a Veterans For Peace effort to speak truth to power and keep alive the antiwar perspective on the American war in Viet Nam -- which is now approaching a series of 50th anniversary events. It represents a clear alternative to the Pentagon's current efforts to sanitize and mythologize the Vietnam war and to thereby legitimize further unnecessary and destructive wars.
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Please join us and TAKE THE PLEDGE: "I’m with Full Disclosure. I oppose the Pentagon campaign to re-write the history of the Vietnam War."
December near Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C., in late 1967 to provide soldiers with a place to hang out, listen to music–and, most of all, talk. It was hard to reach out to soldiers, who had few places to go to escape the authoritarian grip of the military command on stateside bases. Fred Gardner decided to rent a Main Street storefront in downtown Columbia and open up the UFO coffeehouse–a play on the USO (United Service Organization) that sponsored Bob Hope’s patriotic performances for the troops
December 4-8 “Stop the Draft Week” at Whitehall, NY Army Induction Center; 546/585 arrested, including Dr. Benjamin Spock & and Alan Ginsberg. Actions also take place in Madison, Manchester N.H., Cincinnati, and New Haven.
December 6 The U.S. reports that the NLF murdered 252 civilian Montagnards in the hamlet of Dak Son.
December 23 Upon arrival at Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam, President Johnson declares “…all the challenges have been met. The enemy is not beaten, but he knows that he has met his master in the field.” This is the President’s second and final trip to Vietnam.
December 25 14 servicemen found The American Servicemen’s Union (ASU), each from a different base. Its leader was Pvt. Andrew Stapp, of the U.S. Army. He was active in the anti-war movement and the draft resistance movement and came to realize that draft resistance could not reach enough people, especially GI’s. Stapp was eager to go in when he was called for induction. He had already decided to work on organizing GI’s to fight for their rights, including their right to refuse to fight in an illegal and unjust war.
Stapp was court-martialed twice. The first time he was found guilty; the second time because his case had attracted so much support from both civilian groups and from troops at Ft. Sill, where Stapp was stationed, Stapp was found not guilty. Finally the Army gave him a dishonorable discharge. The ASU fought for an end to all forms of discrimination in the service, whether by race or by rank, and for the realization of the Constitutional rights of all GI’s. The ASU has been very active in arranging for legal assistance for servicemen. ASU supported the struggles of black marines Harvey and Daniels, seaman Roger Priest, the 43 Ft. Hood Black GI’s, and many other cases. The ASU stresses unity among GI’s. ASU published the Bond. The ASU eventually claimed 10,000 members.
By year’s end, U.S. troop levels reach 463,000 with 16,000 combat deaths to date (more than 9000 in 1967 along with close to 100,000 wounded), with a total of over 1.3 million troops under American command. By this time, over a million American soldiers have rotated through Vietnam, with length of service for draftees being one year, and most Americans serving in support units. An estimated 90,000 soldiers from North Vietnam infiltrated into the South via the Ho Chi Minh trail in 1967. Overall NLF/PAVN troop strength throughout South Vietnam is now estimated up to 300,000 men. Estimates of Vietnamese deaths (North and South, military and civilian) are harder to come by though a 2008 study by the British Medical Journal estates total deaths from 1954-75 at 3.8 million (higher than most western estimates and the official estimate by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (the postwar government) of 3.1 million. See http://mattsteinglass.wordpress.com/2008/06/20/vietnam-war-killed-38-million-vietnamese-not-21-million/ and http://www.bmj.com/content/336/7659/1482.full#REF16