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Military Resistance 12E14
Lament For The Long Forgotten War
“ He Didn’t Shirk Any Of His Years”
High Peaks, Adirondacks, northern New York.
May 24, 2014 by Robert Sharlet, The Rag Blog http://www.theragblog.com/robert-
Robert Sharlet, a long time academic, is co-authoring a memoir of his brother J eff -- a
Vietnam GI and, subsequently, a leader of GI protest against the war -- with his son and
namesake, J eff Sharlet, the writer.
In the interim, the author writes a biweekly blog, Searching for J eff.
Nearly a half century ago this season of remembering the fallen — just after sunset on a
hillside along the border of New York and Canada — the sad sounds of taps echoed
through the hills and valleys.
It was a warm evening summer of ‘67 when hundreds of townspeople — nearly
everyone living in Ausable Forks, a tiny hamlet of 500 or so souls — came out to pay
last respects to a local boy, J ames Saltmarsh, killed a week earlier in Vietnam.
An honor guard had fired 21 rifle volleys as yet another son of the North Country of
upper New York State was laid to rest. Finally, the elegiac lament of the bugle was
heard, closing the burial ceremony in the breathtaking High Peaks region of the
It was just an ordinary rural burial ground, not a hallowed place dedicated to those fallen
in America’s wars.
Over the years I had become familiar with military cemeteries, having visited several
abroad. I rarely came away unaffected by the magisterial simplicity of those solemn
places that call to mind legions of eternal youth no longer walking the earth.
My first such experience was while passing through eastern Poland in the ‘60s. I was
visiting a Polish colleague at a university near Lublin. He took me for a drive; he wanted
to show me something.
We came to a small stately, fenced-in area. Entering, I realized it was a cemetery, but a
very unusual one. There was just a single stone obelisk with Cyrillic script, standing
guard so to speak, over rows of widely spaced, carefully landscaped low mounds, each
with a bronze marker.
This was the burial place of hundreds of Soviet soldiers who fell liberating Poland in
Without a trace of individualization, a fast moving army had buried its dead quickly and
collectively. The men of 8th Guards Army lay with their comrades, regiment by
regiment. I was well aware of the staggering Soviet war losses, but still seeing them up
close left me stunned.
An even more affecting sight greeted me years later in 1990 on the eve of the collapse
of the Soviet Union. Traveling by boat up the Volga, my companions and I went ashore
at the place formerly called Stalingrad, the scene of one of history’s legendary battles,
where well over a million Soviet and German soldiers met their deaths.
Our Russian guide, a young woman, led us to the Soviet victory memorial, a massive
stone building on a bluff above the high banks of river. We entered the structure and
were struck by its eight-story circular atrium accessed by an ascending walkway, every
inch of the soaring walls carved with names of the dead.
Quietly, pointing up the wall, the guide told me her grandfather’s name was inscribed
there. What could one say — I bowed my head. To this day recalling the moment still
brings a tear.
What of the North Country dead for whom there was no victory.
They simply came home to local graveyards in the little towns and villages of the upper
reaches of New York State where they grew up, played football, or marched in the band
— places of several thousand residents with names like Cape Vincent, Hannibal,
Phoenix, Rouses Point, Ticonderoga.
In the small town of Mexico on the shores of Lake Ontario in New York’s Oswego
County — resonant with early American history of this part of the country — the local
high school had lost three recent graduates in less than a year by fall of ‘67.
The great majority of the North Country dead were not drafted — they had enlisted.
Impelling so many to volunteer for an increasingly unpopular war was a region long in
economic decline. Prosperous in the late 18th/early 19th centuries, by the mid-20th the
local industries had seen better times.
Logging was greatly restricted, sawmills shuttered, mining played out. Most of the
riverside mills were long shut down, their giant water wheels turning aimlessly, as most
of the pulp paper companies had moved South in pursuit of cheap labor and less
By the ‘60s, the North Country had become a region of little economic opportunity for the
boys coming out of the small town high schools. Sure, there were community colleges
scattered throughout the region at which draft deferments awaited, but many of the local
guys grew up on farms and had neither interest nor money for pursuing further
With Adirondack unemployment 50 percent above the state average, the military
beckoned to the young men of the North Country, attracted by the combination of
adventure, challenge, and, not least, a paycheck.
As one 20-year old enlisting at a local recruiting station put it, “There just isn’t much for a
young guy to do.”*
Many of the volunteers had been athletes, opting for the Marines or airborne. Often they
virtually went from the football field to distant battlegrounds with exotic names like Dak
To, Quang Nam, Khe Sanh — for so many, places of no return.
The journey was all too frequently a short one. Vietnam tours were 12 and 13 months,
and when a soldier was done, he could head home, “back to the world” as they called it.
Some 58,000 never completed their tours.
They’d go off to war — Basic Training, Advanced Infantry Training, deployment to Nam,
often cut down by enemy fire or a land mine early tour, mid-tour, and sometimes just
weeks before return.
Next of kin notified.
During WWII, notification was by the dreaded telegram, the Western Union guy.
In modern wars with their “lighter” casualties, the bad news can arrive at warp speed,
and is delivered by military personnel. Recently in Mechanicville, New York, just south of
the Adirondacks — by area the smallest town in the state — a middle-aged mother
awaited a call from her Marine son.
Since deployment to Afghanistan just weeks earlier, he rang home every Sunday
morning at 6 a.m. His mother set the alarm, rose early, but no call.
A few hours later a knock at the door — two Marine officers broke the heartbreaking
news, her son had been killed 24 hours earlier — shot in the neck, just over a month in-
country. She told the press he had wanted to serve in Afghanistan adding, “I’m
extremely proud of my son.”**
For the fallen from Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, it’s home in a box, family and neighbors
gather, a sad requiem, the flag folded, presented to the mother — almost always the
mother — the gravediggers at a respectful distance waiting to turn to the final task. What
then of the enduring casualties of war, of all wars, those left behind, parents, young
wives, fatherless children.
Mother of a Fallen Marine, Mechanicville, New York, 2012.
From the mother and father of a Russian soldier killed in the Soviet Afghan War, a final
message carved on his tombstone, “Dearest Igor, You left this life without having known
The lost one is of course buried in the hearts of those who loved him, left now with just
memories and photos.
Some years after Vietnam, in a documentary on the war, an older couple was filmed
sitting quietly in their living room, a picture of a young man in uniform in a silver frame
between them, their only child, a pilot shot down over North Vietnam.
Coping with loss, not for them the revisionism of defeat — we shouldn’t have been there,
lives wasted — no, the war remained a just cause, their son died doing his duty, they
were ever proud.
Or fighting back tears, the same sentiments expressed more recently by the mother of
an Afghan GI, Sgt Orion Sparks: “He didn’t shirk any of his years…. I felt honored that
he was my son and I was able to be part of his life.”****
Long after the guns go silent, time passes, rights and wrongs fade — the parents grow
old, the young widow remarries, children grow up, move away, but the boy who went to
war remains, forever young, in the silver frame on the mantle.
The strange poetry of war obits, the military fanfare at graveside, the heartrending notes
of taps closing a life — all become distant memory. Pain dulls, never goes away.
The young men in those picture frames remain unchanged, the boy who went off to war
looks as we last remember him.
PFC Charles Raver, Phoenix, New York. KIA – Quang Nam, 1968.
And so it was with my brother J eff Sharlet who served in Vietnam, was possibly exposed
to something there — possibly Agent Purple, we don’t know — and died several years
later at 27.
For our parents, now long gone, as for all those North Country families, Igor’s parents in
Russia, and the mothers of those two Afghan GIs — in spite of reaffirming sentiments —
nothing could have been worse than losing a child.
I remember the day we buried J eff.
It was a beautiful sunny J une day in ‘69. I sat between my parents as the limo sped
along broad avenues toward the cemetery, the hearse flanked by two outriders —
booted, helmeted motorcycle policemen in reflecting sunglasses astride big Harleys.
To my distraught mind, two images came to the fore — a scene from the 1950 French
film Orpheus when death, a striking woman cloaked in black, arrives by limo, preceded
by goggled motorcycle outriders, submachine guns slung, announcing her authority; and
then as we approached the gates of the cemetery, the more gentle image from the lines
of Emily Dickinson’s poem:
Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me …
Since then ‘tis centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.
*New York Times, J uly 12, 1967
**Albany (NY) Times-Union, December 3, 2012
***S Alexievich, Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War (1992)
****Military Resistance #10J 11, October 21, 2012
Many good men never came back from Nam. Some came back disabled in mind. J eff
Sharlet came back a pretty together cat--and he came back angry. J eff started VGI, and
for almost two years poured his life into it, in an endless succession of 18-hour days
trying to organize men to fight for their own rights.
On Monday, J une 16th, at 2:45 pm, J eff died in the Miami VA Hospital. He died of a
sudden heart failure, brought on by the uncontrollable growth of the cancer that had
earlier destroyed his kidney. There was no way to save him. He was only 27 years old.
Rather than wait for the draft, like so many others J eff went RA. With dreams of seeing
Europe, he applied for “translator-interpreter”, and found himself at the US Army
Language School at Monterey, California. But instead of French, Czech or German, he
was assigned a strange language called “Vietnamese”--. spoken in a country he couldn’t
even find on the map. For eleven months in 1962 he was drilled in Vietnamese.
In 1963 he was assigned to Army Security Agency, and left for his first tour in Nam.
Stationed in Saigon awhile, J eff witnessed the ARVN coup that overthrew Saigon
dictator Ngo Diem. On his second tour his ASA unit was stationed near Phu Bai.
Engaged in top-secret work monitoring, decoding and translating North Vietnamese
radio messages, they wore AF uniforms and worked at a small air base. But every time
they went into the bars, every bargirl could reel off all the facts about their mission.
Speaking the language well, J eff could talk to many Vietnamese about what was
happening to their country. He spent long hours questioning ex-Foreign Legion men,
who’d settled in Vietnam after the French left, peasants, ARVN officers, students, and
even suspected VC agents. By the time he ETSed in J uly, 1964 he’d put a lot of pieces
Jeff went back to school, and got his college degree (with honors) from Indiana
University in 1967. During his “ GI Bill years” he joined the peace movement, and
became chairman of his local chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. But
he had become increasingly disillusioned about the student movement, and felt
that its shallowness and snotty attitude towards other people made it ineffective.
That summer he went to New York City to work with Vietnam Veterans Against the
War, and it was there that he decided to try to organize other GIs to fight the
Jeff had won a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for graduate study at the University of
Chicago. He enrolled and” picked up his check. From then on all his time and
money were sunk into starting a newspaper for servicemen.
After two years of endless traveling, fund-raising and writing, J eff’s drive started to fade.
That restless energy that had brought him countless miles to base after base wasn’t
there. After his last trip to Ft. Hood in the Fall of 1968, J eff complained that he was
really beat, burnt out. We all agreed that he should go “on leave” and take a rest.
It was while visiting friends in Boston that the first really severe pains started. J eff flew
home to Florida, and entered the hospital. From there it was steadily downhill all the
way. The removal of his left kidney, massive radiation treatments, drugs--nothing
stopped the growth of his cancer. At the end he was weak and emaciated, without
enough breath in his lungs to speak for more than a few sentences. He said that he had
many new ideas for our fight, but was just too exhausted to talk about them.
J eff was a truly rare man. He was our friend and comrade, and those of us who came
together in this fight will never forget him. VGI, the paper that so many readers called
“the truth paper,” will go on fighting.
AFGHANISTAN WAR REPORTS
Two Americans Hurt In Attack On US
Consulate Vehicle In Afghanistan
May 28, 2014 By Laura Smith-Spark and Khushbu Shah, CNN [Excerpts]
Two Americans were injured Wednesday in Afghanistan when a U.S. Consulate vehicle
was attacked while traveling through the western city of Herat, the U.S. Embassy in
The Americans were “lightly injured” and are being treated in a hospital in the city, the
The U.S. government is working with Afghan authorities to investigate the attack and
bring those behind it to justice, it said.
KABUL: Two army personnel were killed and nine other wounded, when a bus carrying
them was hit an explosive laden motorcycle in Qala-e-Zaman Khan area of the capital
Kabul, an official said Monday.
A defense ministry official confirmed the incident and said at least two people were killed
and nine others were injured in the blast, when a bomber detonated his explosives
motorcycle near a vehicle carrying the defense ministry personnel in Kabul 16th police
district at 3:15 pm.
Kabul police spokesman, Hashmatullah Stanekzai had earlier said some defense
ministry personnel were killed or injured some of them critically during the heavy
explosion left deadly incident.
However he said the exact number of casualties was not still clear.
May 26 Associated Press
KABUL, Afghanistan -- A bomber riding a motorcycle on Monday killed two Afghan
defense ministry staffers and wounded at least nine others after he rammed into a bus
carrying soldiers and civilian employees who were returning home from work.
Gen. Kadam Shah Sheem, Kabul military commander, said the bombing took place in
eastern Kabul city and targeted a bus full of officers, soldiers and defense ministry staff
that had just left a nearby military base. He said one of the dead was an officer and the
other a civilian.
The explosion took place in the eastern part of Kabul, capital but was powerful enough
to be heard across town.
An eyewitness, shopkeeper Mohammad Shakor, said the attack took place on a bumpy
dirt road near a grave yard. He said the bus had just unloaded four women passengers
and was driving away when the explosion took place.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in text
message to The Associated Press.
SOMALIA WAR REPORTS
Al Shabaab Militants Stormed
Somalia’s Parliament On
“ Ten Government Forces Died And
14 Others Were Injured In The Attack
Today. Four Lawmakers Were Also
“ The Federal Government Is Exercising
May 24, 2014 By Feisal Omar and Abdirahman Hussein, Reuters [Excerpts]
Al Shabaab militants stormed Somalia’s parliament on Saturday, killing at least 10
security officers in a bomb and gun assault that the United States condemned as a
“heinous act of terrorism.”
The attack started with a car bomb at a gate to the heavily fortified parliament
compound, followed by a suicide bombing and then a gun battle that continued for
“Ten government forces died and 14 others were injured in the attack today. Four
lawmakers were also injured.
Somali government soldiers run to their positions during a clash with Al Shabaab militants outside
the Parliament in the capital Mogadishu, May 24, 2014. Credit: REUTERS/Omar Faruk
“Seven of the fighters who attacked the house were also killed as you see their bodies,”
Kasim Ahmed Roble, a police spokesman, told reporters at the scene.
A spokesman for al Shabaab, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, said the group’s fighters had
killed 30 people. “We killed 30 from the AU (African Union) and from the various forces
of the so-called Somali government,” he said.
Reuters witnesses saw four bodies at the scene and a soldier fall from a rooftop after
being shot. Reuters television pictures showed a large pool of blood near a blast site,
and a man with his shirt drenched in blood running away from the scene.
The fighting continued for hours after the initial explosion, with gunfire and smaller blasts
being heard around the parliament.
After the blast, Somalia’s security minister said on state radio he was resigning,
while the president said on the same radio he was cutting short his trip to South
Africa, where he had gone to attend President Jacob Zuma’s inauguration.
A Western diplomat who has worked with regional intelligence agencies said the attack
would add to pressure on President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud from about 100
parliamentarians who last month called for him to be impeached over worsening
“ The federal government is exercising no control,” the diplomat said. “ Those ... in
parliament will start asking questions: What is this guy achieving?”
The diplomat said the attack showed that a surge by the African Union
peacekeeping troops had not weakened al Shabaab’s capacity to wage
asymmetric warfare in the capital, where coordination between Somali and foreign
intelligence agencies is poor.
“ Because intelligence is fragmented, al Shabaab is slipping through the net,” said
“ They are becoming more dangerous.”
“ At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. Oh had
I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, pour out a fiery stream of
biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke.
“ For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder.
“ We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.”
“ The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they
Frederick Douglass, 1852
The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to
-- Karl Marx, “ Theses on Feuerbach”
May 24, 2014
Veteran’s rights lawyer, Director of Citizen Soldier, a non-profit GI and veterans’ rights
advocacy group based in New York City.
Veteran’s Rights Activism]
Ensign co-founded Citizen Soldier in 1969 to advocate on behalf of GIs and veterans
who work to oppose command-tolerated racism, sexism, homophobia and militarism.
Currently, the group has 7,500 members nationwide, who provide nearly all of its
As an attorney, Ensign participated in a broad range of legal cases involving GIs and
veterans over the past 35 years. Two notable cases are the Agent Orange class action,
which attempted to hold chemical manufacturers liable for the injuries their herbicide
caused Vietnam veterans and their offspring and the Vietnam-Era Winter Soldier
Investigation and National Veterans Inquiry.
Following the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Citizen Soldier attorneys, including Ensign,
have counseled hundreds of GIs and reservists who are seeking alternatives to serving
in what many regard as an illegal war.
The most celebrated case is Citizen Soldier’s defense of Sgt. Camilo Mejia, 28 of Miami,
Florida. Mejia was the first US combat veteran to refuse further service in Iraq. He based
his refusal on his duty, on international law, that it is illegal to obey military orders that
violate international law. During his five months in Iraq, he said he witnessed command-
sanctioned shooting of civilians, abuse of detainees and other violations. Mejia’s
defense team has appealed the military judge’s refusal to allow any expert testimony at
his court martial regarding illegal US military operations by his unit.
He founded The Different Drummer coffeehouse near Watertown, NY, which strove to
connect and inform service members.
Since 2000, Ensign served on the executive board of the National Gulf War Resource
Center, a coalition of Gulf War advocacy groups that advocates for research and health
care for veterans from both Gulf wars. (He is the only non-veteran serving on this board).
Ensign held two law degrees, a Master of Laws (LLM) from NYU and J uris Doctor (J .D.)
from Wayne State University and a BA from Michigan State University.
He was the author of Military Life and America’s Military Today (The New Press) and a
co-author, with Michael Uhl, of GI Guinea Pigs.
[Thanks to SSG N (ret’d) who sent this in.]
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In God We Trust
From: Mike Hastie
To: Military Resistance Newsletter
Sent: May 26, 2014
Subject: In God We Trust
In God We Trust
Behind every war is the love of money.
Army Medic Vietnam
May 26, 2014
Photo and caption from the portfolio of Mike Hastie, US Army Medic, Vietnam
1970-71. (For more of his outstanding work, contact at:
One day while I was in a bunker in Vietnam, a sniper round went over my head.
The person who fired that weapon was not a terrorist, a rebel, an extremist, or a
so-called insurgent. The Vietnamese individual who tried to kill me was a citizen
of Vietnam, who did not want me in his country. This truth escapes millions.
U.S. Army Medic
December 13, 2004
Platoon Leader Hospitalized After
Horrific Car Accident, No One Notices
Photo Credit: W. Robert Hall
May 12, 2014 By ArmyJ , The Duffle Blog
FORT DRUM, N.Y. — A platoon leader with 2nd Platoon Charlie Co., 2-22 Infantry
Regiment was recently hospitalized for more than five days without a single person in his
unit noticing he was missing, Duffel Blog has learned.
Having been sideswiped by a drunk driver on Thursday, Lt. Sherman Park, a motivated
graduate of the United States Military Academy, suffered eight broken ribs, a fractured
left orbital, and a punctured lung. His brain also incurred a significant amount of
“I was shocked as hell to find out,” said Specialist J esus Montoya, Park’s Radio
Telephone Operator (RTO). “The guy usually walks in and hands me some shitty notes
scrawled on a piece of paper and tells me to turn it into a Power Point slide. I just
figured that he finally decided to do his own work.”
As Park lingered in the hospital between life and death, his platoon executed both a live-
fire range, as well as 24 hours of land navigation, all without receiving a single piece of
misunderstood guidance, or contradictory instructions.
The unit was even released on time without another pointless meeting to discuss
everything that had already been covered in the safety briefing.
Staff Sgt. Marvin Wallace, Park’s 1st Squad Leader, was equally surprised. “We did a
platoon run this morning and I didn’t hear the PL shrieking for someone to call cadence
‘the West Point way.’ We just all hoped he realized how fucking lame it was.”
The only person not surprised was Park’s platoon sergeant, Sergeant First Class Victor
“Fuck yeah I knew he was gone. I realized it after I made it through an entire day
without a stupid-ass question about a piece of equipment, or the best ways to earn the
respect of his ‘men’. Best fucking day of my life,” he said, smiling before spitting a large
wad of tobacco onto the floor underneath his platoon leader’s chair.
“There’s no way in hell I was going to tell anyone else about it. Too bad the CO wanted
him to do the monthly inventory. That’s how they finally found out he was in the
At press time, Park had returned to his unit with absolutely no fanfare, as most of his
soldiers still had not realized he had been gone.
May 29, 1932:
Betrayed Veterans March On
The St. Louis contingent of the Bonus Expeditionary Force is pictured here as it starts for
Washington, D.C., in May 1932.
Carl Bunin Peace History May 28-J une 3
In the depths of the Great Depression, the “ Bonus Expeditionary Force,” a group
of 1,000 World War I veterans seeking cash payments for their veterans’ bonus
certificates, arrived in Washington, D.C.
By mid-J une, they had set up a massive “Hooverville,” a contemporary term for an
encampment of the homeless.
One month later, other veteran groups made their way to the nation’s capital, swelling
the Bonus Marchers to nearly 20,000 strong, most of them unemployed veterans in
difficult financial straits.
In direct violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, they were violently disbanded by
the Army in July.
May 30, 1937:
The Memorial Day Massacre:
Chicago Police Cowards Murder
Striking Steel Workers:
“ All But Four Of The Fifty-Four Gunshot
Wounds Were To The Side Or Back And
One Victim Was Shot Four Times”
Carl Bunin Peace History May 28-J une 3
1000 striking steel workers (and members of their families), on their way to picket at the
Republic Steel plant in south Chicago where they were organizing a union, were stopped
by the Chicago Police.
In what became known as the “Memorial Day Massacre,” police shot and killed 10
fleeing workers, wounded 30 more, and beat 55 so badly they required hospitalization.
The Memorial Day Massacre of 1937
The 1930s was a period of economic unrest for the United States. Following the
prosperous “roaring twenties”, the Great Depression hit the general population hard.
Many employees were fired and those who were not lost much of their former salary.
Then, in 1933, as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, the National Recovery Act
was passed. One of its most important concessions to laborers was the right to organize
and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing.
The number of strikes nationwide grew to the highest amount in American history.
When the National Recovery Act was declared unconstitutional in 1935, Congress was
still sympathetic to the young labor unions that had been formed under it. They soon
passed the Wagner Act, or National Labor Relations Act, to reassert the rights of the
By the 1930s the steel industry had survived much adversity, yet there were still
changes to come.
The Committee for Industrial Organization, (CIO), was founded in November 1935.
Encouraged by the CIO, the steel industry became one of the first to begin organizing
under the Wagner Act. Accordingly, on J une 17, 1936 The Steel Workers Organizing
Committee, (SWOC), was created. The industry itself did not accept this movement.
Many companies began to stock up on tear-gas, firearms, and ammunition as well
as, refining their espionage and police systems.
After a long struggle for further organization and acceptance within the steel industry, the
United States Steel Corporation, (the leading producer of steel, dubbed “Big Steel”),
signed an agreement recognizing SWOC. This contract allowed for five dollar a day
wages in addition to a 40-hour week with time-and-a-half for overtime. By May 1937,
there were 110 firms under contract.
Still, some companies refused to sign. In response, SWOC called its first strike involving
25,000 workmen against J ones and Laughlin Steel Corporation. Thirty-six hours later,
the corporation agreed to a Labor Board election. The union won 17,028 to 7,207.
Despite this enormous victory, a combination of “Little Steel” companies including
Bethlehem Steel, Republic Steel, Inland Steel, and Youngstown Sheet & Tube, refused
Their leaders had strong anti-union attitudes and felt that the U.S. steel decision to
“surrender” to SWOC was a betrayal. Tom Girdler, chairman of the Board of Republic
Steel, was one particularly influential anti-union spokesperson.
The company anticipated a strike so they placed a stockpile of industrial
munitions at various plants of Republic Steel.
Then, on May 26, 1937, SWOC decided to strike three of the “Little Steel” companies:
Republic, Youngstown Sheet & Tube, and Inland. Most of the plants ceased production
during the strike; they were willing to wait it out because the steelworkers’ union strike
benefits were meager.
Picket lines were set up at these plants to prevent any attempt to reopen them.
However, Republic Steel remained defiant and refused to close all of its plants. They
even housed non-union workers in the plant, so they could continue working without the
hassle of picket lines outside.
One of these plants was the Republic Steel South Chicago Plant.
One half of this plant’s 2,200 employees had joined the strike. When the walkout began
on May 26, the police interfered in an attempt to prevent other non-committed workers
from joining the cause. The SWOC organizers attempted to form a picket line in front of
Police Captain J ames Mooney, despite the fact that the picketers were peaceful, broke
up the line and arrested 23 people who refused to move. The rest were forced to 117th
Street, 2 blocks from the plant.
Because of this action, the police no longer played an impartial role in the strike.
Instead, they were clearly supportive of Republic.
Strike headquarters were established in Sam’s Place, at 113th and Green Bay Avenue.
Chicago mayor, Edward J . Kelley, announced in the Chicago Tribune that peaceful
picketing would be permitted. In response to this article, the strikers attempted to
establish pickets, but were turned away.
On the next day, at around 5:00 PM, another attempt was made to picket. The marchers
marched from Sam’s Place to 117th Street. There were a few policemen present, but
the marchers continued west towards Burley Avenue.
Once the marchers reached Buffalo the police line had strengthened a great deal. The
workers continued and fighting broke out. The police used clubs to fight the workers
back. A few had drawn revolvers without orders and discharged them in the air. No one
was killed, but there were several bloody heads.
May 28 was a quiet day, but the marchers were upset with police actions.
Nick Fontecchio, a Union leader, called for a mass meeting at Sam’s Place the next day,
Memorial Day Sunday. Captain Mooney received an anonymous report that on Sunday
an attempt would be made to invade the plant to drive out the remaining non-union
workers. He did not check the rumor, but proceeded to station 264 policemen on duty at
the Republic Steel Mill.
By 3:00 p.m. on May 30, 1937, a crowd of around 1500 strikers had gathered. It
was a sunny, warm day with the temperature at around 88 degrees.
Many of the union members and supporters had brought along their wives and
children to join in this almost festive gathering organized by SWOC leader Joe
Hunt. Several speakers addressed various labor issues most importantly, the
right to organize and picket.
Some resolutions were approved to send to government officials concerning police
conduct at the Republic plant. It was then moved to march to the plant and establish a
When this was approved about 1000 people went into formation behind two American
flags. Instead of marching south down Green Bay Avenue, they turned onto a dirt road
across an open prairie chanting, “CIO, CIO!”
When the police, saw this they moved their position from 117th street between Green
Bay and Burley Avenue to across the dirt road, just north of 117th on Burley.
The 200 police were in double file and watched the approaching marchers with their
clubs drawn. The Republic mill had armed some of the officers with non-regulation clubs
and tear gas.
The marchers met the police line and demanded that their rights to picket be recognized
by the police letting them through.
They were “commanded in the name of the law to disperse”, but the picketers persisted.
This continued for several minutes. While marchers armed themselves with rocks and
branches, foul language was passed between the two parties. Tension was mounting.
Recording all of this was cameraman Orland Lippert. Unfortunately, he was changing
lenses at the start of the actual violence. This has caused some dispute as to which
side initiated the fighting. The following account, determined at the hearings under
Senator Robert LaFollette, is generally accepted.
Police were trying to prevent marchers from outflanking their line.
As some strikers began to retreat a stick flew from the back of the line towards the
police. Instantaneously, tear gas bombs were thrown at the marchers. The next few
moments were total chaos.
More objects were thrown at the police by the marchers.
Acting without orders, several policemen in the front drew their revolvers and
fired point blank at the marcher’s ranks, many of whom were beginning to retreat.
The actual shooting only continued for fifteen seconds, but the violence did not
end there. Using their clubs, the police beat anyone in their paths, including
women and children.
During this time, arrests were also made. Patrol wagons were filled to twice the
mandated capacity of 8 prisoners. The injured were not even taken directly to
As a result of this atrocity, four marchers were fatally shot and six were mortally
wounded. Thirty others suffered gunshot wounds.
Thirty-eight were hospitalized due to injuries from the beatings and still thirty more
required other medical treatment.
It is noteworthy that all but four of the fifty-four gunshot wounds were to the side
or back and one victim was shot four times.
There were minor police casualties with thirty-five reported injuries, (no gunshot
wounds), but only three needed overnight hospital care.
After the riot, sympathetic strikers fervently protested the police brutality. On the other
hand, the press, especially the Chicago Tribune, portrayed the marchers as communist
conspirators who had essentially attacked the police and attempted to throw out non-
The LaFollette Committee investigated this tragedy and came to four conclusions.
First, the police had no right to limit the number of peaceful pickets and that the march
was not aimed at freeing remaining plant workers.
Second, the police should have halted the march with limited violence, if this action is
Third, the force used by the police was excessive and the marcher’s only methods of
provocation were abusive language and throwing of isolated missiles.
Fourth, the police could have avoided the bloodshed.
In addition to those killed in the Memorial Day Massacre, 6 other union members
lost their lives in pickets of the “ Little Steel” strike of 1937. In fact, the “ Little
Steel” strike is surpassed by few in the areas of viciousness, press distortion,
suppression of rights, and police brutality.
The strike was called off when the many hardships suffered began to demoralize union
workers. However, in August of 1941, under legal pressure, the Little Steel companies
agreed to cease the committing of unfair labor practices. A year later, they signed their
first contract recognizing the new union, United Steelworkers of America.
The massacre has been referred to as the “ blackest day of modern labor history” ,
but the sacrifices of these workers were not in vain. Little Steel had only delayed
the inevitable march of unionism in America.
CLASS WAR REPORTS
Ukrainian Miners Go On Indefinite
Strike Against The Government:
‘Our Peaceful Citizens Are Being Killed,
And We Cannot Simply Stand By And
Miners rally in Donetsk, Ukraine, May 28, 2014. Coalminers in the Donbass coalfields
have gone on an open-ended strike to demand Ukrainian troops and other forces leave
the Donetsk Region, the first deputy coal minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk
Peopleâs Republic, Konstantin Kuzmin, has told ITAR-TASS. Poster reads “No to
Fascism!’ (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
May 28, 2014 by Timur Dautov, Marxism [Excerpts]
Miners of the Donetsk region stopped work yesterday, starting an all-out strike in protest
against the Ukrainian army’s continuing offensive and demanding an end to the “anti-
terrorist operation” (ATO) in the region; several pits in the Donbas are taking part already
and the strikes appears to be spreading to more mines.
More recently, Rinat Akhmetov, the richest oligarch in Ukraine and the owner of much of
the South-East’s industry, has called for his workers’ to mobilise against the Peoples’
Republics who are threatening him with expropriation – a call which ended in complete
Today, on the other hand, we see genuine strike action on the Donbas miners’ own
initiative. This industrial action is in a similar vein to the Luhansk miners’ strike in April,
which demanded wage increases as well as the reinstatement of workers who were
sacked for taking part in protests in Luhansk.
Following the beginning of the strike on Tuesday 27 May, this morning (28 May) several
hundred miners demonstrated in Donetsk, carrying Donetsk People’s Republic’s flags
and chanting the slogan “No to fascism in the Donbas!”; one protester is reported as
saying: “We do not want to see troops here. Our children are afraid to go on the streets.
Our peaceful citizens are being killed, and we cannot simply stand by and watch”.
Another has stated: “I want peace and to be able to work and make money. I want the
occupying soldiers to leave and return to their Kiev junta”.
Some officials from the “Independent Miners’ Trade Union”, such as Mykola Volynko,
who is not only a trade union bureaucrat but also a former parliamentary candidate of
the nationalist “Batkivshchyna” (Fatherland) party in the 2012 elections, attempt to
distance themselves from the events and are very eager to point that they “did not
organise this action”.
This shows how this “Independent” union has become an instrument of capitalist politics
rather than working class representation, specifically linked to Tymoshenko’s
These strikes have a clearly political nature, showing the workers’ rejection of the
extreme nationalist and radically neo-liberal Kiev authorities which to them can only
mean cuts, deteriorating living standards, and attacks of fascist gangs on workers’
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Protesters Against Thai Military
Dictatorship Swarm Army Humvee
May 28, 2014 Bangkok. People confronted troops and police at the Victory Monument.
Protesters jeered and spray-painted “Get Out” and “No Coup” over an army Humvee.
DANGER: CAPITALISTS AT WORK
Israel Demolishes Negev Mosque
As Ethnic Cleansing Continues:
“ Part Of The Wider Ethnic Cleansing
Of The Area By Which Israel Wants
To Displace 60,000 Palestinian Arabs
From Their Traditional Home In The
“ The People In The Negev Have The
Right To Live On Their Own Land”
23 May 2014 The Middle East Monitor
Israeli bulldozers guarded by a large force of police started to demolish the mosque in
Wadi Al-Niam in the Negev on Thursday amid residents’ fears that authorities could also
demolish homes in the village. A demolition order had been nailed to the mosque wall a
few days earlier.
The Negev Foundation for Land and Man denounced the demolition, describing the
Israeli act as a blatant assault on the sanctity of the mosque and on Arab rights to live in
the Negev. It also noted that the demolition violates the right to freedom of worship as
well as international laws and conventions.
The foundation also condemned the police attacks on the residents of Wadi Al-Niam, the
demolition of their homes, the confiscation of their property and the destruction of their
crops. It stressed that the indigenous people of the Negev Desert are determined to stay
in their homes in the face of Israeli scheming and force. It appealed to Arabs in Israel
and the Arabs of the Negev in particular to stand by the people of Wadi Al-Niam.
The Islamic movement in the Negev said that the demolition of the Wadi Al-Niam
mosque is a criminal act by the Israelis. It is, the movement said in a statement, part of
the wider ethnic cleansing of the area by which Israel wants to displace 60,000
Palestinian Arabs from their traditional home in the desert so that J ewish settlers and the
Israeli army can move in.
“The people in the Negev have the right to live on their own land,” said the Islamic
movement. “They have the right to build on it and live on it and worship on it.” The
demolitions, the statement added, will only increase the people’s resolve to stay put on
The movement called on all human rights organisations and institutions in the Negev to
stand side by side with the people of Wadi Al Niam, defend their legitimate rights and
confront Israel’s ethnic cleansing.
Two Unarmed Palestinians Killed
By Occupation Troops During
Nakba Day Demonstration:
“ Nine Others Critically Wounded,
According To Hospital Staff”
“ Naser Carried Abu Nuwara Into An
Ambulance After The Protesters
Removed Him From The Street While
Israeli Soldiers Continued To Fire”
Palestinian mourners in the plaza of Ramallah public hospital, after two youths were
killed by Israeli soldiers during a Nakba Day demonstration. (Photo: Allison Deger)
Palestinians protesting the death of two youths killed outside of Ofer Prison during a
Nakba day demonstration. (Photo: Allison Deger)
May 15, 2014 by Allison Deger, Mondoweiss.net
Two Palestinians were killed and a third is in critical condition after being shot by the
Israeli military outside of Ofer prison in the West Bank at an annual Nakba Day protest.
The youths were struck with live-fire and nine others critically wounded, according to
The Nakba (literally “catastrophe”) refers to the 1947-49 expulsion of over 750,000
Palestinians who were forcibly evicted or fled from their villages, thus creating a refugee
population that today has reached seven million.
Nadime Siam Abu Nuwara, 17, from Mazra’a Qabiya was shot by a single bullet to the
heart at 12:30 pm. Mohammed Awad Salemeh Abu Thaher, 22, from Abu Khadem was
killed just before 2:00 pm from a bullet to the lower abdomen.
Mohammed Azza, 22, from Sharaeh was taken to an intensive care unit after being shot
in the chest.
“The bullet went in and out,” said Ahmad Naser, 27, an emergency medical responder
with Physicians for Palestine, pointing to his heart and back.
Naser carried Abu Nuwara into an ambulance after the protesters removed him from the
street while Israeli soldiers continued to fire, he said. He died in an ambulance en route
During the demonstration the Israeli army also fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and sound
grenades. The military also used a bulldozer to uproot seven old-growth olive trees to
create a pathway for army J eeps. Emergency medical staff said the youths threw stones
at the Israeli forces.
At the hospital around 300 Palestinians poured into the plaza of Ramallah’s public
Two more injured Palestinians were rushed from stretchers into the emergency room. By
7:00 pm nine others had been shot with live-fire said a doctor, although Naser said the
clashes with the Israeli army were still ongoing at the time of the publication of this
While I spoke to Naser, he leapt to treat a female relative of one of the youths killed as
she lost consciousness in the hospital’s lobby.
In the rear of the medical complex, youths gathered outside the morgue to view the
bodies of the deceased. Tearful teens were with their parents.
The mother of Abu Thaher was brought over by two relatives that helped her walk in
grief. Once inside she wailed until exasperated and then was carried out.
Following the viewing, Palestinians marched through central Ramallah, asking shop
owners to give condolences by shuttering their stores.
A second main Nakba Day march took place earlier outside of Bethlehem in the rural
village of al-Walaja. Two hundred marched from the town’s edge towards an Israeli
military road. The Israeli army fired tear gas and sound grenades. The youths also threw
stones at the army.
In 1948 all of al-Walaja’s residents were forcibly evicted from their original village, now
inside of Israel. They resettled on their agricultural land two kilometers away, which is
presently in the West Bank. Some became refugees in nearby camps around J erusalem
Since the 1948 Nakba, the village has suffered a series of additional expropriations for
Israeli settlement growth and military outposts. The inhabitants now face a “secondary
displacement,” characterized by post-Oslo planning that is under full Israeli control, said
Lubnah Shomali with BADIL, the Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and
Refugee Rights, a Nakba commemoration coordinator.
“Al-Walaja, it represents past displacement as well as current displacement so it’s a
symbol of the on-going Nakba, a Nakba that is continuous—continuous forcible
population transfer,” she explained.
Occupation Marks 66th
Anniversary Of The Nakba By
Destroying More Palestinian
“ Um Amin Shqirat Told The Local
News Agency Quds Net That She
Returned From The Clinic To Find
The Israeli Bulldozers Razing Her
140m-House, Where A 12-Member
“ In Sho’fat, The Occupation Authorities
Destroyed A Commercial Shop Owned
By Mohamed Awadallah, Who Said That
The Walls Of His Shop Were More Than
80 Years Old”
‘The workshop was built 14 years ago,” J aber said, “and the Israeli bulldozers razed it
without providing any warning.’
15 May 2014 The Middle East Monitor
On the 66th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, or disaster, the Israeli occupation
authorities destroyed a number of Palestinian properties in the occupied city of
Palestinian resident Um Amin Shqirat told the local news agency Quds Net that she
returned from the clinic to find the Israeli bulldozers razing her 140m-house, where a 12-
member family lived.
Um Amin explained that they had lived in their house for only one year. During that year,
the Israeli occupation authorities handed them a demolition order for erecting an
While walking amongst the rubble searching for personal documents and lost money,
she said: “The Israeli municipality has been attempting to expel us for a long time. We
applied for a building licence several times, but the Israeli occupation authorities always
denied our applications.”
Meanwhile, the occupation authorities destroyed the 55m-shop store belonging to Musa
Al-Natsheh from Al-Ashqariyeh neighbourhood in Beit Hanina.
Al-Natsheh told Quds Net that the Israeli occupation authorities encircled his house and
his store, which are adjacent to each other, and then started the demolition. He noted
that they demolished the store under the pretext of it being built without permission.
In Sho’fat, the occupation authorities also destroyed a commercial shop owned by
Mohamed Awadallah, who said that the walls of his shop were more than 80 years
Awadallah provided to Quds Net aerial images as well as documents issued by
official Israeli departments proving the age of the building.
Four years ago, he installed an aluminium ceiling for his shop, which was deemed
illegal and he was forced to pay a NIS 20,000 fine for violating the law.
He added that he had even dismantled the ceiling after a demand by the Israeli
occupation authorities, but that was useless.
“ The authorities violently broke into the neighbourhood, obliged my family to
leave the house and started the demolition,” he said.
At the same time, the occupation authorities destroyed an aluminium workshop in the
Rasul-Amoud neighbourhood. The 100m-workshop belonged to Sifyan J aber.
“The workshop was built 14 years ago,” J aber said, “and the Israeli bulldozers razed it
without providing any warning.”
J aber said that his losses were estimated to be more than NIS 110,000. He said that the
workshop supported the livelihood of about 20 persons.
To check out what life is like under a murderous military occupation commanded
by foreign terrorists, go to:
The occupied nation is Palestine. The foreign terrorists call themselves “ Israeli.”
DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK
Vietnam GI: Reprints Available
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rocked the world, attracting attention even from Time Magazine, and extremely
hostile attention from the chain of command.
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