Anti-War Movement in Vietnam Within the Ranks
Because of the drugs and the people I was hanging around with, I became somewhat of a revolutionist while in Vietnam. I remember one day, while passing the day away in the bone yard (the salvage yard for wrecked helicopters), one of my buddies said to me, “I know what you are. You’re a revolutionist.” I’d never really thought of myself in that way, but it was what I was becoming. I was the one who had thrown the first smoke grenade into the officer’s and NCO’s barracks during the middle of a night while they were sleeping.
Our time in Vietnam wasn’t just about getting high and thumbing our noses at authority; we honestly felt we had a purpose that went along with the revolution that was happening at the time. If we were going to do something about it we had to be willing to make sacrifices as well, even if it meant getting discharged from the army with something other than an honorable discharge.
We were constantly reminded of the song that Country Joe and the Fish sang at Woodstock. We were there to give Uncle Sam a helping hand by disrupting the war by thumbing our noses at our responsibilities and authority even if we did get kicked out of the army. In my unit, three of us received discharges other than honorable. We were part of the Woodstock generation whose ideals opposed the war.
My first opportunity to rehabilitate was when I received the Article 15, which was only a 60 day suspension and $50.00 fine. If I would have made it through the 60 days without any other incidents, I would have gotten back my SP4 rank. When that didn’t happen, I had to decide whether to get serious about rehabilitating or getting out on a general discharge.
Up until that point, I hadn’t really given much thought to getting out of the Army early with a discharge other than honorable. As things had taken this turn, I began to give it a lot of thought. I decided that staying in for another year-and-a-half was going to be too difficult with the way things were now going. So I made a conscientious decision to do what I could to get a general discharge under honorable conditions.
Once at the 165th Transportation Company, I made it clear to my new Commanding Officer that I was not going to rehabilitate, but was bent on getting out. He made it clear to me that he didn’t want to be a part of the same army I was in, which meant he was going to do his part in getting rid of me.
During the months after making the decision to get out of the army with a general discharge, I was in constant conflict with the spiritual values I was beginning to experience. I knew that they were in direct contradiction to the path I was on in trying to get out of the Army. I prayed that God would somehow take the crooked path I had sown and make it straight someday. Thankfully, He eventually did!
I had joined the Army for three years and just after 21 months on—June 21, 1971—I was out for good. I didn’t even have to do the three years reserve duty. I was fully discharged with all the benefits.