Friday, March 5, 2010

Vietnam GI, June 1968

A quick post today of an important underground paper. I've been scanning some of the underground papers again lately and have done a poor job of getting my old scans up, so here's an older post that is nonetheless fresh to my blog. Looking back, I'm not terribly impressed with the appearance of the scan, but this is the nitty gritty after all...

Scrollable Image

Get the scan here

I am very fortunate that I came across this paper in a cheap lot of politically-oriented papers because it is most certainly very different from most of the papers I will be scanning. There were about 60 underground GI papers that would publish near or on military bases here and abroad, often covertly. Most were black and white and carried news out of Vietnam outside of normal channels. They covered issues in the life of the soldier and how to survive the army and your stay in Vietnam. Generals and officers were lambasted and demonized, often rightly so, for their treatment of enlisted men. Distribution was problematic, there was little advertising, and soldiers could get in lots of trouble just for having these. Some of the papers were offshoots of the leftist underground press and somewhat propagandistic. Many were authentic, and almost all at least served to some extent to carry the messages of the average GI and the horrors of war.

The man behind Vietnam GI was Jeff Sharlet.

He served a tour of duty and would become involved with the SDS. He was prominent in organizing resistance to the war by Vietnam vets, one group that many believe had the largest impact in eventually swaying public opinion.

A wiki on Sharlet and the Vietnam GI:

Linked from that page is an amazing resource, put together by the makers of Sir! No Sir! a 2005 documentary on resistance to the war by solders and veterans. This is a great archive with covers from these papers and searchable text articles. I wholeheartedly applaud the filmmakers for making their research more widely available:

A recent book on the subject by James Lewes:

Protest and Survive: Underground GI Newspapers During the Vietnam War

Read this issue! An insider's look at the war! The clusterfuck that was Khe Sanh, soldiers as guinea pigs for food irradiation, how an MP feels about the "peace creeps," anti-war letters to the paper from men in the trenches, Westmoreland in Wonderland, candid and uncensored photos, an anti-gun control statement, the VCs wear no bras?, an interview with a woman marine, and the short timers code of conduct.

Of course, I can't post this without a mention of today's war, our war, the war in the middle east. Will we ever leave? What exactly did we learn from the Vietnam war? And what's happened to dissent and protest from within the media and without? Is our modern media even capable of aiding dissent or has it become yet another arm of the corporate-political-military-industrial complex that profits from war in the first place??



This weekend, Liberty! Leslie Thrasher, Achmed Abdullah, Jack Dempsey, Walter Baumhofer, James M. Cain, and more...


Andy Shaw said...

Great work getting this online. Not to be a hog, but do you by any chance have the September 1968 issue of Vietnam GI? It covers the Fort Hood 43 who refused to do riot patrol at the Chicago 1968 Democratic convention. Thanks!

darwination said...

Hey Andy,

This is the only issue of this newspaper that I've come across, so I don't have the issue you are looking for. Outside of library collections, I'd say the GI papers are extremely scarce, as I pretty much never come across them on eBay. There's been talk of a book on Sharlet and Vietnam GI by Jeff Sharlet's brother and a project to digitize that paper as well as an array of other GI papers, but I haven't heard anything of either project recently. I have been approached by a number of people looking for more scans of these papers, so there is most definitely an interest out there...

I do, however, have a number of underground and political newspapers related to the 68 convention which will be showing up here at on point or another. In particular, I plan a post on probably my favorite underground rag that I have scanned a number of issues of and will scan more of, The Chicago Seed. I've been on a bit of a break from blogging and have a number of things to post in the meantime, but hopefully it won't be too long before I return to some posts on the underground press. I first began scanning this sort of material in the run up to the last election, and I'm guessing that I'll be returning my attentions to the underground press as we approach the next one.