[Marxism] "protest meetings ... attended by between 50 and 300 soldiers"

Brian Shannon brian_shannon at verizon.net
Sat Apr 1 06:01:44 MST 2006

It’s from the archives -

Court-martial for GI Who Protested 1961 “Symbolic” Call-Up

Brian Shannon

Berkeley Gazette, Mon, Mar 26, 1962

Courtmartial for GI Who Protested.

Ft. Polk, LA (AP) A Texas soldier, accused or criticizing a crackdown  
on protests by disgruntled reservists and National Guardsmen, faced a  
special court martial today. He is Pfc. Bernis Owen 23, of Seadrift,  
Tex., a pre-law student at the University of Teas before he was  
summoned to active duty last fall in the big service call-up.

Owen served two years of active duty before being assigned to a  
reserve unit to complete his military obligation. Four protest  
meetings were held in front of a service club on the post. They were  
attended by between 50 and 300 soldiers. A spokesman for [Maj.  
General Harley B.] West said the meetings were disorganized and had  
as their main purpose the organization of a letter-writing campaign  
to Congress with the themes, “We want out” and “We want to know when  
we will get out.” …

Charges were brought against Owen for statements he allegedly made  
after [General] West, commanding general at Ft. Polk, banned the  
protest meetings a week ago. [West said that] the first protest  
meetings were orderly and quiet. But … “more recently there have been  
contemptuous words and remarks against the President of the United  
States and against the Congress and members thereof.”

A day later, Gen. George H. Deneker, Army chief of staff, made public  
a letter to top commanders ordering an end to demonstrations.

Ft. Polk has 21,000 troops, including about 15,000 Texas National  
Guardsmen in the 49th Division. The other 6,000—virtually all  
reservists and Guardsmen—are from 17 other states.

Time Magazine, April 2, 1962

[T]he U.S. Army reservists and National Guardsmen called up last fall  
as a symbol of the Kennedy Administration’s intent to stand fast in  
Berlin have certainly availed themselves of their squawking  
privileges. . . . Yet last week a gangling G.I. learned that  
complaint can become insubordination: at Fort Polk, La., Pfc. Bernis  
Owen, 23, was sentenced to six months at hard labor for having popped  
off once too... [sorry, I don’t subscribe, but this is probably enough]


The Berlin crisis in 1961 demonstrated to McNamara the need for more  
troops. In this instance he called up reserves and also proceeded to  
expand the regular armed forces. Whereas active duty strength had  
declined from approximately 3,555,000 to 2,483,000 between 1953 (the  
end of the Korean conflict) and 1961, it increased to nearly  
2,808,000 by 30 June 1962. Then the forces leveled off at around  
2,700,000 until the Vietnam military buildup began in 1965, reaching  
a peak of nearly 3,550,000 by mid-1968, just after McNamara left office.


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