VN-E28: Gerry Condon
Podcast (VN-E28): “Very jarring and brutal and dehumanizing” – Gerry Condon
Vietnam Series Podcast, Episode 28:
Gerry Condon was a Green Beret when he publicly spoke out against the US war in Vietnam. In 1969, he deserted the Army in order to avoid a long prison sentence. Gerry lived in Sweden and Canada for six years, organizing for amnesty for fellow exiled war resisters. Today, he serves as the National Board President of Veterans For Peace.
“Veterans coming back from Vietnam were telling me stories about US soldiers committing atrocities against Vietnamese civilians. And I was hearing these stories from veterans who were very upset at what they’d seen or done, and I was also hearing it from soldiers who were bragging about it, but they were both telling the same stories … I saw the writing on the wall, and I had an opportunity to escape.”
“We consider ourselves exiles… [I lived] in Sweden and Canada for a total of six years. And so I returned to the US in 1975 as part of the campaign for amnesty … We learned how to organize, and we learned what victory tasted like, and knew that we had the power to win if we organized well.”
Vietnam Full Disclosure
This Courage to Resist podcast was produced in collaboration with the Vietnam Full Disclosure effort of Veterans For Peace — “Towards an honest commemoration of the American war in Vietnam.” This year marks 50 years of GI resistance, in and out of uniform, for many of the courageous individuals featured. Interview and edit by Robert Raymond. Jeff Paterson, Executive Producer.
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Gerry Condon: Basic training for me was kind of brutal to my gentle spirit, if you will, and reinforced all the doubts I had about the war to begin with. It was racist. It was sexist to the max, and this was before I’d even heard the word sexism. It was all very jarring and brutal and dehumanizing, and just, as I said, reinforced my doubts about the war.
Robert Raymond: This Courage to Resist Podcast is produced in collaboration with the Vietnam Full Disclosure effort of Veterans For Peace. My name is Robert Raymond, and we’re on the line with Gerry Condon, a Vietnam-era veteran who deserted the army in 1969 as a Green Beret and later became involved with the international movement for amnesty for anti-war resisters.
Robert Raymond: Hi, Gerry. Welcome to the Courage to Resist Podcast. I’m wondering if to start, you could give us a bit of background on yourself and then maybe tell us the story about how you first deserted from the US Army in 1969.
Gerry Condon: Sure. Thanks. Appreciate the opportunity to share my story. I was born and raised in San Mateo, California, in a suburb of San Francisco. I was the first son of an Irish Catholic family. My father and both his brothers fought in World War II, and they were all police officers in San Mateo.
Gerry Condon: So you know, fairly conservative, patriotic family. They voted Democratic, except like a lot of Democrats, they voted for Eisenhower. And you know, my father kind of took a dim look at protests ,to say the least. I remember when the free speech protests were going on all across the Bay in Berkeley. He told me, “If you ever participated in one of those protests, I wouldn’t let you back in the front door of our house.” And I was kind of shocked because, first of all, it never occurred to me to participate in any kind of protest. I was a junior in high school and didn’t have any political ideas. And I was also shocked that he would lock me out in the house for doing so.
Gerry Condon: But at any rate, that’s kind of a little bit of background where I come from. I went to Catholic schools kindergarten through eighth grade and then into a Catholic seminary. Thought I wanted to be a priest. For a year and a half, I was in St. Anthony’s Franciscan Seminary in Santa Barbara, California, right next to the Mission Santa Barbara. And then puberty happened and I changed my mind about being a priest, but still ended up in to an all boys Catholic school in San Mateo, [inaudible 00:03:03]. And then to a university of San Francisco, which I started in the year 1965, graduated from high school that year. University of San Francisco, despite the secular sounding name, is also a Catholic school. It’s a Jesuit university, and I was there for about a year and a half.
Gerry Condon: And of course, now we have the Vietnam War coming on, and you know, I was living in the Haight Ashbury there, which is pretty close to the University of San Francisco. And there was a lot of counter-cultural stuff happening, but not very much anti-war stuff. Wasn’t really exposed to anti-war or peace activists and didn’t get too much information about the war, but I was having doubts of my own, because I realized that I could end up being drafted or forced into that war. And I really had kind of a… I would say spontaneous pacifist response; I didn’t want to kill anybody, especially just for reasons that I didn’t understand. So I actually wrote a letter to my draft board asking to be classified as a conscientious objector.
Gerry Condon: And then they sent me a whole… seemed like an inch thick bunch of papers to fill out, asking very specific questions about my religious training and beliefs, because at that point in time, if you’re going to be a conscientious objector, it had to be based on your religion. Actually, if it was narrowly interpreted, it had to be based on a traditional pacifist church, which the Catholic church was not. It was tough for Catholics to become conscientious objectors because of the so called “just war theory” of the Catholic church. But at any rate, they wanted me to answer all these questions. And frankly, I was going through a crisis at that same time about my religious beliefs and was questioning everything I had been taught and was unable to fill out those questions and just kind of threw them in the wastebasket before long. I had lost my student deferment. I had dropped out of school for a month, for a semester to work, and I knew I was going to be drafted.
Gerry Condon: So I jumped before I was pushed, and a buddy of mine who was in the seminary with me and then at University of San Francisco with me, we joined on the buddy system. And I went in the Army on April 10th, 1967, two days after my 20th birthday. So I actually signed up originally for a four year enlistment. The normal enlistment in the Army is three years, but I signed up for Army Security Agency, which would require language training, and so they asked for that extra year. So, I had a four year enlistment. But not long after I went to basic training…
Gerry Condon: Well, I should say that a basic training for me was kind of brutal to my gentle spirit, if you will, and reinforced all the doubts I had about the war to begin with. It was racist. We were running around with our rifles, yelling, “Kill the gooks, kill the gooks,” and this I found very disturbing. It was sexist to the max. And this was before I’d even heard the word sexism. If we didn’t perform up to our sergeant’s desires, then we would be called cunts or something like that, you know? So it was all very jarring and brutal and dehumanizing and just, as I said, reinforced my doubts about the war.
Gerry Condon: But nonetheless, I still didn’t have any information to really base a strong decision to refuse to participate on. I didn’t trust the pro-war politicians as far as I could throw them, but I also didn’t track the anti-war movement, because I’d been seeing all this propaganda against the anti-war movement. You know, “They’re just a bunch of communist sympathizers,” and this kind of language. So… and I hadn’t really been exposed to them, so I didn’t know whom to believe.
Gerry Condon: And that was, you know, part of the reason I went into the Army, and part of the reason also that I later, when I was approached by special forces recruiter to go in to become a Green Beret, I chose that for a number of reasons. And one of them was, I thought, I maybe naively thought that if I was going to go to Vietnam, I would be closer to the people in Special Forces and I’d be able to understand what was really happening. Of course, there were other appeals to be in Special Forces, to the whole elitism of it. You know, we were all confused young men and being pushed and pulled a number of different directions.
Gerry Condon: So at any rate, my decision to join Special Forces turned out to be a really good one for me, in the sense that it kept me in training for a long time. I ended up in the medic specialty. The Special Forces medic specialty requires a year long training just for the medical part, because they make kind of a jungle doctor out of you. You have to be able to do quite a few things, from diagnosing diseases, prescribing treatments and drugs, doing tracheotomies, amputations, and a lot of things.
Gerry Condon: So it’s a year-long training, and that training kind of saved me in a way, because if I had just gone around regular infantry or something, I would have already been over in Vietnam getting shot at and shooting back. And I have no doubt that I would have. But the training gave me a longer time to process things and also to talk to returning veterans. And that was really key, because veterans coming back from Vietnam were telling me stories about US soldiers committing atrocities against Vietnamese civilians. And I was hearing these stories from veterans who were very upset at what they’d seen or done, and I was also hearing it from soldiers who were bragging about it, but they were both telling the same stories. And that was kind of the final spot for me. I said, “There’s no way I can participate in a war where those kinds of atrocities are taking place.”
Gerry Condon: And you know, I kind of envisioned myself, if I were there, to be in a position where I was on a search and destroy mission and suddenly had a moment of conscience and decided I couldn’t participate, what would happen to me at that moment? Would I get a bullet in the back from my own sergeant? I don’t know. At any rate, I decided that I couldn’t put myself in that position, so I finagled a leave.
Gerry Condon: I went home to San Mateo, California, I wrote up a statement expressing my opposition to the war, to the draft, and to the limited criteria for conscientious objectors. And I submitted that article to the San Mateo Times, my hometown paper, and also to the San Francisco Chronicle. And my hometown paper, The Times, actually reprinted the entire fairly lengthy letter with a picture of me and my green beret. And on the San Francisco paper on the front page, there was a short article with my photo, again in the green beret, saying “Anti-War Green Beret Drops Out.” So my intention, however, was to go back and face the music.
Gerry Condon: So I returned to Fort Bragg, and I immediately was… You know, I had announced publicly that I would refuse to follow all orders. And so I was immediately ordered onto guard duty, and I refused. And then they gave a friend of mine at gun and told them to hold me under arrest in my room, so that was the beginning. Then I went to talk to the Judge Advocate General’s office, and the Major there in charge advised me to apply for conscientious objector status. And I told them, “Well, you know, I’m pretty familiar with the conscientious objector rules, and I don’t qualify because number one, I’m not opposed necessarily to all wars. I’m opposing this war.” You know, I would’ve fought in World War II, I thought at the time. “And number two, I’m questioning my Catholic training, and I can’t really claim that I’m a religious conscientious objector.”
Gerry Condon: So he said that to me, “Well, you know, I’m the Judge Advocate General here, and I kind of know better, and I think you should apply for conscientious objector status in spite your doubts.” And I said… Well, I said to myself, “Wow, it looks to me like they would rather get rid of me than have to deal with an anti-war Green Beret.” So I said, “That’s okay by me.” I had, you know, psychologically prepared myself to go to jail for several years. And I said, “You know, if they want to kick me out, you know, with a bad discharge or whatever, or a CO, I’ll take it.”
Gerry Condon: Well, so that kind of bought my silence for a while, and there was media interest in my case. So they got the media off their backs, got me quiet for a couple of months, and then they told me that my application for discharge had been… as this conscientious objector… had been denied. So yeah, so I got called in to my company commander’s offer. And this was at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and it was a very formal setting. There were several sergeants and other people in the room standing there as witnesses, and a commander read from an order and he says, “Private Condon, your application for discharge as a conscientious objector has been denied. You are hereby ordered to US Army Replacement company X, Y, Z in Vietnam, and you will begin by out processing. Report to the medical clinic. And so I answered “Sir, because of my opposition to the war in Vietnam, I have to respectfully refuse an order.” So they said, “Okay, go outside in the hallway and wait.”
Gerry Condon: So I went outside, and I was under guarded by a sergeant and waited in the hallway for about 15 or 20 minutes. And they called me back into the company commander’s office and it was kind of deja vu all over again. He’s sitting at his desk, the sergeants were standing in the same places as witnesses, and he began to read to me again. And he said the exact same words: “Your discharge has been denied, you are ordered to Vietnam.” The only difference in the order was instead of “medical clinic,” at the end they said “Report to the dental clinic.” So I said, “Sir, because of my opposition to the war in Vietnam.” Same response. “I have to refuse this order.”
Gerry Condon: And my company commander was kind of… who I had a bit of a… Had talked to some, and had a bit of a respectful relationship with and he said, “Are you sure you want to do that? I said, “Yes, I’m sure.” And so he said okay, and they sent me out into the hall again, still under guard. And believe it or not, within a half hour they called me back in the office, and the same thing for a third time. He started to read the same order.
Gerry Condon: By that time, I finally was catching on to what was going on, and he had just gotten the first few words of that order out of his mouth when I said, “Sir, I’m not going to respond to that order. You’re clearly trying to stack up charges against me. I demand to see my lawyer.” I had a military lawyer who was looking after me but hadn’t been called into this situation. So they allowed that; they didn’t force me to… And then when I finally went to a court martial…
Gerry Condon: So I actually had a general court martial, which is, you know, normally reserved for very serious crimes: murder, rape and other felony type offenses. And when I finally went to court, they read those two orders against me. And of course all the mention of Vietnam, all the mention of conscientious discharge was removed. And the only thing that was there was, “Private Condon refused two direct your orders, and the orders were: report to the medical clinic, report to the dental clinic.” And so the maximum a sentence for refusing a direct order is five years in prison and a dishonorable discharge. Well, they hit me. So I was facing 10 years in prison and a dishonorable discharge. And in fact, that’s eventually what happened. They convicted me of both counts and sentenced me to 10 years in prison and a dishonorable discharge. But that actually didn’t happen until I had already gone AWOL.
Gerry Condon: I deserted. One day I finally decided I didn’t want to go to prison, and I saw that they were preparing to make an example out of me and really give me a heavy sentence. So I saw the writing on the wall, and I had an opportunity to escape. I walked off of Fort Bragg and I stuck my thumb out and hitchhiked up to New York. And it was only years later that I discovered that they had gone ahead with my court martial in absentia. And beyond that, my lawyers… I had civilian lawyers by then, ACLU attorneys who were interested in my case, picking it up and were working pro bono for me. And they were never even notified that my court martial continued without me. So I wasn’t even represented at my court martial, but I’d let her read the transcript of the court martial with the prosecutor looking at the court martial board. Oh my jury, the jury of my peers? No way. It was Colonels, Lieutenant Colonels, Majors and Captains, all with Vietnam patches and airborne patches. And that was a, you know, hanging jury.
Gerry Condon: But they were all commanding officers, right, so the prosecutor’s saying, “What would you do if he said no to you?” They were very careful. They interviewed one of the sergeants who’d been a witness to my refusing the orders, and they asked him, “What did Condon say? And he said, “Well, he said that because it was opposition to the…” “That’s enough Sergeant.” So they got him off the stand before he could utter the word “Vietnam,” because they really tried to heap… And this is typical, and they still do it today. They try to keep the war and the politics out of it and just try to keep it strictly, “He said, he said no, and he couldn’t do that.
Gerry Condon: So at any rate, I had fortunately escaped that situation. I went up to New York, I got in touch with some people I knew there in a Catholic Resistance who’ve been involved with draft resistance who gave me some support and some shelter. And I eventually got my birth certificate from my mom and applied for a passport and left the country the same day, because I didn’t need a passport. Just took a bus from New York City to Montreal. And eventually my passport was actually availed to me, which was a big advantage. A lot of the guys that I knew, deserters and draft resisters that I knew in Europe didn’t have passports, so it made traveling very difficult for them.
Gerry Condon: So I actually spent a few months in Canada. At that point in time, Canada was receiving quite a few Vietnam draft resisters and deserters, and the draft resisters were having a pretty easy time of it, and in fact they were filling a convenient need. In Canada, had the labor shortage, and particularly skilled labor. A lot of these people were college educated and had computer skills, and so there was a place for them in the Canadian economy, and that was one reason why they were accepted so readily. And Canadian immigration law doesn’t really take into account the military obligations of prospective immigrants from other countries.
Gerry Condon: However, it did in the case of deserters. There was an active discrimination going on against military deserters in the early years of the war resisters coming into Canada. In fact, the Canadian Council of Churches eventually intervened with the Canadian government on behalf of the deserters and tried to eliminate that. It was an interesting situation, because it depended a lot on where you came into the country and what were the politics of the individual that was interviewing you. In Ontario, they were actually right wing immigration officers who liked President Nixon and didn’t like war resisters. They had a lot of discretion, so it was very difficult early on for deserters to get landed. Eventually quite a few deserters were accepted into Canada. But before that happened, I decided I’d be better off going to Europe, and I went to Europe.
Gerry Condon: I originally actually spent a fair amount of time in Germany, in some cases hanging out at US military bases with the soldiers who were friends and who knew my situation but were not going to turn me in.
Robert Raymond: Interesting.
Gerry Condon: And then I traveled around Europe for about six months, and finally I heard from my mother that the FBI had visited her, and they knew I was in Germany and they didn’t know where and they were trying to find me. So I figured it was time to go to a safe haven, and the safe haven then was Sweden.
Gerry Condon: Sweden was the only country in the world that was giving asylum to Vietnam War resisters specifically because they were Vietnam War resisters. That included both draft resisters and deserters, and in fact in Sweden there are more deserters than draft resisters. A lot of people who’d come from Germany and other places. So Sweden had treated us pretty well. We were welcomed in large part because there was a great opposition to the Vietnam War in Sweden, and quite an-anti war movement in Sweden. It had built the political conditions for us to be accepted and to receive asylum.
Gerry Condon: We not only received asylum, but we were given clothing allowance and free rent for the first few months we were there. Free language training, and…
Robert Raymond: That’s pretty incredible.
Gerry Condon: Yeah. Yeah. We were fairly well taken care of, and we had Swedish social workers that looked after us, and we had some… They had actually hired a couple of our own deserter/draft resister guys to provide us with some counseling and social services as well. Plus, we’re getting some support from the States. [inaudible 00:23:23] sent one of their leaders over to Stockholm to be a mentor and pastor and supporter to some of us. We had quite a bit of support. Still, it was a difficult situation for many people because you have a long cold, dark winter in Sweden, and…
Robert Raymond: You’re away from your family and friends.
Gerry Condon: Away from the family, exactly. Because Swedes are lovely people, but they tend to be socially conservative and were a little bit wary of these young deserters who are growing their hair long. And then we started to get… Some of them got involved with small time drug dealing, like a little bit of hashish here and there, and they were getting busted. And every time they got busted, the conservative newspapers there were making a big deal about it. And then there was some bust of people with LSD, and eventually some of them went to jail, and when they got out they were deported back to the United States. We had a big campaign and public fast that went on for several weeks as well. We tried to stop the deportations, but we failed in that regard. So the support, initial enthusiastic support for deserters in Sweden kind of faded to some extent. And that was with the active intervention of the CIA and the conservative media.
Gerry Condon: But at any rate, Sweden was still a wonderful place for many of us. And you know, I’ve actually… During the entire Vietnam War, there about 800 US war resisters that went to Sweden, and there were never more than like 500 at one time. So that’s still a lot, but compared to Canada, it’s minuscule, because in Canada there were educated estimates run between 60 and 100 thousand US war resisters… Or certainly, draft-age men and women came to Canada during those years. Very much an Exodus that had to do with the Vietnam War. And today, there are 30,000 US war resisters still living in Canada as Canadian citizens.
Robert Raymond: Yeah.
Gerry Condon: Which is very significant. A couple hundred living in Sweden, including some good friends of mine. We’ve actually re-established connections in the last few years, which has been really nice.
Gerry Condon: The experience in Sweden was very politicizing. As I described, when I made the decision to refuse orders to Vietnam, and then eventually to desert, I did so still very much based on moral pacifist sensibilities, and still had really not a clue what was this war about. And so in Sweden, it was an amazing learning experience. As I mentioned, there was a very strong anti-war movement there, and Stockholm actually hosted an international conference against the war. I found other deserters and draft resisters working against the war. In fact, in a group called the American Deserters Committee, which I became involved with, we continue to work and speak out publicly against the war and also to protect the immigration status of incoming war resisters, which sometimes was a struggle.
Gerry Condon: But most interestingly, we came into contact with other political refugees from around the world. People who had fled Chile after the right-wing coup there in Chile, people who were from Palestine, people who were Portuguese deserters. We helped the Portuguese deserters who were refusing to fight in the Colonial Wars in Angola and Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau, the three last Portuguese counties. We got involved in Sweden with the Swedish anti-war, and in Canada with the Canadian anti-war activists. We participated in international conferences in Stockholm and Paris against the war and ran into progressive and anti-war activists from all over the world, literally.
Gerry Condon: And we actually had relations with the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam, who had an office in Stockholm. And we met several times at these conferences. We had meetings specifically between the American deserters and the representatives of both North and South Vietnam. So we were not just opposed to participate in an unjust war, but we were in solidarity with those whom our government was attacking. This is pretty profound. So we became internationalist, anti-imperialist citizens of the world. So this is an amazing transformation, you know, for from a naive kid going in the Army and coming out on the other end of being a conscious internationalist.
Gerry Condon: And so this really informed for me and my activism after I returned to Canada, because I returned after spending three years in Sweden; I came back to Canada, spent three years there, very active in Toronto and Vancouver working for amnesty. It became one of our rallying cries: amnesty for those who refuse to participate in an unjust war. And that’s how I returned to the US in 1975 as part of a campaign for amnesty. I returned to the US.
Robert Raymond: And so just real quick, how long were you out of the US? How many years was that?
Gerry Condon: I was in exile… We consider ourselves exiles… in Sweden and Canada for a total of six years. And so I returned to the US in 1975 as part of the campaign for amnesty. I went on a 50-city speaking tour of the US which was organized by this large coalition that included civil liberties groups, church groups, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and a lot of local anti-war groups. And by that time, you know, by the time I returned, the mood in the country had changed concerning the war, for sure.
Gerry Condon: The majority of the American people at least thought it was a terrible mistake, if not worse. There was a lot of support for amnesty, especially for draft resisters in the mainstream Democratic party. And we actually were able to get a draft resister nominated to be one of the nominees for Vice President of the United States at the Democratic Convention in New York in 1976. And Jimmy Carter first ran on a platform of pardoning draft resisters, which actually was his very first act as president in January of 1977. So we made quite a bit of progress there and eventually were able to also get some measure of amnesty, although it was more of a case by case thing for deserters, and even for veterans with less than honorable discharges.
Gerry Condon: So we didn’t get everything we pushed for, but we won quite a bit, and a lot of us were able to return to the US. And even those who chose to remain in Canada or Sweden or France or England were able to come back and get their situation legalized. So now that they can visit their families or attend a family funeral without having to worry about the FBI. So we fought hard, and we had some major victories, and not only were able to get ourselves home, but we learned how to organize, and we learned what victory tasted like, and knew that we had the power to win if we organized well.
Robert Raymond: Yeah. And so since then you’ve been very active in working with anti-war resisters from all over the world, yeah?
Gerry Condon: So in more recent years… In 2004… So, I got involved with the amnesty organizing, anti-war organizing peace movement. I bad been basically a peace activist ever since I deserted from the Army and even more since I returned to the States in 1975. And I was increasingly involved in veterans’ work, helped organize the first two veterans’ delegations to revolutionary Nicaragua in the early 1980s, and I eventually got involved with the Veterans for Peace. But in 2004, I heard about Jeremy Hinzman, the first Iraq war resister to publicly appear in Canada seeking asylum for refusing to go to Iraq. And so having been there before, including a fair amount of time in Canada, I decided to go up to Toronto and to connect with Jeremy and to support him.
Gerry Condon: And then a number of other war resisters started coming, and most of them were Iraq War veterans and Afghanistan War veterans. So people who had already done a tour in a war and did not want to go back a second time were coming to Canada seeking asylum. And of course, knowing that thousands of war resisters had received asylum in Canada during the Vietnam War, they expected that they would be well received. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. There was a conservative government in power; the immigration policy has become a very tight one, and they faced a lot of hardship and opposition, and many of them gave up and returned to the States. Some of them going to jail for a while. And some of them succeeded, to one means and another. There are a number of Iraq and Afghanistan war resisters and now successfully living in Canada, and I’m glad to have some good personal relations with both some of those who are still there and some of those who are, of course, back into the States.
Robert Raymond: Yeah, well that’s… Yeah, that’s great. And so I’m wondering… I guess to wrap up, and you touched on this quite a bit, but I’m wondering if you could maybe just characterize the anti-war resistance movement now as you see it, as compared to back in the ’60s and the ’70s which was when you were really right in the midst of it yourself as a deserter. What’s the difference now? Does it look promising? What’s changed with the movement, and where do you see it going in the near future?
Gerry Condon: Yeah, that’s a tough question. It’s hard to compare in many respects. Of course, the GI resistance… people resisting within the military, or refusing to go to war, or organizing in one way or another, is… I think tends to have a proportional relationship to how big the mass anti-war movement is on the ground, in the concrete and despite a whole series of what some people call endless wars that continue today, the level of the anti-war resistance in the overall population is relatively small. And that’s been a frustration to many of us, and therefore, because it’s relatively small, the resistance within the military is relatively small. So I make that connection because I think it’s unrealistic of us to expect a robust resistance within the military, absent a robust resistance in the country at large. So that’s one thing.
Gerry Condon: Of course, there’s so many other issues that people are dealing with today that seem to be more compelling, such as of course, climate change is attracting a lot of younger people. And it’s a good thing that it is, because it is truly an existential threat, as is nuclear war, which is an ever greater danger due to the increasingly aggressive US foreign policy around the world. So Veterans for Peace… I’m now board president of Veterans for Peace. We are working hard to make those connections between environmental catastrophe and war and militarism, and in fact, to educate people about the extent to which the US military activities and war preparations and wars and 800 bases in over 80 countries, contribute to global warming and the global catastrophe and other environmental disasters. So it’s very important, I think for the anti-war movement to be connecting with that struggle and with other struggles, because I don’t think we’re going to see specifically anti-war movement in isolation from these other struggles.
Gerry Condon: So we have a lot to learn in terms of how best to make these connections and have a strong anti-war voice as part of the emerging social movements around the world. I think… I think that’ll happen. And as it happens, you’ll see more and more resistance within the US military itself. There’s been a fair amount of that. And as we found in Vietnam, a lot of resistance, we didn’t know about it until years later, in some cases. So there’s things going on right now in the US military that I’d love to tell you about, but I have no idea.
Gerry Condon: So I think that we’re coming into another revolutionary moment, which the ’60s certainly were, ’60s and ’70s, with the black liberation movement, the women’s empowerment movement, and a whole lot of things, you know, socialists, revolutionists, [inaudible 00:38:04] ideas and parties and movements, all this turmoil and motion. And I think we’re probably coming into a similar… somewhat similar period again, where people are realizing that the future of the planet really is literally in the balance, and it’s important that we have strong movements on many fronts, including of course the anti-war front.
Robert Raymond: Well, I think that’s a really great note to end it on, Gerry. Thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it.
Gerry Condon: Sure. Thanks for giving me a chance to tell some stories and to think out loud.
Robert Raymond: This Courage to Resist podcast was produced in collaboration with the Vietnam Full Disclosure effort of Veterans For Peace. This year marks 50 years of GI resistance to the US war in Vietnam, in and out of uniform, for many of the courageous individuals featured. This episode was recorded and edited by myself, Robert Raymond. Special thanks to our executive producer, Jeff Paterson. Visit vietnamfulldisclosure.org and couragetoresist.org for past episodes, more information, and to offer your support.
I had forgotten where I had heard the name Gerry Condon before, until I saw the picture at the end of the article, showing the white haired gentleman, Gerry Condon, being attacked by the FBI goons in Washington, D.C. “Courage to Resist” had written about him before. I really admire Gerry. This man has continued protesting and demonstrating, 50 years after he left the army. It’s amazing how the Vietnam experience has affected all those who were draft age n the ’60’s. No matter what position we had on the war, our lives have never been the same since. 3 cheers for Gerry Condon!!!!!!