FT. LEWIS, Wash., Feb. 28 — 300 people rallied to the defense of Pvt. Bruce McLean, an American Servicemen’s Union (ASU) member who was shanghaied to Vietnam Feb. 19. The rally was held at American Park, just off Ft. Lewis.
Speakers at the rally were Denny Leonard and Stan Hoffman both members of the Ft. Lewis local of the ASU. They called for the military to immediately return Pvt. McLean from Vietnam, where he was taken illegally. The rally was organized by Seattle Liberation Front and ASU Shelter-Half.
After the rally there was a march through the Tillicum area, an off-base housing area for enlisted men. The march proceeded to a gate of Ft. Lewis and was stopped by a line of MPs. Then a “reactionary force” (riot control troops) were brought in as the group of marchers were leaving the area.
John Lewis, National Field Organizer of the ASU, said, “We protest the illegal shanghaiing of our Union brother, Bruce McLean. We of the ASU are determined to stop this kind of abuse of our organizers. The protest of the brothers and sisters at Ft. Lewis will not be the last voice of protest. We intend to spread this protest wherever ASU members are organizing. We demand the immediate release of Bruce McLean and all GI political prisoners of war.”
The ASU states that at 4 a.m., in the dark of night, McLean was forced onto a plane by the Army and sent to Vietnam against his will. He arrived in Cam Ranh Bay the following morning. Following the shanghai the ASU promptly initiated legal action to have him brought back.
Pvt. McLean was one of the organizers of the Oct. 20 meeting of the ASU at the Cascadian Service Club at Ft. Lewis at which he and 34 other ASU members were arrested; he was also one of the key witnesses at the Jan. 21 People’s Trial of the Army held before 1500 people at the University of Washington.
At this trial, McLean, then AWOL, declared his support for the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam. He was defended while testifying by a guard of 25 ASU members.
See Fifth Estate’s Vietnam Resource Page.