Brass Boiling over Fort Wayne Exposé

Spec. Brown Transferred As More Irregularities Charged


Fifth Estate # 106, May 28-June 10, 1970

A photo shows Spec 4 Jerry Brown being filmed and interviewed by media. Credit: Mike JohnThe brass at Fort Wayne have taken their revenge for Spec. 4 Jerry Brown’s criticism of induction center medical examinations. Brown was given 36 hours to leave the post after an article appeared in the last issue of this paper detailing Fort Wayne’s improper procedures used to examine potential draftees. He was transferred to Fort Benjamin Harrison Indiana to await duty “overseas.”

Brown had charged that the tests were administered in violation of Army regulations with the result that persons with severe medical problems were being inducted. He stated that this was a conscious policy designed to induct as many men as possible in the least amount of time. Other examples of rigged testing have been charged since the appearance of the first story.

The brass found out about the publication of the article when they arrived at Fort Wayne on May 14. On their desks they found copies of the Fifth Estate opened to the story. They had been carefully placed there by anti-war GIs.

Medical Captain Floyd is the main person responsible for the improper physicals. According to Brown, Capt. Floyd threatened to have Brown court-martialed for insubordination if he didn’t answer all questions about the article. Capt. Selitsky and-several others named in the article made threats of law suits, physical harm and court-martials. Boleslaw Mucha, the mad needle man at the Serology station, said he was “going to get” Brown.

Base Commander Major Clyde Edwards first stated that the transfer was a normal reassignment since Brown had completed his tour of duty at Fort Wayne. Edwards later changed his story, in fact, due to Brown’s criticism because it had caused a “morale problem” among the other men.

The latter, of course, is true, but only in Edward’s terms. According to Brown, the men at the base supported his actions and many came and told him they were worried about the repression he might face. At a demonstration to support Brown held at the Fort, GIs reached over the barbed wire fence to get copies of the Fifth Estate containing the article.

Previous to the publication of the story, Brown had attempted to get Major Edwards to correct the examining procedures and Edwards said he would see that it was done. Things changed for about three days and then went back to the old, sloppy ways. Brown then decided to try public exposure of the conditions through the Fifth Estate.

Edward’s response to the charges, now made public, was to call in a Colonel Weaver and a Sgt. Major Belcher from Fifth Army Headquarters in Chicago to come for a base inspection. Brown was delighted at the chance to substantiate his claims. However, when the two arrived, they did not even talk to Brown.

“They only talked to the officers who were affected; who were the ones who were doing the illegalities all along,” Brown said. “You can only assume that since they performed dishonestly in the- past (the Fort Wayne officials), they just covered up the whole thing,” he added.

Two days later the orders from Chicago came through—not to reform the grossly administered examinations, but to get rid of Brown.

Some small changes have been made since the publicity began and the Fifth Estate spoke to several men who were leaving the Fort after their physicals and it appeared that the worst abuses such as mass blood drawing at the Serology station had at least momentarily been corrected.

However, Brown feels that as soon as he is gone, they will go back to running all the stations illegally.

“There are still stations being run illegally and were run illegally when the people from Chicago were there, but they never even checked them,” he said. “They never spoke to me so I don’t know how they could give an honest evaluation of the situation,” Jerry added.

The whole purpose of the Chicago brass’s visit was apparently to kick the problem under the table in the best Army tradition. This has been a complete flop.

Several people decided to have a demonstration to denounce the decision to send Jerry Brown to Ft. Benj. Harrison. About 50 people turned out May 22 at Fort Wayne to demand fair physicals and an end to the harassment of Brown. The protest caused a good deal of media coverage, including an Allied Press wire story, and the Army’s front was blown away. One off-duty Ft. Wayne GI joined the demonstration wearing a full-face hood to protect his identity.

Other reports of distorted testing procedures have reached this paper including allegations that mental test scores are raised so that a failing registrant qualifies under Army standards. Also, the charge has been made that Medical Captain Floyd has, in the past, posed as different types of specialists when a registrant has a doctor’s letter and needs a further examination. It was reported to us that at different times, he told persons he was a psychiatrist and an orthopedic specialist. This way it is impossible for a person to get a fair examination of a special problem.

The major implication of the whole controversy is that persons who have received pre-induction physicals to date have received them improperly administered and not in accordance with Army regulations.

Dennis James, attorney for Jerry Brown, has written a detailed letter of the abuses at Fort Wayne to the Inspector General of the Army, V.W. Enemark, and asked for an investigation of the base. James demanded in the letter that the physical procedures be brought up to standards immediately and that Brown be brought back from Indiana to finish his tour of duty in Detroit.

James also has contacted Michigan Senator Hart’s office and asked for his intervention in the matter and has Mentioned the possibility of beginning a federal suit against the Fort Wayne brass.

Things are no better for Major Edwards and Captain Floyd at the base. GIs at Fort Wayne have been aroused by the stand that Jerry Brown has taken and have begun an anti-war group called “GIs for Peace”. They have begun publishing a paper fittingly called “The First Amendment.” In the first issue they have called for a demonstration of GIs and civilians for June 6 (call the Fifth Estate office for exact time) to demand that everyone be given a fair physical examination.


Are Ft. Wayne Physicals Illegal? (sidebar)

One of the more serious questions raised by Spec. 4 Jerry Brown’s charges that physicals are given illegally at the Fort Wayne Examining Station is, what does it mean to those men who have recently taken physicals or have been inducted through the base?

The Fifth Estate contacted Detroit Attorney Dennis James, an expert on Selective Service law, for an opinion on the matter.

According to James, “It is legally arguable that any person who has taken a physical at Fort Wayne in the last nine months could ask that his induction be halted or if he is presently in the Service, that he be discharged.”

“The law requires that a physical be given to all men entering the Armed Services and if Brown’s charges are true, and I believe they are, all that was done was to have registrants walk through a number of rooms,” he concluded.

It is suggested that anyone who was affected in that period contact a competent draft counselor for further advice. A list of Detroit area counselors may be obtained from Open City at 831-2770.


See Fifth Estate’s Vietnam Resource Page.