GIs Fight Army Brass


Fifth Estate # 71, January 23-February 5, 1969

Threats of possible disciplinary action by the Navy against Seaman Norman Gelnaw for distributing copies of The Bond, the newspaper of the American Serviceman’s Union, to fellow GI’s at Metropolitan Airport, January 4, have evidently been dropped. (See last issue.)

The Navy’s decision came after one of the nation’s top military lawyers, Mike Kennedy of the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee, had expressed interest in using the incident as a test case in Federal Courts.

Kennedy has been seeking such a case in an attempt to gain a Federal injunction against the military from prosecuting soldiers who exercise their 1st Amendment rights.

Cpl. Ray Greer, the other soldier who had been taken into custody after helping pass out The Bond with Gelnaw and two members of Resistance, has been placed in a Special Processing Detachment at Fort Sheridan, Ill. The detachment is a polite form of stockade, usually reserved for AWOLs who have been dropped from the rolls of their units and are awaiting re-assignment. He has been restricted to base and is probably performing shit-work. Greer had been a member of military intelligence.

Greer, Gelnaw and two members of Detroit Resistance had been hassled by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Patrol at the airport and illegally stopped from handing out their literature.

While the two civilians were not charged with any violations, the two servicemen were handcuffed and taken to the stockade at Fort Wayne without being told that they were under arrest or that there were any charges against them.

Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s Patrol has continued their harassment of others trying to distribute underground GI publications to soldiers in the terminal.

On January 14 members of the Detroit Committee to End the War were threatened with arrest when they passed out copies of Task Force, a California GI newspaper. Contrary to recent Supreme Court decisions, the patrol stated that the group had to have permission to pass out literature in the terminal.

Detroit lawyer Mark Kadish, in a cooperative effort, has sent a letter to the

Wayne County Road Commission requesting that permission be given to groups to distribute such material. The Commission’s Board of Directors has placed the request on the agenda of their January 23rd meeting after having refereed the letter to the airport’s legal council.

Kadish indicated that if approval is not given, a Federal Court injunction will be sought to stop airport officials from interfering with the 1st Amendment rights of these groups.

Get a haircut, Soldier (sidebar)

(Reproduction of official letter.)




5 August 68

SUBJECT Haircuts

TO: All members of USASTRATCOM-Alaska

1. Guidelines as to what constitutes a satisfactory haircut are contained in two Department of the Army publications, which are quoted below:

a. Subparagraphs 139c, FM 21-13 “The hair should be kept neatly trimmed—preferably two inches or less in length—and combed.

b, Page 216. FM 21-13 “Long hair is often unsanitary and a source of infestation, It can also get in the way at the wrong time, so the Army asks you to cut it short and keep it short.

2. In furtherance of the above guidance. my policy with respect to haircuts is as follows

a. Hair will be kept short, no more than two inches in length, and clipped close on the back and sides of the head.

b. Side burns are prohibited,

c. “Box cuts” are unacceptable.

3. Responsibility for proper haircuts rests with the immediate supervisor—that is, the squad or section leader. The purpose of scheduled inspections of personal appearance is to determine how well squad and section leaders are carrying out their responsibility.

4. The contents of this directive will be brought to the attention of all personnel and posted on the permanent section of unit bulletin boards.

CLARK O. IRVING, Colonel, SigC


See Fifth Estate’s Vietnam Resource Page.