The opening shot in Airman Ted Goldflies versus the Air Force, Round Two, was printed in the last issue of the Fifth Estate [FE #83, July 10-23, 1969]. That was a letter of “Admonition” from Major Fred Smith, Commander of Selfridge Air Force Base, to Goldflies, warning him that he would face prosecution under Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for “conduct unbecoming a soldier” if he continued to distribute either The Fifth Estate or The Ally either on base or off base.
This plus a letter of reprimand for using an Air Force vehicle to go to the base PX and a letter removing Goldflies from the promotion roster for receiving the letters of “Admonition” and reprimand were Major Smith’s reaction to being made a jackass of at Goldflies’ court martial in May.
The court martial, which was reported as “Airman Beats Brass” in the May 29 issue of the Fifth Estate, resulted from a flunky of Major Smith’s seeing Goldflies with copies of the Ally, an underground GI newspaper. Major Smith first tried to prosecute Goldflies for possession of the newspapers but the JAG office at Selfridge told the major there was nothing illegal in Goldflies’ possession of the newspapers.
The major then unsuccessfully tried to prosecute-Goldflies for being away from his duty station for forty-five minutes! When Major Smith was called to the stand at the Summary Court Martial, his stumbling and contradictory testimony demonstrated that he was out to get Goldflies because of his political beliefs.
As soon as Major “Fred” began harassing him, Goldflies again contacted Marc Kadish and Marc Stickgold, two lawyers in Detroit active with the National Lawyers Guild and cooperating with the New York Draft and Military Law panel.
The two lawyers immediately drafted letters of protest which were sent to various people in Congress, the Pentagon, and at Selfridge Air Force Base. The Air Force’s reaction to this letter was to make Major “Fred” rescind the portion of the letter of “Admonition” which forbade Goldflies from distributing literature off Selfridge also.
In an interview following the receipt of this letter Kadish said that this resolution was unsatisfactory since it was the lawyer’s position that soldiers are entitled to the same First Amendment rights as civilians.
“Attempting to regulate Goldflies’ off-base activities is absurd, attempting to regulate his on-base First Amendment rights is unconstitutional,” said Stickgold.
Further legal and political action to protect Airman Goldflies’ (and other airmen too, Goldflies seems to have started a Movement!) right to engage in First Amendment freedoms are currently being planned. Anyone who would like to help should contact the National Organizing Committee, Box 3782, Kercheval Station, Detroit, Mich. 48205.
See Fifth Estate’s Vietnam Resource Page.