“A powerful documentary that uncovers half-forgotten history, history that is still relevant but not in ways you might be expecting,”–Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“This is powerful stuff, offering us not only a new look at the past, but to the unavoidably relevant insights into the present.”–Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News
“In his smart, timely documentary, David Zeiger remembers that war and the veterans whose struggles against it are too often forgotten.”–Manohla Dargis, New York Times
“Sir! No Sir! so vividly evokes the rage, passion and provocation of the era it chronicles that it feels up-to-the-minute.”–Gene Seymour, Newsday
“A film that threatens the war movement with every showing, the Bush administration should outlaw it from all theatres within fifty miles of an armed forces recruiting station.”–Ron Wilkinson, Monsters and Critics
This is the story of one of the most vibrant and widespread upheavals of the 1960’s–one that had profound impact on American society, yet has been virtually obliterated from the collective memory of that time.
In the 1960’s an anti-war movement emerged that altered the course of history. This movement didn’t take place on college campuses, but in barracks and on aircraft carriers. It flourished in army stockades, navy brigs and in the dingy towns that surround military bases. It penetrated elite military colleges like West Point. And it spread throughout the battlefields of Vietnam. It was a movement no one expected, least of all those in it. Hundreds went to prison and thousands into exile. And by 1971 it had, in the words of one colonel, infested the entire armed services. Yet today few people know about the GI movement against the war in Vietnam.
The Vietnam War has been the subject of hundreds of films, both fiction and non-fiction, but this story–the story of the rebellion of thousands of American soldiers against the war–has never been told in film.This is certainly not for lack of evidence. By the Pentagon’s own figures, 503,926 “incidents of desertion” occurred between 1966 and 1971; officers were being “fragged”(killed with fragmentation grenades by their own troops) at an alarming rate; and by 1971 entire units were refusing to go into battle in unprecedented numbers. In the course of a few short years, over 100 underground newspapers were published by soldiers around the world; local and national antiwar GI organizations were joined by thousands; thousands more demonstrated against the war at every major base in the world in 1970 and 1971, including in Vietnam itself; stockades and federal prisons were filling up with soldiers jailed for their opposition to the war and the military.
Yet few today know of these history-changing events.
Sir! No Sir! will change all that. The film does four things:
- Brings to life the history of the GI movement through the stories of those who were part of it;
- Reveals the explosion of defiance that the movement gave birth to with never-before-seen archival material;
- Explores the profound impact that movement had on the military and the war itself; and
- The feature, 90 minute version, also tells the story of how and why the GI Movement has been erased from the public memory.
I was part of that movement during the 60’s, and have an intimate connection with it. For two years I worked as a civilian at the Oleo Strut in Killeen, Texas–one of dozens of coffeehouses that were opened near military bases to support the efforts of antiwar soldiers. I helped organize demonstrations of over 1,000 soldiers against the war and the military; I worked with guys from small towns and urban ghettos who had joined the military and gone to Vietnam out of a deep sense of duty and now risked their lives and futures to end the war; and I helped defend them when they were jailed for their antiwar activities. My deep connection with the GI movement has given me unprecedented access to those involved, along with a tremendous amount of archival material including photographs, underground papers, local news coverage and personal 8mm footage.
Sir! No Sir! reveals how, thirty years later, the poem by Bertolt Brecht that became an anthem of the GI Movement still resonates:
General, man is very useful. He can fly and he can kill. But he has one defect: He can think.
Dedicated to Jeff Sharlet and John Kniffin
Produced, Directed and Written By David Zeiger
Evangeline Griego Aaron Zarrow
Executive Producer Peter Broderick
Associate Producers Bill Short Michael Slate
Co-Producer Louise Rosen
Narrated by Troy Garrity
Music by Buddy Judge
Camera May Rigler and David Zeiger
Edited By May Rigler
Supervising Editor Lindsay Mofford
Associate Editors Duc Nguyen Tucker
Sound Design Tucker
Production and Editorial Assistant Deidre Farris
Producers’ Assistant Renee Tod
Additional Camera Jerry Henry Ann Kaneko
Production Intern Phinneaus Kiyomura
Still Photography Bill Short
Closing Credit Photographs “A Matter of Conscience”
Bill Short and Willa Seidenberg
Featuring Joe Bangert Tom Bernard Dave Blalock Richard Boyle Dave Cline Donald Duncan Eddie Eskelson Jane Fonda Louis Font Elder Halim Gullahbemi Oliver Hirsch John Huyler Terry Iverson Jerry Lembcke Howard Levy Keith Mather Don L. May Ron McMahan Greg Payton Randy Rowland Susan Schnall Bill Short Darnell Summers Joe Urgo Terry Whitmore Michael Wong
Voice of Colonel Heinl Ed Asner
Special thanks to the veterans, supporters and scholars who generously shared their stories with us Thomas Barton Wayne Beverly Cam Cunningham David Cortright Carl Dix Ray Eurquhart Frank Giacomozzi Terry Klug Cathy Kniffin Mark Lane Jane McMahan Gerald Nicosia Dennis Patrick Dick Perrin Richard Randig Curt Stocker Andy Stapp Michael Uhl
Music Supervisor Michael Slate
Music Licensing The Music Bridge David Powell
Music performed by Ric Menck, Patrick Warren, and Buddy Judge
“Mountain Deep” “The Levy Walk” “Turn, Turn, Turning Point” “Single Female Man” “My Friend, the End” “The Creeper” “Break Out” “Midnight Jesus” “Cream and Sugar” Written by Buddy Judge – performed by The Creepers copyright 2005 Kraftmatic Adjustable Muzik – BMI
“Soldier Boy” Written by Luther Dixon and Florence Green
Courtesy of Publisher Performed by The Shirelles Courtesy of TBD Record Label Under License from TBD
“Soldier We Love You” Written and Performed by Rita Martinson Courtesy of From the Forest Music
“Captain Sterling’s Little Problem” Written by Boots Riley Performed by The Coup Courtesy of Field Negro Music
Principal Research James Lewes
Additional Research Isabelle Moore Mark Piper
Archival Sources National Archives and Records Administration Life Magazine Redbook Magazine Ramparts Magazine Pacifica Radio Southern California Library of Social Research UCLA Film and Television Archives Vanderbilt – NBC/ABC/CBS James Lewes GI Press Collection Kenneth Cloke Alan Pogue Bart Lubow George Schmidt Bob Fitch Geoffrey Ithen Roz Payne Erik Webber Dave Cline Carolyn Mugar Ron McMahan Francine Parker Liberation News Service Papers – Contemporary Culture Collection – Temple University Underground Press Collection – Contemporary Culture Collection – Temple University Radio Free People – Contemporary Culture Collection – Temple University David Cortright Papers – Swarthmore College Peace Collection – Swarthmore College GI Press Collection – Swarthmore College Peace Collection – Swarthmore College Underground Press Syndicate Microfilm Collection – Produced by the Underground Press Syndicate and Bell and Howell The Vietnam Archive at Texas Tech University The Joiner Center Soldaten Archive University of Pennsylvania New York Times Washington Post Philadelphia Inquirer NBC Archives, New York
“The Flower of the Dragon” Richard Boyle
“Unlawful Concert” Fred Gardner
“FTA” Used by Permission © Free Theater Associates
“Connie Stay Home” Used by Permission © Neil Reichline
“Summer of ‘68” “Army” “Off the Pig (Black Panther) ” Used by Permission © Newsreel
“Winter Soldier” Used by Permission © Winter Film Collective
Partial list of GI Underground Papers 1967-1973 A’bout Face(Heidelberg) About Face(New York) About Face!(Los Angeles) Aboveground(Fort Carson, Colorado) ACT(Paris) Aerospaced(Grissom Air Force Base, Indiana) All Hands Abandon Ship(Newport) All Ready on the Left(Camp Pendelton) Alliance (San Francisco) The Ally(Berkeley) The American Exile in Britain(Oxford, UK) The American Exile in Canada(Toronto) Anchorage Troop(Fort Richardson, Alaska) Antibrass (Los Angeles) As You Were(Fort Ord) Attitude Check(Camp Pendelton) The AWOL Press(Fort Riley, Kansas) B Troop News(Ft. Lewis, Washington) The Bacon(Edgement, CA) Black Unity(Camp Pendelton) Blue Screw(Aurora, Colo) The Bond(Berkeley & New York) Bragg Briefs(Ft Bragg) Bridge (Butzbach, Germany) Broken Arrow(Selfridge Air Force Base) Call Up (Patton Barracks, Heidelberg) Camp News(Chicago) Catharsis(Quonset-Davisville NAS) Chessman(Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, SC.) Coffee House News(San Francisco) Column Left(Buffalo) COM mon Sense(Washington DC) COM Newsletter(Washington DC) Confinee Says(Camp Pendelton Brig) Counter-Attack(Ft. Carson, Colorado) Counterpoint(Ft Lewis) Custer’s Last Stand(Manhattan, KS) Dare to Struggle(San Diego) Death Ship Times(North Charleston) Demand For Freedom(Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa) The Destroyer(Philadelphia) Duck Power(San Diego) Dull Brass(Ft. Sheridan, Illinois.) Eat The Apple(Detroit) EM-16(Ft. Knox) Eyes Left(Hamilton AFB, California) Fall in at Ease(Tokyo) Fatigue Press(Ft. Hood) Favorite Sons(San Bernardino) Fed Up!(Ft. Lewis) FighT bAck(Heidelberg, Germany) First Amendment(Fort Wayne, Indiana)
First amendment(Yokota Air Force Base, Japan) The First Casualty(New York) Flag in Action(Ft. Campbell, Kentucky) Fort Dix 38 Newsletter(New York) Forward(Berlin, Germany) A Four Year Bummer(Chanute AFB) Fragging Action(Wrightstown) Freedom of the press(Yokusaka) Freedom Rings(Tokyo) Ft Polk GI Voice(Ft. Polk, Louisiana) FTA With Pride(Heidelberg) Fun Travel Adventure(Ft. Knox) GAF(Barksdale AFB) Getting together(Aurora, Colo.) GI Alliance(Washington DC) GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee newsletter(New York) GI Fight Back(Long Beach, CA) GI news: a publication of Vietnam Veterans Against the War/Winter Soldier Organization(VVAW/WSO) (Chicago) GI News and Discussion Bulletin(San Diego) The GI Organizer (Ft. Hood) GI Press Service(New York City) GI Voice(New York) Gigline(Ft. Bliss) Grapes of Wrath(Norfolk) The Graffitti(Heidelberg) The Green Machine(Fort Wainwright, Alaska) Hair(Misawa-shi, Japan) Head-On!(Camp Lejeune) Head-On Wish(Camp Lejeune) Highway 13(Odenton, MD) Huachuca Hard Times(Ft. Huachuca, Arizona) Last Harass(Ft. Gordon, Ga) Left Face(Ft McClellan, Ala) Lewis-McChord Free Press(Ft. Lewis, Wa.) Liberated Barracks(Honolulu) Link News(Washington DC) Lock ‘n’ load: a publication of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, WSO(New York) The Logistic(Ft. Sheridan, Ill.) The Looper(San Francisco) Marine Blues(San Francisco)
Military intelligence(Venice Beach California) Morning Report(Ft Deven) Mothball Blues(Philadelphia) My Knot(Minot AFB) Napalm (Ft. Campbell, KY) Navy Times are Changin’(Chicago) New Salute(Baltimore) The New Testament(Schweinfurt) New SOS News(San Francisco) The Next Step(Heidelberg) The Obligore(New York) Off the Brass(Portsmouth, NH) Olive branch(Jacksonville, Fla.) Om(Washington DC) Omega Press(Koza, Okinawa) On The Beach(Dam Neck, Virginia Beach, Virginia) Open Ranks(Ft. Holabird) Open Sights(Washington DC) Our Thing (Redstone Aresenal, Alabama) Out Now(Long Beach CA) The Paper(Morehead City, NC) The Paper Bag(Petersburg, VA) The Pawn(Ft. Detrick) Peace (R. A. F. Mildenhall England) Peace Exchange(St. Catharine, Ontario) Polylogue(Augusta) Potemkin (USS Forrestal) The Rag(Chicago)
Rage(Jacksonville, NC) Rap!(Ft. Benning) The RAW Truth(Cambridge, Mass) Redline (Cambridge, Mass) Reservists Committee To Stop The War Newsletter The Retaliation Reveille(Carmel, CA) Right on Post(Seaside, CA) RITA Bulletin(Paris) Rough Draft(Ft. Eustis, VA) Seasick(Olangapo, Philippines) Shakedown (Ft. Dix) Short Times(Ft. Jackson, SC.) sNORTON BIRD(Norton AFB) SOS News(Oakland, CA) Spartacus (Ft. Lee) SPD News(Fort Dix) Star Spangled Bummer(Wright-Patterson AFB) The Stars-N-Bars(Iwakuni Brig) Strike Back(Fayetteville) Stripes and Stars(Cambridge, UK) Stuffed Puffin(Keflavik, Iceland) Task Force(Berkeley) The Tidewater African(Virginia Beach) Top Secret(Ft. Devens, MA) Twin Cities Protester(Minneapolis) The Ultimate Weapon(Ft. Dix) Underground Oak(Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, Oakland) Underwood(St. Louis) Unity Now(Ft. Ord) Up Against the Bulkhead(Alameda) Up Against the Wall(West Berlin) Up Front(Los Angeles) UP TIGHT(El Paso, TX) USAF(Wright Patterson AFB) Venceremos (Franfurt) Vietnam GI(Chicago) WE GOT THE brASS[German Edition Frankfurt) WE GOT THE brASS[Asian edition Tokyo) WE GOT THE brASS[Vietnam edition Tokyo) What’s Happening(Paris) Where It’s At(West Berlin) The Whig(Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines) Wildcat (Evanston, IL) The Wiley Word(Heidelberg) The Word(Blumenscheinweg, Germany) Worms Eye View (Thailand) Write on(Bitburg, Germany) XPRESS (New York) Yand (Fukoka, Japan) Yokosuka David(Tokyo) Your Military Left(San Antonio) Zero(Paris)
Thank You David Addlestone Ben Allen Paul Atwood Andrew Bell Andy Berman Peter Broderick Dieter Bruenn Melissa Bunnen Scott Cade Richard Chase Tom Cleaver John Dean Joe Deforest Don Carrico Judith Coburn John Collings Bestor Cramm Paul Cox Ralph Alan Dale Ken Dalton Peter Davis Skip Delano Glen Douglas Terry DuBose Bill Ehrhart Richard Eiden Tod Ensign Mike Ferner Bob Fiori Richard Flacks Wendy Forbush Fred Gardner Harv Goldstein Frank Gomez Josh Gould Harry Haines Dave Harris Terrance Hallinan Alan Horn James Jernigan Marc Levy Verin Lewis Celia Rosebury Lighthill Jane McMahan Bob McKay Joseph Moore Steve Morse Richard Moser Carolyn Mugar Dominic Musacchio Hal ‘Phoenix’ Muscat Maryann Nielsen Dave O’brien Cindy O’Hara
Patrick O’Ney Pangea Productions, Inc. Lynn Pizzo Ed Radtke John Regan Dina Rigler Matt Rinaldi Bob Rosen Carolyn Rothberg Stanley Sheinbaum Jim Simons Elena Schlowsky Elizabeth Stanley Ellen Schneider Robert Sharlet Vern Simula Jim Skelly Martin Smith Arny Stieber Bill Street Barbara Trent Max Watts Jerry West Tom Wetzler Stephanie Woolhandler Irving Zeiger Robert Zevin Matilde Zimmerman Produced in Association with ARTE France Copyright © 2005 Displaced Films, Inc. All rights reserved. First publication of this motion picture (sound recording and film) under British law: United States of America 2005. Displaced Films is the author of this motion picture under British law. This motion picture is protected by the copyright laws of the United States of America and other countries. Any unauthorized duplication, copying or use of all or part of this motion picture may result in civil liability and/or criminal prosecution in accordance with applicable laws.
Concerned Officers Movement
An organization of US Military officers in the early 1970s opposed to the Vietnam War and fighting for First Amendment rights within the military.
Courage to Resist
An organization that supports US military war resisters.
Court-martial of Howard Levy
A US Army doctor court-martialed in 1967 for refusing to train Green Beret medics on their way to Vietnam.
Donald W. Duncan
A US Army Special Forces Master Sergeant who became one of the earliest military opponents of the Vietnam War and one of the antiwar movement’s leading public figures.
Fort Hood Three
Three soldiers in the US Army who refused orders to Vietnam in July 1966.
Free The Army Tour
An anti-Vietnam War (Fuck The Army) road show for GIs staring Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland.
A 1972 American documentary film about the Free The Army (Fuck The Army) antiwar Tour for GIs.
GI’s Against Fascism
An organization of sailors in the US Navy opposed to the Vietnam War and institutionalized racism. First such group in the US Navy.
Coffeehouses created near US military bases to support antiwar and anti-military sentiment among GIs.
Iraq Veterans Against the War
An organization of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans opposed to US military actions in Iraq.
A leader of the GI resistance movement during the Vietnam War and the founding editor of Vietnam GI, a very influential early GI underground newspaper.
Movement for a Democratic Military
An antiwar and GI rights organization during the Vietnam War.
An antiwar and anti-military sit-down protest carried out by 27 prisoners at the Presidio Army stockade in 1968.
Antiwar activist and former US Marine sergeant wounded and paralyzed in Vietnam. Wrote Born on the Fourth of July, which became an Academy Award–winning film.
Sir No Sir!
A documentary about the anti-war movement within the ranks of the US Armed Forces.
Stop Our Ship (SOS)
Anti-Vietnam War movement in and around the US Navy.
Veterans for Peace
An organization of military veterans founded in 1985 working to promote alternatives to war.
Vietnam Veterans Against the War
An organization of US military veterans formed in 1967 to oppose the Vietnam War.
Waging Peace in Vietnam
A non-fiction book documenting the movement by US GIs and veterans in opposition to the Vietnam War.
Winter Soldier Investigation
In early 1971 over 100 US military veterans and others testified about war crimes and atrocities being committed by the US in the Vietnam War.
This is an exhibit on the GI Movement that premiered at the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and is now touring universities and colleges in the U.S.: