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War Resisters Gather to Commemorate 40th Anniversary of "Presidio 27 Mutiny"

by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist (jeff [at]
SAN FRANCSICO (October 14, 2008) - Vietnam War resisters were joined by Gulf War and Iraq War resisters to commemorate the anniversary of the “Presidio 27 Mutiny,” a 1968 protest and sit-in conducted by imprisoned Vietnam War resisters.
During the Vietnam War era, the Presidio Stockade was a military prison notorious for its poor conditions and overcrowding with many troops imprisoned for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War. When Richard Bunch, a mentally disturbed prisoner, was shot and killed on October 11th, 1968, Presidio inmates began organizing. Three days later, 27 Stockade prisoners broke formation and walked over to a corner of the lawn, where they read a list of grievances about their prison conditions and the larger war effort and sang "We Shall Overcome." The prisoners were charged and tried for "mutiny," and several got 14 to 16 years of confinement. Meanwhile, disillusionment about the Vietnam War continued to grow inside and outside of the military.

The mutiny’s anniversary today comes at a time when military resistance against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is climbing. U.S. Army soldiers are resisting service at the highest rate since 1980, with an 80 percent increase in desertions, defined as absence for more than 30 days, since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to the Associated Press.

"This was for real. We laid it down, and the response by the commanding general changed our lives," recalls Keith Mather, Presidio “mutineer” who escaped to Canada before his trial came up and lived there for 11 years, only to be arrested upon his return to the United States. Mather is currently a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of Veterans for Peace.

Other "mutineers" who attended the commemoration today include: John Colip of Mesa, Arizona; Randy Roland of Seattle, Washington; and Mike "The Mole" Marino of Vacaville, California. They were joined by Roger Broomfield, a stockade guard who later became a defense witness, and former San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan who helped kickoff his career by defending "The Presidio 27."

"This was one of the first major acts of GI resistance against the Vietnam War. Forty years later we again have growing resistance within the military in opposition to a long, brutal occupation war-complete with prisoners of conscience and resisters seeking refuge in Canada," explained Gulf War GI resister Jeff Paterson, Project Director of Courage to Resist, an organization established to support Iraq War era military objectors.

Among the dozens of folks who gathered to listen to the “mutineers” was a class of high school students from the Presidio Bay School. Iraq War resister Stephen Funk explained to the students that this was not simply a question of history, but that GI resisters are locked up today for refusing this generation’s unjust wars.
§Descriptions below
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist
Top photo: Keith Mather, Presidio 27 resister and commemoration initiator speaking in front of the stockade. This photo, left to right: Presidio 27 defense lawyer Terence Hallinan, Keith Mather, stockade guard Roger Broomfield, Mike "The Mole" Marino, Randy Roland, John Colip
§Newspaper clippings
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist
§Presidio 27 resister Randy Roland of Seattle, Washington
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist
§Gathering in front of the old stockade
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist
§Vietnam War resister Mike Wong
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist
§Just because you're in the stockade, no reason not to reenlist!
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist
§Iraq War resister Stephen Funk, behind bars again
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist
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Michael J "Mole" Marino
Fri, Jun 13, 2014 2:47PM
Richard Ditewig
Fri, May 11, 2012 10:19AM
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