Antiwar and Radical History Project – Pacific Northwest
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Click the images to be taken to galleries of GI papers from Fort Lewis.

 Counterpoint, the first underground antiwar paper published at Fort Lewis, was a project of the GI-Civilian Alliance for Peace, involving soldiers and students from UW. Published October 29 1968­–20 Sept 1969.
Fed Up, a second newspaper printed for Fort Lewis GIs by a chapter of the antiwar American Servicemen's Union and the staff of the GI Coffeehouse in Tacoma, the Shelter Half. Ran from 13 Oct 1969–1 January 1972.
The Lewis-McChord Free Press, begun in August 1970 by GIs and civilians around the Shelter Half Coffeehouse and organized as the GI Alliance. Ran until June 1973, later renamed the GI Voice.

GI Movement: Underground Newspapers

 

The GI movement produced a phenomenal amount of its own literature, often taking the form of underground antiwar newspapers. This page gives an overview of undrground GI papers in the Northwest and links to galleries of digitized issues of three main newspapers published at Fort Lewis. Click the images on the sidebar to visit a specific paper, or click here to browse all newspapers.

This is part of a GI Movement Special Section. Click below to tour the section further:
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GI Papers at Fort Lewis

by Jessie Kindig

Soldiers, sailors, airmen, and veterans turned against the war in Vietnam in large numbers, and by 1971, the military was, by its own admission, unable to fight the war in Vietnam because their soldiers would not obey. One of the most effective methods of spreading antiwar and radical ideas were the underground newspapers GIs published and distributed (often clandestinely) around bases. Over 300 such newspapers were published during the length of the war, on bases not only in the United States, but in Germany, France, Japan, the Philippines, England, South Korea, and Iceland. Despite their numbers, though, most papers did not survive for longer than a few years, due to the rapid turnover among active-duty soldiers as they rotated in and out of Vietnam and on and off bases.

In the Pacific Northwest, there were many such papers, including Counterpoint, Fed Up, the Lewis-McChord Free Press, and G.I. Voice from Fort Lewis Army Base and McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma; the unit newsletters B Troop News and First of the Worst, from Fort Lewis; Sacstrated and Co-Ambulation from Fairchild Air Force Base, near Spokane, WA; Puget Sound Sound Off from Bremerton Naval Yard on the Washington peninsula; and Yah-Hoh, published out of Fort Lewis by a group of radical Native American servicemen.

Involvement in the distribution and production of these papers could mean disciplinary action against active-duty soldiers, so civilian support and off-base spaces were important. GI coffeehouses, like the Shelter Half in Tacoma, near Fort Lewis, were integral to the production of GI papers. Often, the coffeehouse provided a space to house printing materials and do layout of papers. At the Shelter Half, civilian staff and volunteers worked with active-duty soldiers to produce the newspapers. Activists were creative in distributing them: Shelter Half staff did drive-by drops of the Army Base, dumping copies next to base gates for their buddies inside to distribute. At Fort Carson, Colorado, soldiers folded newspapers into paper airplanes and sailed them over the walls of the army stockade to the inmates.

Due to the disparate nature of GI organizing, where soldiers rotated in and out of bases and were subject to strict surveilliance and repression, the GI press was an integral part of knitting together the currents of dissent within the military.

Copyright (c) 2008 Jessie Kindig