One of the most outlandish protests of the war in
In the tradition of Ben Franklin-style colonial-era newspapers that challenged the coercive actions of the British empire, of Frederick Douglass’ “North Star” challenge of the entrenched institution of slavery, and of numerous other examples of journalism-activism in American history, Sharlet launched an antiwar newspaper for GIs, written by active duty GIs and young veterans of the controversial war in Southeast Asia.
Starting in January 1968, copies of the “underground” newspaper were widely distributed to soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines across the
Sometime in the spring of 1968, my brother Ted visited me in
Spying my name among the culprits on the masthead of this antiwar rag, Air Force investigators called in the FBI and targeted Ted, a paramedic in the air-sea rescue detachment. “Whose side are you on?” the commander demanded. The agitated colonel, who had lost a brother in the war, proposed that my brother join him in a raid on
Ted, who professed ignorance of the newspaper’s appearance in their midst, was saved by a lieutenant who noted that the airman was a highly regarded member of his crew, who had jumped out of helicopters with rescue gear to save pilots who crash-landed in the ocean.
But the damage to military decorum was done. Somebody dropped that paper on that colonel’s desk in a top secret facility. The Air Force and FBI knew that, whoever did it, antiwar dissent now reached deep into even highly trained, highly motivated special operations units.
Jeff Sharlet came out of that milieu, working in secretive communications-intercept units in
Jeff Sharlet’s ripples of influence on the Vietnam-era antiwar GI movement have been memorialized in numerous books, publications for GIs challenging the war in
Another fitting tribute is Bob’s son, Jeff Sharlet, the investigative journalist and author of The Family and C Street, among other works.
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