Andy Stapp

Andrew Dean Stapp (March 25, 1944 – September 3, 2014) was an American activist known for forming the American Servicemen’s Union, an unofficial union for the U.S. military, in opposition to the Vietnam War. Stapp began as a student activist until he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1966. There he rallied anti-war sentiment, leading to two highly publicized courts-martial. After establishing the American Servicemen’s Union, Stapp was discharged for subversive activity. … He began questioning the Vietnam War during an archaeology expedition in Egypt, where he learned about the country’s colonial history under British rule. Stapp participated in a sit-in on Hiroshima Day in 1965, where he was arrested for disorderly conduct and accused police of throwing tear gas into locked vans of arrestees. He became involved with the anti-Vietnam War movement on campus and served as president of SENSE, Students for Peace. Frustrated by difficulties building draft resistance among other students, Stapp dropped out of Penn State and decided to build resistance within the military. Stapp was drafted into the Army in May 1966. He had trouble enlisting because of his arrest record and destroyed draft card but convinced his local draft board that he had had a change of heart. He was stationed in Oklahoma at Fort Sill. He formed an informal group with whom he collected leftist literature and engaged in minor annoyance actions. After their library was surrendered for inspection and not returned, Stapp locked his footlocker and refused to open it. … The Emergency Civil Liberties Committee had attorney Victor Rabinowitz work on the case and sent attorney David Rein to defend Stapp. In what was one of the earliest anti-war protests on a military base, soldiers and civilians appeared at the trial and chanted anti-war slogans. Nevertheless, Stapp was convicted and served 45 days of hard labor. Private Paul Ilg, who attended the trial, accused a lieutenant of perjury for claiming to have initiated the original order. Ilg was charged with and convicted showing disrespect to a superior officer.  The second court-martial was for allegedly leaving his barracks without authorization. Youth Against War and Fascism sent several sympathizers to the trial, and Stapp began spending time with one of the activists, Deirdre Griswold. He was widely popular at the base and his acquittal was cheered by fellow soldiers. When Stapp took a leave in late 1967, he married Griswold and they began forming the American Servicemen’s Union. He also took over publication of The Bond, an early GI underground press publication that amassed a readership of over 20,000 over the course of its publication. Stapp advocated for a right to refuse orders, racial equality, freedom of association, a right to trial by jury, election of officers, and a federal minimum wage. …”
NY Times: Andy Stapp, Who Tried to Unionize the Military, Dies at 70
Andy Stapp, a thorn in the Pentagon’s side
Soundcloud: Andy Stapp and the American Servicemen’s Union

From left, Terry Klug and Andy Stapp leaving Klug’s court-martial at Fort Dix, 1969.

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