Antiwar P.O.W.’s: A Different Mold Scarred by Their Combat Experiences Share full article (Theodore Guy, Ted Guy)

The scene was the courtyard of a prison camp near Hanoi called Planiation Gardens, and the time was August, 1971. Eight young American enlisted men going to vash dishes passed a group of senior officers who were out shaving.

The eight had made statements against the war and developed rather friendly relations with their captors. Their actions had earned them the name “peace Committee”—and considerable animosity—among their fellow prisoners.

As the group approached the officers, Maj. Edward W. Leonard straightened up and shouted to them that they should “stop all forms of cooperation and collaboration with enemy.” According to one officer, one of the enlisted men shouted back, “Who’s the enemy?”

After the “peace committee” members had been repatriated they were charged by Col. Theodore W. Guy of the Air Force with a long liSt of offenses, including failure to obey Major Leonard’s “order,” aiding the enemy and trying to undermine the discipline and morale of other prisoners. Two weeks ago, the Pentagon dismissed the charges—t wo days after one of the eight, Sgt. Abel Larry Kavanaugh of the Marines, had shot himself to death.

Sergeant Kavanaugh’s death was a strong reminder that not all the prisners shared the belief that the Vietnam war was just and had ended in “peace with honor.” Not all of the 566 prisoners who gave snappy salutes and patriotic speeches on their return saw the North Vietnamese as an “enemy” who threatened their country’s vital interests. They seem cut from a different mold and deeply affected by their war experiences.

Interviews with several

Continued on Page 38, Column 1 “peace committee” members and other prisoners, here in some thing clear: The experiences these men, their decision to tppose the war and the angry charges leveled against them, reflect the same divisions found in the broader American society in the Vietnam years.

“The reaction these P.O.W.’s received from Colonel Guy was the same as antiwar Senators received back here from people like Agnew,” said Mark Amsterdam, a staff lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York and Sergeant Kavanaugh’s attorney.

“These guys represented the same thing that arouses people when they see long hair or referto If and the whole youth culture,” Mr. Amsterdam said. “These guys were not in their [the officers’] mold, and that just burned them up. It’s not a function of captivity or even of the military, it’s ‘a function f the t looks at those who are different.”

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