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Memorial Day: Home Front

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Rick Anderson's 'Home Front'Foreword to Rick Anderson's 'Home Front'
Clarity Press

I was first approached by Clarity Press, Inc. to write a Foreword to Rick Anderson's remarkable book on the dismal treatment of American GIs by their own government because of my expertise related to American research and development of biochemical weapons of mass destruction and the shipment of same by the U.S. to the regime of Saddam Hussein in the 1980s-the very weapons which ostensibly occasioned the Bush administration's war on Iraq in 2003 - as recounted in my lecture on "BioWarfare, Terror Weapons and the U.S.:  Home Brew?", published by Counterpunch.org on 25 April 2002.  Previously, I had drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-terrorism Act of 1989, the U.S. domestic implementing legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972, that was passed unanimously by both Houses of the United States Congress and signed into law by President Bush Sr.  In the Fall of 1990 I served as Counsel for the successful defense of U.S.

Marine Corps Lance Corporal Jeff Paterson, the first military resister as a matter of principle and conscience to Bush Sr.'s Gulf War I.  Then I represented U.S. M.C. Lance Corporal David Mihaila in a successful effort to obtain his discharge from the Marine Corps during Bush Sr.'s Gulf War I as a Conscientious Objector.  Corporal Mihaila was the Clerk of the Court for the Paterson court-martial proceeding and was motivated to apply for CO status as a result of my oral argument for Corporal Paterson.
 
Then at the start of 1991 I served as Counsel for the defense of Captain Dr. Yolanda Huet-Vaughn, who was court-martialed by the U.S. Army in part because of her refusal to administer  experimental vaccines to soldiers destined to fight in the Bush Sr. Gulf War I.  Later on, I served as Counsel for the defense of U.S. Army Captain Lawrence Rockwood, who was court-martialed for his heroic efforts to stop torture in Haiti after the United States government had invaded that country in 1994.  So I felt I had the practical experience and professional expertise required to comment upon the significance of what Rick Anderson had to say.

But as I read Home Front: The Government's War on Soldiers, I was deeply moved instead to approach the subject in a more personal manner relating to my own experience as the son of an American Marine who fought valiantly against the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War, because my father's life influenced not only my appreciation of the heroism and sacrifices of U.S. Marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen and now airwomen, but also my understanding and apprehension of its dreadful realities, and the after effects upon those who must bear its brunt, and carry its memories throughout the rest of their lives.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, my father Francis Anthony Boyle, after whom I am named (being the oldest of my parents' eight children) applied for admission to Officer Candidate School for the United States Marine Corps.  After an extended period of investigation, he was eventually rejected-telling me it was the most disappointing day of his entire life.  He was not given the reason for this rejection.  But as a child he had rheumatic fever, meningitis, and polio.  As a boy he had to walk around with crutches and only gradually managed to wean himself from them.  The rejection by the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School undoubtedly saved my father's life and thus made mine possible.  The chances of survival for a young Marine Corps Officer in the Pacific Campaign were infinitesimal.  They were expected to lead their troops into battle from in front of their men.

Despite his deep disappointment and his physical limitations, my father then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on 14 July 1943 at the age of 22 and agreed to serve for the "Duration" of the war.  By contrast, I entered the Harvard Law School on about 7 September 1971 at the age of 21.  I thought of my father a lot during that first year of law school.  At about my age, he was fighting for his life in the jungles of the Pacific.  But my father would have wanted it that way for me.

According to his Honorable Discharge papers (A108534, Series A, NAVMC70-PD) and war stories, my father invaded Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa.  According to my father, after the battle for Okinawa, all but two Marines from his original Company were either killed or seriously wounded.  The Marine Corps then ordered my father and his friend to begin training for the invasion of mainland Japan where they were scheduled to be among the first Marines ashore because of their combat experience.  My father told me that at the time he believed it was a miracle that he was still alive.  He knew that he would never survive the planned invasion of the Japanese mainland, but had proceeded to train for this invasion anyway because he had enlisted for the "Duration" of the war.  Semper Fidelis   My father was a very aggressive, relentless, fearless, and ferocious warrior. 

After his Honorable Discharge from the Marine Corps on 16 January 1946 as a Corporal with his "Character of service" rated as "excellent," my father attended Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois and graduated from their Law School in the Class of 1950, shortly after I was born.  He went to work as a plaintiff's litigator for a law firm in downtown Chicago where, his hiring partner told me, he was very aggressive in court and otherwise. 

Eventually, my father opened his own law firm as a plaintiff's litigator in downtown Chicago in 1959.  On the night he transferred his files from the old office to his new firm, my father put me into our 1955 Chevy, the first car he ever bought, and brought me along for the ride and the opening of his new law firm.  Soon thereafter, he designated me as the Clerk for his law firm, and promptly put me to work at the age of nine running messages, filing documents in court, taking money to and from the LaSalle National Bank, etc. all over downtown Chicago on school holidays and during summer vacations.  At the end of a hard day's work around 5:30 p.m., I would walk over to the corner of State and Madison in order to take the bus home by myself while my father continued to work away at his law practice late into the night.  Now if I did that to my nine year old son today the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services would step in and take him away from me-the "home alone" phenomenon.  But that was a different era, and my father was of the old school:  spare the rod, and spoil the child.  It was not easy being the oldest child and namesake of a World War II U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran of invading Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa.

I continued to serve as his Clerk until he died of a heart attack on 10 January 1968 at the age of 46.  Because I worked for him at his law firm for all those years, I was fortunate to have spent an enormous amount of time with my father.  I learned a lot about life from my father.  Two of his favorites were: "Son, there is nothing fair about life."  And:  "Just remember, son, no one owes you anything."  Of course he proved right on both counts-and many others as well. 

But in particular, since I was his oldest child and namesake, at a very young age he began to tell me these astounding, chilling, hair-raising stories about what hand-to-hand combat in the Pacific was really like that literally left an otherwise talkative boy dumbfounded.  My father supplemented these stories by taking me to see almost every war film ever made about combat in the Pacific, where he punctuated these war movies in medias res by telling me whether or not the incidents portrayed therein were authentic, and then comparing them with his own war experiences afterwards on the way home.  It dawned upon me at a very young age that it was literally a miracle that my father had survived the war.

My father was very proud of his combat service in the Marine Corps and for the rest of his life continued to consider himself to be a Marine.  He never bragged about his combat experiences in the war to me or to anyone else that I was aware of.  His record in combat spoke for itself.  Indeed, when I was a young boy, his fellow warriors elected him to be the Commander of the local American Legion Chapter, a distinct honor as he saw it.  He brought my mother, my next younger sister, and me along for the installation ceremony and dinner that night. 

My father had nothing good and nothing bad to say about the Japanese Imperial Army and its soldiers.  But it was obvious from his tone of voice that he considered them to be dangerous warriors who were prepared to fight to the death, as large numbers of them did at his hands.  My father and mother never raised any of their eight children to be biased or prejudiced against the Japanese or any other people for that matter. 

According to my father, immediately prior to the invasions of Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa, his Captain issued direct orders to his Company not to take Japanese prisoners of war on the grounds of reciprocity:  "The Japs don't take prisoners of our men, so I don't want to see any Nip soldiers cluttering up our rear lines!" 

Notwithstanding, my father took surrendering Japanese soldiers as prisoners of war, escorted them to the rear of the line, and then returned to battle.  When the odds are overwhelming that you will meet your Maker in any instant, you want to do so with a clear conscience.  I tell this story to my law students when they object that it is unrealistic to expect soldiers to obey the laws of war during the heat of combat. But that is the difference between a warrior and a war criminal.

At first glance it appeared that my father had survived the war relatively unscathed.  He had picked up a fungus on his leg that stayed with him for the rest of his life, which he called his "jungle rot." Also, his hearing had been impaired by the big naval guns bombarding the coasts while he and his comrades waited on ship to board the landing transports in order to storm the beaches, as well as by artillery, grenades, bombs, machine guns, flame throwers, and other ordnance that he endured, advancing under withering enemy fire during the day, repulsing bonzai charges at night, repeatedly volunteering for what looked like suicide missions behind enemy lines, etc.  It was Hell on Earth. 

Only years later, long after he had died, and as a result of medical research on veterans of the Vietnam War, did I realize that my father came back with a severe case of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS), something that was undiagnosed at the time.  Combat veterans of World War II were simply expected to go home and resume their civilian lives without further adieu.  As my father's Marine Corps Honorable Discharge papers state:  "Requires neither treatment nor hospitalization."  In retrospect, my father should have had medical treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome if it had been available then. 

Despite his untreated PTSS, my father built a very successful law practice as a plaintiff's litigator.  Shortly before he died, my father told me that he had almost become  economically secure enough from his law practice in order to run for a Judgeship in Cook County, which he intended to do.  Given that he was born Irish on the Southside of Chicago and his Marine Corps combat record, he would have had no problem being nominated, run and elected by the storied Dick Daley Machine - he grew up with them all.  But my father's further ascent in the legal profession was cut short by the physical condition of his heart.  Nevertheless, my father always demonstrated heartfelt compassion to those less fortunate than he and taught all of his children to do the same.  My mother still does the same as he today.

While it was likely not my father's intention, his stories told over many years about the terrors and horrors of combat in the Pacific turned me against war and violence as a solution to human problems.  I had the same reaction while reading through Home Front, Rick Anderson's powerful new book which indicates not only those ills which arrogant and rapacious government officials can perpetrate on those who are expected to sacrifice their very lives, but also the terrible tragedy that is so characteristic of war itself.  War is always the ultimate defeat for the human spirit.  War is an abomination on the face of God's Creation.  There has to be a better way.  Law is that better way. 

We Americans cannot keep sending our young men and now women off to fight and to die, or to survive with terrible physical and mental injuries, scarred for the rest of their lives by the horrors of warfare as my father was.  Every American who has a child contemplating joining the military for any reason should buy him or her a copy of this book to read.  I have three sons, and I will be sure to give a copy of this book to each of them.  

America's endemic cycle of warfare, bloodshed, and violence, both internationally and domestically, must stop with us.  We must teach our children that there is a better way.  Given the pervasive American culture of glorifying and worshiping violence, warfare, death, and destruction, this important book will enable American parents to better educate our children about the absolute necessity for peace, justice, human rights, and the Rule of Law, both internationally and domestically.  This book provides an extremely moving, compelling and irrefutable account of what happens to the young men and women of America when they go into the military, and also when they come home--if they do. 

Home Front should be required reading in every American high school in order to counteract the outright pro-war propaganda, militarization, and military solicitation currently being inflicted upon our children by the Pentagon and the news media.  It should also be required reading for beginning college courses in political science, history, and the other social sciences, which have an inherent bias in favor of power, domination, violence, and warfare.  Finally, Home Front is a very powerful tool for those of us in the American Peace Movement to use in order to stop the Bush Jr. Administration's attempt to create an American hydrocarbon empire abroad in Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Colombia, West Africa, the Horn, and elsewhere by means of exploiting, manipulating, abusing and deceiving the members of U.S. armed forces to serve as pawns in their geopolitical pursuit of oil, natural gas, and corporate profits, while amassing personal family fortunes in the process.  We need as many loyal, patriotic, humanitarian, and principled American citizens as possible to read this book, contemplate its lessons, and then act upon them:  Stop these wars!


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