Trump and the Military

William Johnston

As a veteran, I have found Donald Trump's fascination with the military to be bizarre, if not downright outlandish  He has wanted military parades marching through Washington, D.C. fashioned like those in two-bit despotic  countries to warn its population not to get out of hand.  Now he has taken the next step and ordered the U.S. military to use force against American citizens.  He has ordered attacks on peaceful protesters using their First Amendment right of assembly.  He has violated separation of church and state by using an Episcopal and a Catholic Church as political props.  Trump, a man with no perceptible morals, standing in front of a crucifix – a holy symbol I have knelt before all my life – repels me.

Trump's violation of his office, the constitution, and common decency is very personal for me, given my family's military history and the Vietnam War.

Let me return you to the days of the military draft.  It is February of 1966 and I have just lost my student classification.  I no longer have a II-S deferment.  After a chat with my local draft board lady, I was informed I would be drafted at the end of the academic year in June.  I have read recently that Trump – installed as president by the Electoral College – lost his student deferment the same time I did.

Few Americans at this time realized how quickly the Johnson Administration was building up the military for war, as they dug a deeper, disastrous hole for themselves in Vietnam.  This is how the system worked:  You got drafted for two years, went to basic training, then advanced infantry training, received an M-16, and were shipped to Vietnam.  By the end of the year, the casualty list grew by the hundreds, reaching a total of 58,000 dead before the U.S. was forced out.

I admit I was not against the war at this time, but I did have questions.  Understand, I come from a family that has not avoided military service since the American Revolution.  I had two great grandfathers in the Union Army, and my Dad was in the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  My brother was already in the Seabees in Vietnam.  I joined the Air Force.

Donald Trump's father paid off a doctor to claim his boy had bone spurs and so was 4-F (medically deferred).  As General Mattis, the former Secretary of Defense, told a group last year, “I earned my spurs in battle; Trump earned his with a doctor's letter.”  I had friends who opposed the Vietnam War and did alternative service in VISA, the Peace Corps, or working in nursing homes.  Unlike Trump, they were neither dishonest nor were they cowards.  A draftee in 1966 was on his way to a rice paddy, weapon in hand, for a year, and we all knew it!  TRUMP WAS A COWARD! 

About this time, my brother was climbing a telephone pole just outside of Da Nang Air Base when he was fired on and had to jump from the top of the pole.  His back never recovered.  My nineteen-year-old brother Tim was killed in a shipboard accident on the USS Hancock.  During this time, Trump bragged that, because thousands of young men were in the military overseas, he had more women available at home to have sex with.  Who votes for or supports this disgusting creature?  Yet I notice the VFW and American Legion have invited him to their convention every year and given him a wild welcome.  As a veteran, I am embarrassed.

My working-class parents “donated” four sons to the military during the Vietnam War.  They lost one.  Another was seriously injured for life.  Even if my parents had the financial resources to do so, they would never ever have paid off a doctor to allow one of their sons to avoid military service. My family history elevates our morals to a higher level than Trump's.

Trump wanted to order 20,000 active duty U.S. Army regular troops to occupy the city of Washington, D.C. – a violation of the law without Congressional approval.  Only the total opposition of his cabinet and the Joint Chiefs of Staff prevented him from doing so.  Now he wants to have a military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue on the 4th of July, just as his totalitarian buddies like Putin do.  

But wait! How he would see the parade?   I don't know, since he has put a fence up completely surrounding the White House grounds and may be hiding out in his bunker.  I guess the little tin soldier would have the military and police attack citizens again to clear his way.