“… The war was not what he had imagined…. He wanted to leave the army as a conscientious objector. But he was sent to a psychiatrist and threatened with dishonorable discharge. Then he simply ceased to care… I began to suspect his lassitude concealed a state of paralysis, not of body, but of the soul. He was as if suspended in the past, disbelieving the old values, yet unable to act on his own beliefs.”
— Susan Griffin, A Chorus of Stones (pg. 261)
Journal 1972 – the process finally ends.
1 Jan 1972
Back at England AFB with nothing to do today, thinking of the past few days with my family, with SB. We talked a lot, but no solutions. I’m making progress in understanding where she’s at, and where I am in relation to that… to me it’s more important what you believe about yourself and about humanity than what you believe about God. All that gets to the basic problem of my life… most of my other problems would solve themselves if I could solve that one… but, the immediate problem I’m faced with this week is the Air Force and the connected problem of my existence in this society. If I do get out without going to jail, I think I’ll probably leave the country, try to regain my perspective….
11 Jan 1972
An entry is appropriate: My application not practically re-submit-able, the psychiatrist has recommended my discharge, and the Col. has entered a 36-3 action against me, submitting the letter, with my first request and the doctor’s report as attachments, to the Group here, then goes to SOF, etc. Waiting is. Not so bad, but boring. And the twist of things ‘round Catch 7,981 galls me somewhat. But joy and hope for personal survival out-shout my ire.
The whirl of ever-present madness still vortices around in my mind like telephone poles full of straw… and I’m sitting there looking out of the window smiling like I knew what was coming next but wasn’t about to let me in on the secret.
19 Jan 1972
The doctor’s recommendation and the 36-3 action were stopped by the Wing Commander, Col. Ransom, and I have signed a statement refusing to fly. Now I am waiting again.
20 Jan 1972
A Truly Momentus Day. I got my first Article 15 today. The result of refusing to fly. I accepted it in hopes that when they Court- Martial me, I can get a resignation-in-lieu-of-Court-Martial accepted. Col. Eaton told me I am scheduled for tomorrow, so I guess it will be the same old routine. I don’t know if I like this legalistic scheming too much, but it’s what the legal officer unofficially suggested might work. Don’t really feel like going into it all – written so many letters. Just this: I am fully prepared for whatever may come, be it court-martial and imprisonment or whatever, for I would never have begun this whole thing if I were not willing to go to jail for it. That is the basis on which my decision was made, and I cannot run from the reality of it. The time has come to find myself, and I must persevere.
It fits my life, my soul – basically this is passive resistance, and I see that basically I’m a passive person. I’ve been reading Lao Tzu The Way of Life – just the beginnings of it, but his “quietism” seems to be much the same as I have always felt… seems for some time I’ve been living by an ancient Oriental philosophy which I didn’t know existed. It’s the same spirit, the same feeling that attracted me to the Thai people and their culture and religion..
27 Jan 1972
Although my body still technically, on paper, legally, physically, belongs to and is “in” the Air Force, I am free. My mind is “out.” Free. Has been ever since I made the decision not to do anything for the Air Force. They are detaining my body here, right now through procedural red tape, and may later with locks and bars and guns. But they no longer have me, and that is what is important.
2 Feb 1972
Second Article 15 came today. Took them so long, I was expecting a Court-Martial. They just made the punishment stronger this time, restricting me to the base. I think that could be considered “cruel and unusual punishment” in this god-awful place! I decided to accept it, in hopes they might decide to go with the 36-3 action, and to give things a little more time. Though God knows, time is something I don’t need. Every instinct said, go ahead, do it, refuse it, get this thing over with, but I didn’t want to be hasty, even though Capt. Crystal had suggested I might refuse the second one. And too, somehow it will seem better to me if they initiate it – more in keeping with passive resistance.
Think I’ll go talk to the lawyer tomorrow, Col. Eaton tomorrow night. I don’t intend to go the squadron any more until they say come. One thing for sure, I’m causing them a hell of a lot of trouble, expense, paperwork, etc. while I just fuck off every day. Of course, it’s kinda driving me crazy not doing anything, but it’s good practice in case I go to jail… But there’s never been a moment’s doubt that I would finish this thing. No thought, so far, that maybe I’ll just go ahead and fly anyway, just hope something will come along. Although I realize there’s a possibility I may some day sincerely regret having done all this, I am locked in to the absolute necessity of this cosmic moment….
I lived in cold houses all my life, ‘till I went off to college. But perhaps too many people have loved me. And too many people have not loved me. There have been times along the way…
1 March 1972
March came in like a lion today…. sometime last week they submitted a 36-2 action on me, so there is now hope that I may be discharged. I haven’t yet received notification of the action, but should soon. I suppose I will submit my resignation then, and within a month or so will know whether it has been accepted or not. I will be a General Discharge under honorable conditions, supposedly. I will be very happy with that. The waiting is getting hard. My relationships are deteriorating. Seems hopeless. And unless things go differently than I expect them to, it is. My mind is so convoluted I don’t know what I feel anymore. The concept of ‘love’ just seems like bullshit. I should probably visit a psychiatrist about this problem I seem to have. I increasingly fell that suicide is the best resolution of my life – things only seem to get worse as I go along. Depression is setting in….
A Thursday night, early Friday morning… It is all so meaningless, so pointless, so imaginary… I don’t know why I’m even writing about it. Maybe for the same reason that people write suicide notes. But we have constructed this whole scene in our heads, set ourselves up as “man” in distinction to “world” or “animal” or “universe” and decided that it was all for us and we are not really a part of it, and then started looking for reasons and purpose and all that crap, when none of it even matters. Life. We set up that category, too. We’re no different than rocks, or water, or air….
There must be some way to achieve total cosmic perspective, awareness of the totality – which would actually be the same as no perspective, or simultaneous total perspective. Able to be aware of all from all perspectives at the same time. That’s all I want, not purpose. Total abdication of the point of view….
I realize that I come from a position quite opposite that of most people: I think chaos is better than order, at least better than imposed order. The whole idea of the state and the extension of the intellect over the spirit in the service of controls seems to me an evolutionary error of profound proportions, one that already is beginning the extinction of the species… It’s not really our natural inclination to go around killing each other – other species don’t do that on the scale we do. Without this error of social control, we might have evolved a truly natural order, control from within which would have not resulted in such a murderous species… So what shall it be, Nixon or Muskie?
28 Mar 1972
Chaos seems to be the order of my life. Gen. Knight finally got around to initiating the 36-2 action, and Special Actions has my tender of resignation. Which goes to TAC and the Sec. of the AF – CBPO says I should hear TAC’s decision within two weeks. I am going to Union Grove tomorrow – if nothing happens between now and then… My mind is freaking over this whole thing now, the nervous state I get into when things don’t go as I planned. Don’t know how much longer I can hold together under this situation. And I don’t know what I’ll do if they don’t approve my resignation. Will be hard to wait around…. horrible dreams these days. I need to tie up the loose ends of my life. But I can’t even find them.
3 April 1972
Made it to Union Grove and back… good to see everyone, but hard to be back. Keep wondering what I’ll do if it’s disapproved. Either split or just stop doing anything, even wearing the uniform, try to get help from somewhere.
30 April 1972
The last week has been somewhat easier, due to TAC’s recommendation of approval on my resignation – which supposedly is tantamount to ultimate approval by the Air Force. Within the month I should be out! Fearful of yet another disappointment, I have suppressed joy, hope and celebration, but an undeniable excitement in building in me; at times it becomes difficult to keep from shouting! Of course, I still don’t know what paths my steps will take in exercise of this hard-won freedom…The relationship is pretty much hopeless… tragically, ironically hopeless.
23 May 1972
And my brother is married! Hard to really believe, even after standing up there with him… hard to believe that Stewart is now married and all that implies. Happy-sad flows through my thoughts… happy to see him so radiantly happy, sad to see my best friend married. Somehow I feel more alone now. I know it’s silly but it’s there….
June 25, 1972
Today is something like the 25th or 26th of June – since the last entry, I got out of the Air Force. Sounds simple, huh? Actually it was, when it finally came through – I was discharged on June 2. 1972, a General Discharge (Under Honorable Conditions), whoopee!!! Whoopee! Wow! Yeah. I’m out. It was quite a trip, walking around the apartment whooping and laughing – then crying for a few minutes.
And now I’m in Athens at Walker and Judy’s, where I ended up after leaving the house about a week ago. Went to visit SB, friends in Atlanta, Mic in Gainesville, now I’m here. Don’t know what I’m going to do next… may buy a van.