Friday, February 24, 2017

The Struggle Continues...Supporter The Military Resisters-Support G.I. Voice

The Struggle Continues...Supporter The Military Resisters-Support G.I. Voice    


By Frank Jackman

The late Peter Paul Markin had gotten “religion” on the questions of war and peace the hard way. Had before that baptism accepted half-knowingly (his term) against his better judgment induction into the Army when his “friends and neighbors” at his local draft board in North Adamsville called him up for military service back in hard-shell hell-hole Vietnam War days when the country was coming asunder, was bleeding from all pores around 1968. Markin had had some qualms about going into the service not only because the reasoning given by the government and its civilian hangers-on for the tremendous waste of human and material resources had long seemed preposterous but because he had an abstract idea that war was bad, bad for individuals, bad for countries, bad for civilization in the late 20th century. Was a half-assed pacifist if he had though deeply about the question, which he had not.

But everything in his blessed forsaken scatter-shot life pushed and pushed hard against his joining the ranks of the draft resisters at the Boston sanctuary for that cohort, the Arlington Street Church, whom he would hear about and see every day then as he passed on his truck route which allowed him to pay his way through college. Markin had assumed that since he was not a Quaker, Shaker, Mennonite, Brethren of the Common Life adherent but rather a bloody high-nosed Roman Catholic with their slimy “just war” theory that seemed to justify every American war courtesy of their leading American Cardinal, France Spellman, that he could not qualify for conscientious objector status on that basis. And at the time that he entered the Army that was probably true even if he had attempted to do so. Later, as happened with his friend, Jack Callahan, he could at least made the case based on the common Catholic upbringing.  Right then though he was not a total objector to war but only of what he saw in front of him, the unjustness of the Vietnam War.

That was not the least of his situation though. That half-knowingly mentioned above had been overridden by his whole college Joe lifestyle where he was more interested in sex, drink, and rock and roll (the drugs would not come until later), more interested in bedding women than thinking through what he half-knew would be his fate once he graduated from college as the war slowly dragged on and his number was coming up. Moreover there was not one damn thing in his background that would have given pause about his future course. A son of the working-class, really even lower than that the working poor a notch below, there was nobody if he had bothered to seek some support for resistance who would have done so. Certainly not his quiet but proud ex-World War II Marine father, not his mother whose brother was a rising career Army senior NCO, not his older brothers who had signed up as a way to get out of hell-hole North Adamsville, and certainly not his friends from high school half of whom had enlisted and a couple from his street who had been killed in action over there. So no way was an Acre boy with the years of Acre mentality cast like iron in his head about servicing if called going to tip the cart that way toward straight out resistance.         

Maybe he should have, at least according to guys he met in college like Brad Fox and Fritz Taylor, or guys who he met on the hitchhike road going west like Josh Breslin and Captain Crunch (his moniker not real name which Josh could not remember). The way they heard the story from Markin after he got out of the Army, after he had done his hell-hole thirteen months in Vietnam as an infantryman, twice wounded, and after he had come back to the “real” world was that on about the third day in basis training down in Fort Jackson in South Carolina he knew that he had made a mistake by accepting induction. But maybe there was some fate-driven reason, maybe as he received training as an infantryman and he and a group of other trainees talked about but did not refuse to take machine-gun training, maybe once he received orders for Vietnam and maybe once he got “in-country” he sensed that something had gone wrong in his short, sweet life but he never attempted to get any help, put in any applications, sought any relief from what was to finally crack him. That, despite tons of barracks anti-war blather on his part from Fort Jackson to Danang.     

Here’s the reason though why the late Peter Paul Markin’s story accompanies this information about G.I. rights even for those who nowadays enter the military voluntarily, as voluntarily as any such decision can be without direct governmental coercion. Markin, and this part is from Josh Breslin the guy he was closest to toward the end, the guy who had last seen him in the States before that fateful trip to Mexico, to Sonora when it all fell apart one day, had a very difficult time coming back to what all the returnees called the “real” world after Vietnam service. Had drifted to drug, sex and rock and roll out on the West Coast where Josh had first met him in San Francisco until he tired of that, had started to have some bad nights.

Despite the bad nights though he did have a real talent for writing, for journalism. Got caught up in writing a series about what would be later called the “brothers under the bridge” about guys like him down in Southern California who could not adjust to the real world after ‘Nam and had tried to keep body and soul together by banding together in the arroyos, along the railroad tracks and under the bridges and creating what would today be called a “safe space.”

Markin’s demons though were never far from the surface. Got worse when he sensed that the great wash that had come over the land during the counter-cultural 1960s that he had just caught the tail-end had run its course, had hit ebb tide. Then in the mid-1970s to relieve whatever inner pains were disturbing him he immersed himself in the cocaine culture that was just rearing its head in the States. That addiction would lead him into the drug trade, would eventually lead him as if by the fateful numbers to sunny Mexico, to lovely Sonora way where he met his end. Josh never found out all the details about Markin’s end although a few friends had raised money to send a detective down to investigate. Apparently Markin got mixed up with some local bad boys in the drug trade. Tried to cut corners, or cut into their market. One day he was found in a dusty back street with two slugs in his head. He lies down there in some unknown potter’s field mourned, moaned and missed until this very day.  

Oh what might have been if he had sought out help in attempting to work out the better angels of his nature before all hell broke loose around his too futile head.  

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