Ripples out of the Presidio

Dig deeper into this story

Capt. Brendan Sullivan was one of the Army defense attorneys for the first group of GIs to be tried. He wrote 40 years later about how profoundly the experience affected him:

“27 soldiers housed in the stockade at the Presidio sat down in the yard of the fenced prison protesting the quality of the food and sang We Shall Overcome. For this, they were charged with mutiny. This group of ‘miscreants’ consisted of 18-20 year-olds whose most serious crime was AWOL. The case brought me face to face with INJUSTICE, and changed my life.

During the course of one of the trials…. I filed a motion claiming the General exercised command influence over the entire process. I also issued a subpoena for the General to appear at trial. …[H]e ordered me to Vietnam – over one little subpoena.…No one told me not to subpoena a General.

I still cannot find the words to describe to you the feeling a lawyer has when a client is subjected to abuse and injustice. It is a feeling of helplessness, anger, perhaps rage. The miscarriage of justice foisted upon the young soldiers was beyond my experience in life…. I had naively believed that people with power used their power wisely.”