RAG RADIO: Vietnam War, Movement Against It, and GI Resistance with Tom Cleaver and Alice Embree (Part I)

Anti-war veteran and '60s activist join in a lively, provocative discussion.


With all the renewed attention to the Vietnam War caused by the Ken Burns documentary, Rag Radio is presenting a two-part series, “Vietnam: The War, the Movement Against it, and the GI Resistance.”

Thorne Dreyer‘s guests in part one are author, aviation historian, and Vietnam Vet Thomas Cleaver, and Austin activist and a leader of the ’60s-’70s anti-war movement, Alice Embree.

Alice Embree was recently featured in two PBS-generated productions that aired on Austin’s public radio station, KLRU-TV, in conjunction with the Burns documentary: “ATX Together: Lessons from Vietnam,” which featured a mix of teenagers and boomers discussing the war and its legacy, and “Austin Revealed: Stories from Vietnam.”

Among topics discussed on the show are Tom Cleaver’s revelations about the Tonkin Gulf “incident,” the history of Ft. Hood’s Oleo Strut GI coffeehouse; the story of the Ft. Hood 43, when Black GIs stationed at Fort Hood refused to be deployed against protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago; and larger issues involving the war and the movement against it.

Thomas McKelvey Cleaver, a native Texan living in Los Angeles, is a Vietnam vet, an aviation historian, a journalist, the author of several books, and a produced screenwriter. He has been an activist on anti-war, political reform, and environmental issues for 50 years. He is an expert on the Tonkin Gulf “non-incident” (as he calls it) that was used as a pretext to begin formal U.S. combat involvement in Vietnam. He was on the staff of the operational command over the destroyers USS Maddox and USS Turner Joy in early August 1964, and has substantial personal knowledge of the events on the Tonkin Gulf. Read Tom’s Rag Blog article, “Tonkin Gulf: The event that changed my life forever.”

Alice Embree, an Austin writer, activist, and organizer, was active in the movement against the War in Vietnam in the 1960’s, participating in one of the first anti-war demonstrations in Texas — a vigil at President Lyndon Johnson’s ranch in April 1965. She also took part in a women’s sit-in at the Austin Draft Board in October 1966, and many more anti-war actions in Austin and around the country. She was a pioneer of the Women’s Liberation Movement and a founder of The Rag, Austin’s legendary underground newspaper.

(Tom Cleaver was instrumental in the creation of a contemporary GI coffeehouse, Under the Hood, for GIs at Ft. Hood who opposed the Iraq War, and Alice Embree was involved in the project from 2008-2013.)

Also listen to Part 2 of this series featuring anti-war Vietnam Vets Terry DuBose and Alan Pogue, here.


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