Military Policy from the Victims' Point of View

By McCarthy, Colman | National Catholic Reporter, June 12, 2009 | Go to article overview

Military Policy from the Victims' Point of View


McCarthy, Colman, National Catholic Reporter


Most pacifists have conversion moments, awakenings from years of slumber marked by inattention or indifference to war and violence. Dud Hendrick's moment came in Vietnam in l998 when traveling 1,200 miles by bicycle from Hanoi to Ho Chi Min City.

His pedaling companions for three weeks were dozens of members of World TEAM Sports, TEAM meaning "The Exceptional Athlete Matters"--exceptional meaning men and Women without limbs or with other disabilities fast suffered during the 13-year war in Vietnam.

For the American and North Vietnamese combat veterans, it was a time of reconciliation, a bonding of former soldiers who once obeyed orders to kill each other but now realized they were, in Hendrick's words, "all brothers, victims of failed leadership by our governments. We were all duped."

At the time of the TEAM excursion, Hendrick was 56. The slumber years included two decades of owning and running the Pilgrim Inn, a 15-room full service operation on Deer Isle, Maine, for which he and his wife were hailed in Travel & Leisure magazine for being "welcoming, friendly and informative without being overbearing."

In his mid-20s, he began coaching men's lacrosse and women's soccer at Dartmouth College from which he had earned a master of business administration. In summers, he ran the Cardigan Mountain Lacrosse Camp in Canaan, N.H. From 1959 to 1963, he was a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy and earned honorable mention on the All-American lacrosse team. Commissioned as an Air Force officer, he served four years, including one in Vietnam.

Hendrick volunteered for Southeast Asia out of grief for the combat death of Don MacLaughlin, his closest friend and lacrosse teammate at the Naval Academy. "I felt I should go and not be exempt. I lost eight other classmates in the war."

So how did Hendrick get from soldiering, coaching and entrepreneurship to being arrested in March 2007 for civil disobedience--and acquitted by a jury in May 2008--to becoming president of Maine Veterans for Peace, a backer of Peace Action Maine, a founding member of Service Academy Graduates Against the War and an adjunct professor of peace studies at the University of Maine in Orono?

Let's go back to his Air Force years. Before Vietnam, where a teenage boy died in his arms after being blown up by a land mine in a field outside the Phan Rang base, Hendrick was sent to northern Greenland's Thule Air Force base. …

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