Veterans for Peace
Tom Sturtevant Chapter 1
August 29, 2013
McLellan Multipurpose Room
Brunswick, Maine

PRESENT: Tim Blanchette, Clarence Smith, Regis Tremblay, Richard Clement, Peter Woodruff, Dud Hendrick, Bruce Gagnon, Russ Christensen, Ray Sohl, Dovey Balsam, Vickie Saint Amand, Michael King, Peggy Akers, Bob Lezer, Robin Spencer, Dave Crowley, Doug Rawlings, Dan Ellis

Drone Presentation: Iraq war veteran Taylor Stenger shared with us what he knows about drones. He was trained at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona and flew recon drones 12 hours a day for one year. He also served in the Army’s military intelligence drone training center. Fifty countries now have drones. The US military has 7,000. Drones work by being connected to a ground station via an satellite antenna array. By 2035 the military wants all unmanned aircraft for air-to-air combat, carrier landings, surveillance and border patrol. The Predator drone can stay in the air for 22 hours without landing. Dud reminded us all about Jerry Mander’s book “The Absence of the Sacred” that suggests we should all be wary of technology. Tim set up Taylor’s talk for this meeting as a result of earlier contacts with him.

Maine Share: The chapter needs to get 15 points for volunteering on their behalf. Let Richard know if you can help. Membership: Now have 162 members in Maine, 84 of which are currently have paid annual dues.

Treasurer Report: Have opened the Franklin Savings Bank account and moving everything over. Added Secretary Bruce Gagnon as signer on account so that we have three officers able to sign checks if needed.

Common Ground Fair: Will be the weekend of Sept 20-22 and we need folks to help at the table. Contact Richard if able. Will promote Drone Peace Walk, Syria, Guantanamo and BIW protest (Oct 19). Will also have our popular button making machine there. The chapter authorized Richard to purchase lite-weight tables (4) and a couple of chairs.

Peace Pole: The quote “Let peace begin with me” was approved for the peace pole that will be dedicated in Winthrop on Nov 3 in Tom Sturtevant’s honor.

Hike & Bike/By-Laws: We will combine the Nov 2 By-laws meeting and consider doing Hike & Bike during that afternoon. Schedule would be 10am to noon we do the By-laws, have lunch and then bike.

Maine Drone Peace Walk: The chapter approved $1,000 to be used for the drone peace walk. Walk begins on Oct 10 in Limestone. On October 18 the walkers will hold a protest against drones inside the Hall of Flags at the state capital in Augusta at 3:00 pm. The walk will conclude on October 19 with a 10:00 am protest in Bath at the “christening” of the Navy’s first “stealth” destroyer at Bath Iron Works. Renowned peace activists Kathy Kelly, VFP leader Tarak Kauff and possibly Medea Benjamin will be joining the walk the last few days.

BIW Protest: It was agreed that VFP should co-sponsor the Oct 19 BIW “christening” protest. Dan will bring the sound system. Peggy will pick Dan up. We need our white flags that day. The Associated Press has reported, “A super-stealthy destroyer that could underpin the U.S. Navy’s China strategy will be able to sneak up on coastlines virtually undetected and pound targets with electromagnetic ‘rail guns’ right out of a sci-fi movie. Using electric pulses, not chemical explosives, the ‘rail gun’ can shoot a 40-pound metal slug from New York to Philadelphia at up to 5,600 mph — more than seven times the speed of sound — with 32 times the force of a car traveling at 100 miles per hour.” The new stealthy DDG-1000 being built by General Dynamics in Bath will cost between $4-7 billion each. The Navy did not actually want the destroyer because it would eat up too much of their shipbuilding budget. But Obama, who was strongly supported in his run for president in 2008 by the Chicago-based Crown family (which are majority stockholders in General Dynamics), has insisted the ships be built. Previous versions of Navy destroyers, outfitted with ‘missile defense’ systems cost about $1.5 billion each.

Vets Confab Sept 21: Chapter will give $50 for travel for a veteran who needs help. Will be held at UMFarmington. Dovey and Doug are involved in the event.

Portland Vets Fair: Not much info is available on this Sept 28 event. The purpose is to bring various collaborators together to help vets.

Jeju Proposal: Regis thanked chapter for sending him to the convention where he showed The Ghosts of Jeju twice and sold many copies. He’d next like to film veterans about the experiences that helped them transform their thinking to becoming anti-war. He needs help identifying vets to be interviewed. It was agreed that the chapter would help Regis and would endorse a Howard Zinn fund application to national.

Peter Woodruff: The chapter was reminded that Peter, who works at BIW, continues to post peace related info on the bulletin board at work. He also recently sent a copy of the new Jeju film to the head of BIW using inter-office mail. Peter also does a weekly radio show with Bruce on the Bowdoin college FM station where they talk politics and play political music.

Meg Perry: The chapter will donate $200 to the Meg Perry Center in Portland. They are struggling to keep the place open.

Tom Buttons: Roger Liesner wants us to buy $75 worth of Tom Sturtevant buttons from him. Approved.

Palestinian Children: A cultural benefit is planned in Portland on Oct 5 at 6:30 pm at First Parrish Church to benefit Palestinian children traumatized by war.

Vietnam: Russ went to Vietnam and wants others to go have this good experience. He’d like to make a presentation at a future meeting.

Syria: Russ suggested we need a national march in Washington DC on the Syria issue. He asked the chapter to call on national to help organize such an event. Doug reported that national has come out with a statement against a Syria attack and encourages local chapters to protest in their communities.

Dan Thanks Chapter: Dan thanked the chapter for sending him to Madison, WI for the national convention as well. He reported on some of his observations and the activities that went on during that action packed event. The protest at the state capital in Madison was particularly exciting.

Next Meeting: Will be held on September 26 at 7:00 pm at Buker Community Center in Augusta.