Criminal Investigations

Medic recently contacted the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command regarding Radio Free Devens, the only anti-war radio show produced by active duty GI’s and broadcast by a commercial station.

In 1971, Medic, Robert Bowman and Marcus Gaufman were among the soldiers who weekly met at the Common Sense Bookstore to plan the show. Located less than a mile from Devens, in Ayer, MA, the book store was overseen by Peter Hagerty, and Paul and Claire Grace. GIs were welcome to buy books, make use of counseling and legal referrals, attend writing workshops, open mics, or just hang out.

Radio Free Devens aired on Saturday mornings from the studios of WAAF in Worcester. Each hour long segment contained anti-war music, prose and poetry. Army brass did not like us; there were rumors we were tailed by CID. One member was mysteriously transferred to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The show ran for six months before going off air.

Medic returned to Ft. Devens in 2006. Only ghosts inhabit the once thriving PX. The same is true of the splendid movie theater, its roof now rotted, the seats disappeared, the neon marquee vanished. To the south, the ivy covered red brick JAG building, an imposing structure where deals were made, careers advanced, and punishments fair and unfair meted out, is empty and forlorn. As is the nearby brick barrack where Medic told First Sergeant Weiner, “I don’t pull guard duty. I’m going AWOL. See you in three days.”

The base hospital, a white painted fire-trap, whose labyrinthine halls were daily mopped, waxed and buffed, was mercifully dismantled years ago. It was here, on the crowded Med/Surge ward, that Medic fed the muscular LRRP who would not remove the GI compass worn round his neck.

It was here that Medic daily cleansed and bandaged a shocked out lieutenants upper right thigh. Day by day it healed nicely; an AK round had nearly cleaved the limb in half.

It was here that Medic, twice a day slowly, carefully, turned on his side the despairing grunt shot twice in the hip. Months would pass before he took his first steps.

And here too, a few beds down, Medic envied the foot-injured captain who made love to the beautiful nurse on the same porch where, on Friday nights, nearly all the casualties boozed and smoked smuggled in weed.

And where Medic met Stateside Kevin, who one New England winter night, dropped acid, walked miles barefoot in snow, resulting in frostbitten feet, the remains of his mind a stuttering blank.

Once healed, men returned to duty, or medically discharges, went home. Soon enough, other wounded men showed up on the Med/Surge ward. The casualties, the casualties, they just kept coming.

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Army CIC letter 2013 in response to FOIA request.