To the Editors:
One of those facing court martial for resisting the war is Dr. Bruce Ashley, a first lieutenant in the Air Force who is stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Fairborn, Ohio.
For the past three years Bruce Ashley has tried to receive a discharge as a conscientious objector. His first application was denied, and the second was not even given serious consideration. In response to a writ of habeas corpus filed by Bruce’s attorney, a US district judge ordered the Air Force either to discharge Ashley in ninety days or give cause why it should not.
In the meantime Bruce faces court martial on two counts of disobeying an order. He has consistently refused to practice medicine for the Air Force, but several months ago he refused a direct order to participate in a drug urine test and shortly afterwards he stopped work entirely in the Air Force. He now reports daily in uniform and that is all he does. While his work stoppage was in part a protest against last year’s acceleration of the bombing, Bruce is opposed to all war and militarism. A gentle, thoroughly nonviolent person, Bruce is a member of the Society of Friends and the War Resisters League. His mistake was in failing to recognize his own nature until after he had joined the Air Force.
Court martial is scheduled for March 26 but delay is likely. It would be criminal to jail Bruce Ashley for following the dictates of his conscience. Even if he is not jailed, court martial proceedings could well complicate his plan to practice medicine.
A weekly support vigil at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will focus attention on Bruce Ashley’s plight. Others who are concerned and would like to obtain more information or contribute to his defense may write: The Bruce Ashley Defense Committee, PO Box 1625, Dayton, Ohio 45401.