Veteran's Voice on 10/15/10
Northwest Vets for Peace Marvin Simmons, Bill Bires and John Timothy speak with anti-war activist S. Brian Willson.
Willson served, from 1966 to 1970, in the USAF, including several months as a combat security officer in Vietnam. Later he became a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War and Veterans For Peace. Upon completion of Law School at American University in Washington, D.C., he became a member of the District of Columbia Bar.
As a trained lawyer and writer, Brian Willson has documented U.S. policy in nearly two dozen countries. Since 1986, Willson has studied on-site policies in a number of countries, among them Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Cuba, Haiti, Iraq, Israel (and Palestinian territories), Japan, and Korea, both North and South. Documenting the pattern of policies that he says "violate U.S. Constitutional and international laws prohibiting aggression and war crimes."
In 1987, while engaged in a protest of U.S. weapons to Central America, Willson and other members of a Veterans Peace Action Team blocked railroad tracks at the Concord, California Naval Weapons Station. An approaching train did not stop, and struck the veterans. Willson was hit, ultimately losing both legs below the knee while suffering a severe skull fracture with loss of his right frontal lobe. Subsequently, he discovered that he had been identified for more than a year as an FBI domestic "terrorist" suspect under President Reagan's anti-terrorist task force provisions and that the train crew that day had been ordered not to stop the train to prevent any Hijacking attempts. Willson filed a law suit contending that the Navy and individual supervisors were given ample warning of their plan to block the tracks, and that the train crew had time to stop—which the subsequent official Navy report confirmed. The train crew filed a law suit against Willson, requesting punitive damages for the "humiliation, mental anguish, and physical stress" they suffered as a result of the incident, which was dismissed. Willson later agreed to settle his lawsuit against the Government and train crew for $920,000.
Willson was awarded the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award at the Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston on September 26, 1992
Willson now lives in Portland.