Bo Gritz

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James Gordon Gritz
NicknameBo
Born(1939-01-18) January 18, 1939 (age 74)
AllegianceUnited States Army
Service/branchB-36, U.S. Army Special Forces 5th SFG
Years of service1957-
RankLieutenant colonel
Unit5th Special Forces Group
Battles/warsVietnam War, Laotian Civil War (Secret War)
 
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James Gordon Gritz
NicknameBo
Born(1939-01-18) January 18, 1939 (age 74)
AllegianceUnited States Army
Service/branchB-36, U.S. Army Special Forces 5th SFG
Years of service1957-
RankLieutenant colonel
Unit5th Special Forces Group
Battles/warsVietnam War, Laotian Civil War (Secret War)

James Gordon "Bo" Gritz (/ˈɡrtz/;[1] born January 18, 1939) is a former United States Army Special Forces officer who served in the Vietnam War. His post-war activities – notably attempted POW rescues in conjunction with the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue – have proven controversial.

Gritz may be most notable for his two United States presidential campaigns in association with the white nationalist America First party in 1988 and 1992. In 1988, Gritz ran as vice president with former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke. A vocal advocate for re-institution of racial segregation in states that pass laws to allow it, Gritz ran in 1992 under the slogan: "God, Guns and Gritz," and published an isolationist political manifesto entitled "The Bill of Gritz". Among other things, the "Bill of Gritz" called for the complete closing of the border with Mexico, and dissolution of the Federal Reserve.[2] Gritz lives near Sandy Valley, Nevada with his wife Judy.[3]

U.S. military service[edit]

Bo Gritz was born in 1939 in Enid, Oklahoma. His father served in the Army Air Force in World War II and was killed in action. Gritz was raised by his maternal grandparents on patriotic stories of his father's heroics in the war. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1957 and shortly thereafter attended Officer Candidate School (OCS). As a lieutenant colonel in Vietnam, he commanded detachment "B-36", U.S. Army Special Forces 5th SFG for a time.[4][5] B-36 was a mixed American and South Vietnamese unit which operated in the III Corps area of Southern South Vietnam.[3] He served in a variety of assignments until his retirement in 1979 at the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Gritz has claimed that he received an array of military awards, and this claim has been drawn into question. A memo regarding his awards and award recommendations during his time in Vietnam seems to indicate that Gritz was personally involved with the recommendation of some of his medals, including the Legion of Merit, and that some of his awards recommendations cited the same missions and incidents, effectively awarding Gritz multiple medals for the same missions, including the Legion of Merit, Air Medal, Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Army Commendation Medal.[6]

Attempts to locate prisoners of war[edit]

During the 1980s Gritz undertook a series of private trips into Southeast Asia, purportedly to locate United States prisoners of war which as part of the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue some believed were still being held by Laos and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – e.g., at Nhommarath. Those missions were heavily publicized, controversial and widely decried as haphazard – for instance, as some commentators stated, few successful secret missions involve bringing to the border towns women openly marketing commemorative POW-rescue T-shirts.[7][8]

In the book Inside Delta Force, CSM Eric L. Haney, a former Delta Force operator, claims that the unit was twice told to prepare for a mission involving the rescue of American POWs from Vietnam. However, both times the missions were scrubbed, according to Haney, when Gritz suddenly appeared in the spotlight, drawing too much attention to the issue and making the missions too difficult to accomplish.[9]

U.S. Government involvement in drug trafficking[edit]

In 1986, after a trip to Burma to interview drug kingpin Khun Sa regarding possible locations of U.S. POWs, Gritz returned from Burma with a videotaped interview of Khun Sa purporting to name several officials in the Reagan administration involved in narcotics trafficking in Southeast Asia. Among those named was Richard Armitage, who most recently served as Deputy Secretary of State during George W. Bush's first term as president. Gritz believed that those same officials were involved in a coverup of missing American POWs.[citation needed]

During this period Gritz established contacts with the Christic Institute,[10] a progressive group which was then pursuing a lawsuit against the U.S. government over charges of drug trafficking in both Southeast Asia and Central America.[citation needed]

Conspiracy researcher[edit]

In 1989, Gritz established the Center For Action, which was active on a number of issues, mostly pertaining to conspiracy theories. Attempting to build bridges among conspiracy theorists and other activists of both the left and right, in 1990 he held a conference in Las Vegas, Nevada called "Freedom Call '90". Speakers at that conference included October surprise conspiracy researcher Barbara Honegger, Bill Davis of the Christic Institute, conspiracy theorist Eustace Mullins, and several others. This newfound interest in conspiracy theories proved to be as controversial as Gritz's earlier missions searching for POWs.

Anti-war activities[edit]

During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Gritz was an outspoken opponent of that war, and linked it to a conspiracy theory alleging plans to implement a one-world government, known as the "new world order." He appeared on Pacifica Radio stations in California as a guest several times, and for a short time was in demand as a speaker to left-wing and anti-war audiences. However, during this period he also became closely associated with the Christian Patriot movement on the right, and spoke at conferences sponsored by Christian Identity pastor Pete Peters. When these associations became known to those on the left, especially after the publication of a report by the Los Angeles-based group People Against Racist Terror calling Gritz a "front man for fascism",[11] left-wing audiences lost interest in Gritz, and the Christic Institute and Pacifica Radio cut off any further association.[citation needed]

Writings[edit]

Gritz is the author of three books. The first, A Nation Betrayed, was published in 1989 and contained Gritz's allegations of drug trafficking and a POW coverup, based on the Khun Sa interview. The second, Called To Serve, was published in 1992 and expanded on the previous book to cover a wide range of conspiracies, including the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and allegations of a conspiracy to establish a new world order. His third book is titled My Brother's Keeper and was published in 2003.[12].

Populist Party presidential tickets[edit]

In 1988, Gritz was the candidate for Vice President of the United States on the Populist Party ticket, as the running mate of former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke. Gritz pulled out early in the race and ran instead for a Nevada Congressional seat.[13] Gritz was then replaced with Floyd Parker on some ballots. Gritz has claimed he accepted the party's nomination with the belief he would be the running mate of James Traficant, and that sometime after learning it would be not be Traficant but Duke and sometime after meeting Duke, he decided to drop out.[14]

In 1992, after failing to secure the U.S. Taxpayers' Party's nomination, Gritz ran for President of the United States, again with the Populist Party. Under the campaign slogan "God, Guns and Gritz" and publishing his political manifesto "The Bill of Gritz" (playing on his last name rhyming with "rights"), he called for staunch opposition to what he called "global government" and "The New World Order", ending all foreign aid, and abolishing federal income tax and the Federal Reserve System.[2] During the campaign, Gritz openly proclaimed the United States to be a "Christian Nation", stating that the country's legal statutes “should reflect unashamed acceptance of Almighty God and His Laws."[citation needed] He received 106,152 votes nationwide, or only 0.14% of the popular vote.[2] In two states he had a respectable showing for a third party candidate: Utah, where he received 3.84% of the vote and Idaho, where he received 2.13% of the vote.[2] In some counties, his support topped 10%,[2] and in Franklin County, Idaho, was only a few votes away from pushing Bill Clinton into fourth place in the county. His run on the America First/Populist Party ticket was prompted by his association with another far-right political Christian talk radio host, Tom Valentine.[citation needed] During his Presidential run, part of Gritz's standard stump speech was an idea to pay off the National debt by minting a coin at the Treasury and sending it to the Federal Reserve. This predates the 2012 Trillion dollar coin concept.[15]

Also during 1992, Gritz attracted national attention as mediator during the government standoff with Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge, Idaho.[16]

Controversial activities[edit]

In 1993, Gritz changed his emphasis again and began offering a course called SPIKE (Specially Prepared Individuals for Key Events), where those events oppose the New World Order, which taught paramilitary and survivalist skills because he predicted that there would be a total sociopolitical and economic collapse in the U.S. He also established a community in Kamiah, Idaho (contiguous to the Nez Perce Reservation) called Almost Heaven.

Several times he used his influence and reputation in the Christian Patriot community in attempts to negotiate conclusions between legal authorities and far-Right activists. In August 1992, he intervened on behalf of Randy Weaver who, with his family, was holed up on his rural home in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, after U.S. Marshals attempted to arrest him for failure to appear in court. The 11-day standoff, which resulted in the deaths of a U.S. Marshal and Weaver's son and wife, ended after Gritz convinced Weaver to leave his cabin and place his faith and trust in the court system. In 1996, he unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate a conclusion to the stand-off by the Montana Freemen, a group of Christian Patriot activists who were wanted on a collection of charges. After speaking with the "Freemen," he left in frustration, stating that they presented him with what he called "legal mumbo-jumbo"[17] to support their claims, and cautioned others in the Patriot movement not to support them (the stand-off ended when the "Freemen" surrendered after 81 days).[citation needed]

He has been accused of white supremacy by some, although he renounced the belief in an interview with The Militia Watchdog, saying "I've served with black, white, yellow, brown, red; all religions; nobody ever asked you about your religion, your blood bleeds red the same as everyone else."[18]

Subsequent activities[edit]

In 1998, Gritz organized a fruitless search for Atlanta Olympic and abortion-clinic bombing suspect Eric Rudolph in order to save Rudolph's life.[19]

In 2005, Gritz became an active protester for intervention in the Terri Schiavo case. On 19 March 2005, when the tube was removed, he was arrested for trespassing after trying to enter the hospice where she lived.[20]

As of 2010 Gritz remains active with a website[21] and a radio broadcast called "Freedom Call" on The American Voice Radio Network [22] via Internet Audio Streaming, Phone Bridge, Independent Am/FM and via the Free-to-air Ku band home satellite system on Galaxy 19.[23] He is also active as the Commander of the American Legion Post 27 in Sandy Valley, Nevada.[24]

Involvement with Mormonism[edit]

In 1984, Gritz and his wife Claudia were baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).[2] However, amid infidelity scandals, Gritz's stake president refused to renew Gritz's temple recommend until Gritz could prove that he had paid his federal income tax.[25] In response, Gritz resigned his membership in the LDS Church.[2][25]

In 1999, Gritz and his second wife Judy became involved in the Church of Israel, a group that originated within the Latter Day Saint movement and has since become involved with the Christian Identity movement.[2]

Trivia[edit]

The character of John "Hannibal" Smith on the 1980s television series The A-Team was loosely based on Gritz.[26] In the early 1980s, actor William Shatner paid almost $15,000 for the entertainment rights to Gritz's life story.[27] In the 1996 TV film about the Ruby Ridge incident, Ruby Ridge: An American Tragedy (later re-edited as The Siege at Ruby Ridge), Bo Gritz was portrayed by Bob Gunton.[28]

Gritz appears as himself in the 1998 BBC television documentary, Survivalists, part of the first series of Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends.[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rabinovitz, Jonathan (2 October 1996). "A Militia Leader's New Battle With Authority". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 May 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Newell G. Bringhurst and Craig L Foster (2008). The Mormon Quest for the Presidency (Ann Arbor, Mich.: John Whitmer Books, ISBN 1-934901-11-3) pp. 208–226.
  3. ^ a b "Biography". Bo Gritz. 2004. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Donahue, James C. (1997). Mobile Guerrilla Force: With The Special Forces In War Zone D. New York: St. Martin's Paperbacks. p. 260. ISBN 0-312-96164-2. OCLC 36494698. 
  5. ^ Detra, Dick (2005). "B-56, Bo Gritz and Cambodia". In Special Operations Association. Special Operations Association. Turner Pub Co. p. 84. ISBN 1-59652-156-2. OCLC 71200760. 
  6. ^ http://www.miafacts.org/gritz.htm
  7. ^ Colonel Robert K. Brown; Jim Graves (Spring 1983). "Hoaglund Hoax: Gritz Caught in War Lie". Soldier of Fortune: 51–53. 
  8. ^ Keating, Susan Katz (1994). Prisoners of Hope: Exploiting the POW/MIA Myth in America. Random House. ISBN 0-679-43016-4. [page needed]
  9. ^ Haney, Eric (2005). Inside Delta Force. United States: Delta. pp. 316–317. ISBN 978-0385339360. 
  10. ^ Berlet, Chip; Matthew Nemiroff Lyons (2000). Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. New York: The Guilford Press. p. 340. ISBN 1-57230-562-2. OCLC 43929926. 
  11. ^ People Against Racist Terror (March 1992). Front man for fascism?: "Bo" Gritz and the Racist Populist Party. OCLC 28540420. 
  12. ^ "Mail Orders". Bo Gritz. 2005. Retrieved 2009-02-27. 
  13. ^ Diamond, Sara. (1995). Roads to Dominion: Right-Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States. The Guilford Press. p. 264. ISBN 0-89862-864-4. 
  14. ^ Gritz, Bo. http://web.archive.org/web/19980130011925/http://www.bogritz.com/lw/nokidnap.html
  15. ^ Sewell, Thomas. "Where does the mint a coin to pay off the debt idea originate from?". Catallaxy Media. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  16. ^ Snow, Robert J. (2002). Terrorists Among Us: The Militia Threat. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus Books Group. p. 9. ISBN 0-7382-0766-7. OCLC 50615207. 
  17. ^ Snow, Robert J. (2002). Terrorists Among Us: The Militia Threat. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus Books Group. p. 216. ISBN 0-7382-0766-7. OCLC 50615207. 
  18. ^ Neiwert, David (10 November 1994). "An Interview with Bo Gritz". The Milita Watchdog. Retrieved 23 December 2008. 
  19. ^ "Bo Gritz says FBI has enlisted him in Rudolph search". CNN. 3 August 1998. Retrieved 22 December 2008. 
  20. ^ "Congress Wages Feeding Tube War". CBS News. 19 March 2005. Retrieved 22 December 2008. 
  21. ^ BoGritz.com
  22. ^ The American Voice Radio Network
  23. ^ "Listen". Bo Gritz. 2007. Retrieved 27 February 2009. 
  24. ^ The American Legion, Department of Nevada
  25. ^ a b "Radicalized Prophets of the Far, Far Right", Sunstone, Oct. 2003, p. 39.
  26. ^ David Neiwert, "What kind of life do I have without my bride?", Salon.com, 1998-09-28.
  27. ^ Pico Iyer, "Colonel Gritz's Dubious Mission", Time, 1983-04-04.
  28. ^ IMDb entry for cast and credits for The Siege at Ruby Ridge
  29. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0815023/

External links[edit]