June 2

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Jun 2, 1967:

Green Beret doctor convicted in court-martial

Capt. Howard Levy, 30, a dermatologist from Brooklyn, is convicted by a general court-martial in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, of willfully disobeying orders and making disloyal statements about U.S. policy in Vietnam. Levy had refused to provide elementary instruction in skin disease to Green Beret medics on the grounds that the Green Berets would use medicine as "another tool of political persuasion" in Vietnam.

Levy, invoked the so-called "Nuremberg defense," justifying his refusal on the grounds that the Green Berets would use the training for criminal purposes. Levy's civilian attorney also argued that training the Green Berets compelled him to violate canons of medical ethics. The Green Berets were soldiers first and aid-men second; therefore, their provision of medical treatment to civilians in order to make friends was illegitimate, for it could be taken away as easily as given. The court was not persuaded and the ten-officer jury found him guilty on all charges, sentencing him to three years at hard labor and dismissal from the service. Levy was released in August 1969 after serving 26 months and immediately became active in the "GI coffeehouse protests" in Army towns around the country.

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