Oleo Strut (coffeehouse)
The Oleo Strut was a coffeehouse in Killeen, Texas, from 1968 to 1972. Like its namesake, a shock absorber in helicopter landing gear, the Oleo Strut’s purpose was to help GIs land softly. Upon returning from Vietnam to Fort Hood, shell-shocked soldiers found solace amongst the Strut’s regulars, mostly fellow soldiers and a few civilian sympathizers. But it didn’t take long before shell shock turned into anger, and that anger into action. The GIs turned the Oleo Strut into one of Texas’s anti-war headquarters, publishing an underground anti-war newspaper, organizing boycotts, setting up a legal office, and leading peace marches.
The GI anti-war press was everywhere and just about every base in the world had an underground paper. Vietnam GI was the first GI paper. It was sent directly to Vietnam from the U.S. in press runs of 5,000 and they were getting spread all over the place because they’d be handed from person to person. Awareness of the GI Movement was at different levels but it was still very widespread.
That was where the coffeehouse came in. The GIs did the work, for the most part, off base. At the Oleo Strut there was an office that they worked in that had a printer who would do printing for the soldiers.
Some papers would get mimeographed secretly on the military bases because the guys working on them would be clerks that had access to the proper resources. Soldiers would hand them out off base but they’d also be distributed on base. Some soldiers would go into a barracks and put them on beds and foot lockers.