advocacy and activism

Mike Hastie biography: 13 things about Vietnam War veteran, photographer, antiwar activist

Mike Hastie of Portland, Oregon, United States is a Vietnam War veteran and photojournalist campaigning against war. He was one of the thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters who gathered in downtown Portland on July 26, 2020.

Before dawn, heavily armed Department of Homeland Security agents wearing camouflaged military gear lined up outside the federal courthouse in downtown Portland. Hastie confronted them and while he sharing his views on law enforcement in front of them, one federal officer suddenly approached him and dispensed pepper spray into his face.

“We committed atrocities every single day in Vietnam,” Hastie told them. “I stood next to a ditch in Vietnam and we murdered 170 Vietnamese people and you guys don’t know that.”

Hastie spent his youth in military bases. Here are 13 more facts about him:

  1. He was born to a military family on June 20, 1945 in Washington, D.C., USA, where his parents met. His father was a respected U.S. Army officer who was stationed mostly in Virginia, USA. and retired in June 1956.
  2. From February 1947 to May 1949, he, his older sister and their parents lived in Yokohama, Japan. From 1953 to 1955, the family lived in Heidelberg, Germany.
  3. In 1969, he joined the U.S. Army. In 1970, he was deployed to Vietnam where he served as an army medic for the 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment.
  4. He learned a great deal about racism in Vietnam. Upon arriving in the Vietnam War, he witnessed homicides, suicides and heroin addiction within his own unit.
  5. He was a recipient of the Bronze Star.
  6. He is a retired registered nurse.
  7. He regretted joining the military. After the Vietnam War, he became an antiwar activist.
  8. He is a veteran member of Veterans for Peace‘s Chapter 72 in Portland. He has spoken for the group all over the U.S.
  9. He was on the first Veterans For Peace delegation that got sent back to the U.S. after trying to enter Jeju island, South Korea with a goal to stand with the people of Gangjeong village against the construction of the Jeju Navy base, which currently serves as a port-of-call for U.S. warships.
  10. In February 2015, he wrote about the film “American Sniper” on the Veteran’s For Peace website.
  11. In March 2017, he wrote about the 49th anniversary of the My Lai Massacre in Quang Ngai Province, Vietnam on Counter Punch.
  12. In January 2019, he was part of a video series called “Ask a Vietnam Veteran Anything,” which is published on We Are Not Your Soldiers.
  13. His photo essay “Lying is the Most Powerful Weapon in War” is published on Vietnam Full Disclosure.

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