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said, showing one of the pictures. Like a lot of the men who have found their way into the Central American jungles since military adventure magazines began putting out the word of a war going on there, Bennett is a Vietnam veteran who felt comfortable with a group calling itself Civilian Military Assistance. It was with the downing of a helicopter over Nicaragua in which two CMA men were killed on September 1, 1984, that the issue of private American aid to the contras first got widespread attention. At the time of the interview, Bennett was the regional director of the CMA in Texas. He has since quit the group, but he has not quit the issue. On his latest trip to the refugee camps in Honduras he found a five-year-old Nicaraguan girl starving and brought her home to Fort Worth. His comments of last spring gave an insight into the role CMA has played in times of U.S. aid cutbacks. “What CMA is about is training and supplies,” he said. The contra soldiers are basically civilians, he explained. CMA took part in teaching them “how to stand, how to salute, how to march, how to carry a weapon, how to clean a weapon,” he said. “We train them how to be soldiers.” Bennett spoke of people he’d met who had scars and torture wounds from the Sandinistas. His sense that a very dangerous movement was underway that communism was closing in seemed unshakeable. “My aim is to do all I can to help these people do their own fighting and help these people take their country back,” he said. But it was also evident that, for a man running an air conditioning business in Fort Worth, plagued with bills and child support, Central America held the lure of adventure, a sense of mission, and a welcome relief from the American rat race. “Yeah, I do get a thrill out of it,” he said. “Not the killing part anyone who says he likes to see someone get their guts blown out is wacko. It’s time to put them away. But it is a thrill to be down there, in the jungle, helping people.” His concern about the refugees he’s met was unquestionable. So was his longing to get the communists. In the parking lot outside the Waffle House, he stood and watched as an F11 screamed across the sky. Above the din, he shouted, “Boy I’d sure like to have one of them.” The current state director of the CMA is Pappy Hicks of Troup, Texas. In an interview with the February 9 Dallas Life Magazine, Hicks said his “couple hundred” CMA members in Texas “do not train groups to go down there that’s against the law.” The one-time soldier in a “special covert operation” for the U.S. Government went on to fulminate about the killing done by anticommunist warriors: “I kill people for what I think is an ideology and for a religious purpose. I don’t want nobody impressing their way of life and their political beliefs upon me. So I don’t think it’s heathenistic or barbaric that people like me do what we’re doing.” With his blunt political style, Hicks may be the perfect man for Tom Posey, who started CMA in 1983 in Decatur, Alabama. Posey has a similar militance. Photographed for national publications in a T-shirt reading “Kill ’em All, Let God Sort ’em Out,” Posey told the Washington Post September 23, 1984, that he had been a member of the John Birch Society in 1963 and that “what we’re wanting to do is finish what we started in Vietnam and that’s to beat communism.” Last September at the WACL convention in Dallas \(at which “a majority” of the volunteer security Posey told the Observer his group had provided $3 million worth of supplies and 15,000 man-hours of military training to the contras. Mention of the 1984 Congressional cut-off of aid to the contras made him livid. “You’re saying communism isn’t strong in the United States? Come on, man.” A Man Named Maco Stewart Last January, according to a freelance journalist in California, a group led by a wealthy Texas oil scion and including four North American Indians left Houston’s Hobby airport for Tegucigalpa, Honduras. From there, they traveled with a contra group across the border into Nicaragua to meet with opposition Miskito Indian groups. The journalist traveled with them, crossing the Rio Coco in a canoe with “three military-types” and the Texan oilman, Maco Stewart III, of Houston. One of the “military-types” was a “very experienced paramilitary operative who called himself Colonel Flaco,” said the journalist, Dean Metcalf of Soquel, California. “Flaco was erudite, extremely literate on geopolitics” with degrees, he said, in sociology and psychology. Flaco claimed to be with Civilian Military Assistance, but Metcalf suspected he was working for the U.S. Government. Metcalf said that Maco Stewart’s role was in coordinating American Indian groups with the Indian resistance groups in Nicaragua. Stewart had sent out solicitation letters to Indian groups in California: the Tachi tribe near Fresno approved Metcalf to represent them on the journey. Metcalf, who later wrote about the trip for the San Jose MercuryNews, said the vouchers for the trip were handled by Stewart Petroleum of Houston. Maco Stewart “paid for our tickets [and] he paid for all our lodging,” Metcalf said. Stewart was also asking American Indian groups for “monetary investments” in the contras, according to Metcalf. A representative of Stewart Petroleum in Houston said Stewart was currently “on a boat” out of the country and could not be reached for comment. Air Support WHEN PHIL Bennett, the former CMA member from Fort Worth, needed a ride out of the jungle with the starving fiveyear-old refugee, he found help from a group called “Mercy Flight” and a pilot named John Baldwin. Baldwin, a Corpus Christi-native and a 1958 University of Texas graduate now living near Los Angeles, flies medical evacuation missions in Honduras. Baldwin is careful to stress that he has nothing to do with combatants and that most of the war wounded are flown out by Honduran organizations. He attends to refugees that need care. Still, he said, Americans are not doing enough to help the contras. “I’ve seen guys go across the border with almost nothing but their bare hands,” he said. “They’re doing all the things we as Americans say we stand for. They’re fighting for their freedom.” Baldwin’s high-wing Cessna airplane The Caribbean Commission in New Orleans has a new poster for the contras. Dr. Alton Ochsner recently told the Observer “the whole purpose was to try to give them a good-guy image. ” THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11 Wow