Original photographer:
Thomas R. Koeniges

Bill Ganzel


Steve Pizzo – "Our Restless Reserves"

Steve Pizzo

From the original caption: "Marine Lance Cpl. Steve Pizzo (near right center) and Airmen Chuck Williams (left) and John Bright are reservists with a singular goal. Unlike many of their generation, they don't want to destroy the military. They want to democratize and humanize military institutions." Outside San Francisco, August 1968, photo by Thomas R. Koeniges.

Steve Pizzo with one of the two planes he has restored and flies. After a career as an entrepreneur and journalist, Pizzo and his wife of 41 years, Sue, retired to the wine country near Sabastopol, CA. November 2012. Photo by Bill Ganzel.

All original material © 2006-2013 by Bill Ganzel, all rights reserved.

By August 1969, LOOK Magazine had become so disillusioned about the Vietnam war that they published a cover story and four additonal articles blasting "American Militarism." The subhead was "Have we created a system that threatens America and all that it stands for?" Veteran war correspondent Eric Severeid wrote the main article. The other articles included a photo essay on basic training for Marines, a civilian massacre in Vietnam, the problems with the draft, and "Our Restless Reserves."

In that last article, Steve Pizzo was front and center in a group of three reservists who were serving in the military but publishing underground newspapers telling GIs how they could resist the military. Pizzo, Chuck Williams and John Bright formed the "GI Association" in San Francisco to encourage reservists to resist military blunders and arbitrariness. Pizzo published an underground newspaper, Marine Blues, and organized 100 Bay-area reservists in a lawsuit challenging the Marine Corps' adjustment of their enlistment contracts, retroactively, from five to six years. Williams and Bright published a similar newspaper for Air Force reservists. All three participated in various anit-war demonstrations around the Bay Area.

After the military, Pizzo displayed an entrepreneurial spirit and went into a series of successful businesses. He rehabbed houses. He became a real estate agent. He tried farming in Wisconsin (but it was too cold). He bought a weekly newspaper and discovered that the local Savings and Loan had exploited federal deregulation to launder money for the mob. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America’s Savings and Loans, won awards for investigative journalism. He was interviewed several times on national television news programs, and worked for a time for the muck-racking magazine Mother Jones.

Today, Pizzo is retired and living in wine country near Sabastopol, CA, with his wife of 41 years, Sue. He owns two small planes and loves restoring the flying them. John Bright is driving a truck in California and Chuck Williams owns a home construction business in Santa Fe. Williams' story can be found here.