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Heroes of the JBS: throughout the Society's history, patriotic members have staunchly warned of threats to America's freedom and heroically defended the rights and lives of their fellow citizens.

In the Foreword to the October 1962 issue of The John Birch Society Bulletin, Robert Welch proudly noted that the Society had "welded together what I honestly believe to be the finest body of men and women ever gathered into one voluntary body of a non-religious nature (that is, where each member has his own religion) in all human history." Time after time JBS members have proven Mr. Welch right. No matter the situation, the men and women of the Society have staunchly defended their rights and liberties and those of their fellow citizens, all the while distinguishing themselves by their patriotism and their honor. In the pages to come we remember a few of these heroes (now deceased) of The John Birch Society.

Klan Hunter

In the August 1972 issue of the JBS Bulletin Robert Welch noted the availability of an audio tape of an important new speech, entitled The Will and Way to Win. The speech, Mr. Welch noted, was given "'by a man who has already and literally faced death and suffered disaster in this struggle for doing what he knows to be right. And he has thus earned the ability to tell others about the will and way to win." The man who gave the speech was Baptist preacher and JBS Major Coordinator Delmar Dennis.

In 1964, Dennis was serving as a minister of a Methodist church in Mississippi. Out of curiosity, Dennis attended a public meeting sponsored by the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan--only to be deceptively entrapped into joining the group. He quickly found that the racist and despicable Klan was dangerously criminal and violent. In particular, he learned of the Klan's plan to kill left-wing civil rights activist Michael Schwerner. Dennis called Schwerner to warn him of the danger, but Schwerner wouldn't listen. Several weeks later, Schwerner and two other civil rights activists--James Chaney and Andrew Goodman--disappeared. The Klan, it turned out, had murdered them.

Disgusted by the Klan's criminal and terrorist activities and disillusioned by its overt use of Communist tactics and pursuit of Communist goals, Dennis had stopped attending the organization's meetings early in the summer of 1964, not long alter the disappearance of the three civil rights activists. Meanwhile, the FBI had stepped up its investigation of the Klan, an investigation that in November 1964 brought Special Agents John L. Martin and Tom van Riper to Dennis' doorstep. After ascertaining that the two men were really from the FBI and not from the Klan's dangerous counter-insurgency operation, the Klan Bureau of Investigation, Dennis offered to infiltrate the White Knights branch of the KKK to bring to justice the men who had murdered Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney.

Delmar Dennis reactivated his Klan membership and for nearly three years reported on the group's activities to the FBI. During that time he rose in responsibility in the organization, eventually earning the position of "Province Titan" and fight-hand man to White Knights leader Sam Bowers. From this privileged position within the White Knights' "secret empire," Dennis collected damning evidence of the Klan's role in the murders.

In February 1967, a federal grand jury indicted Bowers and 17 other men for violating civil rights laws. The indictments came, in part, due to Dennis' testimony. The case went to trial in October. FBI historian Don Whitehead, writing in his book Attack on Terror: The FBI Against the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi, noted that "the greatest surprise [of the trial] came on the fourth day, when the Rev. Delmar Dennis, Province Titan of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, stepped through the courtroom and walked to the witness stand. No one--least of all Bowers, who had said of his close aide, 'There is no one I trust more'--ever faintly suspected that Dennis had been an FBI informant for three years. The shock that ran through the courtroom was almost visible, and Dennis' testimony was devastating."

The verdicts in the case were handed down on October 20, 1967. In all, seven men, including Sam Bowers, were convicted of conspiracy to obstruct the civil rights of the three slain activists. More substantial charges for murder could not be brought in federal court since the crimes hadn't happened on federal property. Still, largely due to the self-sacrifice, courage, and heroism of Delmar Dennis, the perpetrators of the violent killings were brought to justice, with "Imperial Wizard" Sam Bowers sentenced to 10 years in prison.


The date was December 4, 1965. Captain Charles J. White, in command of Eastern Airlines Flight 853, glanced at the console of his Lockheed Constellation airliner. The altimeter told him that the plane was cruising some two miles above the state of New York. Outside, in the roar of the slip stream, the plane's four massive piston engines drove the sleek plane forward. Inside the passenger compartment, insulated from the noise and violence of the plane's rapid advance through the atmosphere, 49 passengers looked forward to reaching their destination.

An alarmed shout from the plane's copilot alerted Captain White that the previously uneventful flight was in danger. Looking up from the console and through the cockpit window he could see a terrifying sight. Streaking toward them was a huge red-and-white Boeing 707 jetliner. Instantly, both Captain White and copilot Richard Holt pulled back on their control yokes, bringing their big propeller-driven craft into an abrupt climb. In the other plane, the pilot of the big Boeing initiated the same maneuver. But the Constellation was climbing faster than the Boeing. So the Boeing's pilots threw their craft into a dive, hoping at the last moment to avoid a collision. It was too late. In the Constellation's cockpit, Captain White and his crew felt a seemingly gentle thud as the left wing of the big jet tore into the tail section of the Constellation, ripping off most of that plane's elegant triple tail.

Despite losing some 25 feet of its left wing, the Boeing's pilots managed to recover and coax their crippled craft to a safe landing. The Constellation, though, was mortally wounded. As Captain White calmly announced over the plane's loudspeakers that "we've had a mid-air collision, please fasten your seat belts," the plane's nose tilted into a downward angle and the craft began a headlong descent toward the ground nearly 11,000 feet below.

The crash had ruptured the stricken plane's hydraulic control mechanisms. Both Captain White and copilot Holt unsuccessfully attempted to manually actuate the remaining control surfaces on the wings. The connecting cables too had been disrupted. There seemed to be no hope for the passengers and crew of Flight 853.

Just then, Holt, the copilot, shouted, "How about power!" Captain White knew it was their only hope. As he answered, "Why not," his hand pushed the four throttle levers all the way forward. This was not an attempt to hasten their demise. By throttling up the plane's powerful piston engines, the pilots hoped to bring up the plane's nose. Slowly, the desperate maneuver worked, and with only 3,000 feet to spare the plane achieved level flight. By further manipulating the throttles, Captain White kept the plane under a semblance of control. Still, it would be impossible to keep the plane in the air long, and they had no hope of reaching an airport. Seeing an empty field, Captain White and copilot Holt agreed it was their best chance. Over the intercom, Captain White had time to make one last announcement to the passengers: "Brace yourselves. Here it comes."

With consummate skill, and despite having only the most rudimentary control over his aircraft, Captain White put the plane on the ground. Gary Holt, brother of copilot Richard Holt and himself a Constellation pilot, marveled at White's flying. "Just that final maneuver alone," in getting the plane on the ground, "has got to be called one of the most magnificent feats of airmanship in the history of flying." Captain White's heroism was not at an end, though. As passengers and crew struggled to exit the burning plane, Captain White made his way through the wrecked craft to help those who couldn't escape on their own. His last effort it seems was to help Army Private Dennis Flucker free himself from a jammed seatbelt. "In my personal opinion," said Civil Aeronautics Board crash investigator Jack Carroll, "there is little doubt that the captain had deliberately gone back to the cabin to help the young soldier." Sadly, neither made it out of the wreckage alive. Amazingly, though, due in large part to Captain White's skill and heroism, 50 people survived the crash.

The January 1966 issue of the JBS Bulletin noted with pride Captain White's membership in The John Birch Society. "While we agree that both his skill and bravery were greatly to be admired," says the text of that issue, "it was his sense of" responsibility which makes him [Captain White] stand out so clearly as having been a worthy member of the finest body of men and women in the world. We extend our deepest sympathy to Mrs. White, who can always be proud in the knowledge that she was married to a man! As we are also proud to have had him with us in The John Birch Society."

Businessman and Patriot

"For nearly forty years, I've been fighting Communism in this country," businessman A.G. Heinsohn wrote in his book, Cousin Mercedes and the White Russian (1974). Much of his work as an anti-Communist was done as a Council member of The John Birch Society.

Mr. Heinsohn had a long career serving his country, beginning as a pilot in the fledgling Army Air Corps in the First World War. After the war he took a job in the textile industry in sales. Pulling himself up by the bootstraps, he rose up the corporate ladder, eventually becoming president of a corporation. In that position he found himself on the forefront of the battle against President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal collectivism, opposing the depredations of such alphabet soup federal agencies as the OPA (Office of Price Administration) and NLRB (National Labor Relations Board).

Though unable to attend the founding meeting of The John Birch Society in 1958, Heinsohn nevertheless became an early and proud member of the JBS National Council. As a Council member he was very active in promoting and defending the Society. In one case, envelopes bearing correspondence from Heinsohn's textile mill were stamped by a Pitney-Bowes mail metering machine with the JBS rallying cry "This is a Republic, not a Democracy. Let's keep it that way!" Declaring this slogan to be controversial, Pitney-Bowes sought to prevent Heinsohn's firm from using the metering machine to print it on the company's envelopes. Heinsohn refused to give in to this unpatriotic and absurd demand, despite coming under a great deal of pressure from Pitney-Bowes. Eventually, Heinsohn gave copies of his correspondence with Pitney-Bowes officials to the press and the mail-metering company found itself with a severe public relations problem. "Since I had Pitney-Bowes on the defensive," Heinsohn recounts in his book, "I had the vice-president of our Spindale Mills order a plate for their postage meters with this slogan: We pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands. Spindale Mills, Inc."

Unbelievably, Pitney-Bowes refused to supply the requested plate. Apparently, the Pledge of Allegiance was too controversial as well. "When Pitney-Bowes refused to furnish Spindale this plate, the roof fell in on them," Heinsohn recalled. "The Knoxville Journal played it up in a first page story, headed: 'U.S. Allegiance Pledge Called Controversial.'" Newspapers nationwide carried the story, and Pitney-Bowes, faced with ridicule from every corner, relented. The Spindale Mill got its plate, and Heinsohn's other mill was able to keep using the Birch slogan. In this and the many other skirmishes in which he participate, Heinsohn repeatedly showed just how effective a determined JBS member can be in opposing the prevailing collectivist atmosphere.

Anti-Communist Heroine

In 1947, Julia Brown, a young black woman living in Cleveland, Ohio, joined what she believed to be a civil rights organization. Very soon, however, she realized that she had actually joined a local branch of the Communist Party. Brown initially knew next to nothing about Communism, but she was a quick study and soon discovered the Party's true intentions. She resolved immediately to stay away from the Communists from that point forward. She even took her concerns about the Communists to the FBI, but was surprised to learn that the Bureau knew all about the Communists' intentions.

In 1951, however, the FBI came back to Mrs. Brown. Would she, they asked, be willing to become active in the Party again and report back to the Bureau on its activities and intentions? Brown, a proud American and a patriot, agreed, beginning what would become nine long years of dangerous undercover work within the Communist Party. In 1962, her work at an end, she testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. The committee's report for that year noted that Brown had given valuable information on "the activities of more than 100 current and former individuals ... she had known to be members of the Communist Party."

But Brown's important anti-Communist efforts were far from over. Joining The John Birch Society she became a popular speaker, telling her story to enthralled audiences around the country. So effective was she in exposing the Communist agenda that Martin Luther King Jr. often canceled announced speaking engagements in cities where Brown had recently spoken.

Throughout her long career with The John Birch Society, Julia Brown was an inspiring speaker, urging Americans not to fall for the Communist ploy to create divisions between black and white Americans. "I don't refer to Negro-Americans, or white-Americans, or any kind of American," she said, "except red-white-and-blue Americans."

Constitutionalist Congressman

In 1975, Dr. Lawrence Patton McDonald was sent to the U.S. Congress by the people of his district in Georgia. During his tenure as a congressman, Dr. McDonald proved to be one of the country's most influential statesmen. An implacable the foe of Communism, he opposed at every turn Soviet initiatives calculated to weaken the United States. He also frequently reminded voters fixated on presidential politics of the central importance of Congress. Due to his important position in Congress and his unflagging conservatism Larry McDonald was named to the advisory boards of several conservative organizations. His heart, though, was with The John Birch Society.

Long before being elected to Congress, Dr. McDonald worked tirelessly as a volunteer for the Society. As chapter leader and section leader he worked to move the Society's campaigns forward. In 1967 he was appointed to the Society's National Council. Throughout his time with the Society he believed there was a chance and an obligation to build "an informed electorate and understanding at the grass-roots level" that could have an impact in Congress. "'In my opinion," he told fellow conservatives, "the best way to discharge that obligation is by being an active member of the John Birch Society." It was his effective work at the grass roots level, building understanding in the electorate through the campaigns and programs of The John Birch Society, that created the conditions that made it possible for a conservative outsider to challenge a liberal incumbent congressman and win a seat in the House. Dr. McDonald's election proved that the Birch program works.

On September 1, 1983, Congressman McDonald was aboard KAL Flight 007 en route to Seoul where he was to speak at an anti-Communist conference. As the Korean Airlines Boeing 747 crossed the southern tip of Sakhalin Island, Soviet jet fighters intercepted the flight. Firing air to-air missiles, they brought down the big plane. It is very possible that the attack was motivated by the presence on board of Congressman McDonald, the most ardent and effective Soviet opponent and critic in the U.S. Congress.

A Great Novelist

Her name was recognized worldwide. A vast readership ensured that each of her novels topped the best-seller lists. Her staunch and principled conservatism made her a natural fit for The John Birch Society. And for many years novelist Taylor Caldwell supported and advanced the program of the Society by, among other things, writing numerous, compelling articles for the JBS-affiliated publications American Opinion and The Review of the News (predecessors of THE NEW AMERICAN).

As a novelist, her brilliance was unsurpassed. Choosing as her subjects important people and periods from history, she transported her vast audience to the crucial events of the past and thereby provided her readers with the vital historical awareness and perspective that our anemic public education system fails to provide. Among her greatest works was the best-seller A Pillar of Iron, a stunning re-creation of Rome and the life of its greatest statesman, Marcus Tullius Cicero. This novel is "the greatest historical novel in American literature," said the incomparable poet and scholar E. Merrill Root. "To read this amazing re-creation of Rome, this tremendous novel of Cicero," Root remarked, "is an experience never to be forgotten. It is a masterpiece of comprehensive scholarship and an art that is Vergilian. And it reveals, without propaganda, the terrible parallels between the Republic of Rome and our Republic."

Despite the river of remarkable novels flowing from her pen, Caldwell nevertheless found time and energy to become one of the world's greatest essayists as well. In the pages of American Opinion and The Review of the News she pointedly skewered liberals, inculcated moral truths, taught important lessons, and did so with a wit that never failed to amuse.

Taylor Caldwell was long a member of The John Birch Society, working actively, along with other Birch members, to preserve America and the natural rights and liberties of man. In two of her later novels, Captains and the Kings and Ceremony of the Innocent, she warned against a conspiracy of powerful elitists seeking to destroy America from within. Like Cicero so long before in Rome, Taylor Caldwell worked to the last to save a republic she loved.
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Title Annotation:Members Yesterday
Author:Behreandt, Dennis
Publication:The New American
Date:Oct 20, 2003
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