Vietnam War

Oral History Interview: Thomas Boaz

Thomas Boaz

Thomas Boaz Tim Meyers/Illinois Public Media

Thomas Boaz grew up in Decatur, Illinois. When he was 17, he spent a year in Germany as an exchange student. It was there he saw the destruction that war could do as Nuremburg was still recovering from World War II.  He also had the opportunity to become friends with people of different nationalities, and he realized people were all basically the same.

Thomas Boaz in June, 1971

Courtesy Thomas Boaz

On his 18th birthday, he was required to register for the draft.  He went to the Consulate General of the United States in Munich and registered to be a non-combative conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. He simply realized he could never carry a gun and stresses that to this day he never keeps a gun in his house.  

Boaz discusses how he came to this decision and what it means to him to be a nonpolitical pacifist. His father was also a veteran of World War II, and Boaz talks about what it was like to tell his family about his decision.

His status as a non-combative conscientious objector offers a unique perspective of the Vietnam War, the protests, and the draft.

Central Illinois Vietnam Stories - Thomas Boaz