By Jen Mulson
Updated: January 5, 2017 at 9:56 pm • Published: January 5, 2017
Jane Fonda can apologize a hundred times but some folks will never forgive her.
The movie star and political activist is infamous for the controversial 1972 photos of her sitting on an enemy anti-aircraft gun during a visit to Hanoi in the middle of the Vietnam War, thus earning her the nickname "Hanoi Jane."
When word got out she'd be in Colorado filming the upcoming Netflix movie "Our Souls at Night" with Robert Redford this summer, the claws came out. Vitriolic comments were posted on stories on Gazette.com and The Gazette Facebook page, such as "Hanoi Jane, scum of the earth" and "She has a nerve showing up in our military community after what she did."
The troops at Fort Carson, however, were largely nonplussed by her visit.
"I don't think 90 percent of them knew about it," said Fort Carson spokeswoman Dani Johnson. "It's a generational thing. She was upset with the Vietnam generation. Most of the young guys here aren't of that generation. There was absolutely no reaction on Fort Carson about that."
Retired Army Col. Dave Hughes, who worked at the military installation in the 1970s, had a visceral reaction to hearing about Fonda's return to Colorado Springs.
"I winced and decided I wouldn't go anywhere near it," said Hughes, 88, who served in the Korean and Vietnam wars. "And I'm sure not going to watch any movie she's in. There's a lingering distaste for her for all that time ago. Sitting in an anti-aircraft gun seat was the last straw. I have not and never will forgive her for that."
Attempts to reach Jane Fonda for comment Thursday were unsuccessful.
Hughes remembers Fonda's 1970 visit to Fort Carson during her anti-Vietnam War phase to talk with the commanding general, Gen. Bernard Rogers, and visit the stockade, a military prison that has since closed.
"We invited her to talk to him in his office," said Hughes. "She had been told we were running a political prison called a stockade - disaffected soldiers told her that. We asked if she wanted to see it. We gave her a tour of the prison. She went to the wire and some of her friends were outside the wire on post and she said this is the nicest general I've ever met. That stockade became famous."
Fonda wrote in a Sept. 21 blog post on janefonda.com that she was reunited this fall in the Springs with the woman who snuck her onto the post in the trunk of her car in 1970 to distribute newspapers by the GI Movement. Hughes disputes the story. He doesn't believe she could have either gotten in or stayed on post without anybody noticing her. Johnson can confirm Fonda visited the base legitimately in 1970 but didn't have any information about her alleged illegal entry.
There was also at least one unhappy person in Florence, another location site for "Our Souls at Night." One sign in the back of a pickup said, "Go home, Hanoi Jane," and moved around town to different locations, according to Florence city manager Mike Patterson. He heard a couple of people held signs protesting her visit during the town's Pioneer Days parade.
"The protests were pretty mild," said Melissa Walker, owner of Florence Flower Shop on Main Street. "It was more positive than negative. The extent of protests was writing comments on vehicles. I didn't see any signs or anything."
Rene Pryor, manager of the Iron Gate Antique Mall on Florence's Main Street, also saw a mostly positive response.
"Some people of that (Vietnam) era said they'd rather not worry about it," she said. "Overall what they spent in the town and what they did for the town was phenomenal. I'm sure they spent half a million or a million dollars in Fremont County."
Patterson and the shop owners didn't know of anybody refusing to open their shop in protest, though he said the film crew did ask some owners to close for a day or two during filming and offered them compensation.