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Winter Soldier

Testimony given in Detroit, Michigan, on January 31, 1971, February 1 and 2, 1971

Sponsored by Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Inc.

Part III

HATTON. The other part I would like to discuss or mention was the private war that used to go on in Dong Ha. My particular outfit, FLSG Bravo was a rear support unit that we sent people out to various commands like One Three and that. We managed to spend two-thirds of our time in the rear and there was considerable friction between the troops back there. There was open warfare between what we called the heads, the people who smoked dope, and what we called the juice freaks, the people who drank. It was heavily weighted for a while, in fact, it was quite evenly matched. There were frequent stabbings and as a result of this mutual paranoia, we put prices on, I'd say, fully the heads of at least 40% of our staff and officers had prices on them. The highest prices going, on the heads of the CID, one Lt. _____, a CID, had a price of $2,000 on his head. Of course, the person who collected the head also had to kick back a $1,000 for a celebration we were going to have. And the same thing with Staff Sgt. _____. He was more clumsy so we didn't have the heart to wipe him out but he still had a $500 price on his head. It was payable. Once you were familiar with the people in your unit, you knew whom to apply for the money. I heard that the 1st Sgt. in Communication Company, 5th Com in Dong Ha, they had a whole unit there locked on a legal hold. In other words, they couldn't rotate from Vietnam because someone had attempted to frag grenade their first sergeant. They had wired it to his desk and a Pfc. was sweeping out his hootch, pulled out the chair, and it blew his legs off. That wasn't the end of the attempts. An attempt to get Staff Sgt. _____ netted another gunnery sergeant who thought he'd use his rack and we lost two gunnery sergeants who bedded down with Willie Peter grenades one night. I think it's pretty indicative of the whole spirit of the troops back in the rear. It's very frustrating. You know, if Vietnam is not violently painful then it's such a crashing bore that you can't stand it.

MODERATOR. I'd just like to corroborate Bill's testimony as to Sgt. _____. We had a murder in our unit and one of our troops was standing trial for murder. At the time that his court-martial came up, we were sent down a report of the hearings and the findings of the court-martial on these same fact sheets, that was sent down to my unit and given to me, there were four men that had just been court-martialed for attempted murder on Staff Sgt. _____. So I still have this in my files somewhere, this testimony as to four men who were indicted and court-martialed for an attempted murder on Staff Sgt. _____.

MODERATOR. Bob Clark, you mentioned the brutality of women and children. Would you give us a run down on that?

CLARK. I served with Golf Company, Two Nine, and due to my popularity and quick mouth in the company, I made frequent garbage runs. We were instructed that when we got down there that if anybody was going through the garbage, chase them away, we could do what we wanted to do and if anybody jumped on the truck they were fair game for anything. Now what they did, they put about 10 grunts on the truck and they just laid down in the garbage and we'd have two standing on the back of the truck. Now when about 30 people would jump on the truck, then the 10 grunts would jump off and they'd just beat them with their rifle clubs until they were either knocked senseless and then they'd knock 'em on the ground and just kick their _____ all the way across the garbage dump which was over a hundred yards long. At the time I was there, nobody ever got hurt in the garbage dump as far as Americans. But a lot of Vietnamese women and children were hurt. And it was fair game between Con Thien and going through the city of Cam Lo, on the outskirts of Quang Tri going into Stud, that American troops would stock up on their heavies (their spaghetti and meatballs and ham and lima beans) and any little children who were begging along the side of the road, which never numbered less than 50 or 60, were fair game for these full cans of food. They wouldn't throw them to the kids, they would just bounce them off their heads or try and knock them off their bicycles. If they ran out of food they would just light up heat tabs and wait until a kid got really close to the truck and then they would just easily drop it into his hands and particularly this Bru village, they relocated them right on Route 9 right close to the Rockpile. And there was a little kid with crutches out there; he was missing one leg; he was about five years old and he was about the most popular target because every time we came by he ran out and the people wanted to see if they could knock his crutch or hit his old man in his woods, because if the kid ever did get any candy, he brought it to his old man and these two people were the most popular targets.

MODERATOR. You mentioned the killing of wounded prisoners. Would you talk about that also?

CLARK. Right on. On June 13th, on Operation Cannon Falls, we were on Fire Support Base Wisemans, Golf Company and H & S Company. Now at 2:30 in the morning I was used as a line filler because one of our listening posts was wiped out and they had to send a platoon of grunts out there to see who was alive and who was dead. At three o'clock, we were hit by exactly a company and a half and the contact lasted until five thirty. We were hit with RPGs and small rifle fire, plus they threw some Chicoms, but everybody forgot to pull the pins so none of them went off. Now twice during the night we were overrun on our lower LP. The whole night we only sustained three dead people and ten wounded. Now in the morning when the mist cleared, about five thirty, everybody just got out of their holes and we started to sweep down towards the bottom of the hill to count our body count and see how brave we were. There was one NVA soldier who was caught on the wire. He had a bullet wound through the neck and numerous shrapnel wounds all through his body from fragmentation grenades. Now this big bad _____ corporal took out his knife and stuck it in his neck and just jiggled it until the man bled to death because he didn't want to carry him to the top of the hill. Another man was laying at the bottom of the hill on his stomach. He was in pretty bad shape but I think he would have made it and three grunts emptied full magazines of M-16 fire in his back. Another man who was shot at the top of the hill and had a bullet wound in his thigh, two in his back, and his elbow was hanging off by a thread, plus he had numerous shrapnel wounds from fragmentation grenades. He was laying on his back at the top of the hill and what was left of second platoon and first platoon gathered around him including a Lt. Colonel, a Major, a Captain, and at least one 2nd Lieutenant. He was made the object of a little game for about a half hour. He was screaming for water and they just poured it on the ground. They laughed at him; they kicked him in the ribs. One time he just jumped up spastically and he sat up on his waist and his arms started to dangle. A grunt kicked him in the chest and he died. While all this was going on, they were suggesting what they should do with him. There were three senior squids there, that's doctors, all three of them were E-6s, none of them would help him. They said, "He's not worth it." Somebody suggested we tie him up because he might be dangerous. It was suggested he might be tied up with barbed wire.

Now after all this happened, they chased what was left of the NVA company out through the woods and an NVA lieutenant surrendered. He ran to the bottom of the hill and he walked up with a Chieu Hoi leaflet to Gunnery Sgt. _____. He was unarmed; he didn't have anything on him; he grabbed Gunnery Sgt. _____'s hand and kissed it and he seemed pretty happy. Well, he got punched out. They brought him up to the top of the hill and he wasn't physically abused because he told everything he knew, plus he got on a loudspeaker, and he talked through a helicopter that was circling the area telling his comrades to surrender. Well, that night he said that we were going to be hit with 60 mortar fire and it was going to march from the east side of the hill to the west side. They decided to keep him there overnight so they took off all his clothes and they dug him a little hole, three feet by four feet. They just put him in there and put a board on top and had the Kit Carson sleep on top just in case we didn't get hit by the mortar fire, then they would take care of him. Well, we did get hit by the mortar fire and we took care of him anyhow. The following day elements of Golf Company claimed that they saw 400 NVA walking along the trail. I informed this to this Major there, since I was in the COC bunker on Radio Watch. He told me I was an _____. So I called up Golf Company again and I said, "Repeat this. This guy doesn't believe me." So he told me again I was an _____ because Recon said there are no NVA in this area, even though the previous night we were hit by a company and a half. Well, about a day following, Hotel Company (and Gordon was there at the time) was hit by about half a regiment, I'm not sure, but they were in contact for nine hours and Major _____ was on the net and the Captain from Hotel called up and he was crying because they were pinned down for nine hours and he wanted air support and he wanted to be lifted out of there because they were pretty well chopped up; they had had hand-to-hand fighting; they were running out of ammunition and Major _____ got on the air and, I quote, called him a _____. He said, "Never in Vietnam has any Infantry Unit been withdrawn," and he said, "You people can do it by yourself. I don't care if you've been there nine hours or nine weeks. You're going to stay out there until there is none of you left or until we come and get you." Later on that night I took the casualty report. It was fourteen pages. There were 43 killed and about 30 wounded and a lot of them were my friends. They claimed they killed a hundred Viet Cong, but Gordon says they killed two or three hundred. Stars and Stripes claimed that only 35 Americans were killed and wounded. I know they're pretty confused out there, but it's pretty _____ up when not even Stars and Stripes can figure out how many people were there.

STEWART. I'd like to add on that, since I was there and wounded there, that they wouldn't bring any ammunition into us, food or water. The helicopters were afraid of getting hit because the one helicopter that came in for a medevac was shot down in the river. We managed to get all the dead and wounded out but one. It was a gunner, I believe. I don't really want to talk about it.

SOARES. I personally know of an incident that...Well, the Marine Corps choppers, the pilots and copilots, are usually officers and the Army pilots and copilots are usually Chief Warrant officers and enlisted men. The officers get paid quite a lot more than the enlisted men do so I know one incident in which this platoon got pinned down. They called in Marine Corps choppers to get them out and there were three of them up there, more than enough to pick up the men and not one of them landed. There was an Army chopper around there--it actually took about one hour for the Army chopper to get there--and that Army chopper went down and between that one hour I was told that something like ten men were killed and wounded, between that time, because three Marine Corps choppers wouldn't land because they got to make more money and they've got their wives and children back home.

MODERATOR. Jamie Henry, could you go into the testimony you have of the murdering of nineteen women and children?

HENRY. Okay, what I have to say is a direct result of the policy by the United States Army in Vietnam and what I'm going to detail was reported to the United States Army CID. I made a full statement to them. I gave names, dates, grid coordinates, etc., etc., etc. We have my signing of the statement on film with the two CID agents, who are really--but we have it on film so they can't deny it and it's witnessed, etc., etc., etc. So there's no way that they can deny this. This statement was given to the CID over a year ago, almost exactly a year ago, and I'm sure they'll come out with something to say about it--why they haven't done anything about it. They'll probably say it's a lie, but it has been corroborated. I just want to give a brief account of what happened. On August 8th our company executed a ten year old boy. We shot him in the back with a full magazine M-16. Approximately August 16th to August 20th, I'm not sure of the date, a man was taken out of his hootch sleeping, was put into a cave, and he was used for target practice by a lieutenant, the same lieutenant who had ordered the boy killed. Now they used him for target practice with an M-60, an M-16, and a .45. After they had pretty well shot him up with the 60, they backed off aways to see how good a shot they were with a .45 because it's such a lousy pistol. By this time, he was dead. On February 8th, this was after a fire fight and we had lost eight men, on February 8th, we found a man in a spider hole. He was of military age. He spoke no English, of course. We did not have an interrogator, which was one of the problems in the fields. He was asked if he were VC and, of course, he kept denying it, "No VC, No VC." He was held down under an APC and he was run over twice--the first time didn't kill him. About an hour later we moved into a small hamlet, this was in I Corps, it was in a Marine AO, we moved into a small hamlet, 19 women and children were rounded up as VCS--Viet Cong Suspects--and the lieutenant that rounded them up called the captain on the radio and he asked what should be done with them.

The captain simply repeated the order that came down from the colonel that morning. The order that came down from the colonel that morning was to kill anything that moves, which you can take anyway you want to take it. When the captain told the lieutenant this, the lieutenant rang off. I got up and I started walking over to the captain thinking that the lieutenant just might do it because I had served in his platoon for a long time. As I started over there, I think the captain panicked, he thought the lieutenant might do it too, and this was a little more atrocious than the other executions that our company had participated in, only because of the numbers. But the captain tried to call him up, tried to get him back on the horn, and he couldn't get ahold of him. As I was walking over to him, I turned, and I looked in the area. I looked toward where the supposed VCS were, and two men were leading a young girl, approximately 19 years old, very pretty, out of a hootch. She had no clothes on so I assumed she had been raped, which was pretty SOP, and she was thrown onto the pile of the 19 women and children, and five men, around the circle, opened up on full automatic with their M-16s. And that was the end of that. Now there was a lieutenant who heard this over the radio in our company--he had stayed back with some mortars--he, when we got back to our night location, he was going half way out of his mind because he had just gotten there, relatively. He was one of these--I don't know, I guess he was naive or something, believed in the old American ideal. He was going nuts. He was going to report it to everybody. After that day he calmed down and the next day he didn't say anything about it. We got in a wretched fire fight the next day and the whole thing was just sort of lost in the intensity of the war. Now when I got out of the Army an article was written about this and we got in contact with the lt. who was mad and he denied even remembering the company commander's name, which is a bunch of _____ because he's a lifer and he doesn't want to jeopardize his chances for getting promoted, etc., etc. I don't want to go into the details of these executions because the executions are the direct result of a policy. It's the policy that is important.

The executions are secondary because the executions are created by the policy that is, I believe, a conscious policy within the military. Number one, the racism in the military is so rampant. Now you have all heard of the military racism. It's institutionalized; it is policy; it is SOP; you are trained to be a racist. When you go into basic training, you are taught they are gooks and all you hear is, "gook, gook, gook, gook." And once you take the Vietnamese people or any of the Asian people, because the Asian serviceman in Vietnam is the brunt of the same racism, because the GIs over there do not distinguish one Asian from another. They are trained so thoroughly that all Asians become the brunt of this racism. You are trained, "gook, gook, gook," and once the military has got the idea implanted in your mind that these people are not humans, they are subhuman, it makes it a little bit easier to kill 'em. One barrier is removed and this is intentional, because obviously, the purpose of the military is to kill people. And if you're not an effective killer, they don't want you. The military doesn't distinguish between North Vietnamese, South Vietnamese, Viet Cong, civilian--all of them are gooks, all of them are considered to be subhuman. None of them are any good, etc. And all of them can be killed and all of them are killed. Now the second reason for atrocities that occur is because it doesn't take very long for an infantryman in the field to realize that he is fighting for nobody'

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