PART 1 OF 2
[Transcribed from the movie by Tara Carreon]
Milliarium ZERO presents
They Risked Everything To Tell The Truth
NARRATOR: In the Winter of 1776, at Valley Forge, Tom Paine wrote: "These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman." -- The Crisis No. 1
WINTER SOLDIER, © WINTERFILM, INC.
RUSTY SACHS: Sachs -- S-A-C-H-S
RUSTY SACHS: 27
Q. Military training?
RUSTY SACHS: I was a helicopter pilot.
Q. On OCS?
RUSTY SACHS: No. Marine Aviation Cadet.
Q. Rank? What was the highest rank attained?
RUSTY SACHS: Highest rank attained? Captain.
Q. Woohoo! Duty period in Nam?
RUSTY SACHS: August '66 to September '67.
Q. Have you ever witnessed any of the following: (1) Prisoner shot?
RUSTY SACHS: Uh, I don't know whether I have or not offhand.
Q. This one might be apropos. Prisoners thrown from helicopter?
RUSTY SACHS: Yeah, I've seen that. I've never seen them thrown out of my airplane because it's behind me, but we had a couple of guys from Philadelphia in our squadron who used to blindfold the guys with safety wire, and pull 'em real tight so this copper wire is tearing into their eyes and nose, and bind the hands with safety wire. And they used to have contests seeing how far they could throw the bound bodies out of the airplane, and throw one as far as you can and see if you can get the other one farther.
Q. If you could approximate how many incidences have you come across this?
RUSTY SACHS: Of that? In the two-digit numbers. Say somewhere between 15 and 50, probably.
Q. Some of these people weren't necessarily Cong or NVA, some could be VCS.
RUSTY SACHS: You never know, you never know. If they're alive, they're VCS automatically. If they're dead, then they're confirmed VC.
Q. Were you ever issued orders not to take prisoners or disposing them?
RUSTY SACHS: We were told, "do not count prisoners when you're loading them onboard the aircraft. Count them when you unload them." Which the naive young brown bar says, "what difference does it make?" And the wizened old first lieutenant says "because the numbers may not jibe. And sure enough, you don't count them when they're getting on, because there was a little bit of a feeling here -- the guy who told me this was a captain -- and he said, "don't ever ever count them when they go aboard because presumably you'd have to say something if one of them got thrown out.
Q. Give your name, what unit you were in in Nam, when you were in the Nam, you know, just tell a little bit about what you saw, to make it more clear exactly what happened.
SCOTT CAMILE: Sargeant Camile, Scott Camile.
KENNETH CAMPBELL: You were in Alpha Battery 111.
SCOTT CAMILE: Right, right.
KENNETH CAMPBELL: I know this man. Singer. Remember Singer? I thought I recognized you. I was just sitting over there trying to figure out who the hell you were. Last time I saw you was last year, down in La Jeune?, you were still down there.
SCOTT CAMILE: I got out in '69.
KENNETH CAMPBELL: [I got out] about a year and a half ago.
SCOTT CAMILE: The village burned. The people that were in the village they wanted time to get their goods out and shit, but we just burned down the village and they had to leave their goods there.
KENNETH CAMPBELL: I was trying to find somebody that knew something about a vil wiped out in Quang Tree.
SCOTT CAMILE: Right. I was there.
KENNETH CAMPBELL: You got that.
SCOTT CAMILE: Because we went into the area, and it was to set the example to show that we weren't fucking around. So the first thing we do is burn down the village and kill everybody just to let them know we weren't fucking around.
KENNETH CAMPBELL: See, that was before I got there and everybody was talking about it when I got there.
SCOTT CAMILE: I forgot about that. I didn't even remember that.
KENNETH CAMPBELL: This is going to fit right in together because he's got the same company I have, and I'll pick it right up from there.
SCOTT CAMILE: Whenever they question me, they'll have to get me to elaborate on that because I forgot all about that one.
KENNETH CAMPBELL: How could you forget that? I remembered it and I wasn't even in on it.
SCOTT CAMILE: That was one of the last ones we did because I went home after that. They did the same thing after I left that they were doing before that?
KENNETH CAMPBELL: Same shit man. That is exactly what all of this is going to bring out. Same shit.
SCOTT CAMILE: ... and there was a river on each side, and there was another company behind each river, and like the people were running around inside, and they were just shooting them, and like the newspapers said, "Operation Stone, like World War II movie," and we just sat up there and we wiped them out. Women, children, everything. 291 of them.
Q. Is there something that you really want to kind of say in terms of the crimes and why they happened. What brings you here? What do you want to testify to?
A. I'd almost need a book to answer that, man. It's like, so many things bother me about just that short period that I was over there, the whole two years I was in the army. I didn't like being an animal, and I didn't like seeing everybody else turn into animals, either.
I just hope that I can sort of relate what I saw over there to what's happening here, because no matter how much we as veterans can relate to the press or to the public, until you've grasped it, man, we're not going to end that war because it's too distant. The man on the street is too busy making a buck here, and he's too worried about getting antifreeze for his car.
I'm just getting to a point where it's sort of making me quiet, like I don't know what to say anymore.
They've all heard it, and they all know it's happening, but it's like nothing's happening.
You're supposed to feel sorry for the American wounded, and you weren't supposed to feel sorry for the enemy wounded or dead.
And I just felt sorry for the whole thing. But I guess that doesn't mean anything, just feeling sorry about it. I think what I'd really like to testify about is that it's just hurt a whole generation of Americans and Vietnamese, and that's the biggest atrocity.
The media wants to capitalize, I think, on all these veterans getting together and testifying on all of these atrocities. You know, we want to get into the atrocities, but we also want to get in to what are we doing over there in the first place. How do these atrocities get to be committed? They just don't happen. There's a whole thing of how they tell you that the people over there aren't really people.
One guy hasn't just been doing -- it's pretty much been established policy.
If one dude got up and rapped all this shit, they'd hang him. But they can't deny the testimony of all these dudes in the room.
JOSEPH BANGERT: The first day I got to Vietnam I landed in Da Nang Air Base. From Da Nang Air Base I took a plane to Dong Ha. I got off the plane and hitchhiked on Highway 1 to my unit.
I was picked up by a truckload of grunt Marines with two company grade officers, 1st Lieutenants. We were about 5 miles down the road, where there were some Vietnamese children at the gateway of the village, and they gave the old finger gesture at us. It was understandable that they picked this up from the GIs there.
They stopped the trucks -- they didn't stop the truck, they slowed down a little bit, and it was just like response, the guys got up, including the lieutenants, and just blew all the kids away.
There were about five or six kids blown away, and then the truck just continued down the hill. That was my first day in Vietnam.
As far as the crucified bodies, they weren't actually crucified with nails, but they would find VCs or something (I never got the story on them) but, anyway, they were human beings, obviously dead, and they would take them and string them out on fences, on barbed wire fences, stripped, and sometimes they would take flesh wounds, take a knife and cut the body all over the place to make it bleed, and look gory as a reminder to the people in the village.
Also in Quang Tri City I had a friend who was working with USAID and he was also with CIA. We used to get drunk together, and he used to tell me about his different trips into Laos on Air America Airlines and things. One time he asked me would I like to accompany him to watch. He was an adviser with an ARVN group and Kit Carson's. He asked me if I would like to accompany him into a village that I was familiar with to see how they act.
So I went with him and when we got there, the ARVNs had control of the situation. They didn't find any enemy, but they found a woman with bandages. So she was questioned by six ARVNs, and the way they questioned her, since she had bandages, they shot her. She was hit about twenty times.
After she was questioned, and, of course, dead, this guy came over, who was a former major, been in the service for twenty years, and he got hungry again and came back over working with USAID, Aid International Development. He went over there, ripped her clothes off and took a knife and cut, from her vagina almost all the way up, just about up to her breasts, and pulled her organs out, completely out of her cavity, and threw them out. Then he stopped and knelt over and commenced to peel every bit of skin off her body, and left her there as a sign for something or other.
In one village, we wounded women and kids going into the village, and when we got into there -- this was in ____ -- when we got into the village, me and another guy, we were treating two unconscious babies -- not like babies, but five, six-year-old kids and a woman lying in a hammock.
And I told the lieutenant, "these people have to be evacuated, because if they're not evacuated -- this lady had shrapnel in her and the kids had shrapnel in them -- they were unconscious -- I said, "If they're not evacuated, they're going to die."
He said, "Well, forget it doc, we don't have time to stay here and wait."
We went up on the hill, right above this same village, and we fired down on this village the next day while people were trying to bury their dead. We fired down on the village at the people while they were doing their burial ceremony. And they killed another VC -- not a VC, but another person in the village.
Also, we went down that same day to get some water, and there were two little boys playing on a dike.
And one sergeant took his M-16 and shot one boy at the dike. The other boy tried to run, and he was almost out of sight when this other guy, Spec 4, he shot this other little boy at the dike.
And the little boy was like lying on the ground kicking, so he shot him again to make sure he was dead.
Then we went into the village and this papa-son -- I don't know if he was a village chief, I don't know who he was -- he came up and he was telling us, he was making motions like a bird was flying overhead, and the bird took a shit, and the thing went "boom, boom."
And he was saying that this is how a lot of people in the village got hurt.
I think every person who was in Vietnam who was in the infantry used CS, which is a gas, chemicals, Willy Peter. It's white phosphorus, and we used these sometimes to clear bunkers and other times to destroy a hootch.
We'd avoid going into a village if we thought it might be VC infected, or something like this.
We'd send in Willy Peter mortars -- 60 mm. -- and this would burn up the hootches, that explode, throwing white phosphorus on different hootches in the village, start the hootches burning and also kill people.
It's probably one of the worst sights I've ever seen is a person that's been burned by Willy Peter, because it doesn't stop. It just burns completely through your body.
The only way you can end this burning is to cut off the air, which is very difficult.
JOSEPH BANGERT: If I can get back to the Vietnamese woman I saw that was mutilated so horribly, it didn't really shock me because I think I talked about my first day in Vietnam.
You can check with the marines who've been to Vietnam. Your last day in the states, staging battalion at Camp Pendleton, you have a little lesson, and it's called "The Rabbit Lesson." where the staff NCO comes out and he has a rabbit.
And he's talking to you about escape and evasion and survival in the jungle, and he has this rabbit.
And in a couple of seconds, after everyone practically falls in love with it -- not falls in love with it, but they're humane -- he cracks its neck, skins it, disembowels it, just like I testified that this happened to the woman.
He does this to a rabbit, and they throw the guts out into the audience. And you can get anything out of that you want, but that's your last lesson you catch in the United States before you leave for Vietnam.
MODERATOR: You have some testimony here on the burning of villages, cutting off of ears, cutting off of heads, calling artillery on villages for games, women raped, napalm on villages. Could you go into just a few of these to let the people know how you treat the Vietnamese civilians.
SCOTT CAMILE: All right. The calling in of artillery for games, the way it was worked would be the mortar forward observers would pick out certain houses in villages, friendly villages, and the mortar forward observers would call in mortars until they destroyed that house. And then the artillery forward observer would call in artillery until he destroyed another house. And whoever used the least amount of artillery, they won. And when we got back, someone would have to buy someone else beers. The cutting off of heads -- on Operation Stone -- there was a Lt. Colonel there and two people had their heads cut off and put on stakes and stuck in the middle of the field. And we were notified that there was press covering the operation and that we couldn't do that anymore. Before we went out on the operation, we were told not to waste our heat tablets on food but to save them for the villages because we were going to destroy all the villages. And we didn't give the people any time to get out of the villages. We just went in and burned them, and if people were in the villages yelling and screaming, we didn't help them. We just burned the houses as we went.
MODERATOR: Why did you use the heat tabs? Did you just light off the villages with matches or just throw the heat tabs in so it would keep burning?
SCOTT CAMILE: We'd throw the heat tabs in because it was quicker and they'd keep burning. They couldn't put the heat tabs out. We'd throw them on top of the houses. People cut off ears and when they'd come back in off of an operation you'd make deals before you'd go out. And like for every ear you cut off, someone would buy you two beers. So people cut off ears. The torturing of prisoners was done with beatings, and I saw one case where there were two prisoners. One prisoner was staked out on the ground, and he was cut open while he was alive, and part of his insides were cut out. And they told the other prisoner if he didn't tell them what they wanted to know, they would kill him. And I don't know what he said because he spoke in Vietnamese, but then they killed him after that anyway.
MODERATOR: Were these primarily civilians, or do you believe that they were, or do you know that they were actual NVA?
SCOTT CAMILE: The way that we distinguished between civilians and VC, the VC had weapons, and civilians didn't. And anybody that was dead was considered a VC. If you killed someone they said, "How do you know he's a VC?" and the general reply would be, "He's dead," and that was sufficient. When we went through the villages and searched people, the women would have all their clothes taken off, and the men would use their penises to probe them to make sure they didn't have anything hidden anywhere. And this was raping but it was done as searching.
RUSTY SACHS: The general attitude of the officers was (I was a Lieutenant at the time) "Well, there's somebody senior to me here, and I guess if this wasn't SOP he'd be doing something to stop it." And since nobody senior ever did anything to stop it, the policy was promulgated, and everybody assumed that this was what was right.
We'd never had any instructions in the Geneva Convention. When we were given our Geneva Convention cards, the lecture consisted of, "If you're taken prisoner, all you gotta do is give 'em your name, rank, serial number, and date of birth. Here's your Geneva Convention cards. Go get 'em, Marines." We were never told anything about the way to treat prisoners if we were the capturers rather than the captee, and this was very standard.
SCOTT CAMILE: I saw one case where a woman was shot by a sniper, one of our snipers. When we got up to her, she was asking for water. And the Lieutenant said to kill her. So he ripped off her clothes. They stabbed her in both breasts. They spread-eagled her and shoved an E- tool up her vagina, an entrenching tool, and she was still asking for water. And then they took that out, and they used a tree limb, and then she was shot.
MODERATOR: Did the men in your outfit, or when you witnessed these things, did they seem to think that it was all right to do anything to the Vietnamese?
SCOTT CAMILE: It wasn't like they were humans. We were conditioned to believe that this was for the good of the nation, the good of our country, and anything we did was okay. And when you shot someone, you didn't think you were shooting at a human. They were a gook or a Commie, and it was okay. And anything you did to them was okay because, like, they would tell you they'd do it to you if they had the chance.
KENNETH CAMPBELL: The Vietnamese were gooks. We didn't just call the VC or the NVA gooks. All Vietnamese were gooks, and they were slant eyes. They were zips. They were Orientals. And they were inferior to us. We were Americans. We were the civilized people. We didn't give a shit about those people.
Q. At the time, did you have any question in your mind that anything wrong was going on?
A. Well, something like this was just too bad. I mean, it was all wrong.
It's just that I didn't really start thinking about these things till I came home, because I had to get my head together to start, you know, almost to get up the guts to start talking about this thing. Because, you know, I've been holding it in for a long time.
Q. I'll throw this question out to anybody. I have heard soldiers testify to personal atrocities that they committed. And the fact they're here means their concerned. What happens to a man over in Vietnam?
SCOTT CAMILE: Well, it's our general conditioning. Even before we get in the service, you know, America is always right, the government's right. You don't question them.
We're the best, God's on our side, and things like what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed us it's okay to kill civilians if it's for the best interests of the nation.
And when I went there, I went twice because I believed it was in the best interests of the nation. And I was sufficiently brainwashed where I did go back a second time because I really believed it was right.
Q. Did you feel that morally you shouldn't carry out some of these orders?
SCOTT CAMILE: I felt whatever was in the best interests of the nation, for my country. That's what was best. And that's how I was raised to believe.
Q. When people see on their television screens the films of those who have testified during the Winter Soldier Investigation, they're going to see a lot of people with long hair, a lot of people with beards. Don't you think this is going to turn them off, and they're going to disregard a lot of what you're going to say? You're an intelligent fellow. I believe you.
RUSTY SACHS: It's possible. For six years my hair never got longer than 1/4 of an inch, and I always swore I would keep it that short. But I like it long now. It feels nice.
When I was in the Marine Corp, when I first got out of the Marine Corp, I didn't want to talk to anybody who didn't think that Agnew sat at the right hand of God. If I was walking down the center of Cambridge, where I live, and some long-haired kid was walking toward me, and he wouldn't get out of the way, I'd knock his ass right into the gutter. And one day I did that, and the kid said to me, "That makes it sort of hard for us to get to know each other." And I thought that was a joke, and I kept on walking.
And I was lying in bed talking with my wife, and she said, "You know, he's really right," which was a simple thing. And it might have gone right over me and never affected me whatsoever. But my wife has a fantastic way of helping me, and teaching me how to enjoy life. And that's the key to growing and being a better person, just talking to people who are different, not to people who are the same.
SCOTT CAMILE: I didn't like school in high school. It took me four years to finish three years of highschool, because I was never there. And when I was young, in highschool, the big thing you do is every weekend we get drunk and we go rumble the Cubans at the dance. We lived in Miami, and that was the thing you know. And I had seven counts of assault and battery, and a three-year sentence to Rayford which was suspended. And I had to go in the service. And I went in the Marines for four years.
Q. What do you mean you had to go in the service?
SCOTT CAMILE: Well, it was just that I was on probation, and then I got in another fight, so they were going to pull out the rug from under me. And my lawyer told the judge that it would be better if I went in the service and they'd fix me up. If I went in jail, I'd be bad to society when I came out.
Q. Did you want to go into the service?
SCOTT CAMILE: I did, but not as soon. I wanted to go into the service because I really believed that the war was right. And I think one of the main things was I wanted to see for myself whether I was really a man or not. And I figured that's how I could find out. And like people were trying to save me, and they'd say, "You'll really find God overseas, you know. When you really need him, you'll find him." And I wanted to see what kind of person I really was. Was I really brave? Was I a chicken? And I believed in the war, and I believed the best thing a person could do was give his life for his country. So I went into the Marine Corp and I got to ____, and they really changed my head around. If I thought I could have escaped, I would have.
Q. You were good at it?
SCOTT CAMILE: No, they broke two of my teeth 'cause I didn't conform as quickly as I was supposed to.
Q. Can you talk about the specific incident?
SCOTT CAMILE: Yeah. We were supposed to run three miles before each meal, and three miles after each meal with full packs. And I just couldn't see throwing up my meal. And in boot camp you're not allowed to talk without permission. And for instance, if I wanted to go to the bathroom, I'd say "Sir, Private Camile asks permission to speak, Sir!" And he'd say, "What do you want, Turd?" And I'd say, "Sir, Private Camile requests permission to make a head call, Sir!" And he'd say, "Is it an emergency?" And I'd say, "Yes, Sir!" And then he had alternatives what he could do. He could say, "Okay, go around the room three times with your siren to prove this is an emergency." And you'd have to run around the room going "Whirrrrr, whirrrrr," and if you didn't do it fast enough, loud enough, then it wasn't really an emergency. Or else he could say, "Okay, but wait one hour, and if you don't go, then you lied to me. And then I'm going to kick your ass." So lyou had the choice of either pissing in your pants or getting your ass kicked. Things that normally didn't happen to you. It's kind of bad for your head. And if I could have gotten out of there, I would have.
So the day we were running, I guess I didn't run. I started walking. And if the man in front of you falls down, you have to run him over. If you go around him, you get beat up, because if he knows you're going to run him over, he won't fall down. So I just stepped out to the side and let them all run past me, and I started walking. And he said, "What's your name?" And I said "Private Camile, Sir." He says, "You better start running." I said, "I'm tired." And he says, "Get up in the barn, you're going to be sorry." I said, "I'm already sorry." So I went up there, and they called where we lived the barn, and they were going to send me to motivation platoon. And that makes boot camp seem like Sunday School. So then they said, "Okay, we'll handle it with the closet motivation." So I went in the closet, and two of them came in and they said, "About Face." And I turned around and two fists hit me. And I didn't even fight back. I said, "Okay. I give up. I'll run." So when I got done, the last day in boot camp, they said, "Now you've earned the name 'Marines.' Now you're men." And I was really gung ho. And I was ready to sign up for 50 years, you know, because I thought the worst part was over.
And then I went to Vietnam. And in my third week in Vietnam, I was standing guard on an artillery base, and there were 16 of us on guard, 4 in each corner of the base. And our grenades were taped up so that if the pins came out by accident, the spoons wouldn't fly, and no one would get hurt. And our rifles weren't allowed to be loaded. And the rules were we couldn't load without permission, and we couldn't fire without permission. And if you saw something, you'd call the Sergeant of the Guard in the Guard Shack. Well, the Sergeant of the Guard walked around and checked to make sure people weren't sleeping. And when he was going around, the gooks got him. So then, when the people saw the gooks inside the fence, they asked for permission, and there was no one there, and they didn't fire. So they just wiped us out. And my post was the only post they didn't take. They took the other three posts. And as soon as I saw them, I wasn't going to ask anybody, we just started shooting. And we stacked up 40 bodies inside the perimeter. Inside the fence. And we had 28 men wounded, five men killed, and 5-105 howitzers -- they are big artillery guns -- that were destroyed by this suicide thing. And I wrote my congressman, and asked him how come we couldn't have our weapons loaded, and how come we needed permission to fire, and things like that. And a few people in my outfit got relieved.
Q. Was that the first time that you ...
SCOTT CAMILE: That was the first time that I killed anyone. And the next morning I went and looked at my five friends who were dead, and I pulled the sheets off of them, and I looked at them real close. And then I said, "This is really real. Someone wants to really kill me. And if I make one mistake I don't get another chance, so I can't make any mistakes." And that's what I said. And I decided at that point that I would kill anyone that I could, knowing whether they were innocent or not, just to make sure I wouldn't get killed. And that was my philosophy. If I went into a village, and had to kill 100 people just to make sure there was no one there to shoot me when I walked out, that's what I did. And that's what I did when I was there.
Q. Do you feel that your boot camp training sort of prepared you for that kind of attitude.
SCOTT CAMILE: In boot camp, every night we had to say, before we went to bed, we'd have to sing the Marine Corp hymn. And laying at attention in bed, we'd sing the Marine Corp hymn, and then we'd say, "Another day in the Corp, Sir, for every day is a holiday, and every meal is a feast. Pray for war. Pray for war. God bless the Marine Corp. God bless my drill instructors. Pray for war." And every night we had to say that. And when we'd run, we'd sing songs. We'd sing, "kill, kill, kill." And at our judo practice, and knife-fighting practice, and bayonet fighting practice, that was the yell: "Kill, kill, kill." And boy, you're going to get to go over there and kill some gooks, you know. And it was something that we were looking forward to, you know. Put our training to use. And serve our nation's best interests. Well, we thought it was our nation's best interests.
MODERATOR: Due to the fact that one of the men has to leave very shortly, Nathan Hale, I'd like to let him testify to the interrogation procedures at this time.
NATHAN HALE: I arrived at the base camp of the 1st Cav. which is Hill 29. When I arrived there my S-2, a captain, told me that my job was to illicit information. This meant that I could illicit information in any means possible. He told me that I could use any technique I could think of and the idea is, "Don't get caught." And what he meant was I could beat these people, I could cut 'em, I could probably shoot 'em -- I never shot anyone -- but I could use any means possible to get information. Just don't beat them in the presence of a non-unit member, or person. That's someone like a visiting officer, or perhaps the Red Cross.
And I personally used clubs, rifle butts, pistols, knives, and this was always done at Hill 29. And in the field it even gets better. On this particular operation the National Field Police also hanged two men, just because they thought they were VC.
The important point here is that everything I did was always monitored. An interrogator is always monitored. I was monitored by an MP Sergeant at Hill 29 who often helped me in my interrogations -- he and his squad. One other incident on Hill 29 -- there was a man who was kicked to death by the ARVNs -- the South Vietnamese. They called me the next morning and they said, "You have a dead prisoner." So I had to take a doctor over to confirm that he was dead. My S-2, instead of going through the necessary paper work, had him put in two 500 pound rice sacks and the troops took him out that day and dumped him. He was added to the previous day's body count.
I can tell you that Americal Division has the ideal interrogation location. There are MPs on the hill watching you, but this doesn't mean you can't kick prisoners under the table. We used to take knives into the interrogation huts and use the guys hands as a means of terror.
I might also add that I learned everything I know from the South Vietnamese and from my Americal cohorts.
This is a group of detainees being brought in.
Okay, there's an interrogation going on right here. This is the way it's conducted. It's a big production. There are all the Marines sitting around giving the various cheers. At all times during these interrogations there were officers present. At one time there was a Lt. Colonel present.
This man here is a warrant officer.
This just shows a typical Vietnamese who was bound. The ropes are really super-tight, and the idea is to make the prisoner or detainee as uncomfortable as possible.
These are National Field Police -- this man came over and put a tin spoon, it's a Vietnamese spoon, it's shaped like a scoop, and he put it in my fire. He then grabbed my sock, wrapped it around, and he's burning the skin off of the back of the man's neck.
And finally the man, in fear of his life, admitted that at one time he had given tax to the VC, but you can't prove that.
I heard earlier today that they used CS. Well, the Marines used a lot of CS on this particular operation, and this particular man wouldn't come out of the hole. And they threw two CS grenades at him. I personally escorted this man back to division and he died. So if gas doesn't kill, I don't know what killed him.
Q. Murphy, let me ask you a question.
How did you encourage information from your detainees, or from the prisoners that you captured in the field?
MURPHY LLOYD: Well, first of all we would ask them. And if we didn't get the information, or if they said they didn't know anything, and we figured they were lying, well, we'd go to torture.
And by torture I mean, the first time I ever saw it used, the first time was on Operation Junction City One. We were over by the Cambodian border in Warzone C. We had just walked into an ambush, and out of this ambush we took, we had approximately 15 casualties. Out of that we had about five killed out of those 15.
We picked up five or six prisoners, and while flying them back, going to our fire support base, we had a lieutenant who had been in country about five days. And he said he was going to conduct the interrogation. So we were explaining to him that we had qualified people in the rear to do this, but he told us to shut up, he was a lieutenant. So, boom, that ended that.
So he asked two or three questions, and all of them kept saying, "No Bik," or "Mullah" or something, [which means] "I don't know." Either "I'm not going to tell you, or I don't know," I believe it's "I don't know." Then he ordered for the door to be opened in the middle, and just without another word he just pushed one out. And then he started asking, he said, "Are you going to tell me now?," and he started putting his gun on him.
So all this time we're looking at it, we're kind of mad, too, because we'd been out there and some of our friends had been killed and wounded. At the time, it didn't really mean anything to us. He pushed out another one. And the third one he came to he started saying something in Vietnamese, and he pointed to one of them on the end, and as we found out after searching this fellow that he was a lieutenant in the North Vietnamese army.
And on the way in after this he said if anything was said about this, he would make it harder on us.
Okay, so he wrote himself up for a medal, getting information from prisoners, and saving us from walking into another ambush, evidently. But he received a bronze star with a V device in it for Valour. The "V" stands for "valour."
We started going on little missions, search and destroy missions, in ____, and we ran into a few NVA that came to us, Chou Hoy. And right on the spot, as we're taking the prisoners, a lieutenant came up and said, "It's a three-day pass for anybody if you can prove you've killed a NVA, you have a three-day pass to _____, that's the in-country R & R center.
And right there at that point I actually, with my eyes, saw a first sergeant and a lieutenant actually fight over who the prisoners were killed.
They were taken and killed right there on the spot. But who killed them? They just started to fight right there. And it's been quite a few incidents like that that I can recall, but everybody up here we said about the same thing.
But I have helped in torturing prisoners, and at one time we thought it was showing courage, or bravery, or whatever you want to call it. We wore ears. We'd take them, and catch them while they were alive, take an ear. Because, see, the Vietnamese people believe if they die without all of their body, they won't go to Buddha Heaven. And we would do this to two or three of them to get information from the rest of them.
And the first slide that you're going to see shows a prisoner of war. And the way they try to get him to talk is by making him stand in front of a pile of Vietcong bodies that we had picked up.
The same POW was forced to sit from probably from 6-8 hours by this pile of bodies in the hot sun.
This is a shot of five or six GI's going through the bodies looking for souvenirs. In this picture there is a lieutenant and a captain overlooking what's going on.
This is a shot of our interrogator. He took his M-16, he took it and forced it into this prisoner's nose and he twisted it. It's extremely painful.
Q. Officers were present at all times?
A. Yes, field grade officers were present.
And the next slide is a slide of myself. I'm extremely shameful of it. I'm showing it in hopes that none of you people who have never been involved ever let this happen to you. Don't ever let your government do this to you.
It's me, holding a dead body, smiling.
Everyone in our platoon took two bodies, put them on the back ramp, drove them through a village for show, and dumped them off at the edge of the village.
MODERATOR: You mentioned the killing of wounded prisoners. Would you talk about that also?
ROBERT CLARK: On June 13th, on Operation Cannon Falls, twice during the night we were overrun on our lower lip. The whole night we only sustained three dead people and ten wounded. In the morning, when the mist cleared, around 5:30, 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. And 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. And this big bad-ass 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 a full magazine of M-16 fire in his back. Another man was shot at the top of the hill, he had a bullet wound in his thigh, two in his back, and his elbow was hanging off by a thread. 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 arm started to dangle. And the grunt kicked him in the chest and he died. After all this happened, we chased what was left of the NVA company out through the woods.
The following day, elements of Golf Company claimed they saw 400 MVA walking along the trail. Well, I informed the major that was there, since I was in the COC bunker on Radio Watch. He told me I was an asshole. 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 asshole, 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 fucking pussy.
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 fucked up when not even Stars and Stripes can figure out how many people were there.
GORDON 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.
I think one of the biggest ways that the guys who personally fight the army or any policy is what is termed "malingering" or "shamming." Any way you could damage yourself.
The first time I walked into my unit, I walked in and a brother was laying on a bed stoned out of his mind. And another brother came down with a baseball bat on his leg, and broke it right in front of me. And I asked, "What's happening?" And he says, "You just go out and hump bush for a while and you'll find out."
And you're scared. You're so scared that you'll shoot anything. You look at your enemy, you look at them as animals, and at the same time you're just turning yourself into an animal, too.
And I'd say that's got my head spinning a little right now, the fact that I was actually one time an animal, and that now I have to come back and be civil again. And people sort of expect a purpose, and expect you just to have a definite purpose: "Are you going to school?" "Yeah." "Are you going to work?" "Yeah."
But like there's just more and more veterans now that are just finding that there is no purpose because nobody's ever given us one. The only purpose I had was surviving, and getting the hell out. And that's about all I can say unless anyone wants to ask anything.
I just know that we learned somewhere along the line that a dink was less than a person.
And these things go on.
They really happen.
Man, I can't talk. I can't tell you people incidences, or whatever you want to hear. I'm just here because it goes on and somebody's got to do something. Here I am.
I can't really say why we did it. Maybe it's because we were taught to hate them.
I was told by my own lieutenant, well, he saw me wearing one of these bracelets. He asked me why I was wearing it. I said, "Well, a Vietnamese boy gave it to me." I said it was a token of his friendship, really. He liked me, I liked him, we gave each other gifts, I suppose.
And he told me to take it off. And of course, I didn't agree.
I didn't want to take it off. I didn't feel I should. But he told me, "Why do you accept gifts from the same people that go out and put mines in the roads, and blow up your buddies.?"
And he told me if I didn't take it off, he'd go to more drastic measures. I don't know, he just dismissed me.
But I don't know. I don't want to give any blood stories or nothing. I just can't do it. I want you to know that the people over there aren't really being treated as human beings. They're being treated as slaves, let's say. Maybe not even slaves. I don't know. I just don't know what to say. I just want you to know about it.
STEVE: I'd just sort of like to add one more thing.
I'd say the government and a lot of people who sort of run this nation have been telling a lot of GI's that the biggest detriment to our morale has been the long-haired, protesting, pinko-sympathizer type.
But I think the biggest lift for my morale came when I was lying in Okinawa in the hospital there and a girl wrote me about a place called Woodstock where 500,000 people had come together, and it was so beautiful that was the first time I smiled in a long time.
I was a platoon leader of my platoon simply because this dude had bugged me and I had whipped his behind. And they like that aggressiveness.
"Are you going to be a platoon leader?" "Yes, sir!" "You sure you're going to be?" "Yes, sir!" "Get out there!" "Yes, sir!" This is the whole thing. This thing is a crack. So I'm platoon leader for a little while. And this dude, he messed up the whole platoon. He sneaks in the bathroom and he's smoking.
So me and a couple of other dudes, our minds are sacked now. "Bam!" we whipped the living daylights out of him. And the next thing I know I'm not a platoon leader anymore, I'm back in the ranks again. Then I'm put on the shit list a week later.
You're in trouble, knee deep, you know. What am I supposed to do?
They're very good at it. They had it in mind that you couldn't win.
We were doing manual march with footlockers. And you know, this guy next to me, Prince, he drops it on his foot. And I thought it was pretty funny. It was amusing. We were so tired, everything was amusing.
And I hear, "Get up here, sweet pea." And he says, "So you like to laugh?" "No sir!" "Yes, you do. You like to laugh." I said, "No sir!" "Laugh for me." "Ha ha ha ha."
He goes, "Open that big fucking mouth and laugh for me." So I did. And he started taking handfuls of sand every time I opened my mouth to laugh and shoving it down my throat. He said, "Laugh." "Ha ha." "Choke, choke."
I come running out of the hootch one day and formation says, "Get the herd in the road." So everybody starts skying up to get in the road. And I come walking out the door, and I stepped on a spit-shine shoe. And the freak just grabs me around my stack and swivel. And he pulls me up and says, "You better take care of that. I said, "Sir. Request permission to go and get my shoeshine gear." He says, "The only shoeshine gear you need, boy, is your tongue." So I had to get down there and lick all the dust off his toe where I had scuffed his stupid thing, you know. And they'd do that all the time to break you.
I'll tell you a trick they pulled. They'll take a company, and they'll pull 'em back into batallion, they'll keep them there for darn near a month with no contact whatsoever with enemy troops. All right.
Then all of a sudden, "Hey, we found a Viet Cong regiment, we're getting ready to move out tomorrow morning. Stand by.
All of a sudden you're getting a chance to get a piece of the action 'cause you're tired of sitting around in mudholes, you know, doing nothing.
I have yet to have been on an operation where I haven't gone through a village. I have yet.
And I have yet to have gone on an operation where when I've gone through that village, that village was still standing.
So consequently, you're ready, and you're keyed up. You're tired of sitting down.
When you go to Vietnam, you're prepared to play the Marine Corp role. You're assuming the role of a professional marine, and a killer, whatever.
And you're going to play that role out exactly the way that it's been defined to you.
Things like this work on the mind. And if they can deteriorate portions of the mind for any period of time, see, then they can just about gear you into doing anything they want.
In fact, I was so weird after Vietnam, I carried a pistol around in my back pocket, you know, for no apparent reason to myself for six months, until one day I pulled it on somebody at school. I'd torn up something, a janitor had come up to tell me, "Hey, man, you can't do that," and I pulled a pistol on him. And it occurred to me, "Man, there was something wrong with me." And it took me about a week and a half to realize, to remember the incident where we stoned the kid. I never thought that my mind would hide anything from me. And it's very strange when it does. It came as a real surprise when stuff just started coming back.
Once you come back from Nam your awareness of not only the Vietnam war, but of the government is fantastic. It's like "Whoa. Hey! Wow. You mean, this is what I've been asleep under all this time? Jeezus Christ, somebody hit me with a baseball bat! I've been asleep. What's going on?" So no wonder they come back and say, "You ain't go nothing to show me."
It was really a totally unreal situation after a few months. I think that what should be brought out is the horror of the everyday, the commonplace. My duty was to go out and serve as a perimeter guard on the ___ ramp. And this was an LCU ramp on the ____ river where navy ships would come up and they'd offload supplies.
And we took our truck outside the combat base every night at 5:30 to set up at the ramp for our night's duty.
And we used to drive by this row of hootches.
And a little three-year-old kid in dirty gray shorts used to run out and scream, "You Marines No. 10."
And we'd always go back, "Fucking kid." You know, all this stuff.
And so one night the kid comes out and says, "Marine No. 10," and throws a rock. So we figured we'd get him, because this was a way of having fun. And the next night before we went out, we all stopped by COC, which is right by the ammo dump, picked up the biggest rocks we could get our hands on, and piled it in the back of the truck. So we left the combat base, we just turned the corner, and we saw the little kid. We were waiting for the kid. He ran out of the hootch and he was going to scream, "Marine No. 10" and we didn't even let him get it out of his mouth. We picked up all the rocks and smeared him. We just wiped him out. In fact, the force of the rocks was enough to knock over his little tin hootch as well. I don't know. I can't say that the kid died, but if it would have been me, I would have died easily. The rocks, some of them were as easily big as his head. And it was looked upon as funny. We all laughed about it. And then we forgot about it. And it took me about a year to even be able to recall the situation. I think it said something about the entire attitude of us over there. I never had a specific hatred for the Vietnamese, I just tended to ignore them. They didn't figure in any calculation as to being human. They either got in the way or they weren't there.
There used to be a game we played. We poured garbage, liquid garbage off the end of our truck to make 'em crawl for it.
Mama-sons would come up with half cut 50-gallon drums and they'd try to fill it up. They'd get pork chops and sloppy rice and mystery meat or wop-slop, whatever we'd had for chow, and put it in there, and then we'd let them walk so far and we'd tip it over, spill it on the ground, and watch them scrape the dirt in there.
Anything to dehumanize them.
From the time I was there, nobody ever got hurt in a garbage dump, as far as Americans. But a lot of Vietnamese women and children were hurt. And it was fair game between Kontien?, going through the city of Kamilo?, on the outskirts of Quang Tri? going to 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 on 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'd just bounce them off their heads or try to knock them off their bicycles
These people are aware of what American soldiers do to them so naturally they try to hide the young girls. We found one hiding in a bomb shelter in sort of the basement of her house, she was taken out and raped by six or seven people in front of her family, in front of most of the villagers. This wasn't just one incident, this is just the first one that I can remember. I know of 10 or 15 of such instances at least. The gentleman on my left can collaborate my testimony as we were together the whole time, served in the same squad, in the same company.
At the time most of this happened our platoon leader was a Mormon minister. He's dead now, so he can't really be found out and questioned.
But when he got there, he was pretty well high character man because he was a minister. By the time he left, by the time he got killed, rather, he was condoning everything that was going on because it was a part of policy. If no one tells you that it's wrong, then you do it anyway, and this cell changed him around.
Once we were picking up a slingload of ammunition, and the army had a habit of putting pick up zones and drop off zones right near well-traveled roads, road traveled by the local villagers.
So we were hovering over this slingload of howitzer rounds, and I was hanging out the window observing what appeared to be a 12-year-old Vietnamese boy standing there watching us. And as we lifted up with the load, the road wash increased because of the weight, and it blew him into the path of a 2-1/2-ton truck with trailer which killed him instantly.
When that happened, my first reaction, and my flight engineer, he was observing this too, our first reaction was, I guess you'd call normal. It would be horror, pain, and then I realized, I caught myself immediately and I said, "No, you can't do that," because you develop a shell while you're in the military. They brainwash you. They take all the humanness out of you.
And you develop this crust which enables you to survive in Vietnam. And if you let that protective shell down even for a second, it's the difference between you flipping out or managing to make it through.
And I caught myself letting the shell down, and I tightened up right away and started laughing about it and joking about it with the flight engineer. He sort of moved on the same logic because I guess it sort of knocked his shell down too.
In one incident we were flying and we took fire from six NVA which caused the ship to explode in the air and make a crash landing.
On the way down, because our Company policy was to just keep on firing, I looked out across the field and I spotted a Vietnamese woman, a peasant running away from the ship.
I fired a burst of about six or seven rounds into her back before we hit the ground. When I was being questioned as to what happened about two weeks later by a captain in my company, I told him what we did and what I did, and we both had a good laugh about it. That was pretty much company policy.