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Third World Panel
Moderators:

Donald Williams, United States Army; refused to go to Vietnam, went to Sweden

Allen Akers, 25, Pfc., "K" Co., 2nd Bn., 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division (May 1965 to March 1966)

Panelists:

Scott Shimabukuro, 21, L/Cpl. (E-3), "C" Battery, 1st Bn., 13th Marine Reg., 3rd Marine Division (October 1967 to November 1968)

Barry Romo, 23, 1st Lt., "A" Co., 2/1, 196 LIB, "C" Co., 3/4, 11th Inf. Brigade, Americal Division (June 1967 to November 1968)

Evan Haney, Naval Support Activity, United States Navy, Da Nang

Earl Rose, 3rd Marine Division

Charles Stephens, 24, Pfc., 1/327, 101st Airborne Division (December 1965 to February 1967)

William Light, 22 (E-3), "E" Co., 1/6, 198 LIB, Americal Division (May 1968 to June 1969)

Veterans Testifying:

Orville Carey, 1st Logistics Command

Larry Brooks, 21, Pfc., 2nd Bn., 7th Marine Reg., 1st Marine Division (July 1969 to January 1970)

Murphy Lloyd, 27, Sgt. (E-5), "D" Co., 4th Bn., 173 Airborne Brigade (February 1967 to February 1968)

Mike Nakayamo, 1st Bn., 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division

MODERATOR. Can I have your attention? The black veterans are coming up to speak on the black experience with racism in Vietnam and we'd like for you to give your attention, if possible. Any Third World people, you know, people of color, all of us. Do you think the minority groups could have some water, please?

Excuse me, is this the bulk of the press that's going to be covering this panel? You're not even from the press, so the press is not even covering this, right? Can somebody on the staff go see about the press?

AUDIENCE. We're here and we're important. We'll pass the word right on.

MODERATOR. Say, people, isn't this typical racism for the press? Okay, we're ready to deal. My name is Donald P. Williams. I spent eight years in the service. My unit was alerted to go to Vietnam in March of 1968. They went to Saigon, but I went to Stockholm. When I got to Stockholm, I sent my commanding officer a big picture postcard and told him good luck. I want to make an opening statement, and then we're going to have the brothers from the Third World give an opening statement. Then we'll give it to the panel.

We, the black veterans of the Vietnam war, are expressing our experience with racism in Vietnam. We intend to show by our testimony that the war in Vietnam is nothing more than an extension of the racist policies as practiced here in the United States. Racism is the motivating factor in determining America's genocidal policy against non-whites. The overwhelming majority of people killed or maimed in Vietnam are non-whites, whether they are Vietnamese, Viet Cong, or American blacks. Whites' statistics say that blacks constitute only ten percent of the total population in the United States, yet they represent at least forty percent of the fighting forces in Vietnam, and, in many cases, due to racism, blacks are the overwhelming majority in the combat areas. The statement you will hear this afternoon reflects the reality of American society's attitudes towards non- whites. This attitude emanates from years and years of oppression based on the refusal of American people to eliminate racism. At this time I'll turn you over to the brothers from the Third World and they're going to make an opening statement.

SHIMABUKURO. My name is Scott Shimabukuro and I'm representing the Asian brothers and sisters, not only in the United States and veterans, but also in Asia. Now this tribunal, or investigation, is into the treatment of Asians, and I'm relating this not only to Asians in Vietnam but to Asians all over the world. The United States has a policy of racism that in Vietnam is only an extension of this, and we feel that since this gathering is to bring these things out, we think there should have been a bigger representation from not only the Asian people in this community and in this United States, but of all Third World people, because we are the people who are receiving all these crimes against us and we feel we should be heard. We've been quiet too long.

ROMO. My name is Barry Romo. I represent, supposedly, the Chicano community, which isn't hard to do, because I'm the only one here. Chicanos constitute the largest percentage of deaths of any minorities, which is way out of proportion to their numbers. It's because of language and culture. This thing has turned into a horror show. All it has been has been the atrocities that have been committed and not the reasons why. And it boils down to one thing, and that's racism. The people dying are Third World and the people getting hurt are Third World, and that has to be brought out.

HANEY. My name is Evan Haney. I'm an Oklahoma Indian, and I would like to say that I am probably the only one here who is an Indian, and there should have been more here, but we have our own fights to do in our own communities. And, I represent the Indian community all over the United States and I would like to say that I hope to convey the feeling that you know that we are out fighting and not in a position where...well, I don't know what to say right now, but I represent the Indian community across the United States.

ROSE. My name is Earl Rose, and I'm a representative from the West Coast. I'd like to talk about the miseducation and how they take Third World people and through miseducation and using the word Cong as a symbol of killing, instead of using the words, "Go out and kill Vietnamese people," how the word "Cong" is used against Third World people to manipulate and to kill them. That's all.

MODERATOR. At this time, I'd like to introduce the co- moderator, Allen Akers, and he's going to introduce the rest of the members of the panel.

AKERS. Yes, my name is Allen Akers. I was a Pfc. in the United States Marine Corps. I was attached to Echo Company, Second Battalion, Fourth Marines. I was in Vietnam from 1965 to 1966 in the Chu Lai area. I was an infantryman and the bulk of my duties was search and destroy missions.

MODERATOR. Steve?

STEPHENS. My name is Pfc. Charles--ex-Pfc. Charles N. Stephens. I was in the 101st Airborne Division, First Brigade, and I was a Medic from December 1965 to February 1967

LIGHT. My name is William Light. I served in the Americal Division of the 1/6, E Company, Echo Recon. I was a grunt.

CAREY. My name is Orville Carey. I was in First Logistics Command in Pleiku. I was a postal clerk.

BROOKS. My name is Larry D. Brooks. I served with the First Marine Division, Second Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment. I served in Vietnam from July of '69 to January of '70.

LLOYD. My name is Murphy Lloyd. I was in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, Separate. My MOS was 11 F, Recon Intelligence, and I worked from the Saigon area all the way up to Dak To in the Northern region.

MODERATOR. Okay, thank you very much, Larry.

NAKAYAMO. My name is Mike Nakayamo. I was in the First Marine Division, First Battalion, Fifth Marines.

SHIMABUKURO. My name is Scott Shimabukuro. I was in the Third Marine Division, Charlies Battery, 13th Marines, at Khe Sanh.

ROMO. Barry Romo, former First Lieutenant, Americal Division, 196 and the 11th Infantry Brigade.

HANEY. My name is Evan Haney. I served with the United States Navy in Da Nang, NSA, Naval Support Activity, Da Nang.

ROSE. My name is Earl Rose, Third Marine Division, U.S. Marine Corps.

AKERS. Okay, thank you very much, Mr. Rose. At this point we would like to get into the testimony of some of the personal experiences. Myself, I'll start off and then we'll stem from there. I'm sure if you've been watching some of the news media on television you would have seen some of these mercy missions that are sent out into the Vietnamese villages to help the people there. Now, the hospital ship, Hope, that is docked just outside the three-mile zone in Vietnam, will transport nurses in their, you know, clean white smocks, and everything, and send them into villages to help Vietnamese children, you know, if they're sick or if they have any ailments or diseases. Now this is the picture that they'll portray, you know, the white man coming in with his doctor bag and he's going to help you out with your sick and ailing. Now any time they want to portray the black man to the Vietnamese, they will have us situated so that on search and reconnoiter missions, we would be the first ones into the village, shooting and hunting through the huts for Viet Cong.

Consequently, very seldom do you run into a village where there are any men at all. There are usually just women and children, so you can imagine the picture that these villagers see when they look outside their little homemade bomb shelters and see big heavy-set black dudes with rifles aimed hip-high and grenades in one hand, shooting and firing. So consequently this here is one of the mental tactics that is used over there to keep the black man from identifying with the Vietnamese people--because for all intents and purposes we are one and the same. There are many relationships between the Vietnamese and the black man as far as skin tone and a lot of cultural things, for that matter.

Another thing I would like to talk on is the psychological effect of tactics that is used on black troops. What they would do is they would pull us in to a barrack-like situation and keep us there for about a month at a time. And, consequently, when you're sitting there in garrison, doing nothing but smoldering in the hot sun, you begin to build up friction among the troops. And your white troops might be playing their country and western music and you have your black troops who will be playing our soul music and that'll get to going back and forth and if we can get hold of any liquor or anything, this builds to the animosity among the groups.

So consequently they get to fighting amongst each other, and the higher brass knows, well, it's about time to cut these guys loose on some villages somewhere. So they check back on some of their old recon reports where they have heard of some Viet Cong suspects being in the area and they just route them out to these particular and cut loose with them. They give them an ambiguous order, like something to the extent of, "All right, you're going into an area where there are known Viet Cong, so you are to reconnoiter by fire." So that when you get there, anything that moves you're going to fire on. So this is one of the mind-taxing things that he does to make you want to attack somebody even though you know that you don't want to kill another Vietnamese because you feel that he might be, in fact, your brother.

STEPHENS. When I arrived at the base camp of the 101st First Brigade, in Phan Raang, in December, I was told never to go to "B" Company, because "B" Company, that's boo-boo company. They're always getting ambushed. They're always getting a lot of guys killed. They're always under strength. What I wasn't told about "B" Company was that "B" Company was all black.

The only thing in "B" Company that was white was the officers and the platoon leaders, rather, the officers and the platoon sergeant. Also, when I was fortunate to get sick and go to the hospital, I went downtown one day. I went to a bar, and I asked for an orange soda. But they didn't have any orange soda. So I asked for a Coke, but they didn't have any Coke. And the guy next to me, he ordered a Coke and he got the Coke. So I asked the girl, I says, "Well, I thought you said you don't have any Cokes." She says, "Well, you no same same me. Me number one, you number ten." And I was also told that I have a tail. Where?

LIGHT. I'm going to start off with racism on a personal basis. For reasons of my own, I chose not to go over to Vietnam. Behind this, I was railroaded, and handcuffed, and taken under guard to Vietnam. They forwarded orders to my company commander of my background when I was in basic and AIT, relevant to my behavior. From the jump, he discriminated against me. I was commonly referred to as a "field nigger." I was on an operation. We were under attack by a regiment of VC. The outcome was like seven to eight guys out of about thirty-five left. The first thing my first sergeant did when he called in was to find out if I was dead or not. The majority of my company consists of white guys, but the majority of brothers are in the field. The ratio is like sixty to forty and most brothers, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans, have to walk point to more or less prove their manhood, on an individual basis, that they are just as much man as the next guy. Consequently, there were all forms of racism.

I was in the stockade in Long Bin for three months. I saw a brother fed rat poison because he chose not to do some of the things that the racist MPs asked him to do. A lot of brothers were beaten, handcuffed, and gagged, and thrown into solitary confinement without food. My first meal in solitary confinement was mashed potatoes and coffee grounds. That was it. You'd be surprised at the things that happen over there. I came home, and I tried to apply for some money from the VA. They told me, "Well, look, you wait two weeks or a month. Come back, you know, later on when we get the chance." I came back in two weeks. I had to fill out more forms, more paperwork, I kept getting the runaround, etc. Since I've been home, I can relate this to a lot of guys, white and black. It's hard to find employment for veterans. Dig it. I don't understand what the big thing is. All the guys are coming home from Vietnam and can't find work. Like, it should be some type of system where a brother or somebody coming home from Vietnam is guaranteed employment. I went back to my old job and the guy told me, he says, "Good, when do you want to start, today or tomorrow? "

So I says, "Well, I'll start tomorrow." And he looks on my DD-214, which is my Army discharge files, and then he saw I was in Vietnam and he said, "What did you do?" and I said, "Infantry." And he says, "Oh, wait a minute." He came back two minutes later and told me he didn't need me. I took a test with a hundred and fifty guys and only twenty passed, and just because I had a general discharge, I wasn't accepted at that particular corporation. That's all I got to say. Thank you.

CAREY. Well, I was in administrative service for most of my time in the service. Most administrative service is about ninety percent white, maybe ten percent black, and I originally was in Germany. I volunteered to go to Vietnam, to get away from what I considered overt racism that was going on over there. We had Klansmen, white hats, and this was more or less accepted as policy. Nobody worried about cross burnings or stuff. I probably could have stood it generally a little bit better if I had been maybe in a field company with more blacks, but it was only about four blacks in a company of about maybe seventy people, seventy or a hundred people and four blacks, and it was just a little bit too much. There was no chance for a promotion. You were handed out all the vile details, and in general we got a lot of practical jokes and pranks pulled on us. The only way I could get out of Germany was to volunteer to go to Vietnam. Upon arriving in Vietnam, I found out that the situation in the rear echelon companies is much the same. There are very few blacks in rear echelon companies, mostly whites. The excuse was, I believe, that there weren't enough blacks qualified to work in things like finance, personnel, and the other backup companies. Okay, thank you.

BROOKS. As I said before, my name is Larry Brooks. I'd like to relate to the people how the racist system over there deals with brothers that was more or less a mental destruction. Like they had their own ways of dealing with brothers that talked up. If a brother talked up and what he was talking about, didn't know what he was talking about, he was given time in the brig, or off his hours, or fined some money. Like brothers that knew what they were talking about or knew where they were coming from, they would deal with them by giving them good jobs.

I was in the First Marine Division and they like had put out the Third Marine Division. They sent all the brothers from the Third Marine Division and they sent all the whites back to Okinawa and back to the States. And then after I got to rapping and telling them how it was, well, they told me, we think something is wrong with you, and they pulled me in the rear and put me in the kitchen. So I worked my way from bottom mess man to chief mess man. Actually, I played on Whitey. I knew that I wanted to get out of the field, so I played on Whitey to get a good job and after I got the job I rapped again. So, officially, the captain came to me to say, "Well, something just ain't right, son." So he pulls me in and said, "If you don't start acting right we're going to send you to the psychiatrist." So, boom they sent me to the psychiatrist, and I asked him what his problem was, you dig? After a while, the dude sure enough thought that I was ready to dance, so they sent me back. They put me back in the kitchen and I started washing pots. So officially I was head of all the brothers in the mess section, and so I started organizing a meeting in the mess hall every night.

So they sent me up to the colonel and he checked my temperature and sent me back to the psychiatrist again. I asked him, "You got to let me see somebody." So they thought maybe they'd give me a three-day leave, and I went to Bangkok, Thailand, and stayed for six days.

I came back and it seemed like all the brothers that I had on mess duty with me were going back to the field, so I ran down and asked my first sergeant what happened, and he told me, "Be cool, you'll be leaving here in seven days." This was right up my alley, because I had over half a year left.

Up until today, now (I got out in January '70), I have a discharge here, I don't even know what I got it for. It doesn't state a reason why I was discharged from the military. This is a good discharge; I didn't do all my time, you understand, I didn't get hurt, and yet here I am. Like when I apply for a job, they ask what did you get out for. So I scratch my head. I say, "Well, really, I can't tell you."

They state on your discharge why you were discharged. Mine is just a blank. I don't have no bad record. I wasn't no hero. You see, I don't know what the deal was. So these are some of my personal experiences in Vietnam. If the press were here, I wish they'd write the government and tell me what I'm doing out of the service. My expiration date wasn't but two days ago, and I've been out a year.

LLOYD. My name is Murphy Lloyd, and right here before me I have two discharges. Yeah, well, I went in twice. I went in in '61 to '63. And something funny happened. Around '66 I got patriotic because the President said he needed men to fight in Vietnam and at the time I really believed that I had just as much to fight for as anybody else in Vietnam regardless of what color he was. I just felt that this was my country too. But upon arriving in Vietnam, I found a different story altogether. For the first thing, I arrived in Vietnam on a Saturday, and Sunday morning I had been awarded the CIB. That's the Combat Infantry Badge, a star. After receiving this, things just started that I didn't want to believe were actually happening. I had been hearing about how racist the Army was, but I didn't want to believe this because I judge a man not by his color but by him being a man, regardless of what he is. But I started finding out; that in the field, I went over there, as a communications specialist, and while receiving my gear the man told me, "I'm sorry, we don't need a communications specialist, we need a grunt."

He got to issuing me Claymore mines and things I didn't know anything about. And when I got out in the field, I noticed that ninety percent of the outfit out there were from minority groups. They weren't just blacks, they were Chicanos, Indians, anything else you want to name. We were there. Quite naturally we couldn't complain about rank, because we were getting all the rank because there wasn't anyone else out there to get the rank but us because we were in the leadership position. This is true; I wouldn't lie to you. You know, it's funny when you look back at it. Like I just jumped up and said, "Well, boom, my country needs me." And I went over there to fight, and come back home to this thing here that they call freedom. And last night while on the way home, after leaving the meeting, over on Emerson Street, the police stopped me. So I go in my pocket to give the policeman my license and he happened to see this (Vietnam Veterans Against the War button). And he made a statement about Miss Fonda, I wouldn't like to repeat the words here, but, wow, it was pretty deep. So like I told him I was doing what I feel I had to do. So there I go down to jail. So I spent the night in jail last night. If you see me nod every now and then, it's from that. I could say some more things, but I think I'll pass it on to my man here.

MODERATOR. I just got a message here. Michael Oliver, a Vietnam veteran, has a statement to read regarding something very important. So where's Mike?

OLIVER. Sisters and brothers, we have just received word from Detroit that United States Senator George McGovern [Democrat, South Dakota] and Representative John Conyers [Democrat, Michigan] called today for immediate investigation by the United States...[Applause drowns him out]...immediate investigation by the United States Senate and the House of Representatives of allegations arising from testimony given by a group of honorably discharged United States veterans of war in Vietnam at the three-day Winter Soldier investigation being conducted in Detroit.

Chief amongst these charges are reports that the United States committed ground troops action inside Laos as long ago as February 1969, contrary to affirmations by government officials that no such incursions had occurred. Senator McGovern charged that the Winter Soldier Investigation testimony provides evidence of the administration's growing credibility gap in Indochina military affairs. "Last week," McGovern said, "we were told by Defense Secretary Melvin Laird that our combat troops have not operated outside Vietnam. A few days ago we learned that some of our servicemen were on the ground in Cambodia. Now there are reports invasions into Laos as long ago as early 1969. These are serious charges which require immediate and intensive review. The American people must know all the facts about our military policy in Vietnam.

Congressman Conyers recalled similar reports he received during his 1969 tour of Vietnam. "The charges that our command office sanctioned interrogation by torture and other brutal acts, the occurrence of atrocities without investigation or punishment, and that racism still pervades our Armed Forces require complete disclosure. I shall ask for the full transcript of the Winter Soldier Investigation hearings and I will propose that these veterans be brought to Washington to deliver their testimony before the appropriate Congressional authorities."

During the first day of public hearings, thirty-five veterans of Vietnam service described a wide variety of atrocities and war crimes in which they participated or which they witnessed during their tours of duty, often in the presence or with the approval of their officers. The veterans' testimony included charges of killing of unarmed women, children, and elderly peasants; the use of torture to elicit information from captured prisoners; the shooting of enemy soldiers attempting to surrender; and the wanton burning of Vietnam villages. Veterans who served with the First Marine Division in Quang Nam Province of South Vietnam told of an American ambush executed on Christmas Eve 1969, during what was to have been a cease-fire for U.S. ground troops. The witness said, "Twenty-five Vietnamese were killed, but only one weapon was actually found. An officer then gathered previously captured weapons from other units in the area to justify the labeling of the new kills as enemy soldiers."

The Detroit Free Press confirmed this incident from another Marine who had been present in Vietnam at that time but was unaware of the Winter Soldier Investigation. His recollection was that there had been thirty-one persons killed in the ambush.

AUDIENCE. Let's go to Washington and tell the world about it! How about it?

PANELIST. Okay, ladies and gentlemen. I think I might throw a monkey wrench into the fine working machine for a second here. For the last couple of days you have been receiving testimony from the war of injustices to non-whites over in Vietnam. Now, if these injustices and these here genocides are perpetrated against the non-whites in Vietnam, the Vietnamese soldiers, and they are solely admitted since yesterday, Sunday, on television, and this morning, what do you think they've been doing to the black soldier they've been serving along with? Just think about that.

WILLIAMS. I'd like to pose a number of questions to the panel here, and then we want to open it up for some questions from the audience.

AUDIENCE. Let's let our brothers speak. Our brothers from the Third World, minority groups, all of us are called underdogs, masterminds of the world; rap, brothers...

NAKAYAMO. My name is Mike. I wanted to rap about racism directed against Asians in the military and in Vietnam. First of all, I felt quite a bit of racism before I joined the service, okay, that's understood. When I got into the service I experienced amplified racism. As soon as I got off the bus at my boot camp, I was referred to as Ho Chi Minh, which, you know, was...

AUDIENCE. A compliment!

AUDIENCE. Right on! Right on!

NAKAYAMO. Yeah! I can dig it. I was referred to as "Jap" and "gook" constantly through my training. Then I knew I was going to go overseas to fight for this country. I can rap about quite a few instances, right in boot camp, but I'll just move on to my experiences in Vietnam. While on Vietnam, I was in the infantry, but a few times they let you come back to the rear. Most Marines are allowed to go into PXs without showing an ID, and I was not allowed to go into the PX on a number of occasions with an ID because I was yellow. I was constantly referred to as "gook" in Vietnam also, and, relating this back to the United States, I know a number of my Asian brothers and sisters who are being referred to as "gooks" by returning servicemen, by American people in the Los Angeles area.

The thing that bothered me about this investigation is that it seemed as though people were trying to cover up the issue of racism, which I believe is one of the definite reasons why we are in Vietnam. We talked a lot about atrocities, but the systematic and deliberate genocide of all Asian people through the use of racism cannot be allowed any longer.

AUDIENCE. Take your time, man, you're doing good. You're telling the truth.

NAKAYAMO. I'm sure I don't have to go into detail about the racism and atrocities being committed against Asians, because you've been hearing that all week, or since Sunday. But the things that the brothers are relating have been happening in the United States since the Third World people have lived here. Now there's been a thing on relocation of Vietnamese from their homes to relocation camps. That strikes home pretty close, because my parents and grandparents, who were supposed to be American citizens, were relocated during the Second World War, and that just amplifies the racism that has been coming down in this country. And also, you know about the Indian brothers that this country belongs to. When Evan speaks, he can go into that, how they were robbed. But I want to go into the atrocities against the people here, because the people have been telling you how they treat the Asian brothers and sisters. Now they bring this home with them, and this has a great effect on the Asians here in the United States.

Just to bring this a little more personal, two personal friends of mine were hitch-hiking through Ohio and on the road a few of these people (I think they were people) got out of the thing and called them Vietnamese gooks and beat them so bad they were in the hospital for six months. Now things like this should also be investigated, because this is crimes that are committed here, too, against all people, working class and Third World people in the United States. And I feel some of the crimes here should be investigated in Washington because these are just as great in magnitude if not greater, because we are supposed to be free. I haven't felt free, because I guess I haven't been. Now you've heard of instances of genocide and murder in Vietnam.

I'd like to relate a few that have happened in the United States. Now you all know what happened in Chicago. The only black brother on the Chicago Eight was thrown in jail and they're going to try to keep that brother there. I said they're going to TRY to keep him there. Now this is just racism. Now this brother was trying to speak up for his rights and because he was black, he was treated worse than even the white radicals. Now there's got to be wrong there. You know they've been ripping off the Panthers all over the United States. For what? For their right to be free. That's just like the Vietnamese, they're fighting for their right to be free, so the military is oppressing all liberation struggles all over the world and here in the United States. Now this has to stop. We've been hearing about trying to get this war over, investigations and such into genocide. I'd like the people to get behind trying to end the genocide here and get behind some people like Angela Davis and free ourselves over here. I'd like to say Free Angela, and All Power to the People.

MODERATOR. I'd like to pose some questions to the panel. Anyone can answer them. I would like to know, were those black men who were considered troublemakers forced to the front before other men more qualified.

ROMO. If I can say one word before you go on, just one word about the Chicano, the Puerto Rican, the brown. If it's all right, thank you. The brown people, the Puerto Rican, the Chicano, suffer from a problem in America, not only of racism, but of a language and a cultural difference. The ghettoizing that goes on in his early life, his economic background of relegation to farm work, etc., puts him in position that when he goes in the service, the only thing the service feels he's qualified for is the front line and infantry duty. As a consequence, when he gets to the field, he cannot relate to his officers or NCOs. He can't understand the language and he can't understand the culture behind it. As I said before, the Chicano, the brown, the Puerto Rican, suffers statistically more casualties than any other minority and the white. I think this has to be brought out and it has to be stopped.

HANEY. My name is Evan Haney, and I would like to point out that if you took the Vietnamese war, of the American war, as it is, and compared it to the Indian wars a hundred years ago, it would be the same thing. All the massacres were the same. Nowadays they use chemical warfare; back then they put smallpox in the blankets and gave them to the Indians. You could just go right on down the line and name them out and they would be the same thing. One thing I would like to bring up about racism is that I have grown up with it all my life, and when I was small I was exposed to this, and I kept growing and learning. But it was so much that when I watched TV or something and watched the Indians and the cavalry, I would cheer for the cavalry. That's how bad it was. Right now a lot of Indian people are...they're not going back to the old ways, but they're thinking about the old ways. You can take any culture of these people up here on the panel, any culture of you out there, and if you look back into it deep, they had something good. Way back, they had it. And then people started getting into a money bag, and that's when it all happened. When we made treaties long ago, it was for as long as the grass shall grow and as long as the rivers shall flow. The way things are going now, one of these days the grass isn't going to grow...and the rivers aren't going to flow...

ROSE. I guess most of it's been said. All the brothers said real beautiful, all the Asian brothers, and my Indian brother here. I have been in the Marine Corps for ten years, ten long years in the Marine Corps. Went to Vietnam twice. When I looked around me in those ten years I found out who was really fighting this war, and all I've seen was Third World people and poor whites fighting this war. Most of the poor whites in the war were in the positions of power, more or less the sergeants and officers.

People can say, how Third World people go in the service and fight? All through the years we've been miseducated, all through high school, elementary school, and then we have one more choice left, and that's the military. To make this great big American splash, like in Hitler youth, we got to make our name in the sky. So we go into the service. My brother was there in 1965; he felt like it was his patriotic duty. I did the same thing in '65. "I'm going to wipe them all out, really do it, get my medals, really make it on the scene." Then you go out and they keep using words like Cong and slopehead and slanteyes. I said, "Hey, those are the same words they use in the States against me, against Third World people." They dehumanize these people so much that it's easy to go out and kill them or blow them away, because they are dehumanized, and it becomes in your mind, they become more dehuman to you. But as you go on, you've got to realize that this is foolish, you're killing our own brothers. So that out of ten years this is what I got out of it and it makes me very bitter. A lot I'd like to say, and I'm not going to say, because the rest is going to be practice. I have no more time to talk.

MODERATOR. I'd like to pose a number of questions to the panel and then we're going to open it up for discussion from the audience. I'd like to ask: Were the black soldiers, considered as troublemakers, ever forced to go to the field and qualified people were kept back?

LIGHT. They had their ways. Whitey would play this game. He'd have us ready to go in to the field before we even got over there. We were trained to go to the field back in the States so Whitey gets the typewriter, you get the rifle. That's the way it went down. You couldn't beat the game.

MODERATOR. I'd like to know, how did you think the Vietnamese looked upon you as people of color?

LLOYD. I had a few experiences, you know. I met quite a few Vietnamese, old women and children and to me they looked up to the black man--those that had been oriented properly-- looked up to the black man something like for help more or less. Most of the time we'd go in the village, we'd go in there with food or candy or clothes if we had it and the little kids were always around us and then some of them would come up and look for a tail and different things. When they run it down to you, they try to make you understand that you are part of them by being black in your blood line. We have the same blood that they have, something like, you know, it's just like about that. We related to them and why should we be fighting them and we're the same color? This is what it boils down to.

PANELIST. I'd like to speak to that just two seconds-- about how we feel. We went over in Vietnam the first time in 1965. Vietnamese people, because of the economic factor (and that most of the GIs over there, say more or less white, went into town and spent all the money)--the Vietnamese people in the towns looked at us more or less black people as down on because we were more or less discriminated against. White GIs discriminated against black GIs, who in the towns we had our own little section. We were outsiders, let's say. We were more or less discriminated against and when we went to buy something, they always would try to refuse it, or say what the brother said about our tails supposed to be growing, and always asking us if our tails were going to come out at 12 o'clock and all this kind of thing. And towards the end, the second time I went over in 1969, the most beautiful thing I ever seen when we was driving a truck come by a village and the Vietnamese people gave the power sign for black people. That was outasight.

AKERS. Something that's food for thought, when we went into Chu Lai, Vietnam, we did a lot of relocating Vietnamese villages after we had destroyed their original homes. Consequently, along with the homes we had destroyed their way of life. Their own crops were destroyed and, as you know, their religion calls for them not to eat cows or water buffalo or beef, for that matter, so consequently the animals that they depended upon for meat such as dogs and wild animals out in the forest were ran off by our constant bombing and heavy artillery fire. So consequently they became dependent upon the United States dollar to exist. We had changed their way of normal living. They were content to live the way they were, off the land, growing their rice and worshipping their God, and then when we come over there we destroyed their means of obtaining food.

We have destroyed their means of sustaining themselves whereas they had to figure out ways of getting money from us or getting food from us. It would get to the point where they would actually raid our garbage trucks, our dumps, and I don't believe no human being should have to stoop that low under any circumstances. This is the type of genocide that is brought down upon the Vietnamese people in Vietnam and what makes it so bad is the black man is given these details to dump garbage. So who is the Vietnamese looking at to get their garbage from? None other than the black man. That conscientious mind-psyching, psychological warfare thing is still ever so present in that regards.

MODERATOR. Okay, what we're going to do now, we're going to open up questions from the audience, so just raise your hand. The question was, were you ever forced into doing something that made you look bad in front of the Vietnamese people as a black man?

LIGHT. There were a number of these degrading things that they did. Like a number of blacks in the rear, they had jobs assigned to them like KP. And getting trash, etc., things like that there. And the viewpoint, you know, like from the eyes of the Vietnamese, like, this is the type of thing a degrading person would do. It was very few whites that had anything to do with this type of detail and like they're destroying our culture and the Vietnamese culture. Now the Vietnamese, like, this is the type of thing a ture at it was. Mostly they had black guards degrading person would do. It was very few whites that had anything to do with this to serve the rest of his time. More or less the black guys there were more harder than the white ones.

NAKAYAMO. I would like to add another point. What's happening in the stockades with the GIs is not only happening there, it's happening in the prisons in America also. And, if you know, that's where most of the revolutionaries come from.

AKERS. It was brought up before we came up here that there was quite a few of the veterans who wanted to say something about the way this is all run and the way things have been brought up and if there are any veterans out there that have something to say, raise your hand, or come up here, and say it, you know.

QUESTION. (Inaudible)

MODERATOR. Did you all hear the question? How does the USO serve the black GIs?

PANELIST. Like, the USO, they come over with a bunch of _____ like every other, out of every ten shows, you'll see one sister and chances are her background is not of being a Negro, you understand, like there's discrimination there too. What I'm trying to say, like, they supposed to be serving by coming over, you know, playing games with us, you know, and more or less, there's more or less a teasing factor to me 'cause they don't serve any purpose at all. Maybe one other brother can answer better than I can.

MODERATOR. Okay, this brother here.

STEPHENS. When all the USO shows came over, I was with the 101st, we stayed in the field. None of those shows ever came to us. The only time we saw it was in the papers and that's it. Don't know anything about it. I never even heard the USO overseas.

MODERATOR. Okay.

LLOYD. For one complete while I was in Vietnam I saw practically fifteen minutes on one USO show, and that happened to be a black group, the Dixie Cups, if anybody remembers, and that had to be a long time ago. But now, when we did come out of the field what did they have for us? Country and western. Yeah, country and western well, look, you, yeah, you can listen to any type of music but that is the only black show I know that has been in Vietnam while I was there and that was the Dixie Cups and we didn't get but fifteen minutes of that because we had to move out into the field. Now, if you want to see a good USO show, be in the rear echelon, go to Saigon, somewhere an infantry troop is not welcome until after they took over the embassy there. Then an infantry troop was welcome in Saigon. If the MPs would catch you in Saigon and find out that you was in the infantry, they would write you a DR.

MODERATOR. A ticket, a disciplinary report. Okay, I'll call on this gentleman...the question was, how does the black person feel after fighting in Vietnam, then returning to the States and the situation, racism, is still running rampant here.

BROOKS. Well, like, when I came back from Vietnam, we arrived in California; I expected a brass band or a parade or something when I got off the plane, but the first instructions were that when you flew, officers come off first, then the sergeants, then the lower sections, well, the minority really. I was surprised. I expected a parade, somebody putting a medal on me, you understand? But he told me, he said, "You're on a working party, to carry suitcases, you understand?" So this was my experience, after coming back from fighting a war, you understand, like this is the way they greet us with a working party.

LLOYD. In coming back, if you're a peon, as he put it, you're lucky to get back, because if it's an officer that has to come back and there's one man on the manifest (that's the shipping list) too many, now that officer because he wants to go home, he's going to knock one of those privates or peons off where he can come home but yet you don't want to come home bad as an officer.

QUESTION. Are you saying that if you being an enlisted man if it's your turn to go home and the officer is supposed to come home at the same time, and there's only one space that's left...

LLOYD. That's right. What they call it in the army is RHIP--rank has its privileges.

MODERATOR. Okay, thank you very much.

QUESTION. I think we're trying to find out what can the white community do to help the black man in the draft.

WILLIAMS. I think, you know, that draft counseling is a very big disappointment. I think one thing, we don't have the legal aid and another thing is information. This information has to be a concerted effort to get this information out to draftable young people, and this is one thing we as veterans are going to rap about while we're here in Detroit. How can we use the knowledge that we have about the military, about being drafted, to assist people in our community.

PERRY. I have a comment on that. Sometimes in the service, being drafted in the service, is preferable to a lot of black cats to standing out on the streets, 'cause it's pretty rough out here for them, you know. The service is sometimes the way out, like keep you out of jail, keep you from starving to death, but it's preferable to being on the streets at times.

QUESTION. Is there a religious conflict between the North Vietnamese who are mostly Buddhists, and the South Vietnamese who are...

SHIMABUKURO. Religious differences play no difference in the conflict, because they're all the same people. They don't care about the religion. They're not like people over here, you know, they don't fight over that petty stuff.

MODERATOR. The people in Vietnam are fighting for something very important to them and that's their liberation and unification, self-determination of their country. This comes first, so these differences haven't even come into effect because they haven't even been given a chance to get unified yet because we're still over there.

QUESTION. When I was in Vietnam, I noticed that when men of different races would drink together they would fight and when they smoked together they would tend to have some kind of understanding. Now I want to know, I want to know if the members of the panel feel that good grass is a weapon against racism?

WILLIAMS. Uh, yeah, okay, we're going to deal with that later brother, it's real. How come? The only thing I've ever seen bring people, all types of people together, to have fun, is some grass and some music. Everybody can relate to that.

MODERATOR. There is a question referring to the stockades.

LIGHT. The way it was set up, you had white guards and black guards guarding blacks, but only whites could guard whites. Dig it, that's the way it was.

WILLIAMS. The question was, was it fair to send black soldiers to Vietnam to fight for the Ky puppets or would it be more of an asset towards humanity to send black soldiers to South Africa to free victims of apartheid.

PERRY. Our soldiers in Vietnam, they're fighting to protect capitalism, for one thing, and the United States is not going to send anybody anywhere to destroy capitalism, destroy the capitalist system, no matter how racist it is.

MODERATOR. The question is, what percentage of American Indians get drafted into the service?

HANEY. Well, right now, my brother just got drafted into the army about three weeks ago and he'll know what's going on pretty soon, you know. It was good in the sense that he got into it, and he will see it as it is, and with people around to help, he will recognize that it's not right, and he will fight, but a lot of Indians usually join because in World War II, the Indian communities had their own heroes, and to be a good fighter, to be a warrior, he would have to, you know, he would have to go to fight, and that's one way of proving he is a warrior, by going to fight. They usually join the Marines or the Army and if they go Army, they go airborne. But, as I personally know, it's not happening that way any more and a lot of people will be getting to the drafting age but they're people now and they have long hair, they smoke dope and the works, and they're not going into the Army. They'll go to the people first. They'll go into Alcatraz.

MODERATOR. Are there any more questions?

AUDIENCE VOICE. Like he just said, his brother just was drafted last week, you know, like I know there's a lot of pressure for him to go in there and that, but what did you do as his brother who is against the war, I presume?

HANEY. What am I doing about it?

AUDIENCE VOICE. Yeah, to influence your brother, yeah.

HANEY. I'm influencing now. I've written him letters. Like he was going to--

AUDIENCE VOICE. You're working inside?

HANEY. Yeah, sure, I mean, that's the only way you can do it. We're fighting from the inside too.

AKERS. We've been talking about the draft and all this other stuff but as long as the United States has interests and natural resources in Vietnam, racism will continue, the war will continue.

So you have to deal with the economic structure of the country before you deal with the draft.

AUDIENCE VOICE. Bring the boys home. Right on!


Last Updated Wednesday, March 17 2004 @ 07:35 PM MST; 6,377 Hits View Printable Version