Site Statistics  :  Web Resources  :  Past Polls    
 Welcome to WinterSoldier.comSunday, February 25 2018 @ 01:05 AM MST 

Dedication is dedicated to the American veterans of the Vietnam War, who served with courage and honor.

Visit The Wall

Read the book: To Set the Record Straight
The inside story of how Swift Boat veterans, POWs and the New Media defeated John Kerry.



Sign up for updates.


January 30, 2008:
FrontPage Magazine: To Set The Record Straight

August 18, 2004:
FrontPage Magazine interviews Scott Swett

Speakers Bureau
Speaker Biographies

Contact Us
Send feedback to

For media contacts or to book speakers, email is an online project of
New American Media Online Services, LLC

82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions and 173rd Airborne Brigade

Michael Hunter, 24, Sgt. (E-5), "B" Co., 5/7 Air Cav. Reg., 1st Air Cav. Division (February 1968 to February 1969); "H" Co., 75th Rangers, attached to 1st Air Cav. Division; "I" Co., 75th Rangers, attached to 1st Infantry Div. (September 1969 to March 1970)

Veterans Testifying:

Charles Leffler, 25, Pfc. (E-3), "G" Co., 2nd Bn., 26 Marine Reg., 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade, LRRP, attached to 1st and 3rd Marine Division (September 1968 to September 1969)

Fred Bernath, 26, 1st Lt., 101st MP Co., 101st Airborne Division (December 1968 to October 1969)

Bill Perry, 23, Pfc. (E-3), "A" Co., 1/506, 101st Airborne Division (November 1966 to August 1968)

Sam Bunge, 1st Lt., "B" Co., 3/187, 101st Airborne Division (July 1968 to June 1969)

Kevin Byrne, 21, Sgt. (E-5), 42nd Scout Dog, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (November 1968 to November 1969)

Charles Stephens, 24, Pfc. (E-3), 1/327, 101st Airborne Division (December 1965 to February 1967)

Michael Miziaszek, 22, SP/4 (E-4), 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, FSSE (December 1968 to January 1970)

James Umenhofer, SP/4 (E-4), 2/501, 101st Airborne Division (November 1969 to October 1970)

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

Michael Erard, 29, SP/5 (E-5), 3/503, 173rd Airborne Brigade (April 1969 to March 1970)

Allan Crouse, 22 (E-4), 3rd Engineers Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division (January 1969 to December 1969)

MODERATOR. Will everyone get out their 214s. What we have here right now is testimony of the 101st, the 82nd and the 173rd Airborne units in Vietnam. We also have one Marine that will be testifying with us. The first gentleman that will be testifying on atrocities in Vietnam will be a former E-3, Leffler, Marine.

LEFFLER. My name is Charles Leffler. I live in Detroit and I was formerly with Battalion 226, Golf Company, the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade in Vietnam. I'm not going to recount any atrocities here because what I would say would just be repetition of what has gone on in the past two days. But I do want to comment on two things which I was involved with in Vietnam. One was in January of 1969. I was in Vietnam from September 1968 to September 1969. In January 1969 we were on a sweep. We were on line through a series of rice paddies and villages in Quang Nam Province, which is just southwest of Da Nang. We'd received a battalion order at that time and the order stated that this order would take effect from that day forward until a rescinding order would come through. It never came through in the next eight months, until after I returned, so the battalion order was always in effect. If while sweeping on line and passing by friendly villages, which we did, you received one round of any sort from a friendly village, the entire battalion was to turn on line and level that village. The exact wording was to kill every man, woman, child, dog and cat in the village.

This was one round from any known friendly village. The second thing I'd like to comment on deals with a speech made by Defense Secretary Melvin Laird two weeks ago. In that speech he stated that our combat troops have not operated outside of Vietnam. Now in the past two and a half days you have heard testimony that combat troops have operated in Cambodia. This was other than the Cambodian operation that I guess was okayed by Secretary Laird. When I arrived in Vietnam at the end of September, my next sixty days were spent with battalion in either the Demilitarized Zone or in North Vietnam. This was an entire 226 Battalion in the DMZ and North Vietnam. When I arrived in country, I spent two days getting supplied and getting all my gear. I was then helicoptered out to where battalion was. I was very new in country, and being only a Pfc., I was never told where this was; we were just helicoptered out. We came to the landing zone and I joined up with my unit, which was 2nd Platoon, Golf Co., 226. The next day we went on a platoon-size patrol. This consisted of about 30 people. I went on this patrol and we went for about four hours in a northerly direction. I did not know where we went since I did not have a map. But after proceeding for about 33,000 meters and crossing a river which I later found out was the Ben Hai River (which runs exactly through the middle of the DMZ) the lieutenant turned to me and said, "Well, Leffler, you have something to write home about now." and I said, "What do you mean, sir?" He said, "We just crossed over into North Vietnam." We spent about the entire afternoon there, looking or checking along this road that they had found, which was covered over by a canopy which the Vietnamese had ingeniously carved so that jets or anybody from the air couldn't see it. We made no contact that day and we came back that evening. About three days later, we went in the same general direction. We again crossed over. This time it was a company patrol and we crossed over again, checked on the road, and again made no contact. We spent about a total of about sixty days in the DMZ, moving around every week--the entire battalion. I would say at least every two days there were patrols anywhere from platoon size to company size into North Vietnam. I can't give any data on the locations since I was only a Pfc. and I was never told. But I was told that we were in North Vietnam. I was pointed out the river which was recognized as the Ben Hai, and if you check a map, the Ben Hai runs through the center of North Vietnam.

MODERATOR. Our next speaker giving testimony will be Fred Bernath, former 1st Lt., 101st MP Co., 101st Airborne Division.

BERNATH. I was the platoon leader of the 2nd MP Platoon which supported the 2nd Brigade of the 101st at LZ Sally. One of our jobs was security of the base. LZ Sally had a garbage dump which was located about 200 yards outside of the perimeter. It wasn't a part of LZ Sally, but it was surrounded by wire and it was open from the hours of about nine in the morning to about five in the evening. There was an NCO who was in charge of the operations out there. This was the area where people from LZ Sally would take their trash. The stuff consisted of sometimes wood, old machine parts, food wastes, and things like that. During the day when it was operating, it was continuously surrounded by Vietnamese women and children. And also prostitutes and people who were interested in dealing narcotics to the GIs. This was the main area where people got to prostitutes or got to dope. But the majority of these people were interested in getting at what we were throwing away. At the end of the day, usually after it closed down, about 200 civilians, mostly women and children, would just swarm over the dump. It was kind of a sorry sight to see, but the brigade XO who was in charge of LZ Sally was interested in keeping these people away from LZ Sally for security reasons, since they were only 200 yards outside of the perimeter. Actually, they had a right to be out there until seven o'clock in the evening, at which point the entire area around Sally became free fire zone. So they called the MP platoon leader, who was my predecessor, and they decided that one way to get rid of the civilians was to try to scare them away. They would drive out there with their jeeps, drive outside the wire of the garbage dump, and start chasing them with their jeeps. When they got them running, they'd take M-79 CS rounds and fire it at them. To my knowledge they never hit anybody with the rounds, but they would completely surround them with CS and scare the _____ out of them. This action started under the command of my predecessor and was continued under me from November '68 through October 1969. Rather than work out a program whereby Vietnamese civilians could obtain access to what we threw away, we just chased them away. It didn't work, 'cause they always came back the next day. But we still did the same thing. There wasn't any other kind of program worked out. The second incident that I have to relate consists of treatment of detainees. Another one of our jobs was to process detainees who were sent in by the infantry companies of the Second Brigade. We lived in the same area as the military intelligence detachment. Our job was to fill out paperwork, guard them and transport them. The MI [Military Intelligence] Detachment interrogated them and classified them. While I was there, we mostly got innocent civilians. I was getting kind of concerned with the fact that we were getting so many civilians, because I considered that just bringing them back from wherever their home area was and putting them through this was a form of harassment.

But in addition to this, the ones who were suspicious for one reason or another, would be given forms of physical harassment. One type which was the most shocking to me, was the shocking of suspicious detainees with a field telephone. You can generate electricity with a field telephone and you can zap somebody with it. I had heard the interrogators talking about this many times when they were sitting around playing cards and drinking at night. And I, in fact, observed it on one occasion. The Military Police platoon leader was there (he was a 1st Lt.), and a Military Intelligence platoon leader (a 1st Lt.). They never said anything about it. It was just kind of tacitly approved.

MODERATOR. Fred, did you treat detainees who were not known to be VC or NVA in the same manner as you treated those who were known to be?

BERNATH. Well, the standard procedure was to treat them all the same way until they were classified. You didn't know who they were until they were interrogated. Some of them would be suspicious because they were confused. They didn't know what was going on and that might be a reason for the interrogator to be suspicious of them because they wouldn't answer questions right away. These people would get the same kind of harassment that someone who was actually suspected of being a VC would get. They couldn't tell, really.

MODERATOR. Before introducing our next former Vietnam war veteran, I'd like for all the vets up at the table to raise the form DD-214, please. Those forms that you see in the middle are the new DD-214s that are being handed out by the Army and the units they are discharging now. The reason I asked these people to show these forms is because a few press releases came out and said that we did not have valid proof that the people up here testifying are Vietnam veterans. I'm sure now that they have no reason to doubt it. The next veteran that will be speaking is Bill Perry, a former Pfc. of the U.S. Army, 101st Airborne.

PERRY. I served in Vietnam from '67 to '68. I wouldn't like to go too far into the horror stories you've been hearing about the last few days, but I would like to relate a few incidents. On March 5, 1968, in the province of Phuc Long, village of Song Be, a platoon of us, twenty-nine of us, were on a search and destroy mission. A few of us, who were considered expendable, were told to walk point.

As we came up out of a bamboo thicket into a clearing, a woman with whom I and one of the other two people had previously had what you might call business transactions with concerning marijuana, informed us of an imminent ambush on the part of the local forces. Myself and two others ran into her home with her. We weren't sure whether she was _____ us or what, but we were scared so we ran into her home. The rest of the platoon came up out of the valley into the clearing and was ambushed. We were isolated pretty well from the rest of the platoon while they were getting shot up. And when an NCO came up to look into the house where we were kind of looking out the door with the woman, the NCO automatically figured that we must be VC prisoners and he shot her up. She had a very young child inside her bomb shelter. Every Vietnamese home has to have a bomb shelter. The ambush actually lasted about two or three minutes, and the platoon got pretty well shot up. For about five hours they called in artillery and air strikes and pretty well demolished the town of Song Be. Finally when enough reinforcements came, they went out to sweep the area. They decided to throw fragmentation, or white phosphorus grenades, inside of each bunker regardless of what was going down in any bunker. We tried to stop them from fragging other bunkers where we could hear screams or moans or whatever, but they were really into it.

There was another incident in mid-July 1968 in the vicinity of Nui Ba Den where we had been in about two days of steady combat. We had found a lot of bodies, some killed by air strikes and some killed by small arms fire. And the military fear, you know, came through once again in their mutilation of bodies. They were very much into cutting patches and numbers on dead bodies in this particular incident. I could go on with more horror stories, but like we all know what happens. You can hear it from the other GIs and when the rest of the people on the panel finish, I'd like to go into a little of what causes people to act this way, why people act this way, and what we can do to combat people acting this way. Thank you.

MODERATOR. Perry, before we go on to the next one, you mentioned something before about an order received by the higher up and crossing across the national borders. Could you mention something on that?

PERRY. It was very well known that we were within two klicks of Cambodia which is about a mile and two-tenths. Very often we went on search and destroy missions directly west as far as 8-10 klicks and back. We were definitely going into Cambodia.

MODERATOR. Did you ever make contact in Cambodia? Did you ever make contact when you crossed the border?

PERRY. No, I didn't.

MODERATOR. Sam Bunge, a former 1st Lt. with the 101st Airborne Division.

BUNGE. I served in Vietnam for one year between July of '68 and June of '69. During that time I had a succession of jobs. First I was a rifle platoon leader, a grunt, for three or four months. Then I was a battalion staff officer and my final five months in country I was in charge of the brigade security platoon. My unit operated in the vicinity of Cu Chi, which is between Saigon and Cambodia. Then we were transferred up to I Corps and operations were conducted west of Phu Bai in the mountains. The incidents I have to recount are just in random order. Camp Evans, which is the next base camp up the country from Sally, also had trash dumps outside the wire. This was standard procedure all over Vietnam because I heard other people complaining about the practice. Civilians would get into our trash dump, too, and we routinely used CS to disperse the civilians. They kept coming back, of course. I observed many instances of H & I (harassing and interdicting fire) which is artillery fire popped out at irregular intervals at indiscriminate targets around the fire base just with the idea of keeping the enemy off guard in case he's coming up.

When I first took over my platoon, we were on a sweep operation and we received a couple of rounds of sniper fire from a village in an area that we knew had a lot of VC. The civilians weren't terribly sympathetic to them or to us. So we went over to the village to check it out, to look for weapons, to see what was in there. We'd been there several times before and after we'd reached the center of the hamlet (it wasn't a very big place) I noticed that a couple of haystacks were on fire in an area that we'd already come through. I asked the squad leader of the third squad back there why that was and he said, "Well, that's SOP." And I said, "No, it's not." He said, "Well, the other lieutenant (referring to my predecessor) said that if we ever get sniper fire from a village we were supposed to burn it down." So after we got the village secure, I called all the squad leaders together and changed the policy. The point here is that in a war like Vietnam where small unit commanders have such autonomy (lieutenants and captains to a large degree run the show) an individual can make a big difference. If a man wants to burn villages, he can do it. Quite a bit later as I said, when I had the security platoon north, we had a problem with civilians in the trash dump. One day we picked up about a dozen kids; they were all boys ranging in age from twelve down to about six. I got an order from the Brigade commander through Headquarters Company commander to hold the kids in the POW cage for 48 hours without food or water to teach them a lesson. I didn't want to do this. I argued a little bit and I said, "You know, prisoners are the responsibility of the MPs. Why don't you give it to them?" We had an MP platoon stationed at Camp Evans, and finally, he admitted that the MPs wouldn't do it because they realized it was illegal too.

So I went away, thought about it for a while, then went back to my company commander, and said, "Sir, I can't do this. It's illegal. How about backing me up? We'll go tell the colonel that we can't do it." And he says, "No, I won't." So I went looking for the brigade executive officer to try to get his backing and I couldn't find him. Finally I decided what I should do. They probably wouldn't check on me, so I just disobeyed the order without telling anybody. When I got up to the cage to tell the platoon to feed 'em, but to be discreet about it, the kids were already eating. So the problem was circumvented. Several times while flying back and forth between the mountains and Camp Evans, I observed an operation on the ground called "Rome Plowing" which I don't think has come out before. A Rome Plow is a very large tractor; the driver sits inside a heavy reinforced cage, and if you can imagine a giant snowplow on the front, it's very similar to clearing snow except that it clears ground. As it drives along, it uproots and pushes aside all vegetation so what you're left with is an area that looks like a bulldozed area. A Rome Plow is good because it can push over trees; it can do a large area in a very short time. This was being used to clear a patch about 500-1,000 meters wide down the base of the mountains so that it would be easy for air observers to detect anybody coming in and out of the mountains.

They wouldn't be hidden by the foliage. A mechanical sort of defoliation rather than the chemical sort. I used, several times, chemical Agent Orange around the perimeter of Camp Evans in an effort to clear the underbrush. They gave us about ten 55-gallon barrels of it, and we sprayed the stuff all around. There were two villages adjacent to the area and we didn't spray these villages intentionally, of course, but we got pretty close. When I was a grunt platoon leader, we were moving across a rice paddy and were reconning by fire in a tree line on the other side. When we got there, there was a village right there, a lady came out and told us that her mother had been wounded by a frag from one of our M-79 rounds. So I told the medic to patch her up and stopped the platoon to provide him with security. It took about fifteen minutes to dress her wound and give her some antibiotic. The whole time the company commander was hassling me about why didn't I just leave her alone and hurry and catch up with the rest of the company. He didn't want me to stay back there. Another time, the company was together and we were moving in on an area to reinforce another company that was in contact. We were back in the staging area waiting for the battalion CO to tell us exactly where to go. I happened to be up talking to the CO and his headquarters group spotted a farmer plowing, or doing something, with a buffalo in his fields-- maybe 500 meters away--a considerable distance.

Some of the EM in the headquarters section got the idea that they'd get some target practice on this individual. My memory is not clear whether the CO participated--I know he actively participated as a spectator and sort of encouraged this--but I can't tell you whether he pulled any triggers himself or not. But they fired on this man. The farmer had been doing nothing hostile, just minding his own business, just walking across the dike or something. But they fired on him single shot with an M-60 machine gun and they were obviously doing it just for sport because they did it shoulder fire, which is extremely inaccurate. If they'd felt it had a military necessity, they would've put the gun down on a bipod and done it accurately. And when they didn't hit the fellow, and evidently he didn't notice because he kept going, they set up the 81 Mike-Mike mortar and popped out a few high explosive rounds at him. He went down and my suspicion is that he went down just to get us to leave him alone, but we never did go and check.

At one point we were going into a village which we had reason to believe had a lot of weapons in it. As a matter of fact, we did find a few weapons. But we didn't find nearly as many as we expected. So we found a grave, an old grave, obviously an old grave, an old tombstone in the red-pitted rock that they make tombstones out of, and the CO said, "Gee, there might be something buried in that grave because the VC sometimes do that. So let's dig down a little bit." We dug down about two feet and obviously the ground hadn't been disturbed for years because it was the same color and the same density that the ground always was. But something had caught the CO's imagination, so he made us keep going and eventually we got down to the casket. He told us to break it open, so we broke it open. There was nothing inside. Evidently, his whole motivation for disinterring this grave and disturbing the corpse was simple morbid curiosity. When I was back with the brigade again, my platoon was given the assignment one month to implant a series of six sensor fields out in the mountains in an uninhabited area. The area was literally uninhabited. I flew over the area many times and there were no traces of anybody ever having lived there. These are electronic devices that you bury in the ground to detect through various means. One means is seismic, one is infrared, and another is magnetic. If anybody passes near them, they send out a signal. A man on the fire base reads the signal and tells the fire direction control center. They fire artillery on the target and what's bad about it is they don't know who it is they're firing on. It's done without any positive identification. You just pick up the impression of somebody out there, check with the infantry TOC to make sure it's nobody friendly, assume it's enemy, and fire 'em up. That's the way these things are intended to be used.

MODERATOR. Okay, Sam, I want you to evaluate this. It was a fact then that the battalion CO gave the order to have the children put into battalion stockade which is directly against American policy. He also gave the order not to feed them, give them water or anything for a period of 48 hours. But the fact is you did give them water and they were put in prison or in that little Connex for that amount of time, right?

BUNGE. Well, no. It turned out that the order wasn't executed as intended. The headquarters company commander, my immediate superior, told me that this was what the colonel wanted, and I pointed out to him in so many words that it's illegal, it's against the law. He said, "Well, you better do it anyway." Then, after my effort at getting the order changed failed, I decided to disobey it. So the kids weren't actually kept 48 hours. We let 'em go after about 36. They spent the night there. The place we kept them in was actually a decent place; it was a plywood building reinforced with wire so they couldn't get out. So, the mistreatment of prisoners was not done, but it was intended to be done.

MODERATOR. By a colonel in brigade headquarters.

BUNGE. Right.

MODERATOR. Okay, the next speaker is Kevin F. Byrne, a former sergeant in the 101st Airborne. Kevin?

BYRNE. I was a sergeant in a Scout Dog Unit in the 1st Brigade of the 101st. I've always worked in a free fire zone, and the policy was if we found any villages, hootches, houses or any animals, we were to destroy the houses and destroy all structures. We would kill water buffaloes, the pigs and we'd cook the chickens. I worked with units of the 1st Brigade and I worked with units of the 2nd Brigade. I worked with ARVNs, Marines, Capteams, proper forces and regional forces and this is a policy of all these units. I was down in Tam Ky area in May, June, July and August of '69. I was with the unit of the 101st. We received fire and we returned fire. It was sniper fire. We went on a sweep, found a hootch and we, you know, burned it down. We found an NVA officer inside and, like, he was immobile. His arms and legs were all torn up. So they drug him out and like before they drug him out, the day like, I call it tunnel rat. You emptied a magazine of .45 ammunition into the officer and we drug him out. It was getting late at night and so rather than calling in the medivac to take this officer back and try to save him, we just lifted him up and stuck a fragmentation grenade underneath him. We went back to our MDP and the next morning came out and, like, I was the first man. I was like a hundred meters from this area. We were going back to see if he was still alive and then maybe call in the medivac. About a hundred meters from where he was, the grenade went off. I got really spooked about this.

We went back; we didn't find the officer, like, you know, we didn't find anything. Just where the house was. The whole company was really spooked about this. They were all mad that they didn't kill him the night before. Kill him or send him in. Like, you know, this guy's running around like he, he really had everybody scared by the way he looked at us. Like he looked really hard. He was all torn up and he was waiting for somebody to try to mess with him. In all the areas I worked whenever my dog would give me an alert, I would request recon by fire. Normally this would be coming from the company commander. And I would request recon by fire. I would always be leading the companies with the first lieutenant behind me. He would just tell the commander that the dog wants a recon by fire and you know he would just let it ride. I'd call for a 60 machine gun or an M-79 up there and there was never any higher ups knowing about this. This was unwritten policy, what they used, because nobody ever questioned a dog handler's judgment. Like I'd develop like a sixth sense where I know danger's gonna come. Usually my dog wouldn't alert me and I'd stop and I'd say, "My dog's got something up here. Just want to get the 60 up here, just to ease my mind." A couple of times my dog would alert me and I'd see a house or like a complex up ahead and I'd tell them, "Recon by fire, get the 79 up here, a 60." 'Cause I don't wanna put my life on the line like that. Going up there acting like John Wayne or anything. Nor do I wanna put the men behind me, their life on the line. So like I felt really responsible if anything happened to them. Like sometimes when I'd call the recon by fire. If it was a long distance, I'd tell them to do it with mortars and they'd radio back to the nearest fire base and have mortars laying in this area where I'd call. And nobody would check out these areas really because like, they didn't want to go out of our planned route. In one spot, in a place called Lanco, near the end of the 101st AO in I Corps, my dog had an alert. We wrote it down as around a thousand meter alert. And on the bridge they didn't have anything that could fire this far. Like I was on a listening post and I was about a klick from the bridge myself. So I radioed back. We had to dump something in this area. So they called a destroyer in off the coast and like it pumped a few rounds in the area where I requested it and nobody checked the area out at all. There is this H & I fire that you've been hearing about in the Phu Loc district. They would have this H & I going out and be laying in certain trails designed at our so-called local VCs trails at night.

MODERATOR. Before I ask you this question, let me explain one thing. My brothers here are giving testimony and we all are extremely uptight because it's no easy thing to sit up here and rap about what happened. In a way we're kind of ashamed of what we did. I'd appreciate it if you'd help them out a bit because they are extremely nervous and I'm extremely nervous. So how about giving them a big hand? Kevin, what was the SOP on prisoners while you were out there? When you took prisoners? When you detained civilians? How were they treated? How were the enemy treated when you captured them?

BYRNE. If we had any prisoners or detainees, we'd round them up and then we'd send them in by chopper. If we were in the lowlands, we'd have the national police, or the white mice, come out and check them out there and then take them to the district headquarters or detention areas. If we had cordons, we'd have the village chief come out and he'd get all the people together. Then we'd have the national police and the interpreters interrogate these people, you know, one by one. Anybody suspicious in any way, anybody new in the area, or anybody that didn't have the proper ID, they'd be taken away by the ARVN police. They'd be taken to district headquarters or to detention areas.

MODERATOR. Charles Stephens, former Pfc., medic with the 101st Airborne Division.

STEPHENS. I served with the 1st Brigade, 3/27, 101st Airborne Division as a medic. I went over in 1965, in December 1965, and I stayed until February '67. When I first got to Phan Rang, our base camp, our battalion commander said we were going to leave Phan Rang--going to Tui Hoa. And we'd be in Tui Hoa anywhere from three weeks to three months. And I believe we were gone about a year and seven days. But before we left he told us, he said, "Don't worry. I know you guys are impatient, but when you get to Tui Hoa there'll be enough VC to go around." Also, the chaplain added that it's better to give than to receive and do unto others before they do unto you. When we got to Tui Hoa the first battle we were in was in Happy Valley. And at Happy Valley we got quite a few of the people from our brigade killed. The very next operation I went on every village we went into we'd recon by fire and in one village, we wounded women and kids going into the village. When we got in there, this was in Tui Hoa, me and another guy were treating two unconscious babies--not babies but like five and six-year old kids and a woman lying in a hammock. I told the lieutenant that these people had to be evacuated because if not evacuated (this lady and these kids had shrapnel and they were unconscious) I said they're gonna die. And he said, "Well, forget it, Doc; we don't have time to stay and wait."

We went up on the hill right above this same village and we fired down on this village the next day while the people were trying to bury their dead, while they were doing their burial ceremony. And they killed another person in the village. The people, they didn't wait to see if the guy was dead or not. They just rolled him over and put him in the hole with the others and covered him up. We went down that same day to get some water and there were two little boys playing on a dike and one sergeant just took his M-16 and shot one boy at the dike. The other boy tried to run. He was almost out of sight when this other guy, a Spec. 4, shot this other little boy off the dike. 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-san, I don't know if he was a village chief or who he was, but he came up to us, he was telling us, he was making motions that a bird was flying over and the bird took a _____ and a thing went boom-boom. He was saying this was how a lot of the people in the village got hurt. I told the lieutenant and the lieutenant still wouldn't have the people evacuated. So, every operation we went on after that, after our Happy Valley, they didn't believe our body counts. So we had to cut off the right ear of everybody we killed to prove our body count. I guess it was company SOP, or battalion SOP, but nothing was ever said to you. Guys would cut off heads, put them on a stake and stick a guy's _____ in his mouth. At Nan Co. we were at the 95th, I think it was a base camp, a regiment base camp or something, and they say the VC had just left there. We had a guy with us, my senior aid man. He had about two weeks left in country and because we couldn't get resupplied (they didn't want to give away our position) we had to live off the land. There were some chickens in this village and my senior aid man was running through this elephant grass to find the chickens. He tripped a land mine that the VC had left behind. He blew his thighs and everything and the back of his legs up. Well, his leg was just messed up. He went into shock and died anyway because the doctors wouldn't come in to take him out. They were afraid. They had to stay with him that night, but they were afraid to come down. It was cabled from the medivac. I have some money here, this is North Vietnamese money. We took it off a paymaster. It was on the Ho Chi Minh Trail but we were supposed to be in Cambodia. We went ambush there for about two weeks.

MODERATOR. You want to hold that money up and show it to them?

STEPHENS. We had been on an ambush for about two weeks. The first week that we were there we didn't fire at any of the enemy. We just watched them come down, and I guess further down the trail they were being knocked off. I don't know.

But the second week we were told when anything came down this trail, we were to shoot. About two-thirty one morning this lady and a little boy and a dog came walking down this trail (they did this every night) and the lady made some kind of funny sign with a lantern. This particular night a guy met her on a bicycle. She went back to her house alone, but this guy stayed on her trail and a few minutes later some more guys came and joined him. As they were coming down the trail, we knocked them off. They said we were not supposed to use CS gas. We threw CS gas and the whole business. That particular night the password was "*censored*cat." There was like a big hill behind us where we were supposed to all come up and meet after the ambush. I was left with two Vietnamese ARVNs who were asleep during the ambush. There was an American machine gunner who couldn't get away from the ambush and on the way back up the hill the only thing we could do to keep from getting killed was to sing like "What's New, *censored*cat." In Dak To, June '66, I think was the biggest battle fought by the 101st during the time I was over there. There was a captain who called in napalm on his own company and I think he got a big award for it. But he wasn't actually there. He was there when the fighting first started, but when he called in napalm he was in a helicopter with a megaphone telling us, "Get in there and mix it up. You're doing a good job."

When we went up to Dak To, all our companies were overstrength. But after the battle, I think our largest company had ninety-seven people in it. That was including officers and everyone. If you had wounded guys, you'd never leave wounded guys or dead Americans, you'd always take them with you or have them evacuated. But this time I was left with one round of .45 ammunition and I was left with three other guys. One guy had an M-79 with an HE round. Another guy had one magazine of M-16 ammo. We were told to follow a trail, and we had to create our own little war, to make the company commander come back and get us. Then he was going to court-martial us because he said we were cowards. That's about it.

MODERATOR. Charles, would you describe for us the policy of your unit with regard to the taking and the disposition of prisoners? I think you have something to say about the throwing of prisoners out of helicopters?

STEPHENS. Yes, In Tui Hoa, after Happy Valley, we didn't take any prisoners. If we were on an operation for one week and you caught a prisoner the last day of that operation, that meant you stayed out there a couple of more days because there were more people out there. So you took the guy to the woodside and you knocked him off. I saw on two different occasions these warrant officers come in in helicopters and take the prisoners. Like I was new over there then and I didn't know what they were going to do. I saw them take these prisoners, take them in the helicopter. I would see these guys sitting down watching the sky, laughing, you know, and here comes a guy waving down out of the sky. Then they bring the other two guys down and I guess they'd be saying something, so I imagine they'd be talking to them. I saw that on two different occasions.

MODERATOR. And they were actually pushed out of the helicopter?


MODERATOR. Thank you. Mike, Mike Misiaszek, former Spec. 4, also with the 101st Airborne Division.

MISIASZEK. Right, my name is Mike Misiaszek. I'm from Reading, Pennsylvania. I was with the 101st in the 1st Brigade, Support Element. We rigged up the choppers to fly supplies out to the troops and sometimes we'd go out and hand them out wherever they were. That was the last half. The first half, I was actually just a telephone answerer. I was in Vietnam from the first of December 1968 to the end of January 1970. This was at Camp Eagle and I was also down at Tam Ky after I got fired from my office job. My testimony concerns a whole bunch of things. Most of it's been heard before. I'd just like to elaborate on it for those who may not have been here before. The first thing I'd like to talk about is the destruction of a cemetery. The entire northeast corner of the 101st base camp, Camp Eagle, southwest of Hue, is built on a Vietnamese cemetery. They didn't plow under any graves; they didn't have to. They just built the compound on top of it, which means that there are still graves between some of the buildings. Some of the buildings are on top of old graves which had been plowed under and are all misshapen. I'd like to talk about harassment fire. Where we were sleeping was pretty close to a battery of 8-inch howitzers. These are big guns, man. They go off and they shake the ground. I think the round is as long as this table, maybe. And there's a lot of high explosives in there. They fired these things indiscriminately. They woke us up, they shook the whole place, and several of us got really _____ off. We wanted to find out why they were doing this all the time. This was every night. We talked to a specialist up in the battery, and he said they had orders to fire no less than thirty rounds nightly at a strip west of Camp Eagle. This strip was supposedly a free fire zone. Anybody could have been walking in there, like even some of our own people from other units, but they didn't really seem to care. They just shot this thing up! Another thing I'd like to talk about is the use of some chemical agents. On our perimeter we had CS gas, little canister with tear gas I guess, and what's known as Fugas. I don't know if anyone has brought this up. Fugas is a jelly-like substance. It's flammable, and they put it in barrels. What they do to it is they explode the barrel over an area and this flaming jelly-like substance lands on everything, if it's people or animals or whatever. And you can't get it off. It just burns, and you rub it and it sticks on. You just spread it all around. The only way to stop it is by suffocating it in mud or water. This was not around too often during the dry season, you know. When we were at Tam Ky, we convoyed in August back to Camp Eagle. They put a whole bunch of guys on a truck and we had C-rations. We made a pretty good game out of throwing C-rations at civilians as hard as we could. Then we tried to see if we could maybe get them through the grass huts. Like we would throw them at a grass hut. It would go through and we'd wait and see if someone comes out yelling or something. I'd also like to talk about mad minutes. This was mentioned before. Our mad minutes, for those of you who may not have heard it, were at the perimeter fence. Every once in a while at Camp Eagle, every two months or so, the order would just come down, "Okay guys, get to it." You got a mad minute. And everybody picks up a weapon with both hands, both feet, and they shoot. And they don't care what they shoot at, just as long as it's away from the base area. That's a lot of fun, too. All those sickees.

MODERATOR. Mike, is there the chance that into the areas where you were firing during these mad minutes there were unarmed persons?

MISIASZEK. Absolutely. Sometimes there were. There were maybe cows. I never saw any, but I've heard of some people who were shooting cows.

MODERATOR. Thank you.

PANELIST. I'd also like to talk about fragging. Maybe this really is nothing, but our morale in our company was extremely low. We hated our CO and we were always making up little plots to sneak at him. I decided to take it upon myself to secure a hand grenade that nobody knew about. I had this hidden for the next time he was going to screw me over. I had it in a stream in about five or six plastic bags. Well, I never got the chance because they found it on the police call.

MODERATOR. The next speaker is a former E-4 from the 101st, Jim Umenhofer.

UMENHOFER. The first thing that I'd like to say is we're not here for ourselves, we're here for all our brothers in the human race, and love is what keeps us going, and love is what this thing is all about. I was a radio operator with the second 501st and the 101st. I was an E-4. I was there from November of 1969 until October of 1970--that was about three months ago. In the northern I Corps area it's changed a little bit and the atrocities are just a little different from the atrocities that have been going on that you've been hearing about all week. The policy, which I'm sure has been brought out, the idea we are superior to our enemy or we are superior to the gooks or whatever--this carries over on all levels, even the higher echelon officers. Especially the higher echelon officers are preaching this. The first incidents I'd like to bring up occurred in March. I had seen a man I knew in a hospital. He was in the hospital, he had one arm cut off. He told me that this entire platoon, a platoon consisted of approximately twenty-five men or so, had been wiped out in hand-to-hand combat in the Paris area of operations. My unit, about three or four days later, Alpha Company, was sent into this particular area of operation. They had a mission to move from the top of a hill to a river which was approximately a mile away. Alpha Company was reduced to fifty men through combat. They were then removed and our Bravo Company was sent in there. Our Bravo Company was sitting on this same hill with the same mission and they were reduced to approximately twenty-five active men. They were removed and our Charlie Company was placed on this same hill with the same mission. Our Charlie Company was there for about a half an hour.

Then the CO of that company called up our battalion commander and said he'd like a few slicks, which are the Huey helicopters, to come in and pick up a few men who wanted to reenlist so they could get out of the field. When the battalion commander inquired how many, he said sixty. The battalion commander then flew out to the hill, told the men that he was going to leave them out there for twenty days or as long as it takes for them to start doing what they're supposed to do. What happened was they were out there for approximately a day and then the battalion commander changed plans and they removed them from that hill. We moved on from there. The morale was low. The fact is that we were to beat the enemy. We knew that we were superior to the enemy because we had been told this, and it was relatively hard at this time to believe it, seeing that our entire battalion was almost wiped out. We moved into a Ripcord area of operation and we received many casualties there. Then we moved up into a Gladiator area of operation. This is all approximately in the same area. It is just to the east of the A Shau valley. In the Gladiator area of operation, our troops were deployed around the fire base. The fire base was mortared every night. From there we moved on. I was in the rear part at this time. I witnessed myself truckloads of replacements coming in. There would be eighty replacements in one day, maybe a hundred replacements, coming in to our battalion. The next place we went was Fire Support Base Henderson. Fire Support Base Henderson was quite north of where we had been working. I'm not quite sure of the distance from the DMZ. It was between ten and twenty miles I'm pretty sure. I was told by a major in our tactical operations center that there were 2,300 North Vietnamese soldiers in this area. He was just explaining on the map he wasn't taking me particularly out and pointing at this. However, I worked in the tactical operations center and I observed this as he was pointing it out to the rest of the people. This was a new fire base. Because of the tactics in Vietnam changing (this is all my opinion, however) it was kind of hard to find missions to send the men on. We had no specific mission. So we were building a base camp, as it looked to me, in this North Vietnamese stronghold. It only had two strands of concertina wire around it, which is quite unusual. Two strands of concertina wire can be laid in maybe less than one day. It is just like a preliminary. It really is nothing at all. Now the NVA prisoners were utilized to build this fire support base. That is, these were North Vietnamese soldiers who had been captured, and they were kept on the fire base at night. My Alpha Company was sent to this fire base, and also my recon unit to secure it. Our Alpha Company had eighteen new people sent to it on Henderson.

These eighteen new people were all new in country. They had only been in country four days. They had had no in-country training. Nine of these people were in this battalion less than twenty-four hours and they were dead. Our recon unit was set in an area on this fire base where they had, say, this part of the fire base to secure. There was an ammo dump in this section. Then there was the rest of the main fire base. That night, the night that those replacements went up there, the North Vietnamese got into the fire base. They blew up the ammo dump, thus cutting off our recon team. One hundred percent casualties were received in our recon team, and it was virtually wiped out. All weren't killed, but like I say they did receive one hundred percent casualties. The next day, after it was attacked, one of the Brigade Colonels flew to Fire Support Base Henderson. They were there for approximately a half an hour, and he returned. He was put in for a Silver Star for being at Fire Support Base Henderson. Like I say, it's terribly hard right now up there to find a mission. This is the way it looks to me, and I'm sure these facts actually do point it out to you too. They were striving to prove our superiority. Yet we ended up killing quite a few of them uselessly.

Ripcord in July, I think this was pretty much in the news. Before we tactically moved off of Ripcord, my Delta Company was sitting on a hill, which was Hill 1000, approximately a mile from Fire Support Base Ripcord. They sat on top of this hill for nine nights. They were hit by mortars every night and every night at least one man was wounded or killed. The significance of sitting on this hill for nine nights I also question. And then there was the tactical retreat in July. I myself thought it was because of the Cambodia thing, the moving into Cambodia. There was more intense NVA push in the northern areas. This is the way it looks to me. Like I say I was a radio operator, and a lot of things I never witnessed myself. However, I heard many, many things. In August I was working on a fire support base where I had access to radios from the First Brigade, radios from the Second Brigade, and also radios from an ARVN regiment. I would get calls daily from Fire Support Base Barnett. It was almost a natural thing. At five o'clock I would get a call saying we're receiving mortars on Fire Support Base Barnett. Barnett is about one klick from O'Reilly, which was abandoned. In the north, because of this lack of ability to prove ourselves in the field--it's throwing a backlash in the rear areas also. And not only in the rear areas but out in the field too, where instead of being able to prove yourself by defeating the enemy, it's coming right down to the people right among the American ranks. There were incidents which began to accelerate more.

They were always there, but they began to accelerate around July and on up until I left. A black stabbing a white man; because of this a white man jumped a black brother, started beating him, started kicking him. The brother jumped up, went and got some more brothers, came back, there was almost a big hassle. Nothing ever came out of it. The white dude never had anything done to him at all. Black brothers were in the barracks. They were in the barracks listening to music. Some, I cannot say they were white, however even if they were black, they must have had white thoughts, were throwing in grenades. They threw in two grenades from either door. Two of the brothers were killed and two of them were wounded. In March, a black brother, a good friend of mine, a very good friend of mine, was supposed to move. He was supposed to make a movement and he was supposed to be on a truck at seven o'clock in the morning. Now he didn't make that truck, and this is failure to meet movement. He didn't quite know what was going to happen, nothing ever became of it. However in October (this had happened in March, by the way) they had his trial. He found out about it about a week before. As a result of his trial he was sentenced to two months in LBJ, which is the Long Binh Jail. And I'm sure there's been a few stories about that place. At one time our battalion had fifteen people from it in the Long Binh Jail. The majority of them were black, Mexican, and Puerto Rican. The way I see it, it's still an atrocity. Human beings are harming other human beings, and it's wrong. And that's why we feel that it's got to stop now. When the power of love overcomes the love of power then there will be peace.

MODERATOR. Our next speaker will be a former E-5 of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, Murphy Lloyd. 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?

LLOYD. Well, first of all we would ask them. If we didn't get the information, or if they said they didn't know any and we figured they were lying, we'd go to torture. The first time I ever saw it used was on Operation Junction City. We were over by the Cambodian border in War Zone C. We had just walked into an ambush, and out of this ambush we had approximately fifteen casualties. Five were killed out of those fifteen. We picked up five or six prisoners, and were flying them back toward our fire support base. We had a lieutenant that had been in country about five days. He said that he was going to conduct the interrogation. 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 bic" or "Mu la" or something.

MODERATOR. Explain what that means.

LLOYD. Either "I'm not going to tell you" or "I don't know." I believe it's "I don't know." So what he did, we were in a Chinook. A Chinook is bigger than a Huey. It has a door that opens in the rear and that's how we went in. Also it has a middle door used to take up cargo. Then he ordered the door opened, the middle door, and without another word, he just pushed one out. And then he said, "Are you going to tell me now?" and he started to put his gun on them. So all this time we're looking at him. We're kind of mad too because we had been out there and some of our friends had been killed or wounded. At the time it really didn't mean anything to us. He pushed out another one. Now the third one he came to, he started to say something in Vietnamese and pointed to one of them on the end. As we found out after searching this fellow, he was a lieutenant in the North Vietnamese Army. 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 by detaining and 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 valor. The V stood for valor.

And again, we were in the northern part. We were up by Dak To. This was in May of 1967. A Company of the Second Battalion was annihilated, all but about four or five people. During the time that they were being annihilated up there, we were sitting down ready. Our battalion commander kept asking for word to go up. And the battalion commander of A Company, Second Battalion, kept saying they could hold their own. So about four or five hours after they told us to saddle up and we had to go. They took us in on another side of the hill which was hot. By the time we worked our way to where A Company was of the Second Battalion, all the bodies we found that were American soldiers were shot through the head. I mean you could look at a fellow and tell if he had been wounded in the arm or the leg or the chest, but all the ones we found had a bullet hole right here. And this showed that the NVAs after they had gone through killing, even during the battle, had enough time to go through and make sure that all GIs were dead. But out of this battle four people came out. That was the lieutenant, the CO, the first sergeant, and the FO.

MODERATOR. And the FO's an officer also.

LLOYD. Yes. And about two days after that we found an Indian fellow. He was just wandering around in the jungle. He had been wounded. Evidently it wasn't too serious and he had slipped away. And he ran down to us what had happened. The way it was he don't know how the officers or anybody made out because he figured everybody else was killed too. But that same day these four individuals were transferred to another unit or out of country, which we didn't know. We just knew that they had left the unit that day. When we brought this prisoner back he was back in the fire support base approximately a half an hour. And then after the word got around that the officers had ran, they were gone. We don't know where they went. To this day I don't know. And one time I was on my way home. We were in An Khe and while waiting on our plane, the airstrip was overrun by NVAs. They came through the old An Khe village side. The only ones left back there to defend it was the finance personnel, the clerks, and the cooks, more or less administrative people. So they took all the infantry people that were going home, issued us weapons right quick.

They ran us on out to the airstrip. During this time we had worked our way across the airstrip, and after we got everything organized and we finally took back the airstrip, we started going on little search and destroy missions in old An Khe. We ran into a few NVA that came to us Chieu Hoi and right on the spot where we're taking them prisoner a lieutenant came up. He said, "There's a three-day pass for any body. If you can prove that you've killed an NVA you have a three-day pass to Vuc To." That's the in-country R & R center. And right there at that point I actually with my own eyes saw a first sergeant and a lieutenant fight over who (the prisoners were killed; they were taken and killed right there on the spot) over who killed them. They just started to fight right there. And there's been quite a few incidents like that that I could recall. I have helped in torturing prisoners. One time the village chief came and said that he wanted to take the bodies and put them on display in Sin City where most of the soldiers went for entertainment. So that the rest of the people in the village, Viet Cong, NVA, would see 'em and leave. But he couldn't do this due to the fact that the majority of the bodies that were there that day either had their pinky finger joint cut off or their ears cut off. And at one time (we thought it was showing courage and 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. The Vietnamese people believe if they die without all of their bodies they won't go to heaven and we would do this to two or three of them to get information from the rest of them.

MODERATOR. Thank you. The next speaker giving testimony will be Michael Erard, former Spec. 5, also with the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

ERARD. I served with the Third Battalion, 503rd Infantry and I had two jobs. I was in the field for about four months as a line doggie transferred into a battalion and I served as the medic liaison with S-5. S-5 is what they call civil affairs to handle the Psy-Op operations, to handle the Chieu Hoi program for the battalion. The Chieu Hoi program is designed to get NVA and VC defectors to come over to our side and the specific instructions given out on a battalion level were that these people were to be treated differently than POWs. If a man, after a contact or during a contact, would raise his hand and say "Chieu Hoi" the Americans were supposed to give that man treatment. He was supposed to be set aside. He was supposed to be given receipts for his weapons.

None of his personal belongings were to be touched. This was the battalion SOP, but it was never carried out on a company level. On my whole tour there our battalion never took a live Chieu Hoi. There were many leaflets dropped. We found Chieu Hoi passes on bodies of dead VC and dead NVA, but we never took a person in. The feeling among the grunts was that they didn't trust the Chieu Hoi.

I went down with an officer to Saigon, to the national Chieu Hoi center to recruit these former NVAs to serve as what we called Kit Carson Scouts. These scouts would serve in a line company. They would serve as the point men on the line companies. For the most part they were mistreated in the battalion. They were not given proper equipment. They were saying, well, a gook doesn't have to have this. A gook doesn't have to have that. He was supposed to have the exact complement that a U.S. soldier had in the field, but he never got it. The soldiers didn't want a Chieu Hoi, a Kit Carson, in their platoon. We had to force company commanders to take a Chieu Hoi into the company.

The second incident, relating specifically as a medic, was an incident in the village of An Quan, which is in Binh Dinh Province, north of Qui Nhon. I was with Charlie Company, 3/503rd, and we had been suffering serious injuries, traumatic amputations, especially from booby traps. On two specific incidents, we had men who were picked up by supposedly a medivac chopper, but the chopper was a slick with guns on it. It had a Red Cross on it, but there was no medic on board; there were no stretchers. In the third incident we had three men who were seriously injured. The gunners from the slick jumped down and started to throw our wounded on board. I had two men in our platoon who went berserk, as it were. They beat up the two gunners on the chopper while the chopper was hovering about two feet above the ground. The pilot wouldn't even land. And it was not a hot LZ. We were not taking fire from anybody. They beat up the gunners because they were mad at the way our wounded were being treated. To add to this, our battalion did not have a medivac chopper of its own. When we wanted medivac, a dust-off, we had to call back to battalion headquarters and they had to call brigade. Then we got a clearance for the dust-off. This was a matter of fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes seems pretty quick over here, but over there it's a long time, specially when you have a man dying of a serious wound. There were numerous accidents around our LZ, LZ Uplift, which is south of Bong Son, in Bin Dinh Province.

Last Updated Wednesday, March 17 2004 @ 08:05 PM MST; 14,958 Hits View Printable Version