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82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions and 173rd Airborne Brigade, Page 2
We had a friendly village to the south of us. There were two times when Americans fired from the perimeter into this village. Working in S-5 I would go out and be part of the investigating team in which the American government would investigate the accident. Then we would pay them what they called a "solacium payment." Now the solacium payment was a condolence type payment, like you might send flowers to someone's funeral. It in no way implied or implicated us as the perpetrators of this. So we would pay them a certain amount of money for people lost. In one incident there was a woman and five children killed and I think a sum of $500 was paid for this. In another incident, right before I left, a young boy was out tending cattle. An M-79 was fired from the perimeter and he was seriously wounded. We could not take him to an American hospital. We spent about an hour just preparing him for surgery. He was not taken to an American hospital but to a Vietnamese hospital. This was battalion SOP, that you did not take wounded Vietnamese to American facilities. No payment was made and I went all the way to brigade on this. I tried to get payment for the family of this boy who died, but I was not able to follow it through. At the time I left, the S-5 officer there would not listen to me; the brigade S-5 would not listen to me. The last thing that I want to relate was the last mission that I was involved in in Vietnam. Our battalion was in the An Lau Valley in Bin Dinh Province which is west of Bong Son. Our mission was to interdict NVA infiltration down the valley. I was the medic, I was the senior medic on Fire Base Abby. Along these valleys there were small garden plots and graves. In the garden plots were potatoes and small fruit-type gardens, or truck-type gardens. Intelligence said that the NVA were using these gardens as sources of food. In the period of six weeks that I was there, I know of ten civilians, ten unarmed civilians, who were killed tending these gardens. Again, I had access to the TOC and to all the briefings. The battalion CO was upset that there were no weapons found with these people. They were shot while they were working the field and there were no weapons found with the people. It was covered up on the battalion level and these people were reported as VC. In fact, they were old men who were killed working these plots. Again, there were Psy-Op missions and Chieu Hoi passes were dropped in the area. But the fact was that these people were up there to visit graves. The graves were actually in the garden plots. I doubt very much if the people really understood that they weren't supposed to be in the area. The area was not a free fire zone. So prisoners were not taken. In regard to medical treatment of wounded Vietnamese, and this involves not only captured prisoners, but also any Vietnamese, when we went out into the field we were issued a small bottle of serum albumin, about 500 cc's. Our platoon sergeant said, "This is worth $25. Never use it on a gook." There were many occasions where a wounded Vietnamese was sent back or dusted-off with only a bandage to stop the bleeding when the man needed IV fluids to make it. He was not given that aid. We had to account for our bottles of serum albumin just as we had to account for our morphine. We were, we were not allowed to waste it on a Vietnamese.

MODERATOR. Allan Crouse, former E-4, also with the 82nd Airborne Division.

CROUSE. I would like to talk about the policies and the conditions of the people in our areas of operation. We had fire bases twenty, thirty miles north of Saigon and we had one battalion on the border. I was down there from January '69 to December '69. This was about a year after the Tet offensive and conditions were quiet. There was some light contact, but the North Vietnamese, you know, could not stage anything right around this area because it was too much. Peace prevailed around the area and with relatively light security. We were getting work done without harassment from the enemy. We got to know some of the Vietnamese people as human beings. We talked to them, with interpreters, and got to know some of these old papa-sans, trash, as the army says. I mean, these people do have so much intelligence and wisdom that it's just phenomenal. And you learn that they don't really want much materially because they never had anything. All they want is a chance for peace, to live off the land, raise their children peacefully. In the past it's just has been too much. They never knew anything else besides this war. It's just tearing everything up. We cleared about 2,000 acres north of Saigon, about twenty miles north, with many tunnels there, destroying the land.

MODERATOR. Excuse me, Allan, could you get into the dynamiting of villages?

CROUSE. Yes. Actually atrocities were not too prevalent there because the army felt it was close to a populated area and they didn't want any bad news. Just as the other man said, whenever the newsmen were around everything was nice. They went out of their way to keep calm. The army didn't want any atrocities around this area. But we would go through one or two villages where they'd practice their explosives. Just walk into these huts and destroy one or two.

MODERATOR. I will open up the floor right now to the press for questions.

QUESTION. I'd like to ask Bill Perry a question. What do you feel like, you men who go to Vietnam and are subject to such brutality? How do you feel this affects the individual when he comes back to the United States and sees things happening back here? How do you think the average Vietnam veteran that's done all these things, and gone through all these things, feels when he comes back to the States?

PERRY. People say we must stop the war. I feel it's so much more than this. The whole rich man's game has always been fear. They've always been very much into impressing us. Now here's the Empire State Building. Be impressed. Now here is the C-5A or some fantastic jet bomber. Be impressed. You know, be afraid of it. Here is a club. I'll bust your head if you don't stay in line. Be impressed. Be afraid. Competition is another thing that brings about fear. Like ever since we're little children. Come on, stupid, you're thirteen months. Why can't you walk yet? Then there's this fear that's always put into us by the movie people for instance. That all Africans are cannibals and all Indians are savages. Who are the real savages? Who is really creating this climate of fear--this climate of mistrust--this climate which makes us scared to death of the person sitting next to us? Who prevents us from loving each other? The whole fear thing is what's creating atrocities in Selma, atrocities in Phuc Vinh, atrocities in Angola, atrocities in Mozambique, atrocities in Montevideo. It's happening everywhere. We're afraid of ourselves. We're not allowed to love each other.

The whole life style of the Vietnamese people, their whole cultural and social way of life, is nothing but love. It's a kind of love we really lack in this country and a kind of love that we have to build. A kind of opening of ourselves, an honesty ourselves and a love for each other where you know there will be no reason to hurt anyone except perhaps to protect our love. You know, the kind of love which is called primitive or savage. The whole American policy is nothing but what you might call cultural imperialism. It's like a very clever form of racism. They've always been into trying to honkify white people as much as possible. Trying to make you whiter than white. Just taking their whole decadent culture, their whole cold-weather culture, their whole fear culture, their whole money culture, and push their fear, push this hate, push this mistrust, among all of us. It's this kind of thing some of us have felt all of our lives. You know, when I was sixteen years old, I used to hang out on street corners, drink wine with other kids, have a lot of fun, and be free. The cops came along and, bam, put me in jail for sixteen months. Said get a haircut and look like a honky. I got out of jail, you know, and I was being free for a while, having a lot of fun, and you know the Army said come with me. And, you know, bam, they give you a haircut, you look like a honky...and act like a honky. I came out of the Army and for two and a half years I was really having a lot of fun being free. My wife is Oriental; we have two children. We were stopped in New Jersey for possession of rifles and illegal weapons. Like the whole thing happened all over again. You know, they arrested me again cut off my hair.

You're a nigger lover. You're a pig killer. We're going to make you white. You know, cut your hair. You know, the whole thing. Don't be free--you're not allowed to be free. They put the children in the home. The whole thing about what are you doing--_____ to make more gooks? There are Vietnam veterans who have joined the police force and still carry the same racism. Telling my wife things like, "You get your orders from Chairman Mao, don't you?" All this weird paranoid fear they have. Fear that they've had, and we've had, since birth. It's on us to eradicate this fear. It's on us to dig on love, you know, to love each other--to learn how to love. The Vietnamese people dig on preserving their beautiful life style and they won us over by loving us. Loving us to the death of our honky culture. Loving us to the death of holding our white values. Loving us to the death of believing in technology. Loving us to the death of all the phony _____ they have always given us. And this is where it's at--digging on what they've told us are primitive cultures, you know, getting back into the sun, treating each other like real human beings, not competing, but really cooperating, and really loving while doing so. Like it's all we can do. We have to do it. It's just a question of getting it together and doing it.

MODERATOR. I have a release statement here to read to you. "To the brothers of Winter Soldier: Those of us who are still prisoners of the war machine would like to express our solidarity with those of you who have found the courage to expose what we are part of and what we are now facing. Hopefully your actions will move more of our brothers and sisters in uniform to join us in our resistance from within of the system which is responsible for the oppression of peoples around the world. Together we can bring that system to a halt. Keep up the struggle. Signed, The Brothers of the American Servicemen's Union, Selfridge Air Force Base, Michigan." And the last statement is that Representative Conyers and Senator McGovern have invited us to come and talk to a Congressional hearing. Now this is it. I don't trust the United States Government. I don't trust the FBI or the CIA and I most certainly do not trust Conyers. I don't trust McGovern, either. McGovern's a presidential candidate. Is he going to wait until he gets ready to get the votes and then invite us to come down there and speak? I'm sorry, but I'm not going to wait for that. And I don't think my brothers are going to wait for that either. We're going to take it to the street. We're not going to wait for somebody to come up and ask us, "What the ______ was that thing that went on up there in Michigan? Was that a hotdog sale? What was it?" We're going to take it right to the street and we're going to make sure people remember what's going on. I'm not going to play a political bag with them and neither are my brothers going to play the politic bag. So that's where it is.

Last Updated Wednesday, March 17 2004 @ 08:06 PM MST; 8,440 Hits View Printable Version