Site Statistics  :  Web Resources  :  Past Polls    
 Welcome to WinterSoldier.comFriday, March 24 2017 @ 11:52 AM MDT 

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

1st, 4th, and 9th Infantry Divisions

Wayne Novick, 22, SP/4, 1st En., 26th Inf., 1st Inf. Division (February 1969 to February 1970)

Donald Donner, 24, SP/4, Combat Engineers, 20th Brigade, 86th Combat Engineers (August 1967 to July 1968)

Veterans Testifying:

John Lytle, 24, SP/4 (E-4), "E" Co., 6/15 Arty., 1st Infantry Division (August 1967 to March 1969)

Robert McConnachie, 22, Sgt. (E-5), 2/28th, 1st Infantry (October 1967 to October 1968)

Ron Newton, 24, Pfc. (E-3), 3rd Brigade, HHQ Co., 704 Maintenance Bn., 4th Infantry Division (July 1966 to June 1967)

John Hartner, 26, Sgt. (E-5), H & HD 3rd Brigade, H & HD 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division (November 1969 to August 1970)

Carl Rippberger, 23, (E-4), "K" Troop, 3rd Squad, 11th Armored Cav. Reg., attached to 9th Infantry Division (May 1967 to May 1968)

Michael Farrell, 24, SP/4 (E-4), "A" Co., 2/60, 9th Infantry Division (January 1967 to January 1968)

John Henry, 26, SP/4, 2/60, 1/11 Artillery, 9th Infantry Division (March 1968 to February 1969)

Franklin Shepard, 23, S. Sgt. (E-6), 5/60, 9th Infantry Division (March 1968 to August 1969)

William Rice, 21, SP/4, 3/47th and HQ, 3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry Division (January 1969 to January 1970)

Barry Hopkins, 23, 3/39th, 9th Infantry Division (January 1969 to January 1970)

Scott Moore, 26, 1st Lt., 2/39th, 9th Infantry Division (1968 to 1969)

Mark Lenix, 24, 1st Lt., 1/11th Arty. and 2/39 Infantry, 9th Infantry Division (1968 to 1969)

MODERATOR. Good afternoon. My name is Wayne Novick. This is going to be the testimony of the 1st, 4th, and 9th Infantry Divisions. I'm the moderator.

DONNER. My name's Don Donner. I'm going to moderate also. We're changing the format somewhat this afternoon. Instead of having each person rap down his basic line--about what happened to him in Vietnam, we're going to try and take wide areas--treatment of GIs, treatment of civilians, treatment of prisoners, H & I fire, the entire realm of free fire zones, what the war has done to us individually and collectively. For each of these sections each of the gentlemen on the panel will be allowed to testify on that one particular section before we move on to the next. We will allow questions from the press, one or two at the end of each section if anybody wishes to ask. Okay, starting here, John, would you like to introduce yourself and work on down.

LYTLE. John Lytle, 6/15 Artillery, 1st Division. I spent--I was in Vietnam in '67, '68, '69. Came back a Spec. 4. I think I was really an E-3, but I ripped my records off so they never knew what I was. My MOS was 13 Echo 20, Artillery Forward Observer.

MCCONNACHIE. My name is Robert McConnachie. I'm 22, I'm from the Sunshine State, Miami, Florida. I was a student before I entered the service. I enlisted in the service. I was a sergeant E-5, I was in the 1st Infantry Division, 2nd/28th, Black Lions, I was an RTO. I was in Vietnam in '67 and '68 and right now I'm a student.

NEWTON. My name is Ron Newton, 24 years old, Portland, Oregon. I was drafted. I was with 704 Maintenance Battalion, 4th Division, Personnel Specialist. Now I'm a student at Portland State University.

HARTNER. My name is John Hartner. I am now a student, I was in graduate school before I was drafted. I served with the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam. When I first arrived in the country, I worked with the Third Brigade Headquarters Company in the Operating Section. Shortly after I arrived, the Third Brigade was sent home. I then worked in the Intelligence Section in the Second Brigade.

RIPPBERGER. My name is Carl Rippberger. I'm 23. I was a student before I entered the service. I was in Vietnam from May of '67 to May of '68. I was in "K" Troop, 3rd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. I was a machine gunner for the first few months I was there. Later on I drove an armored cavalry assault vehicle. I'm now a salesman for an electrical distributor.

FARRELL. My name is Mike Farrell, I'm 24. I was a part-time student before I was drafted. I was drafted in April of '66. I got out of the army in January of '68. I was with "A" Company, 2nd/60th, 9th Infantry Division. I was a rifleman for the first three months that I was over there. The remainder of the tour, I was a machine gunner. Right now I'm a student at Oakland Community College here in Detroit.

HENRY. My name is John Henry. I'm 26. I'm a student from Detroit. I was a Spec. 4 in Vietnam in the 9th Infantry Division, same company he was in, 2nd/60th. I was there from March '68 to February of '69. I was an infantryman for nine months, worked on a mortar squad, and the last three months I was a trash man for an Artillery Unit.

SHEPARD. My name is Frank Shepard, Im 23, from Plymouth, Michigan. I was a student before I entered the service. I'm a free spirit now. I was in the 5th Battalion, 60th Infantry in the Headquarters Division, in the Personnel Department. Served in Vietnam from March of '68 to August of '69.

RICE. My name's Bill Rice, I'm from Vineland, New Jersey, I'm 21 years old. I was a machine gunner for "D" Company, 3rd Battalion, 47th Infantry, and then when they were moved out I was transferred to Headquarters, Third Brigade.

HOPKINS. My name is Barry Hopkins, I'm 22 years old from Greensberg, Kansas. I enlisted for the draft in '68 and went to Vietnam in January 1969 to January '70. I was with the 3rd/39th, 9th Division. I was a point man for five months.

MOORE. My name is Scott Moore, I'm 26 years old, I'm from New York City. I was a First Lieutenant in the Infantry. I was a platoon leader for five months and Forward Resupply after that. I served with the 2nd/39th, 9th Infantry Division.

LENIX. My name is Mark Lenix. I'm 24 years of age, I was a lab technician before I went in the service. I was drafted. I was a 1st Lieutenant, served with the 1st/11th Artillery attached to the 2nd/39th Infantry Battalion as Forward Observer.

MODERATOR. We're going to start discussion on H & I fire. Bob, you were an RTO and an FO, Forward Observer, for Artillery working with the Infantry. Could you tell us about H & I fire? Exactly what it is, how it was used, how often, and things like that?

MCCONNACHIE. H & I fire is harassment and interdiction. These guns, 105 howitzers, they shoot mostly at night, to keep the VC on the move. They always got to keep them moving to protect us and the ambushes. I'll give you one instance on H & I fire. The people firing don't know what they're firing them at; they're so stupid. I was in a leper colony, it was called Ben Son. There was a unit of 40-meter Mike-Mikes, they're usually not on jeeps, dusters they're called. This one unit put 46 rounds in this leper colony, killing some civilians. It was a hospital complex. They knew where it was. So I jumped in the ARVN's truck (there were 140 ARVNs at this place and there were only three Americans, a sergeant and two Pfc.s) and the ARVNs took me over where this unit was. There was a captain there and he asked me if I had told his superiors. My superiors were located in Di An which is detonate 5-2. I showed him where we were on the map and he holds his hands in the air and says, "I know where you're at now." You know, he says, "Don't tell my superiors," and I said okay. So I went back to my base camp where I was stationed.

MODERATOR. John, you were also in Artillery, would you care to talk about H & I?

LYTLE. We'd have to get clearance from battalion to shoot 'em. You'd have to call in and get your clearance, get your grids, you'd mark it off on your maps and you'd get everything set up to shoot H & Is. We used to shoot H & Is three times a night anyway. Every time we shot we'd shoot like a hundred rounds, maybe two hundred rounds, of these big shells, you know; 105 howitzer shoots a shell approximately five inches in diameter. It's about this long with a projectile on it and a shell part on it. It'll make you a nice swimming hole when it lands. So maybe three times a night we'd shoot those, you know. At least for six months we did that, I remember. We usually didn't have to get much clearance, you know. If we just wanted to shoot 'em, we would mark off for one of the companies that were out on patrol or something; they'd call in and say there's a little bit of movement (or one of the starlight scopes would pick up some movement) and we'd just throw some shells in. If it happened to be a village, we'd probably just lob some shells in there too. It's no big thing, you know. We didn't worry about it.

MODERATOR. Did you ever notice any results of the H & I fire? Were you ever in the area after H & I fire?

LYTLE. Well, yeah, like I've been around in areas, you know; walked through the villages after we've hit 'em, and they're just totally destroyed, totally. Like, say this building right here would be nothing, you know. You could see the sky, everything would be completely, completely rubble.

MODERATOR. Okay. You say the order came down from battalion on this. How do we know that these people were VC or were not VC?

LYTLE. We were in areas that if there was movement at night, wow, maybe they're trying to get you, so we get them first.

MODERATOR. Okay. John Henry, you also mentioned that you were in an area where H & I fire was SOP. Would you care to comment on it?

HENRY. I was in an Artillery unit for a while. It wasn't where we fired H & Is. But you've got to get clearance from the Vietnamese nationals and the Americans. They set up these fire zones, the H & I fire zones. There are areas like in the Plain of Reeds, which is south of Saigon and a stronghold of VC, where they pretty much own the country and they walk at will at night. Well, you've got to fire a lot of harassing fire. We used to take our mortars out to the field and--well, the VC aren't stupid either.

They get out of the rain. They're not like us; we sleep in the rain around dikes. But the VC, they go to houses and hamlets, rest up for the night, and get food and things. And we used to shell villages at times, like five or six rounds every thirty minutes or so all through the night. On the perimeter of the village, people had a curfew and were supposed to be in. But if some mama-san got up during the middle of the night and had to move her bowels, she was ducking flak, too. We had free fire zones; we had mad minutes, just about throughout the Ninth Division. You know about mad minutes. A mad minute--everybody gets on line, everybody in the company, and you play Machine Gun Murphy. You're told to fire a magazine through your weapon and you just pepper the countryside. Usually you do this about six o'clock at night because you get colors off the tracers. I don't know why.

MODERATOR. John, did you ever use the mad minute in an area or in a fire support base where there was a village close by?

HENRY. Well, there are hootches along the wood line and that's where pockets of VC would collect. So we fired towards the wood line, and where there were hootches, where there was civilian population. But they had thick bunkers, thick bunkers.

MODERATOR. Mark, you were an artillery officer, can you give us anything more on H & I policy and techniques?

LENIX. Well, H & I was to sort of keep the VC off guard. You weren't sure what was there, but if they were, then of course, you just drop artillery on top of them. When I was working with H & I fire, you'd put your arms out and the only clearance you'd have would be from battalion. You'd call them, give them a grid square, and they'd say, "Sure, there's nothing there. Go ahead and shoot." And then, of course, you'd send the order to the guns and the guns would shoot. Well, on one instance that I can remember, there was nobody there and we went ahead and shot. The next day a papa-san brought in his dead wife and wounded baby. There was nobody there.

MODERATOR. Okay, Mike Farrell, we also talked about H & I; would you care to talk?

FARRELL. Yes, I was in a Brigade Medical Center in Tan An. This was a short distance from my base camp. I was trying to get dental aid and I was in the aid station. This was approximately May of '67 and they brought in a woman with a small child. The child was approximately three, four years old, and the child was very badly mutilated. He was bleeding very profusely, you know, and he was in a state of shock. I asked the doctor what had happened to this child and the doctor said that the child was hit by H & I fire. I myself did not see the child being wounded by this H & I fire, but this was the report that the chopper pilots brought in.

MODERATOR. Scott, I just want to get this in here. You were in the same unit as Mark. Can you corroborate the testimony he's given?

MOORE. Right. I was in the same unit for four or five months before Mark got there and H & Is were definitely used. I can remember going through rice paddies on search and destroy missions and finding dead peasants in the middle of the paddies, just lying there. I'm sure they were caused by H & Is.

MODERATOR. Bill, you also were talking about H & I.

RICE. Well, we went out one night when an ambush was set up around this hootch. We had gone through this area several times. We knew the papa-san and everything there. We come up there this one night and started getting a big hassle from him because mortar rounds from our 81s had gone through the roof of his hootch. Another landed outside his hootch and blew his boat up. Fortunately, no one was killed. We used to get a lot of readings. They put out these things called duffle bags and radar. They pick up readings on these and fire on them. I doubt that they had any visual contact with the people they were firing on, but rather picked them up on radar and fired on a radar sight, not knowing who was there.

MODERATOR. That's radar against personnel on the ground?

RICE. Right.

MODERATOR. Is there any way that you would understand for the radar to be used to tell if these troops were friendly or not?

RICE. About the only way you could tell was to call and see if any friendly units were in the area. They'd check with the ARVN, with the American units, and any unit operating around us. If there were no military units there, then they would fire. They'd not check for civilians.

DONNER. I see.

MODERATOR. Just on this radar business, I was in the Infantry also. To tell you how accurate it was, they set up some anti-personnel radar in my base camp and sent my platoon out on a little riff around the NDP. They were picking up VC in between us, on the sides of us, in back of us and in front of us and there was nobody out there but us. So that's how accurate the stuff is.

MODERATOR. Okay. Most of you have agreed that H & I is fairly SOP--standard operating procedure. Does anybody else have any particular story they want to relate on this matter? Okay. For the benefit of the audience, it's my understanding that the entire free fire zone concept, where areas are set aside and anybody there is assumed to be an enemy, H & I fire, firing without warning at anything moving in this area, is against not only the Geneva Convention, but most of the rules on civilized warfare. Do any of the members of the press wish to raise a question on H & I fire to this panel? Okay. Our next topic is going to be treatment of GIs in the service in Vietnam by officers and other GIs. Ron, you were a personnel specialist. Would you like to give us something on this?

NEWTON. As a personnel specialist I had contact with records, of course. I saw enlisted men being used in jobs that were outside of their MOS. I was used in a completely unrelated job, a menial job at tech supply, when I was a personnel specialist, because they were shorthanded. I saw men that were not qualified to go out on guard duty or shore patrols, sent out on patrols. Men who were not qualified with M-16s were sent out on patrols to use the weapons. I myself was issued a Claymore. I never saw one before I got to Vietnam.

I never had any AIT training, OJT (on the job training) and many other people were this way. No jungle training. We were part of an advance party from 4th Infantry Division which I think is the worst Division in Vietnam because it's poorly trained. Besides we shouldn't be over there anyway. But I was part of the advance party. We did not know how to do anything right while we were over there. The first initial months the officers completely harass the men. We were living in pup tents, yet we had to have spit shined boots. And shined buckles. If you didn't obey the commands, if you didn't get into the program, they'd take you out and ship you to the infantry. AIT, for those that don't know, is Advanced Infantry Training. Now, you qualify with your weapons, you learn how to fight. Since I was a personnel specialist, I really didn't know what was coming off when I got over there. And they said, "Okay, you're going on a patrol tonight." "A what? Can I take my typewriter with me or something?"

MODERATOR. Ron, you said you were issued a Claymore and never had any Stateside training on the use of such a weapon. Did you receive training while you were in Vietnam on any weapons that you were required to use or carry?

NEWTON. No. I started out with an M-14 but shortly after we got to Vietnam we got M-16s.

MODERATOR. And you also did not have any training on the M-16?

NEWTON. I had training on the M-14, but I did not have training on the M-16.

MODERATOR. Mark, a lot of people in the States are under the impression that the GI gets the best medical care in the world. I believe you have something that's a little contrary to that. Could you give us that?

LENIX. Right. My Easter of '69 wasn't exactly what I'd call a treat. I was wounded. They decided that I wasn't wounded bad enough to be dusted off, so I waited a period of approximately nine hours while I was laying in a pig sty to be dusted off. When I was dusted off, I was taken to the hospital. I will say the treatment I got was fast, but efficient, it wasn't. I was taken into the operating room and worked on. They completely neglected the wounds on my arms and, of course, I had to say, "I don't think you're finished yet." So they sewed up the wounds on my arms. I was then released to get to a ward. I was put in a ward where there was no medic, no supervisor. I was told by the man laying next to me that I was hemorrhaging. Well, since there was no one in the ward that meant I had to get up and walk back to the operating room and open the door and say, "Doctor, I'm not done." Then they put me back on the table and said, "Oh, I guess you're not!" And they finished it up. Well, that wasn't the end of it. Then they sent me for two weeks' recuperation. As I was recuperating, the wounds were supposed to be healing. Well, they didn't heal, but the doctor gave the orders to take the stitches out without ever looking at me. The stitches came out and the wounds opened back up, but I'd already been released from the hospital so they couldn't treat me again. So they sent me home. When I got back to my unit, I stopped at the hospital in Dong Tam, which was the 9th Med. Battalion Hospital, and they told me that I'd have to be operated on again. I told them that, "No, thank you, brother." I went to the aid station and was worked on by a Spec. 5 who was just a male nurse, but he gave me excellent treatment. The treatment that the army offered me and gave me was no good. I had to seek my own from people within the unit that I knew.

MODERATOR. What was the general attitude of the doctors in the hospital toward yourself and the other people who hadn't been treated properly?

LENIX. Well, I never saw a doctor. He came in one day and took a look at me and said, "All right. Your stitches will come out in three days." And that was the last of it. Three days later the stitches came out. He wasn't there to supervise it; it was a Spec. 4, just an aide, who came and clipped 'em out. As they were coming out, the wounds were opening up and he asked the nurse in the ward, "These wounds are opening, should I take 'em out?" The rest of them came out and the wounds opened back up.

MODERATOR. Is there anybody else on the panel who has any testimony?

FARRELL. Yes. It was April of '67 and I sprained an ankle. The only medical treatment I ever received was an Ace bandage; if you're not familiar with it, it's a big elastic bandage that they use to tape up sore muscles. I could not walk out in the field. But for three months I was out in the field with this foot taped up like this and it was the only remedy they would give me. They wouldn't give me enough time off out on the line to let that foot heal up properly. They'd give me Ace bandages--new ones--each time I'd come out of the field because they'd be ruined by the water and the mud that we were in. And Darvon Compound. If you don't know what Darvons are, they're just little pain pills, mild pain pills, and they're very widely distributed over there. There is another instance of my mistreatment over there. I have very poor vision and I lost my glasses on a night ambush patrol. I only had one pair of glasses remaining and these were sunglasses. I was made to pull guard duty at night on a bunker with sunglasses. I have 20/200 vision in both eyes. As far as I'm concerned that's pretty blind. I couldn't see and then with really dark sunglasses (the type that the army issues you) I was pulling guard duty. For the remainder of my tour--I had to go to the doctor--I couldn't tell them that I couldn't see at night. I had to go get a doctor's note to tell them I had to get a profile that I wasn't supposed to be on guard duty. So seeing as I couldn't pull guard duty and details during the day, they had one remaining chore for me to do while I was waiting for my glasses to come in.

That was to pull KP, which I did. Like I pulled KP every day. I was on permanent KP for a month and a half, two months. Needless to say, everybody knows what KP is like. How do you feel at the end of the day of doing KP all day, day in and day out.

MODERATOR. Right. John, we were talking earlier about sick call, and such, if you'd care to go into that.

HENRY. The army is a very demeaning experience. They have a preset way of thinking about enlisted people, especially draftees. When I was an infantryman, there weren't many ways to get off the line and the thing you wanted to do was get off the line. But they'd save those jobs for the short-timers--building bunkers, filling sand bags, burning... good jobs like that. A lot of people were going on sick call because we were losing a lot of people. I went on sick call and I had to get my slip from the doctor that said I was exempt from going out in the field because I had a split-open toe. The conditions out in the paddies would have just aggravated it. So I got this slip from the doctor, but he said I had to go and see the major who was the battalion CO. He was clearing all people; he was like the second step after you went through the doctor. He looked at my toe, took off the bandage, and said it didn't look that bad. He said that they were obliged to send a certain amount of people out to the field--they had to field so many people from each company--and if I didn't go somebody else would have to go. So what they did, they had the first sergeant going out to the field; they had the mail clerk going out in the field; they had the supply clerk going out to the field; and they had the guy who fixed the radios going out to the field. They couldn't field enough people because too many people were going on sick call.

MODERATOR. Would you consider this going on sick call, in the majority of cases, to be malingering?

HENRY. Well, it's really hard to rap to people who haven't been in the army. If you've never been to Vietnam and you've never been in the situation where you go out every day, you've got a really good chance to die. It was tough when you went on sick call because they gave you a bad time. You had to sit on the porch, not smoke cigarettes, and stand around until sick call started at eight o'clock. You had to be there at 7:30. You had to go to the orderly room and get a pass, which meant you had to miss breakfast. They didn't make it easy to be sick; and it wasn't fun to be sick, either, because they always had something else. Like if you couldn't go out to the field, you could fill sand bags or something. You had to be really sick-sick to stop doing anything.

MODERATOR. Okay. Evidently it was required to have a certain amount of people in the field at all times. If people were sick, documented sick by the doctor, they had to go to a major who was in charge of putting a certain number of people out in the field. If he could not get enough people out in the field, then he could override the doctor's orders, even though the person was classified by the doctor as supposed to be staying in?

HENRY. Well, I can only speak for myself, and the doctor told me that I was borderline. He said that if I went out to the field it might be aggravated, but there weren't any stitches in it. I got a shot for Tetanus and some pills. I was wearing shower shoes and he said that I should keep it dry as much as possible and keep it out in the air. If I went out to the field, I'd have to wear my boots and I'd be wet as long as I was out there. I know of other people who got turned down by the major who had to go back out in the field even though they had crotch rot so bad that it was from genital to toe. We lost a lot of people the first couple of months I was in country. My MOS was mortars and they disbanded the mortar platoon to fill the infantry platoon.

MODERATOR. By lost, you mean a lot of men were ripped off, killed? And they had to fill back up, or what?

HENRY. Yeah, we lost fifty percent. More than fifty percent of our casualties were by booby traps and that's just being unlucky because all it takes is one guy to put his foot in the wrong place and a lot of people get hurt. There's no enemy contact, no direct enemy contact. You're not getting a body count, but they are. I don't think we ever did better than they did against us because they were ingenious, you know.

MODERATOR. Okay. Ron, did you want to say something else?

NEWTON. Yes, I had ulcers while I was over in Vietnam, probably as a direct result of being in Vietnam because I didn't like it at all. At first, I went on sick call a couple of times, complained of a bad stomach, a progressively growing worse stomach. Then they started thinking I was faking because some of the men were faking. But one night I had an attack which started bleeding--bowel movements produced blood. In the morning I couldn't get out of my bunk. The sergeant came in and said, "Get the _____ out of the bunk. Go out and work." And I said, "I can't get up." So he went and got the 1st sergeant and they grabbed me, took me out of the bunk, and I passed out. Then they thought, well, maybe he isn't faking, so they got me on a stretcher, took me over to the hospital, and found out I did have ulcers.

NEWTON. I was in the hospital that time for two weeks. They put me on a bland diet, but at the same time, in the first three days or so, I couldn't get around very much. They wanted me to make my bunk, lay on top of it, and do a few details around the hospital. I refused and that made them a little uptight. They wanted to get me out of there, since I wouldn't play ball. About a month later, I went back the second time with worse ulcers. They finally gave me a different diet in the company so that I could keep working.

But the second time I went back, they shipped me to Qui Nhon where I did finally receive some treatment, some really good treatment and I was able to combat the ulcers. But every time that I tried to go on sick call, since I was one of the troublemakers in the company, they tried to refuse me. Also, I had a dental problem. Some of us lost our toothbrushes while we were over there; they didn't have any more toothbrushes to give us, because we were Advanced Advance Party.

The first month or two we were over there, we didn't have anything. We had a canteen of water, that's it. No toothbrushes whatever. My teeth got progressively worse. Finally, I wanted to go see a dentist because I started getting sores on my teeth, and they said, "No, we can't spare you." It got so bad that I could just lift my gum up, or lift my teeth and say, "Hey, look at that." They finally gave me dental treatment, but now as a result of those _____ people, I'm going to lose my teeth.

MODERATOR. It is very common for whoever is in charge, the sergeant or the officer in charge of allowing people to go to sick call, to put it off for any length of time?

NEWTON. If they can. They'll try to say faking at first. If they see signs of it, they'll put it off some more until they can spare you.

MODERATOR. John Hartner, we were talking earlier about many, many things. One of the most important things which we feel we must talk about on this panel is the treatment of both civilians and suspected (meaning civilian) VC. Would you care to go into that?

HARTNER. First, I want to tell you a little bit about the way we ran our operations. We, of course, like everybody else in Vietnam, ran our operations under the free fire zone concept. This is where the Vietnamese clear, with military personnel, a certain area that they are going to work. I'm talking about our American troops. The result of this clearance is that anything then in this area is considered enemy. In the area that we worked in, which was the Central Highland area, there are a lot of Montagnards. The Montagnards, of course, were not consulted. The Montagnards are hated by the Vietnamese, and they couldn't care less whether they lived or died. When I was working in the Intelligence Section of the 2nd Brigade, our average reports, daily reports, consisted of individuals who were fired upon that had no weapon whatsoever. These were primarily Montagnard farmers and hunters just moving around doing their daily chores. But our troops were under orders to fire on these individuals.

I have an example that I'd like to read right now. I'd say that approximately 60 percent of all our reports consisted of this type of material. "On the 24th of July, 1970, 1 Bravo, 1st 22nd, Bravo Romeo 583818, observed two individuals ten meters to the west, wearing blue shirts, black trousers, no weapons. They employed small arms resulting in one enemy KIA; the other fled north. Artillery was employed. They swept with negative findings." This was an everyday occurrence, or more than everyday--several times a day, depending on how many individuals our troops ran into. Every once in a while, we'd be assigned an Air Cav. Troop. I have another example of the same thing. This time, however, there were four NVA soldiers with this Montagnard village. "On the 24th of July, 1970, Bravo, 17th Cav. at Bravo Romeo 2902656, observed 15 to 20 individuals. They received an unknown number of small arms, ground to air fire with negative hits." That means that a couple of the NVA took their rifles and they fired at the gunships expended, resulting in six enemy KIA. "Five minutes later they observed an unknown number of individuals in a bunker and hut complex." This was a Montagnard village. "They employed artillery and an air strike resulting in ten enemy KIA. Thirty minutes later they observed 15 individuals running south along the ridge line." These were individuals who were now fleeing the village. "Artillery was employed again resulting in 10 more KIA. An hour and a half later, they observed 30 to 40 enemy moving south into a wood line. Artillery and an air strike was again employed resulting in 14 more KIA. Thirty minutes after that they observed 12 individuals. Gunships once again expended resulting in 8 enemy KIA." If the count was correct, a total of 48 people died that day. There were only four weapons discovered among these people. It was a Montagnard village.

MODERATOR. For those of you who were not here yesterday, we had a chopper pilot testifying and he mentioned that the way he was told to distinguish between VC, NVA and civilians was that if he was up in the air and he saw somebody down on the ground who was running, that was a VC. If he was up in the air and he saw somebody on the ground standing still and waving at him, that was a well-trained VC. In any case, take care of them both.

You mentioned earlier a conversation which you had. Would you like to talk about that, too?

HARTNER. This is an example of an officer's attitude who flew some of these missions. He was an intelligence officer, working for the 3rd Brigade. One night he was talking to two Specialists bragging about the mission that he had been on that day, how good it had felt to kill one of the individuals. At that time I was standing around the back side of the wall of the TOC, posting maps, and the conversation went like this: The officer is talking now to the two Specialists: "I promise you that I will personally kill two dinks tomorrow. I'll bet you that I'll kill two dinks tomorrow." This time I walked around. I said, "Sir, what do you consider a dink? Any Vietnamese?" His answer: "Anything over three months old." My response: "Sir, you are really... sorry." The officer then spoke: "It doesn't make any difference if they have a weapon or _____ this big. I killed a woman once, and it was really funny."

MODERATOR. Most of us can testify that in many, many cases this is the general attitude of not only the officers but ourselves. Carl, would you like to go into those first two slides you have?

RIPPBERGER. The first two slides you're going to see were the burning of a village. Our armored column moved it. It was in June or July of '67. It moved into a village. The people obviously heard us coming and fled the village in fear of what would happen if they were still there when we got there. We made a thorough search of the village. We found no weapons and nothing to suspect that these people were Viet Cong. Orders came down to burn the village anyway. It was a small farming village of maybe 10-15 hootches.

MODERATOR. This is a picture of the village itself burning, is that correct?

RIPPBERGER. Right. This is one of the hootches burning. All the people's belongings, everything they owned were in these hootches.

MODERATOR. Carl, was there any warning given to these people before moving in, or did you just move into the village and say we're going to burn it?

RIPPBERGER. No, we were on search and destroy and we were just driving through. The helicopter spotted this small farming village and as we moved in the tanks and armored cavalry assault vehicles were very loud. They can be heard for miles and the people left before we got there. We found no weapons or anything there.

MODERATOR. Do you have any knowledge of where the people went to, both when you were coming in and after you had left their village destroyed?

RIPPBERGER. I don't know where the people would have gone, other than into the jungle waiting for us to leave.

MODERATOR. Scott and Mark, since you were both in the same unit, I believe you both have testimony related to burning of villages which you can both corroborate. Can we hear some of that, please?

LENIX. Well, in the burning of villages and of individual hootches along stream banks or in wood lines, if there was no one there, then apparently they must be VC and were afraid of you. If they were there, then the civilians were of course mistreated and their houses were burned anyway. It was standard procedure that if you swept through a village and happened to see anything that you wanted, you just took it for the simple reason that the people couldn't stop you, because if they did, then they'd die. So, it was a terrible relationship. It was the Lord and the Peasant. We weren't serving the people at all, other than ripping them off and burning them out of their homes. This isn't an isolated incident.

I myself have burned a whole lot of villages. It doesn't happen just once, it happens every day, and that's the thing that's so terrible. When you think about it, it's like having someone come to your home, set it on fire, say I'm sorry but I like your stereo, and I'm going to take it. There's nothing you can do, because if you say no, they'll shoot you down. And this goes on all the time. I think Scott can testify to this, as Scott and I served in the same unit.

MOORE. It did happen a lot. The battalion commander at this time frowned upon it. However, the platoon leaders and company commanders, when he was out of the way or was not in the areas with the chopper, burned a lot of places. As Mark said, you just go into a place, walk into these hootches, take what you want and walk out. The people didn't say anything because you had a gun and they didn't.

FARRELL. I also can elaborate a little further on that. I can give you a specific date where an order like this came down. Easter of 1967 we had a mission, a search and destroy. It was to destroy every man-made object that we came to, until we reached our objective from the place where we were inserted by helicopters until we reached our objective where we would be airlifted out back to our base camp. And upon landing, we were told that all the gunners on the helicopters were going to open up fire on the wood line to suppress fire. We landed right next to the wood line and there was a young woman with a child running down a path. She wasn't in the wood line; she wasn't an enemy. She had her baby and she was running away from the soldiers. A gunner opened up. Luckily, he didn't hit her, but I saw the bullets inches away from her, just missing her.

Whether he did it on purpose, I don't know. I do know that he did open fire on this woman who was completely defenseless, was not an enemy, didn't have a weapon, just had a baby in her arms, and I say again this was on Easter Sunday. You know, it's sort of symbolic that Easter Sunday, if you're Christian, you know, it's supposed to be the birth of Christ and we're destroying everything in the name of the United States.

MODERATOR. John Henry? In my unit we had many civilians who raided our trash dumps for wood to build houses and such. Do you want to talk about any of that?

HENRY. When I was trashmaster, 1/11 Artillery, my entire job consisted of making a run to the trash dump once a day and going to My Tho with Special Service people for lunch. We used to make our dump run about 11:30 in the morning so we'd have the rest of the afternoon to go to the pool. There are two kinds of life in Vietnam: there's the good life and then there's the infantry life. And I was an infantryman for nine months and it was a bad life. We used to make our run about lunchtime and the Vietnamese used to climb over the brim to get the boxes from the artillery canisters and the plastic wrapping before it went into the fire. Well, they had some MPs up there at the gate watching the trash trucks come in so you couldn't run dope out. They didn't do anything with the people for a long time. The people were just running amuck.

Then they issued a few MPs BB guns and put them inside the dump. They were posted every so far and they'd shoot the people with the BB guns as they came over the brim. Well, to the MPs it ended up to be a joke. You'd be shooting a fat old mama-san in the ass and she'd be screaming, but you weren't really bugging the people. So they got some ARVNs and gave them BB guns to shoot their own people. BB guns--I don't know --that's kind of insulting right there. Most of the people in Vietnam are poor people who aren't making a lot of money off the war. They make a little money--they know some Americans and get some soap and some cigarettes. But the peasant--he doesn't live too well.

When we would come in from the field, we would have to pull bunker guard in the daytime, to get out of details. These kids would come into the dump around the berm and try to take cans and anything that they could use. They issued us M-79s with CS gas and they told us to shoot close to them. We'd shoot maybe around eight or nine rounds of M-79 CS, and chase them the way, way back to the wood line. We wouldn't be aiming close to them, we'd be aiming right at them.

MOORE. We did the same thing in 239. In fact, I've participated in that myself. Shooting at kids and civilians in garbage dumps with the M-79. You remember, Mark, when that happened. I saw brutalization of civilians. We were on an S & D, search and destroy, mission one time, outside of Ra Kiem early in '68 and we were about, I'd say, 2 miles outside of Ra Kiem. All of a sudden a water buffalo charged the point, and the guy machine gunned the water buffalo. It so happened that an ARVN squad was in front of us and they thought they were being ambushed. They hadn't seen us, so they started firing at us, and a small fire fight broke out. Well, in the middle of the fire fight (the fire fight stopped after a few minutes) a civilian was hit, I think in the chest. He was on a bicycle when he was hit, and we had about two klicks to go back to Ra Kiem, so instead of calling in a dust-off, we just threw him over the bicycle. He was still alive, and he went back that way, on the bicycle, bleeding. I don't know what happened to him. I think he died, but I don't know.

MODERATOR. Scott, I think this might fit in here. You were talking to me before about inflated Medcap counts. Could you explain exactly what a Medcap is, and explain how the inflated count would harm the civilians?

MOORE. Medcap is an idea. It's supposedly treating the Vietnamese civilians for wounds received by H & I fire or for diseases they have or things along this line. I should first explain that in the 9th Division there was a tremendous competition among the colonels, not only in this particular area which we're talking about, but also body count and combat effectiveness which we talked about before. Pressure was put on me as a platoon leader to make sure I got a lot of people out into the field. And they didn't care how I got them out there. If I didn't get them out, all sorts of things were threatened. So I sent men out who had jungle rot and this sort of thing. Pressure was put on the battalion doctor. As a matter of fact, everything had to be approved by the major, the executive officer, and if the battalion doctor had too many people on sick call, pressure was put on him. So it's a circle. I think Mark can get into the Medcap Program. He was on more Medcaps than I was.

LENIX. Well, the Medcap Program was supposed to be part of a pacification plan that the United States was to carry out in Vietnam. And it was trying to win the people, of course, by being nice to them and treating them. I was still on the line as a combat troop, and we'd go in to give the doctor and his team of people security. When you go into a village for a Medcap, you didn't need the security because anybody who was there wasn't going to mess with you. They knew you were bringing them good things. But the thing is, the people didn't get treated. Not like they say. You'd have Medcaps where there'd be 10 people and out of the 10 people you'd give away ten bars of soap and three candy bars. And then you'd go back to the battalion, and the colonel would want to know, "Well, how'd we do on the Medcap today, boys? Did we get to treat a lot of people?" "Sure, we treated a lot of people, sir. We treated 50 people. We treated a lot of bad feet and a lot of little babies that were sick. We gave a lot of injections." And you did nothing. You threw soap out, then everybody sat down and ate bananas and ripped off the people. Then you'd leave, and that was the pacification program. So no matter what you hear, it's not the truth.

MODERATOR. Mark or Scott, what was the attitude of the medical personnel towards the civilians while on a Medcap?

MOORE. I guess Mark pointed out that they didn't really care. Some of them did; it depended on the individual. But the general attitude was to get as many people treated so it would look good on the Medcap chart which they had. I was with the 2/39. The other battalions were competing to see who could treat more people and I remember the S-5 officers standing up at briefings and saying, "Well, you treated 60 people," and the colonel would say, "Well, 2/60th treated 85. Let's get the count up." So he'd go back and sometimes read Playboy magazine and come back and report 85. Sometimes they never got treated.

MODERATOR. Bob, you told me about an incident where a little kid was killed. Could you go into that in more detail?

MCCONNACHIE. When I was out in the field outside of Lai Khe with the infantry, we were moved north, so some of us had to go by slicks, which are helicopters, and some by trucks, or jeeps, to Quan Loi, to resupply the people who left before us. On the way up to Quan Loi, we were on Highway 13, you go through villages and you see little kids with their hands out, begging. Well, at first I saw GIs tossing the cans out to them, C-ration cans. Then all of a sudden I saw they were coming pretty fast at the children, and I saw two or three of them killed right there, stoned with C-ration cans. We were stopped by the MPs; he just warned us, so we kept on with our convoy and nothing was said about the kids.

MODERATOR. Were there any officers present?

MCCONNACHIE. Yes, there was a 1st lieutenant present when we were going to Quan Loi.

MODERATOR. Did he say anything?

MCCONNACHIE. No, he just looked away and kept on walking towards his jeep when the MPs were talking to us.

MODERATOR. Okay, and besides the MP's warning, was there any other action taken?

MCCONNACHIE. No, there wasn't.


HENRY. There was a certain craziness among the people in Vietnam, when they were in Vietnam. When I was there, you'd be on back of a deuce and a half, and you'd throw smoke bombs into busses. All the people would be running. There are a lot of games you play with the people. The Army kind of fosters this gaming. Most houses have shrines, Buddhist shrines, and on patrol, you'd go in and rip off knick-knacks to send home, you know. I've got some Buddhist prayer beads at home that I saw ripped off by another guy who gave them to me, and I tried to give them back to a Buddhist, but I'm afraid you don't do things like that.

MODERATOR. Scott and Mark, I just want to ask you, since you both were officers, and I guess you were a lot closer to the general attitude of the officers during these incidents? You know you were shocked, did you do anything, and if not, why not?

MOORE. Well, I think it was a matter of the training I'd received when I went through Officer Candidate School at Benning and I was a Tactical Officer after that. And like, I was gung ho and just in a weird mentality. When I think back on it, it is difficult to believe I felt like that once. But to me, at that time, there was no humaneness. These people were subhuman, and well, they were, the expression is "gook." There was just this inhumane attitude in general. So usually, at least the way I saw it nothing very much was said about it.

LENIX. To go along with what Scott said about the mistreatment of civilians and personnel, that happened all the time and nothing was said about it. I was also an officer, and if it was to be reported, apparently it should have been reported by myself. But my attitude at that time was that they were subhumans and it didn't make any difference what happened to them because I didn't want to be there anyway. I just wanted to get home and get it over with. And if it would make it a little easier for me, well, then, I'd make it easier on myself.

I have an incident that I'd like to relate. On the first operation that I was on, in-country, we went into a village called Five Fingers. It was a typical cordon and search which means you surround the village and then you sweep through it. And hopefully, when you're sweeping, if anybody's running from you, they're going to run into the surrounding troops on the other side and then they'd get wiped out. We received fire as we walked into the village. We took no casualties, but we did end up with a body count. No weapons were found, so apparently they were civilians.

The next day, in the morning, they rounded up the entire village, all of them, and marched them out. They were all prisoners of war, all of them. Men, women, children, made no difference. We filled two deuce and a halfs. They had to walk maybe 5,000 meters to the vehicles. From the vehicles they were transported to our forward base where they were interrogated. Then they were just relocated, man, just moved away. The next day we went back into the village. We were to finish it off. There was burning and things going on and one of the things that was picked up were two Hondas that were confiscated by the troops. As these were confiscated, one was sold on the road immediately to another civilian who just happened to be passing by and the guy turned the motorcycle into Vietnamese piasters. So he had ready cash.

The other one was taken down the road a short way, was repaired at a Honda repair shop, and then was just taken with the troops. They used it at the base. Not only were they confiscated, but the part that was bad, was that it was reported on the battalion board as a VC platoon, a VC transportation platoon that had been captured. Then of course the colonel brought this up when he was with his contemporaries, people of his same rank. "Yeah, well, my battalion got a transportation platoon yesterday, man. We got it on the board. Look, doesn't that look nice?" And what had happened was that we ripped off two motorcycles.

MODERATOR. You say when these people were relocated, they were put into deuce and a halfs; they were taken for interrogation. Were they allowed to take any of their belongings with them?

LENIX. Right, and the next day, like I say, we went through the village and tore everything apart. You know, tore walls out of hootches, just ripped everything apart looking for weapons or whatever. But we found nothing. They just set a torch to whatever you wanted to burn.

MODERATOR. Mike, would you like to speak?

FARRELL. Yeah, about the brutalizing effect that war has on people and that the Army helps to foster. Our platoon sergeant told us (I'm going to gentle down the language, I'm not going to say it the way he said it), he said, "If there's a woman in a hootch, lift up her dress, you know, and tell by her sex; if it's a male, kill him; and if it's a female, rape her." You know, like this man, this was his third war. He's rather proud of the fact that he was in his third war. Served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. I think he had irrational conduct because we were slightly rebellious about all the work we had to do plus the ambush patrols we had to go on at night. There was a lot of complaining. This was in a forward area, the village of Bam U Thanh. We're out there in close march drill in Vietnam. This was his punishment to us because we were grumbling. In that same village where we were marching, we got fired upon. I could just go on, and on, on. A spotter pilot flies one of these little planes around for the artillery.

It's like a Piper Cub; it's a single engine plane and its top speed is about 90-100 miles an hour. They'd also call in the jets and they monitor where the jets were dropping their bombs, and they'd get body counts from them. They see pieces of arms, bodies, flying in the air and then they'd get a body count off of that. Here's a man flying around, 100 feet, 200 feet, 300 feet in the air, and he's counting bodies that are reported back to the news. Really it's a joke. I myself really never had anything accurate as a body count from our company sweeping through an area and really killing somebody.

MODERATOR. By the way, Mike, earlier we were talking to John Henry about the dumps. I believe that you mentioned to me that you had seen a child on the dumps who was permanently lamed. Could you go into that a bit?

FARRELL. We threw CS gas at them in the dumps. At our battalion base camp the supply sergeant said that if any of them gooks come over by the garbage dump, to fire over their heads. So like I just didn't do it. The fellow I was with was firing over their heads; he fired over a couple of children's heads. Another time, I was on sick call, and there was a young child, a Vietnamese child in there. I'd say school age, about 6, 7. He had a mutilated limb. I really don't remember whether it was his arm or his leg, but he was hit by a bullet from an M-16. I asked the medic that used to be attached to our company what happened to that child. He said he was down at the dump and he was hit; the sergeant shot at him. Chasing him away and he hit him. I asked him, "Did anything come of it?" and he said, "No."


RICE. The psychology used, especially in the 9th Division, was that they take C-ration cans and make booby traps out of them. They tried to psych people's minds out that these people are always out to get you.

MODERATOR. We're going to end this segment right here. Does the press have any questions on treatment of civilians? Scott, did you want to say something?

LENIX. No, I did. In November '68, in an area called the Wagon Wheel just northwest of Saigon, while on a routine search and destroy mission, gunships which were providing security and cover for us in case we had any contact were circling overhead. Well, no contact was made, and the gunships got bored. So they made a gun run on a hootch, with miniguns and rockets. When they left the area, we found one dead baby, which was a young child, very young, in its mother's arms, and we found a baby girl about three years old, also dead.

Because these people were bored; they were just sick of flying around doing nothing. When it was reported to the battalion, the only reprimand was to put the two bodies on the body count board and just add them up with the rest of the dead people. There was no reprimand; there was nothing. We tried to call the gunship off, but there was nothing you could do. He just made his run, dropped his ordnance, and left. And there they were, man. The mother was, of course, hysterical. How would you like it if someone came in and shot your baby? And there was nothing we could do, man, we just watched it. And nothing happened. I have no idea what happened to the helicopter pilot, or to anyone in the gunship. It was gone. Things like this happen, I'm sure, more than once, because if I saw it, I'm sure a lot of veterans who aren't here saw it.

And this is why we have to stop the war. Because not only are we killing our brothers in the Armed Forces, and brothers on the other side, but we're killing innocent people, man, innocent civilians, who are just standing by and happen to be at the place at that time and for no other reason than that, wind up dead.

MODERATOR. This is much, this is exactly the sort of thing that John was talking of at first. John was at the other end of the whole thing. He was the person who got the reports on how many people were killed, how many weapons were found, who was a VC, who apparently were civilians, and how they were all lumped together. John, do you have something to say?

HENRY. In my unit there was a bounty posted for a body count because we went dry for a long time. We were pulling blocking forces and things and we were offered a fifth of liquor for the first man who got the first body. If you're E-6 or under, you can't buy alcohol in Vietnam. It doesn't matter if you are 53 years old, you can't do it, not in a PX. If you're a 19 year old lieutenant, you can. The incentive, the programs that they build to talk you into killing people...My friend Frank here was in a unit that exemplifies this. We had a brigade commander called Colonel _____ _____, who issued Recondo pins. These were glory badges, and if you hadn't tasted your first blood, you couldn't pin one on. He stood up there on a little hill, and let us all take the pledge. All of us pinned on one of our Recondo pins, if we promised, you know...had to promise. Frank's unit was even more ridiculous, I think, more absurd, not ridiculous. It does certain things to your head, and I think it would be a really opportune time for him to expose that.

MODERATOR. One moment, please, does any member of the press have questions?

QUESTION. Does any member of the panel remember a General _____?

PANELIST. Commander of the 9th Division?

QUESTION. you remember appetizing tales about him?

PANELIST. Right, I was in three parades that he had.

MODERATOR. Hold on a second, please. It's against the policy of the Winter Soldier to name any names of any officers or NCOs because we are trying to avoid scapegoating. That is one of the main premises, so once this man has been named let's just hold back on any tales about him specifically. If it had been mentioned "just a general" that would have been one thing, but we are not going to do anything by scapegoating; we don't want these people to just jump on them; we want the government policy changed; we don't want them scapegoating more Calleys.

QUESTION. My question was for Mike. General _____ is well known for having gone above and beyond the call of duty with regards to obtaining high body counts and things like that. According to another witness who's not here he called his command ship the Gookmobile. My intent was not to scapegoat General _____, but to see if there was anything further informational about this rather outstanding officer.

MODERATOR. Okay, we're going to be getting into inflated body counts; the entire question of how do you up the morale of the men in the field, how do you get them to kill. Frank, we were talking at considerable length earlier about a special award which was issued--would you care to tell the rest of the people about that?

SHEPARD. Well, as you were mentioning, there are many ways to build up your body count. In our particular unit, as John mentioned, he had the Recondo badge. We had this badge known as the Sat Cong badge. This badge, translated into English, means "Kill Cong." This represents one Viet Cong--or civilian, whatever it may be, because there's really no way of telling. It represents one life. These badges were given when someone could prove that he had killed a Viet Cong, or Vietnamese. There are many ways of doing this. One is to have somebody verify that you did in fact see him kill a Vietnamese. Another way is--and this a common way--to cut off the ear of the dead Vietnamese and bring it in. You could exchange it for one of these badges. The badges were created on a battalion level; I have the order here that created this badge, and the sick individual that signed it.

MODERATOR. I tell you, Frank, on the "sick individual" let's just say a captain in the infantry.

SHEPARD. All right. This is a disposition form. It's an official Army form dated 28 June '69. It reads as follows: "Any member of this battalion who personally kills a Viet Cong will be presented a Sat Cong badge--Kill Viet Cong--for his gallant accomplishment. The Sat Cong badge will only be given to those individuals who have accomplished the above-mentioned feat. There will be no honorary presentations. Furthermore, only personnel who have personally killed a Viet Cong may wear the Sat Cong badge. Company commanders will draw Sat Cong badges from the executive officer, and will maintain all control." And also, explaining more about the badge, this is what is known as a Chieu Hoi leaflet. On one side, it's in Vietnamese; on the other side it's translated into English. This is used for two purposes: It's to build up the morale of the soldier, make him want to kill, and it's also to scare the hell out of the Viet Cong. It's entitled Viet Cong/NVA Beward. It says: "You are now located in the area of operations of the Cong-Killer 5th Battalion, 60th Infantry. Each member of this elite American unit is a trained killer, dedicated to the annihilation of every VC-NVA. The proof of this dedication is the Cong badge he proudly wears proclaiming he has personally killed a VC-NVA. We don't rest; we will hunt you with our helicopters, track you down with our radar, search above and below the water with boats, bombard you with artillery and air strikes. There are no havens here. You are not safe nor are you welcome here. Rally to the government of Vietnam now, or face the fact that you will soon join your ancestors. Signed, Cong-Killer 5th Battalion, 60th Infantry."

MODERATOR. That's sort of interesting, the "you are not safe nor are you welcome here"--this was in Vietnam, was it not?

SHEPARD. Yes, it's their country.

MODERATOR. Okay, Frank, in talking about this, how do we know that these people were VC-NVA, rather than normal peasants?

SHEPARD. There's no possible way, really, to tell. As for myself, I never witnessed anyone cutting off an ear, for example, and bringing it in; I don't know that these were Viet Cong. It just seems that if you have something like this you're going to get instances where people take civilians to get one of these badges. This was considered quite an honor, in fact, to have one of these badges. It was, it now seems rather sick, but over there it was the accepted thing that you were a real man if you had one. Some of them put oak leaf clusters on the bottom if they killed more than one. Like I say, it's sick.

MODERATOR. Frank, the bottom line reads, "rally to the government of Vietnam now." Was this used as a Chieu Hoi pass, and if it was, or if it wasn't, were other Chieu Hoi passes accepted by your unit?

SHEPARD. No, there were the standard Chieu Hoi passes that are issued to all units; this was not considered a Chieu Hoi leaflet; this was more or less a threat. Now, if you were a civilian, imagine reading this in your village. This was dropped over populated areas. You can imagine reading this in your area. You'd be in fear for your life; afraid someone would take your ear and get one of these badges. If you collected so many badges, if you killed so many, you would get an R & R, or a pass. Get to go to Saigon, something like that. It was just part of the way to build up the body count.

Last Updated Wednesday, March 17 2004 @ 08:07 PM MST; 9,009 Hits View Printable Version