Robert Fiore, a producer associated with Persistent Pictures, has recently complained about his Oliver Stone-type film WINTERSOLDIER being shown in short educational clips in order to inform the public on internet websites. This complaint may be related to the reported attempts to remove all copies of John Kerry's anti-war book The New Soldier from circulation, but this is not clear.
One short segment of WINTERSOLDIER titled My Advanced Genocide Training is posted at www.Wintersoldier.com. It highlights a scruffy, befuddled individual making a number of outrageous claims. This individual, listed in the Winter Soldier Investigation transcript as Sgt. Jim Weber of the Americal Division, states that upon being drafted, he was posted to Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, for his "murder training." He relates that while at Ft. Jackson, [he was forced "to carry flags all the time," that (*see note at bottom)] he underwent "training in genocide," that his "moral worth was completely destroyed," that attitudes were inculcated in him that he was a "worthless human being," and that the worst thing that a recruit could be called was a "civilian," which was used as an epithet against the draftee. Weber then goes on to state that upon graduation, he was posted to Ft. Polk, Louisiana, for "advanced genocide training," in which caricatures of "slant eyed gooks" were posted in all barracks above gun racks, inciting him to want to "kill his mother" upon graduation. These are verbatim quotes from those of his ramblings which can be understood.
On June 2, 1917, a new Army Training Center was established in the early, ominous days of World War I, the training post referred to fifty years later by this malcontent. This installation would become the largest and most active of its kind in the world. First known as the Sixth National Cantonment, and later as Camp Jackson, Fort Jackson has always served as the Army's pioneer in the training environment. Fort Jackson was named in honor of Major General Andrew Jackson, a native South Carolina and the seventh president of the United States. Named the Army's Community of Excellence in 1988, Fort Jackson has continued to earn awards for excellence year after year.
The motto of Moncrief Regional Hospital was, as it remains, "Accentuate the Positive;" hardly a motto commensurate with the type of mindless brutality claimed by Weber. Also, even a cursory review of current activities at Fort Jackson shows that the post will host the Special Olympics on 7-9 May 2004, the type of community activity which has long been standard and also which is somewhat at odds of teaching people to "be genocidal killers." Indeed, listeners to Weber's "testimony" might imagine that Fort Jackson is some isolated, forbidding, remote place where the sons and daughters of America are sent for brain washing and mind control. Those familiar with the post know that it is integrated into the larger community of Columbia, South Carolina, again, making it rather difficult to conduct isolated "genocidal training."
From 1 January 1977 until 13 November 1978, I was the Army Clinical Psychologist (68 Sierra) posted to Fort Jackson and, with the rank of Captain, was Chief of Psychology Service for the Mental Hygiene Clinic for the Post as well as Moncrief Army Hospital. This was my first active duty posting after my commissioning as a military officer after graduating from Texas A&M and completion of my studies and residency for my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Although I was not posted to Fort Jackson during the probable exact period that this claimed "veteran" had been there, I personally knew a number of the former psychologists as well as commanders who had been posted to Fort Jackson, both at the time of my posting as well as later in my military career. I was able to review training procedures with them. In addition, I was involved in a number of projects which provided direct access to prior training and medical records available at the post.
While at Fort Jackson, I was awarded special commendation outside of the normal chain of command on my Officer's Evaluation Report by the hospital Commander, Colonel Mims Aultman, for being "the first psychologist whom he had seen work with so many other professionals in the hospital," and also received personal commendation from Senator Thurmond's office for the same efforts. This is because I was involved in a number of clinical as well as research projects where I had access to all medical records at the hospital, at least one of these projects being published. In addition, we at the Mental Hygiene Clinic had formed a Brigade consultation unit which worked closely with the training brigades as well as the Reception Center; effectively overseeing every single one of the thousands of recruits entering, training, graduating, or being discharged from Fort Jackson. In this capacity and in working literally with hundreds, probably thousands of both training cadre as well as recruits, I never heard one single statement similar to those Weber claimed of his training. And, since we formed the mental health team and also worked with the Chaplains, we eventually would have learned of anything like this.
In addition, our consultation team, which also consisted primarily of Captain William York, Major Larry Weigum, and Lt. Michael Spradlin, along with the enlisted staff, was actively involved with the processing and testing procedures at the Recruitment Center, which was the initial station to which recruits were assigned. Especially in working with this project, Captain York and I reviewed files and training programs going back years throughout the entire 1960's, a few even including the harebrained schemes of Robert McNamara when some of his recruiting involved mentally challenged recruits whom he hoped to train for low-level supported employment positions. In reviewing years of files and programs, I never once came across anything even remotely resembling Weber's claims. On the contrary, training was specifically designed to enhance the recruit's esteem and moral worth, and to teach the highest level of professionalism, and any recruit who developed an obsession with "killing his mother" would have been referred to me personally for a mental exam, probably for subsequent hospitalization or discharge.
And finally, our team was faced in the summer of 1978 with the tragic death of a recruit which was secondary to the searing heat of the South Carolina summer. Commanders were very upset by this, and I was personally asked by the Commanding General to participate in a study to recommend possible alterations to training procedures which would help to avoid such problems in the future. Not only did this incident help to illuminate the extent to which commanders cared for and wished to support their troops, not "turn them into killers," but it once again afforded me the opportunity to review training files and programs going back a number of years into the Kennedy-Johnson war years. Those knowledgeable of military matters also realize that training is extensively and thoroughly reviewed and overseen by the Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC. During this review we again evaluated training procedures, especially in regards to TRADOC doctrine. The training program emphasized the following of the legal orders, knowledge of and adherence to the Geneva Conventions, and the highest of ethical and moral standards. Once again, there was never any single indication of any type of program, procedure, or training protocol, which would in the slightest way resemble what is described in the "Winter Soldier testimony."
On the contrary, the training which I observed at Ft. Jackson adhered to the famous guidelines given to the Corps of Cadets at West Point during General Douglas MacArthur's Farewell Speech on May 12, 1962 when he stated that "This does not mean that you are warmongers. On the contrary, the soldier above all other people prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war." The training programs I evaluated at Ft. Jackson were, also in the words and spirit of MacArthur, designed to "build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation's defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid."
The blatant fabrications in Robert Fiore's film WINTERSOLDIER are insulting, degrading, and a libel to the officers and noncommissioned staff at Ft. Jackson as well as to the nation. These blatherings underscore MacArthur's remark that "Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker, and, I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely different character, will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule." As the Post Psychologist, I often formally assessed and diagnosed those of "an entirely different character," frequently finding them unfit for military service and often maladjusted in civilian and social life as well. In reality, many such individuals were eventually determined to have a number of psychological and personality disorders, and often had maladjusted reasons behind their motivations. The documentation of the psychological problems of many of these individuals, the harm that they caused the country, and the manner in which their maladjustment was exploited for political gain has recently received wider exposure through the work of B. G. Burkett, as described in his book Stolen Valor.
Like the phony veterans exposed by Mr. Burkett, the lies and distortions of the "winter soldiers" have gone on for too many years and need to be exposed for what they are.
* It has come to Dr. Hopewell's attention that the full transcript of Weber's remarks shows that he waved or carried flags on the train to Ft. Jackson, rather than at Ft. Jackson itself. The original text has been left in place as a reference point.