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Full-text: April 23 1971


“ And the pattern manifests itself.

The most important thing about our testimony here, and the testimony that was given in the past, is the redundancy of it.

But you’ve got men who were in Vietnam in ’61. You’ve got men who were in Vietnam in ’71.

And all those years in between.

And they’re saying the same things.

All those years. All those units. In all of those places. In South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.”

Michael Paul McCusker, 13112


House Ad Hoc Hearing for Vietnam Veterans Against the War

(April 23 1971)

Witnesses:

Larry Rottmann13104    Michael Paul McCusker13111
Forrest Berry Lindley, Jr.13107    William W. Lemmer13112
Les Johnson13107    Alex Primm13114
Arthur Egendorf13108    Robert McLaughlin13114
Kip A. Kypriandes13109    Jack Smith13115
Phillip Lowley13109    David B. Maize13116
Vinny Giardina13110 

______________________

117 Cong. Rec. 13104-13118 SuDoc: X.92/1:117/PT.10


UNITED STATESU.S. SealOF AMERICA

Congressional Record



PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OF THE 92d CONGRESS FIRST SESSION



VOLUME 117—PART 10



APRIL 28, 1971, TO MAY 5, 1971


(PAGES 12303 TO 13722)





UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON, 1971

 

U.S. eagle, Congressional RecordCongressional Record

PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OF THE 92d CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION

 

 


* * *


 


HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Monday, May 3, 1971


* * * {13104} * * *

____________________


Hearings for Vietnam Veterans Against the War


(Mr. Bingham asked and was given permission to extend his remarks at this point in the Record and to include extraneous matter.)

Mr. Bingham.  Mr. Speaker, on Friday, April 23, Congressman Findley and I jointly chaired informal hearings at which members of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War presented testimony.

These hearings were called when it became clear that the schedule of the Subcommittee on National Security Policy and Scientific Developments of the House Foreign Affairs Committee would prevent the subcommittee from continuing its hearings on the prisoner of war problem. ¶

On Tuesday, April 20, one member of the Vietnam Veterans had testified at those hearings but time had prevented further testimony from other members of the group.

Congressman Findley and I, both members of that subcommittee, felt that members of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War should have an opportunity to present their views to the Members of Congress. ¶

Accordingly, we arranged for informal hearings the following Friday and arranged for a transcript of those hearings to be made, not at public expense.

Mr. Speaker, both Congressman Findley and I were most impressed by the demeanor and the sincerity of these men, all of who have served on active duty in Vietnam. ¶

Much of what they said will be, I am sure, of considerable interest to other Members of Congress and some of the charges they made are shocking and bear further investigation. ¶

I would like, therefore, to include the full transcript of these hearings in the Record at this point.

The transcript follows:

Proceedings

Mr. Bingham.  Good morning. I’d like to open the proceedings because it is traditional to have a member of the majority party preside at hearings. ¶

But I want to explain that the hearing today is under joint chairmanship. Mr. Findley and I will be conducting the session jointly, and we hope to be joined by other members of Congress as this hearing proceeds.

I might just give a little background on this hearing today. ¶

On Tuesday afternoon, at a session of the subcommittee on National Security Policy and Scientific Developments of the Foreign Affairs Committee, of which Mr. Findley and I are both members, testimony was presented having to do with the prisoner-of-war issue. ¶

The request was made at that time for an opportunity to continue with that hearing.

And so in order to give an opportunity for others to testify who had not had the {13104c3} chance to speak at the hearing on Tuesday, we have set up this hearing on an informal basis. We will continue to hear witnesses whose names we have been given on the subject of the prisoners of war or other matters, stressing that we are particularly interested in practical information. We want this hearing to be as informative to us and to our colleagues as possible.

A transcript will be made of these proceedings and as soon as it can be compiled we will see that it is inserted in the Congressional Record.

We propose that each witness have eight minutes to make an initial statement, and then we’ll keep our questioning within an eight minute period. It may not run that long. We would like to have each of you identify yourselves, your name and address, and also what your position was in Vietnam. We’d like for you to be as specific as possible about statements that you make with dates and locations and so forth.

Mr. Findley.  I’d like to add that even though this is not a subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee the proceeding here today is undertaken with the knowledge and the approval of the Committee’s leadership. ¶

The Chairman approved the use of this room for this purpose.

I’d also like to say that I would hope that witnesses would confine themselves to what they have observed first hand. We feel an obligation to make it possible for everybody who wishes to have an opportunity to speak.

Mr. Bingham.  Mr. Rottmann, you gave us some rather extensive and very provocative testimony on Tuesday. ¶

U.S. Congress, House Hearings, American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia, 1971 (U.S. Congress 92-1, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on National Security Policy and Scientific Developments, Hearings, March 23, 24, 25, 30, 31, April 1, 6, 20 {vvaw}, 1971, 9+583 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.F 76/1:P 93/4/971/PT.1, CIS: 71 H381-9, OCLC: 15634210, LCCN: 77612471, WorldCat}. Witness: Larry Rottmann (Vietnam Veterans Against the War), April 20 1971, pages 406-423. (CIS: “Description of charged mistreatment of prisoners in South Vietnam by American forces; report of receiving Officers Candidate School instruction on the use of torture.”).  CJHjr


I understand that you want to make an opening statement.

Lt. Larry Rottmann

Lieutenant Rottmann.  Yes, sir. I’ve been selected by the group to make just a short opening statement on behalf of the group, at which time I will give my short bit of testimony.

Mr. Bingham.  Would you again, for the record, state your full name and address and your affiliation.

Lieutenant Rottmann.  Yes, my name is Larry Rottmann. I’m from Parales, New Mexico. I was a first lieutenant in the United States Army from Friday, August 13, 1965 until March 26, 1968. I am a full time volunteer veterans coordinator in New Mexico and Arizona.

I want to express on behalf of all the veterans here in Washington our deep gratitude to Mr. Bingham and Mr. Findley for allowing these hearings to take place and for helping us and assisting us when we testified the other day. It’s most appreciated, this kind of reception.

We also appreciate the personal support and the visits of both gentlemen to our encampment. That’s the kind of support that we think is very important and very relevant and we really believe in eyeball to eyeball contact, and there was a considerable amount of it at that time.

I would like to also on behalf of the veterans wish Mr. Bingham a happy birthday. I believe his birthday is tomorrow. He’s 39, if the information I received is correct, and we also hope that with the birthday on the 24th for Mr. Bingham will come a new birthday for a new moral and political awareness and consciousness here on the Hill.

With that introduction I’ll move directly into my testimony. ¶

And the first few people who will be testifying this morning will be talking directly to the question of military censorship and the way military news is manipulated, if it is agreeable with the Congressmen. This is to give you some idea of the scope of the problem of getting the correct and right amount of information to you. This will be the first three or four people. And then we’ll move into a broader kind {13105} of personal experience. ¶

Is that acceptable to the committee?

There are only two short things that I’d like to say. And I’ll just begin with my statement. ¶

During the period from June 5, 1967 to March 19, 1968 I served as the Assistant Information Officer for the 25th Infantry Division based at Tu Chi, Vietnam. My duties at the time were to be officer in charge of the Tropic Lightning Newspaper, Lightning 25 Magazine, and the Lightning 25 AFVN Radio Program.

I was also in charge of division press releases, including photographs, officer in charge of visiting newsmen, including network TV crews and was a frequent briefer of the division staff and civilian news media and visiting Congressional representatives to the 25th Division.

I am also the compiler and editor of the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam: A Combat History published by the McCall Corporation of Atlanta Georgia in 1968.

Because of the nature of my assignment with the Army in Vietnam I am intimately acquainted with military censorship and news manipulation policy, and in the following notes, which are not necessarily in chronological order, I have indicated some personal instances of censorship and related policies of which I have personal knowledge.

The biggest and most frequent problem I ran into as an information officer was what was known as the non news, these were things that were never to be mentioned either in writing, in picture or in interviews with newsmen or representatives.

Some of these taboos were explicitly stated, usually verbally, by officials from the information offices in Saigon. These would be the Military Advisory Command Office of information, MACV, the Military Advisory Command of Vietnam, and the Joint United States Public Affairs office, which is the information branch of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon.

Military censorship usually came from MacV or the 25th Division commanding general or chief of staff. In matters concerning policy or overall military planning or action, or special forces and CIA activities usually fell under the jurisdiction of JUSPAO.

The following is a partial list of things that were never to be mentioned while I was there in 1967 and 1968 by military news media personnel to civilian personnel or media or representatives of Congressional offices or official visitors. ¶

  Ineffectiveness or mistakes of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, ¶

  handling, processing, interrogation or treatment of prisoners of war; ¶

  the use of shotguns, the use of flamethrowers hand held or track mounted; ¶

  the use of lethal or non lethal gas, gas dispersing methods or gas masks. ¶

  Female VC, very young VC.

  During the short period of time when they were being field tested, Healy Cobra helicopters; ¶

  information on the size, accuracy range of effects of enemy 122 millimeter rockets; ¶

  M-16 rifle malfunctions or deficiencies. ¶

  The extent of damage and number of U.S. casualties from enemy attacks. ¶

  Any story concerning enemy tenacity, courage or ingenuity; ¶

  marriage of U.S. personnel and Vietnamese. ¶

  U.S. soldiers use of pot or other drugs; ¶

  conditions of U.S. military stockades; ¶

  anything about the CIA or CIA sponsored activities like Project for Air America; ¶

  anything about U.S. activities in Cambodia or Laos; ¶

  B-52 or other bombing errors; ¶

  ambushes or defeats of U.S. units; ¶

  burning, bulldozing or other destruction of Vietnamese villages and hamlets; ¶

  anything about troop morale, pro or con.

  Information about captured enemy material of U.S. manufacture, weapons, food, clothing, in some cases Playboy magazines. ¶

  The NLF, the NLF as a term, or as an organization. {13105c2}

  The word “napalm”; ¶

  enemy armour or helicopters, ¶

  plus anything else that Saigon officials thought might in some way be detrimental to the best interests of the United States Army.

I’ll go back to the beginning of the list and just pick out some specific examples for which I have some documentation here.

M16 malfunctions and deficiencies. In 1967 there were rumors of numerous M16 malfunctions which were apparently getting back to Congress. U.S. Representative Richard Ichord launched an investigation of the Army’s much ballyhooed rifle even sending a team of experts to Vietnam to question GIs.

MACV told all information officers prior to my arrival that the M16 was not a topic for discussion. Newsmen were not to question soldiers about the weapon. No stories about the rifle jamming or malfunctioning were to be written.

This was done despite the fact that many GIs hated the M16, felt they couldn’t trust it. And until an order stopped the procedure, carried their own weapons instead: carbines, 45 caliber grease guns, rifles sent from home, captured AK47s, et cetera.

At the same time the Army launched an all out propaganda campaign to make GIs in Vietnam more confident in the weapon they basically mistrusted. Special classes on the weapon were held in the units, new cleaning procedures were instigated, new lubricating materials were introduced due in a large part to GI demands for dry slide, a commercial lubricant manufactured in the U.S. that worked much better than Army oil which the Army refused to supply us with, not the oil but with the dry slide. They later did introduce a silicone lubricant which was roughly the equivalent of the dry slide.

A whole new campaign was initiated to instill in the American soldier the utmost confidence in a weapon that he didn’t like.

Along those lines during this time that Representative Ichord was conducting his investigation — yes, sir?

Mr. Findley.  Your testimony is extremely interesting and I hate to interrupt you, but how much longer do you have for your initial statement?

Mr. Rottmann.  Two more instances, if I may.

During this period I was information officer and across my desk came a photograph from one of the men in the unit of a GI, obviously in a fire fight, in a combat situation. It was the most fantastic photograph because he was desperately trying to unjam his weapon, while the bullets were flying.

I sent this photograph to Representative Ichord with a letter explaining that this is not an infrequent occurrence. ¶

This was during his conducting of the investigation. ¶

And I never received a reply.


“ The veterans were invited to testify today at informal hearings by Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.) and by two House members, Reps. Paul Findley (R-Ill.) and Jonathan Bingham (D-N.Y.).

On the House floor, two members of the Internal Security Committee, Reps. Richard Ichord (D-Mo.) and John Ashbrook (R-Ohio), warned that the leaders of Saturday’s planned demonstrations here are “under Communist influence.” They were referring to the National Peace Action Coalition and the People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice.”

Fulbright Panel Hears Antiwar Vet (Washington Post, April 23 1971).

  CJHjr


Just two more instances, because I don’t want to run over the many people here who want to talk.

A specific example — you gentlemen are well aware that the official military policy is that there is no censorship in the Indochina War.

A young man who is a photographer in a combat unit in my division took a photograph of two 25th Division Infantry MPs who were moving a suspect, detainee from one area to the other. He sent this photograph up to my office, knowing full well that it probably would not be cleared, the reason being, as I stated in my earlier testimony, handling of prisoners of war, detainees, is a subject not to be discussed.

But he felt that the photograph said something and should be considered. I agreed with him and I sent it on to MACV. This is the original photograph right here (indicating). It shows two MPs from the 25th Division — one of them has a patch, hardly visible. They are carrying a suspect. The suspect has a sandbag tied over his head, like a {13105c3} hood. His feet are bound and then his legs are bound to his thighs so you can’t straighten out your legs. And his hands are tied behind him. Would you like to see it?

As you can see, stamped across it in red ink, it says: “Not cleared for release”. It’s a little hard to read. Not cleared for release. That means censored. And it was sent back to our office not to be released. Now that’s a specific example.

The final thing that I would like to say is that an information officer is in a quite unique situation in the war as regards disseminating information through the civilian media. And many times information officers ran into a great deal of flack in trying to do their job honestly. It’s somewhat the same position as being a doctor in the military. There are rules in the military about doctoring that don’t exactly jive with the Hippocratic Oath. And the same thing is true of the Journalists’ Creed.

I’ll just read you as the final thing that I do here an official directive from the Information Office Headquarters, United States Army, Republic of Vietnam. It’s called the “Colonel’s Kernals’ {sic: “Kolonel’s Kernels”}. And this is a letter that was sent out to all military information officers in Vietnam. It says ¶

“It may seem to you presumptuous, but I’m going to give out with a few thoughts on the subject of loyalty, and philosophize a little bit about how loose words can come back to haunt.

“Some very respected correspondents, without identifying people or places, have let it be known that there are a few military IOs, Information Officers, out here who are not playing on the team.

“On occasion these guys have downgraded one or another of the programs the United States is trying so hard to make work in Vietnam and have done their sounding-off to the press, yet.

“Of particular note was the cynicism and downright bad mouthing of these few IOs about the success of the U.S. efforts to upgrade ARVN effectiveness.”

This is datelined December, 1967.

“I know that sometimes our frustrations run away with us. We lose sight of the facts, the background, the history of this part of the world, the culture and social gap between Americans and Vietnamese. Even though we are not thinking disloyal thoughts, out of our mouths come disloyal words.”

“There’s no better way of expressing the very special kind of loyalty characteristic of the military service than to remember that you owe it to your commander, the Army, the nation and your self respect to argue your views all the way until the decision-making time. But brother, when the decision has been made, you owe loyalty to that cause, and you try your darndest to make it work.

“To argue your case in the press is not to show the courage of your convictions. It’s a betrayal of trust. It’s disloyal.

“Now for the words of wisdom on haunting. These words simply involve practical application of the above stated thinking on loyalty. A few, usually inexperienced, IOs may feel they can unbend with the friendly newsman or cry out their hearts, secure in the belief that it’s all ‘off the record.’ These naive few soon learn the hard way that the words they poured out ‘in confidence’ will soon come back to haunt them. Don’t forget that correspondents are paid to write or film or tape news, news that will sell newspapers, or entice viewers or listeners.

“If your confessions and exposes can be made into news rest assured the words will show up in print, perhaps not attributed to you by name, but presented in such a way as to make the back of your neck burn just a bit.” ¶

End of the letter.

When I got the letter, the letter made the back of my neck burn just a bit. That concludes my initial statement.

Mr. Bingham.  Mr. Rottmann, my own back- {13106} ground is in the newspaper field. I worked on a daily paper and a monthly magazine, and for a number of years operated a weekly newspaper. I also served in World War II and in my modest capacity as supply officer, one of my duties was censoring the mail. So I come to this question of censorship from perhaps a unique background. And it doesn’t surprise me that there is restraint, censorship, of the military personnel involved in the dissemination of battlefield information. Does it really surprise you that there would be a degree of censorship in this field?

Mr. Rottmann.  I was most astounded by the amount and the extent. I knew that for security purposes you can’t tell where your units are and that kind of thing. If you wanted to find that out you just check Walter Cronkite’s board.

But I was quite incredibly amazed at the extent and the amount.

Mr. Bingham.  In your statement, you read a list of items that were taboo. It was a very complete, well drafted list. Can you tell me, do you still have a copy of the official instructions that you had as information officer?

Mr. Rottmann.  As I stated, sir, most of the instructions came through verbally.

Mr. Bingham.  That is from your recollection?

Mr. Rottmann.  Yes, sir.

Mr. Bingham.  You have no documents that you can submit for the record at this time?

Mr. Rottmann.  Not a specific document. I have some similar things. For instance, if you submit several pictures similar to the one I did and they came back not cleared for release it becomes pretty clear in your head what you can send forward and what you cannot.

Mr. Bingham.  And yet is it not true that a private news agency camera man out there, had he taken that photograph, he would not have been restricted from the use of that photograph. Am I correct on that point?

Mr. Rottmann.  Yes, sir. Except part of my job as information officer was to escort members of the press and to keep them from taking photographs and interviews and pictures of things which were on that list.

Mr. Findley.  Mr. Rottmann, you are the author of a history—

Mr. Rottmann.  Compiler and editor, yes, sir.

Mr. Findley.  Compiler and editor. What was the history again?

Mr. Rottmann.  The 25th Infantry Division in 1967-68 — ’66 and ’67 in Vietnam, the book was put together as a sort of a — if you can call it, a yearbook of the unit’s involvement during those two years in Vietnam based on after-action reports, information office MI readouts and things like that.

Mr. Findley.  Did you write any part of the book yourself?

Mr. Rottmann.  I probably guess I wrote every word. But it was like I said, it was taken from after action reports and put together — a great deal of it was based on after-action reports and some of it was based on interviews and experiences of that nature.

Mr. Findley.  In doing this work did you feel that you were not capable of being honest? Did you feel under constraint, in other words, to comply with certain directives, express or implied?

Mr. Rottmann.  Very much, so, sir.

Mr. Bingham.  When did you come to your present views about the war in Vietnam in general?

Mr. Rottmann.  It’s a very difficult question to answer. I can only, perhaps, answer it on the basis of a short story. I had been in the country only a few hours and was flying from Tansanott [phonetic] Air Base to To Chi which was my main duty station. I was flying on a carrier, or a supply run. I was the only person on there who was traveling with them {13106c2} other than the people who were normally with them.

And at one point the chopper dove down and there was a Vietnamese man fishing on a bank of a canal. And the pilot of the aircraft nicked him in the back of the head with the skid, knocking him into the water. I was appalled. But I noticed that I was the only person on the aircraft that wasn’t laughing.

I guess my reevaluation of the whole situation began then and continued throughout my tour.

Mr. Findley.  The Defense Department has communicated to some members of Congress since your testimony on Tuesday that you have been asked on various occasions to give specifics of the charges with regard to mistreatment of detainees and prisoners, and that you have declined to cooperate in such investigations. ¶

Do you want to comment on that matter?

Mr. Rottmann.  Since I began working with the veterans movement; {—} I began working with the Vietnam Veterans for McCarthy and then moved to the organization of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, {—} I have been subject to quite a bit of harrassment by the FBI and the CID, Criminal Investigation Division. ¶

Friends and friends of my family, teachers, people that I’ve worked with, have been questioned and although no threats were made at any time, I have been, you know, subjected to that type of harrassment, and I have also — an attempt was made to court martial me from the Army Reserve as an officer, the charge being unlawful wearing of the uniform for appearing at anti ROTC rally in my uniform, and conduct unbecoming an officer, the charge stemming from a Peace Christmas card I sent from Vietnam.

The attempt to courtmartial me continued for the past few years and was resolved, I believe, although I do not know for sure if it was final or not, last Fall at the Boston Army Base, when the unanimous agreement of the courtmartial there was that all charges and specifications against me be dropped.

For this reason I have been reluctant to cooperate with those members of the CID who have come to my home and my employers to ask questions.


“ While I was in Vietnam, I sent what I called a holiday message from 1st Lieutenant Larry Rottmann. ¶

On it there’s a small picture of a black medic, a white medic, and a Vietnamese treating a wounded Vietnamese. And there’s a little small thing beside it which is a quote from honorably discharged General William Tecumseh Sherman saying, ¶

“I am sick and tired of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have never fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation, and destruction. War is cruel and you cannot refine it. War is hell.” ¶

That quote was taken from the Army Digest, a Department of Defense publication.

For sending that card, I was court-martialed. I'll read you the charges. ¶

“This is to inform you that action is being taken by this headquarters to determine your fitness for retention as a reserve officer in the United States Army. ¶

Your record indicates that in December ’67 you printed and distributed at government expense ¶

(The ‘at government expense’ was — I wrote ‘free’ on my envelope, which we are allowed to do, so I didn’t put a stamp on it. That’s the government expense: they paid the postage for the card and they’re upset.) ¶

a Christmas card depicting a seriously wounded soldier receiving plasma,” ¶

etc., etc.

This court-martial was finally held last fall at Boston Army Base. ¶

I was represented by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) resulting in the dropping of all charges and specifications. ¶

This is just to point out to you that they will do that. ¶

They pursued me for sending that Christmas card taken from the Army Digest; they pursued me, and spent, I guess, a million dollars, for three years across the country until they finally actually held the court-martial and it was thrown out. ¶

That’s just to show that they do mean business.”

Larry Rottmann, testimony, Winter Soldier Investigation (Detroit Michigan, January 31, February 1-2, 1971), 117 Congressional Record 9947-10055, 10022-10031 (Panel: “The 25th Infantry Division and Public Information Office”), at 10028-10029 (U.S. Congress 92-1, April 6 1971, Permanent Edition).  CJHjr


Mr. Findley.  Mr. Rottmann, isn’t it a fact that you have not met with the Army personnel who have asked to meet with you?

Mr. Rottmann.  No, sir. ¶

Just a second. ¶

I’ll give you their names. ¶

I have met with and talked at great length on at least one occasion with Mr. Elmer E. Snyder, CID ID No. 0903, Mr. Richard J. Mahon, CID ID No. 0947. ¶

These meetings took place in Watertown, Massachusetts, which was my residence last year.

Mr. Findley.  Last year?

Mr. Rottmann.  Yes, sir.

Mr. Findley.  Those documents to which Mr. Bingham referred indicate that attempts by Army personnel to interview you followed a news conference in May, 1970. ¶

Since the attempts to investigate the allegations were unsuccessful, the investigator was referred to Rottmann’s attorney, Mr. Richard M. Howland, who said that Rottmann would not make a statement. ¶

Would you care to explain why you chose that course of action?

Mr. Rottmann.  Certainly I would. Yes, sir, I would. ¶

We held sort of an investigation, informal one, in Boston which some of us who had been in Vietnam aired our views on the subject. ¶

Immediately following that presentation I was accosted — the man put his hand on my arm and said that he wanted me to make some kind of a sworn statement or something. ¶

And I said, Who are you? ¶

And he said he was with the Government, but he would not show me his identification, and I didn’t know who he was. ¶

And I said, If you are with the Government please, see my attorney, Mr. Howland. ¶

And I instructed my attorney, Mr. Howland, that he should let me know {13106c3} if anybody got in touch with him so that he could work it out.

Mr. Findley.  With regard to your meeting that you just mentioned with the CID personnel, do you feel that you responded to each question raised at that time?

Mr. Rottmann.  They were around, you know, sort of around the periphery, and talking to my boss and things like that—

Mr. Findley.  Did they talk directly to you?

Mr. Rottmann.  Yes, sir. ¶

And I responded in every instance to their questions, except I did not name names because it was not my feeling that I wanted to prosecute anybody, only to make a point about policy.

Mr. Bingham.  Is that still your feeling, Mr. Rottmann? ¶

That is, today would you be willing to name names or dates, or do you still feel that this is something that you cannot in good conscience do?

Mr. Rottmann.  That is correct, sir. ¶

I am not trying to prosecute anybody. ¶

All of us who went to Vietnam and participated and all of us here in the states who allow the war to go on year after year after year are to some degree guilty. ¶

I would be unwilling to name names because I’m not trying to prosecute anybody for atrocities or anything. ¶

I just want to raise a point of official and de facto military policy in Indochina. ¶

I think if the American people were fully cognizant of the scope and the extent of the way that we wage war there that they just wouldn’t permit it to go on. ¶

And that’s the main thrust of why I testify like this.

Mr. Bingham.  We are happy to have Congressman Morse from Massachusetts with us.

Mr. Findley.  Mr. Rottmann, I am troubled about the questions you raised about censorship, and I’ll express my concern this way: in time of military conflict do you think it’s unreasonable for the military leadership to establish a certain level of censorship day by day of the coverage of battlefield activities?

Mr. Rottmann.  There’s a fine line, I think. ¶

As a loyal American, and I feel I am one, I would certainly not want to in any way through the dissemination of information do anything that would be contributing to the loss of more American lives or Asian lives.

However, as the testimony I think will continue to show this morning, not only do we not tell the American people about the extent and the manner in which the war is raised, but in many cases the truth about the war as well as the truth about what is going on in our own country is kept from the American soldiers in the field, through the use of the same kind of policies that I spoke of in relation to unit newspapers and through the Stars and Stripes Newspapers, which are about the only two — and AFVN which would — we all call “Altered for Vietnam News” which prevents the GI from finding out what’s going on in the war himself, and it prevents the American people from knowing.

I know there has to be some sort of control, and I am wholeheartedly in support of that. ¶

But the extent and the kind, I think that I find very hard to live with.

Mr. Bingham.  Thank you very much, Mr. Rottmann.

Mr. Rottmann.  Thank you. I’m going to have to leave the chambers now. I’m helping with the veterans who are turning in their medals and awards this morning over on the Capitol, and so with the indulgence of the Committee, I’ll now leave and turn it over to my colleagues here.

Thank you very much.

[Applause]

Larry Rottmann previously testified at the National Veterans Inquiry on U.S. War Crimes in Vietnam (Washington D.C., December 1-3 1970); testified at the Winter Soldier Investigation (Detroit Michigan, January 31, February 1-2, 1971), 117 Congressional Record 9947-10055, at 10022-10031 (Panel: “The 25th Infantry Division and Public Information Office”) (U.S. Congress 92-1, April 6 1971, Permanent Edition); and testified at a hearing on American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia, 1971 (House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee, April 20 1971).  CJHjr


Mr. Bingham.  Thank you very much, Mr. Rottmann. Now the next witness is Forrest Lindley—

Mr. Rottmann.  Excuse me. I’m sorry to change your schedule, but we have a man {13107} who would logically follow me. Mr. Mike McCusker.

Mr. Bingham.  Is he on the list?

Mr. Rottmann.  Yes, sir.

Another Veteran.  No, sir. He would not be on the list that you have. That was an ad hoc list I was compiling for our use that I gave to you.

Mr. Findley.  Well, is Captain Lindley here?

Capt. Lindley.  Yes sir.

Mr. Findley.  Captain would you come forward, and if this gentleman would give his name and serial number and other identification to the clerk here, well we’ll put him on the list.

Mr. Lindley, I’d like to ask you to confine your formal oral presentation to eight minutes.

Captain Lindley

Capt. Lindley.  Yes sir. I’m Captain Forest Lindley. ¶

I served for 18 months in Vietnam first as a 1st Lieutenant, with the Vietnamese Airborne Division and as an advisor to the Artillery Division of that Division, and the 7th Infantry Battalion of that Division.

I served for 6 months with 5th Special Forces Group, B23, first as a fire base commander at the Fire Base Annie during the seige of Bu Brang in November of 1969. ¶

Later as an assistant F3 for B23 and as a Special Forces Team Commander, Team A231.

Mr. Findley.  Where is your home now?

Capt. Lindley.  Colorado Springs, Colorado.

My general impression is that when I went to Vietnam I sincerely and deeply wanted to assist and aid the Vietnamese people in their struggle and help them take over the burden of the war for themselves. Having served with them for 18 months I came to the conclusion that they were unwilling to fight and die for something that they did not believe in.

I have several examples. I still believe that the Vietnamese Airborne Division is the finest unit there, but I don’t think that they are fighting for the Thieu-Ky Regime and what it represents, but rather for the esprit and the spirit and the heritage of their unit.

One incident in particular, we are at an artillery fire support base about five kilometers south of the Base Camp in (word unclear) Province. There was a North Vietnamese mortar crew approximately 400 meters from our position one night, and 100 meters from a regional forces camp. They opened up with at least 20 pounds of mortars which continued for a period of five minutes on another target, which I believe was later determined to be a village.

The mortar crew was silhouetted by the flashes of the mortar. Neither our unit nor the regional forces unit returned any fire or in any way attempted to engage the enemy.

When I asked my counterpart why they did not try to shoot back at them, he said, They weren’t shooting at us and he didn’t want them to shoot at us.

There has been a great deal of conflict that I’ve experienced between the Vietnamese Army and the United States Army. In one instance we were moving into a fire base to set up a position in (word unclear) which is located Southeast of — — — City. There was an American artillery unit which had been set up to support an operation with the 25th Division. When we moved in our battery our Vietnamese battery commander wanted to put his trucks where the American trucks were, and told the American officer to move his trucks and battery so that he could put his trucks there.

The incident came to potentially an armed conflict with the Vietnamese warrant officer pulling his 45 caliber pistol on an American officer and demanding that he move his battery and unit out of the position. The American unit responded by engaging a ma- {13107c2} chine gun and pointing it at the Vietnamese officer. I was able to intervene and preclude any further conflict, but I believe that if I had not been able to intervene, it might have led to an armed involvement.

My experience with special forces, and my (words unclear) was one that particularly concerned me, because we had a mission of border surveillance. We were located on the Cambodian border and had the responsibility for monitoring any infiltration, enemy infiltration or movement between the Cambodian border and our operational area. To do this we were required by higher headquarters to have a certain percentage of our troops involved in operations at all times. I believe it was 60% for regular operations, and 80% of our reconnaissance units on operations at all times.

We would submit an area of operation to higher headquarters and the number of troops that would be involved in that operation. It was thereby assumed by these headquarters that these troops would cover that area with the number of troops stated in the operational report. As it turned out, these troops were not going out to the areas of operation. If they did go out there — when this was discovered I attempted to make aerial incursions by taking them out to the border and herding them with helicopters into their area of operation.

Attempts later the next day to contact them would find that they had moved back, or were moving back toward our special forces camp. In many instances where they were sent out without American advisors they would go out two or three kilometers and set up camp for a week We once heard shots and went down the river and found that it was our operation, which was supposed to be ten kilometers from the location where we found them fishing.

I sent reports to higher headquarters to this effect and received word back that unless my operational statistics reflected that the operations were being carried out and that the stated number of troops were there I was subject to being relieved.

I therefore falsified my report. And this has been the consensus of opinion I’ve found in discussing this matter with fellow members of my team and other teams, is to give them what they want regardless of what actually is taking place.

Mr. Bingham.  What was your experience with regard to the treatment of detainees and prisoners of war? Did you witness any mistreatment?

Mr. Lindley.  Sir, I only witnessed two or three incidents, but in every case where we were engaged in a fire fight, and there was a wounded enemy, he was shot and killed unless I was able to intervene.

They made a habit of pumping five or six rounds of automatic into a dead body, several soldiers.

Mr. Bingham.  Who were they?

Mr. Lindley.  This is the Vietnamese airborne troops I was with. I would say that they have treated humanely prisoners that they have captured when advisors have been able to intervene; but for combat reasons or for some other reason they just shot them, several wounded ones.

There was an incident where we captured a sixteen year old local force Viet Cong from Hotmong Village, and he was treated quite humanely and with a great deal of respect, I believe, by not only the Americans but the South Vietnamese, and interrogated by them. He gave what knowledge he had about enemy caches, and we were able to find a limited number of claymore mines. But he was then sent forward to higher headquarters for further interrogation and when he returned he had marks all over his face. His face was completely covered with red marks. And it looked like somebody had put needles or pins through his skin. {13107c3}

Mr. Bingham.  Mr. Lindley, when did you come to your present views on the war in Vietnam in general?

Mr. Lindley.  I think it wasn’t until after I had completed my tour. I would still be in favor of Vietnamization under the President’s program if I believed that the Vietnamese people were willing to fight for the Thieu-Ky Regime, or wanted the war to continue. But I believe now that they have the equipment and the knowledge to win the war or to fight it by themselves, but they do not have the will to do that.

Mr. Bingham.  Mr. Morse?

Mr. Morse.  I have no questions.

Mr. Bingham.  Thank you very much, Captain.

[Applause.]

The next witness on our list is Les Johnson.

Les Johnson

Mr. Johnson.  Good morning gentlemen.

Mr. Bingham.  Could you give your name and address and your affiliation during the war

Mr. Johnson.  My name is Les Johnson ... {ellipsis in original} I’m from Denver, Colorado. I volunteered to go to Vietnam in 1966 in April with Armed Forces Radio, and I left that organization after three months because I did not agree with the programming policy of Armed Forces Radio in Vietnam inasmuch as it was programmed for the commanding officers of MACIO, instead of the troops in the field.

At which time I found a position as television advisor to the Vietnamese government and military organization. And my responsibility was training a television production crew from the military to do a one hour television program per week. At the time we were doing three hours a night on Vietnamese television.

Mr. Findley.  I don’t quite understand your statement. Were you in the Armed Forces?

Mr. Johnson.  Yes, sir. I was. I was a military advisor to the Vietnamese military teaching them television production.

Mr. Findley.  What was your rank?

Mr. Johnson.  Specialist 5, Sir.

My statement this morning is simple and not too shocking inasmuch as we were directed by General Westmoreland’s Headquarters and the Vietnamese government to sell the Vietnamese soldiers to the people as soldiers, as fighting soldiers, which we did with manufactured combat footage. And I felt nothing was wrong at the time because I felt my responsibility was teaching them television production, instead of trying to find some Vietnamese unit who at the time was actually engaging in good combat.

What I would like to address myself to is the Vietnamization program, in that we were doing a very simple part of it in 1966 and 1967, and I feel at this time that the Vietnamization program is actually an Americanization program to teach the Vietnamese how to become as Americans to carry on an American war. I think because the moral conflict within the war — and I’m speaking now as a person who has studied epistemology for the last seven years — that it has degraded into a war of ethnicide, inasmuch as we continue the war — if we do this — we will end up with a war of Vietnamese Americans against Vietnamese Vietnamese.

Mr. Findley.  A war of what? Would you clarify that. I missed that word.

Mr. Johnson.  A war of ethnicide, sir. A war of people that we have trained to be Americans against the Vietnamese ethnic culture. We are turning it into a cultural war instead of one of politics. And I came to Washington this week and slept on the ground for a week to ask the politicians in Washington to become statesmen and to think about this country in twenty years.

Thank you, gentlemen.

Mr. Findley.  Mr. Johnson, your presence {13108} here shows that you are not pleased with present policies How would you change them?

Mr. Johnson.  I disagree with the President’s analysis of what this country needs in ten or twenty years, or in the future to hold itself together as the United States of America.

And I think I am here representing the people who will be responsible for the future of America and we are wanting an end to the war now, as opposed to the President’s wishing to win a military victory or convince the American people that we have won a military victory in Vietnam.

Mr. Findley.  Well, I’m sure that you give a different interpretation about what he says than some of the rest of us. But I think that he has very clearly rejected the concept of a military victory in Vietnam on a number of occasions.

Now, perhaps you read something into these events that would lead you to another conclusion. But he has said that, has he not?

Mr. Johnson.  I think, sir, that the President will consider it a victory if he can convince the American people that the Vietnamese are able to carry on this war.

Mr. Findley.  You also mentioned manufactured footage. Now do you feel that this manufactured footage was totally unrealistic, unrepresentative of the true situation?

Mr. Johnson.  Of course it was, sir. And I can give you a specific example of it, in that we sent a film crew out to make heroes of the transportation Corps, the Vietnamese transportation corps. And they turned half of them into Viet Cong, ran the train out of Saigon a few miles, blew up the railroad tracks, burned part of the train filming the defense of the train and how the transportation corps workers could get through. The train couldn’t go much further than it actually did at the time.

Mr. Findley.  Were these South Vietnamese, ARVN?

Mr. Johnson.  These were ARVN soldiers.

Mr. Findley.  There weren’t any American personnel involved directly, is that correct?

Mr. Johnson.  I was the advisor to the group that filmed it.

Mr. Bingham.  Thank you very much Mr. Johnson.

Mr. Johnson.  Thank you gentlemen.

[Applause]

Mr. Bingham.  The next witness is Arthur Egendorf.

Arthur Egendorf

Mr. Egendorf.  My name is Arthur Egendorf. My present home is in New York City, Manhattan, 43 West 88th Street. I was in the service from August 10, August 11, 1967 until May 10, 1970. And I served in Vietnam from April 15, 1968 to April 14 1969.

I enlisted into the Army while I was a student in Europe after having graduated college, where I was doing research and studying on my own in Europe. After my draft board informed me that I was about to be inducted, I went to an Army recruiter in Germany and told him of my background and that I wanted to do something constructive. I described that I was not a conscientious objector, but that I had gone to a Quaker school and spent eight years in a Quaker school in Philadelphia, my original home, and that I did not want to be in the infantry.

I was sent to the intelligence school where I was informed that there was a special program for people of my background. I spoke a couple of languages at the time. And that the program was called Area Studies. And I was told that I would be doing studies in support of American operations around the world. That would be decided after my training exactly where I would be located.

After basic training I went to intelligence school in Fort Holabird, Maryland in the beginning of October, 1967 and was told the first day that area studies meant espionage. {13108c2}

I was to become a spy, and I was not to tell anybody this for the rest of my life so that the United States Government would be able to maintain what they called “plausible manial” [phonetic] {sic: plausible denial}, so that ever we were caught involved in what they called clandestine operations, and clandestine was a euphemism. It meant specifically illegal operations, illegal not only in terms of this country’s laws, but in the laws of the country where we would be operating, that the Government would be able to dissociate itself from us and disclaim any connection with us.

We were also told at the time that if we had any more qualms about this program we could drop out and be reassigned according to the needs of the service. Which was interpreted to us informally — I must say there was no document to specify this — that we had a good chance of losing our clearances and going into the infantry. Which as I stated before was the one thing that I wanted to avoid.

I stayed in intelligence not only to avoid the infantry, but because I didn’t believe it, didn’t believe that they were going to teach me how to be a spy. I was in a class with a number of guys who had dropped out of theological seminaries. I was in class with a lot of fellows who had dropped out of college, some career Army enlisted personnel, some of whom hadn’t finished high school, and I went through six months of training that I considered rather inappropriate for the kinds of things they stated they were preparing us for.

That is, we would spend most of our time learning how to fill out forms and things of that nature. I got assigned to Saigon and I went over there in April of ’68, and I was attached to a unit in Saigon whose existence, I was told right from the start, had to remain secret not only from other Americans but also from the Vietnamese in the Vietnamese intelligence because its existence was in violation of the protocols drawn up between our government and the South Vietnamese. It was a protocol which stated that we would not mount any of our own clandestine operations in South Vietnam without the specific knowledge and concurrence of the South Vietnamese.

I was attached to that unit and given credentials of a Department of the Army civilian rank of GS 9 and later of a civilian American company which I was made to understand had close relations with CIA and was willing to provide its credentials to any intelligence operative that the American intelligence community would designate.

I was put in charge of an operation using French agents going into Cambodia. I spoke French at the time, and although that ran on for a period of 12 months the highest evaluation I ever got on any report, intelligence report, was on an article written in the New York Times Sunday Edition during the Summer of 1968 on Cambodia by a reporter who just happened to get permission from the Sihanouk Government at the time, since we didn’t have relations with that Government at the time, to go into Cambodia. And he wrote an article and my team advisor, the Major, suggested very strongly that we send that article forward to see what kind of evaluation we got. And it was the highest which we ever got on a report in the entire year I was there. My agent was given press credentials in Saigon. I had to arrange for for that. They needed cover while operating in South Vietnam without waiting to have to go on operations in Cambodia. And contrary to what the Army has since claimed or disclaimed since that time, this was a normal occurrence, where agents not only of Army Intelligence but of the CIA and CID — I was made to understand this. Again there were no formal documents which I can present — were given cover both so that they could maintain themselves in South Vietnam and {13108c3} also for different sorts of agents so that they could keep their eye on civilian press perssonnel.

When I returned to Washington one of the operations that I was not directly involved in, but was a witness to in the preparation, involved an American oil company in Cambodia, and there was an attempt made to use the personnel of that oil company who were in the country where we didn’t have relations at the time, to supply information to Army Intelligence

And I later found out when I was reassigned in Washington to the United States Army Field of Activities Command that this is a regular occurrence, that the concurrence of company presidents is necessary, and required under the secret statutes that are the basis for clandestine operations.

So that the intelligence community of this country can use American personnel and even non American personnel employed by American companies overseas to supply information on our Government. Again this is called clandestine espionage, because it’s illegal.

I also found out that Government records were used to support these operations, information collected by the Commerce Department, for one purpose, were used by the intelligence community for quite different purposes. Records in the Treasury Department and the Justice Department and throughout the military hierarchy are falsified to support operations abroad. And it was at that time that I became quite incensed having begun a search of a very different nature on American companies abroad under the understanding that this was a helpful force in promoting world peace.

I found out quite to the contrary that the very heads of these private organizations were involved illegally and covertly with certain arms of the Government for ends that were not made clear either to the people or to — as I believed at the time — the elected representatives of the people.

That concludes my testimony.

Mr. Findley.  Thank you very much, Mr. Egendorf. ¶

Mr. Bingham?

Mr. Bingham.  Having been in intelligence myself in World War II I am not startled by your report. I remember being told that about 90% of the intelligence that we were able to produce from this supersecret unit of the Pentagon was available from the New York Times.

As you see it, how would you summarize in your view the evil of what you’ve been describing?

Mr. Egendorf.  Well, there’s several. And it begins with the recruitment under false pretenses of people to work in this type of field I am speaking as somebody interested in psychology and a potential student. The kinds of mental states induced by this whole process are, I think without question, insidious. Having gone through training missions with some people who were not accustomed to living under difficult circumstances I watched a lot of fellows shake and break down, get very scared, afraid, in short: paranoia.

And not only are the personal effects insidious, but as a result of having talked with Army intelligence personnel over a period of three years, I developed a very strong belief that the reliance on information of a reliable information for Government officials upon which they can make decisions, it comes from people basically put in these difficult circumstances, and it’s completely in conflict. That a man whose loyalties are divided, who must lead a secret covert life, who’s under threat that he can not divulge, in fact, who he is to anybody other than his immediate superiors, and even there he’s under great conflict in not being able to tell what he’s really doing because there are again many regulations that specify you cannot do things that are most {13109} natural for you to do. And one example I can give, I lived in a hotel in Saigon, and this is where I had to train my spies. And I was told that my safe site would possibly be under surveillance and I was not to use an establishment financed by the United States Government funds for my own amusement. Therefore I was not supposed to have women in my room.

And all the maids who worked in the hotel used to joke anytime an agent went up to my room and claim that I was a homosexual. And I was able to deal with that rather well, but I know of others in my unit who would find that quite threatening.

What I’m saying is that people in that kind of position cannot be relied on to supply complete unbiased useful factual objective data. And that’s the second point; the first point being that you’re under strain. Two that the information that is supplied is unreliable, as an inevitable consequence of this.

And three, I see evil in the subversion of institutions founded on the basis of ideas in the open in a free, democratic, responsive society. And that this subversion of these institutions for covert reasons is in no way justified by the goals that are established for this subversion, that is, the furnishing of the information or the quality of the information that comes out.

So I see in no way that this should be allowed to go on without — I just don’t see it.

Mr. Bingham.  To your knowledge has the fact that this clandestine espionage is being carried on in Saigon and Vietnam, in violation of an agreement with the Saigon Government, ever been revealed?

Mr. Egendorf.  I’ve never seen the specific documents, but I was told that the nature of our protocol specified that our operations, and specifically intelligence operations would be in cooperation with the South Vietnamese. And that although they were more or less aware of the fact unofficially that there was probably something else going on, we were to maintain secrecy of our presence because we were in violation of specific protocols drawn up. Were you asking did I ever see the protocols?

Mr. Bingham.  No, I wondered if the information had been brought out previously that these activities had been going on?

Mr. Egendorf.  I have been speaking freely about this for some months. Now, I don’t know if somebody else has brought it out.

Mr. Findley.  Mr. Egendorf, during this period of time did you feel that your real employer throughout was the Army, the U.S. Army?

Mr. Egendorf.  Yes, we did.

Mr. Findley.  At what point in this service did you decide that this was reprehensible? Did you reach this conclusion during the training period?

Mr. Egendorf.  During the training period the only conclusion I would reach was that it was completely absurd. I didn’t believe it was going on. I had difficulty dealing with the reality of it. It was just absurd. And one example I can cite was that after six months or five and a half months of having training in paper work we were sent on an agent operation exercise where there were hundreds of dollars spent on each member of our class — and again there are thousands of men who go through this training every year — and I was flown from Maryland to New York, had to use a different name, flown to Puerto Rico, got on a submarine, go out five miles, get on a raft, paddle ashore, get back to Puerto Rico, change my name, fly back to New York, then to Dallas, get in a hotel, change my name again, wait for the cops, or the Army Reservist Military Intelligence Personnel to come get me, take me to the police station, gruel me in the same room that Lee Harvey Oswald, had been grueled in, and see how long I could maintain my {13109c2} story that I was really a citizen of aggressor land USA and a whole lot of other cock and bull and see how long I could stand up under that grueling, and then go back to the hotel, look for bugs in my room, train another intelligence enlisted man whom I was designated to need as an agent, teach him how to do secret writing, meet him at another place in town, go back to the hotel, fly back to New York then to Maryland, and then write up my report.

I just didn’t believe it.

[Laughter]

Now, I didn’t reach the conclusion that it was insidious until one, I found out in Vietnam that we had no information about Cambodia. I went to two, specifically two meetings at the U.S. Embassy where there were members of different intelligence agencies in Saigon who were supposedly experts on Cambodia, where we would have a free exchange about information in a plastic container suspended from the ceiling so that I guess the Vietcong wouldn’t bug us.

And I reached the conclusion just by talking to my agents who went and traveled in Cambodia I knew as much if not more than the CIA and State Department experts who were in that room. And I began to wonder on what basis we were maintaining our presence in Vietnam and especially — this was something I heard and never saw — but I heard at the time that we were planning operations into Cambodia and that is why they needed so much information on the Cambodian area, the interior where I was designated to send in agents. And I began to worry that we were taking steps which we had absolutely no knowledge, real knowledge, of what the situation was. And I began to wonder.

I didn’t reach the absolute decision of the insidiousness and the reprehensibility of the situation until back in Washington where I sat on a desk where I got lots of reports not only from Army Intelligence in the field and State-Department and CIA, and found out that we knew even less than I thought we knew before, and in addition to that were implicating all around the world private agencies that were set up by private citizens for private reasons and reasons that were supposedly of available and public knowledge, and we were subverting that.

And I felt personally involved, having studied corporations myself in a very different vein. And I found out about falsification of Government records and that sort of thing.

It was there that I reached the conclusion that it was reprehensible, and could not be justified in my mind.

Mr. Findley.  Mr. Egendorf, as one who has long questioned the value of the CIA to our nation, I must say that your testimony here today has weakened the remnant support I’ve had for that institution.

I want to add, too, that some of our colleagues here may question the value of a hearing like this. Some, I think relatively few, view this as a kind of a rag tag army that has come here to Washington and why waste time in listening to them.

Well, the sober, sensible, rational, objective comments you’ve made here today I feel are a very worthwhile contribution. And I know I’ve learned something from it. And I dare say Mr. Bingham shares the same feelings. So I thank you very much.

[Applause]

Arthur Egendorf previously testified at the Winter Soldier Investigation (Detroit Michigan, January 31, February 1-2, 1971), 117 Congressional Record 9947-10055, 9977-9988 (Panel: “What Are We Doing to Ourselves?”) (U.S. Congress 92-1, April 6 1971, Permanent Edition).  CJHjr


{Kip A. Kypriandes and Phillip Lowley}

Mr. Bingham.  Mr. Kypriandes?

Mr. Kypriandes.  Mr. Bingham, I’d like to call Phil Lowley, who served with me in Vietnam.

Mr. Lowley.  We were both in the same company and in the same platoon together, and our testimony corroborates each other.

Mr. Bingham.  I see Mr. Lowley that you are on the list and you may be heard at the same time if you wish.

Mr. Lowley.  Thank you very much. {13109c3}

My name is Phillip Lowley, I live in Danbury, Connecticut on 7 West Street. I was a Corporal, United States Marine Corps, Graves Registration.

Mr. Kypriandes.  My name is Kip A. Kypriandes. I live in New Haven, Connecticut. I was a corporal — United States Marine Corps.

Mr. Lowley.  Our job was as gravemen to get the American dead, process them and send them to embalming. We were in the I Corps Area. Our main station point was Danang. We got the bodies, either they were sent to us out of the field or we went on what was called an S&R into the field. When we got the bodies into our morgue they were usually fully clothed, or what was left of them.

We took their clothes, stripped the clothes off the bodies, tabulated personal effects and put the bodies up on a slab, washed them down, fingerprinted them, filled out death certificates and marked on our board a number for each body that we had.

At the end of thirty days we tabulated from all our teams in the I Corps area, we tabulated our death counts and sent them into division. And our main testimony here is we want to know how come the counts that the Government gives don’t tabulate with the counts that we get as gravesmen. And for every count we had we had a dead body, sir.

Kip will elaborate on that a little more, the differences between the Government’s count and our count.

Mr. Kypriandes.  Yes, I was in Vietnam from April 28, 1967 to June of 1968. I have right here a copy I have of a slide. It’s a board, both boards on dead, of the dead received from the Navy, the Air Force and the Marine Corps. The majority, 90% are marines. Right in the corner here you can make it out, 774 bodies for one month. Just the I Corps area. Now we’re not talking about Saigon. We’re talking about the I Corps Area: Dam Ha [phonetic], Khe San, Pu Bay [phonetic] and Danang. And that’s it.

Mr. Lowley.  And no Army personnel go on our counts, sir. The Army has its own graves unit.

Mr. Bingham.  What was that month?

Mr. Kypriandes.  That month, I believe was April. But even so, it really doesn’t—

Mr. Bingham.  What year?

Mr. Kypriandes.  April of 1968.

I was stationed in Danang when I first went to Vietnam. I was writing a letter home to my parents and in the letter I told them that we were taking heavy casualties and I gave them the number. Well, our gunnery sergeant, I was on duty that night, he came in and looked over my shoulder, read my letter and said to me that I had no right to put down the dead count because that was secret.

Well, I thought that was pretty cool. I said, Yeah, all right. A couple of weeks later I received orders to go to the DMZ to Khe San. They did this to all the graves registration personnel.

I received a letter from my mother one month saying that there was something like 700 men who had died totally in Vietnam. I repeat that again 700 men had died in Vietnam. Well, our board — I can’t specify what month, but our board read over 700, 750 to be exact. And that was just Marines, Navy and Air Force. Our purpose for being here is we want to know why the Government is not telling the public the truth.

Mr. Lowley.  And another situation—

Mr. Bingham.  May I ask a question just to clarify this. Is your point that the United States Government is not telling the American people how many Americans have been killed?

Mr. Lowley.  Yes, sir. That’s definitely correct, sir. And we would like to know why.

Mr. Findley.  May I interject in here, Mr. Bingham. It just happens that I am the {13110} member of Congress who began placing the names of Americans killed by hostile action in the Congressional Record. This began in early ’69. And periodically I have updated it

Now, I can only recall two letters that I have received in all that time from families who asked why I didn’t list the name of their son who was killed by hostile action.

Now maybe others simply didn’t see the Record, didn’t hear, and didn’t have any way—

Mr. Lowley.  Sir, I think it’s the great American apathy.

Mr. Findley.  I Just want you to know that my own experience has been to the contrary of what you say.

Mr. Lowley.  Well, sir, we can’t really substantially lay proof on you. But we had to work these bodies, and there was an awful awful lot of them. Now, one instance that I can give you when we ran a check on the Pentagon and they confirmed their count. It was February, 1969. We — at the end of thirty days, like I say, we do a total death count and we have to turn it into Division and it goes up the Chain to MACV. And then to wherever it goes out of the country.

Well, our board had 1200 bodies, sir, and AFVM radio came over and said 800 were killed in Vietnam that month.

Mr. Findley.  Just another little item. From the same information that I use in putting the list in the Congressional Record periodically, I also list in the Newsletter to my constituency periodically a Vietnam Roll of Honor representing the names of those killed by hostile action.

Now, this happens every three or four months. Everyone in my District doesn’t get it, but well over 100,000 families do. Over a period of time I’m sure all families hear about it and see it and I did have one family get in touch with me and ask me about it. It was our mistake. We had overlooked a name that had been supplied to us. Here again, it does appear that the list may be more complete than you think.

Mr. Lowley.  No sir. You brought up an interesting point. You said that you had lists of those that died in hostile action. People do die of other things over there too. They don’t classify them as hostile action all the time. There are a lot of suicides. There are a lot of traffic accidents, things like that.

Mr. Findley.  Those bodies that you were in charge of, would the deaths be both of natural causes and hostile action?

Mr. Lowley.  Yes, they would. They would be any dead American.

Mr. Bingham.  Is it possible that that would be the reason for the discrepancy?

Mr. Lowley.  I don’t think so. I don’t think there could be that big of a cut.

Mr. Kypriandes.  Our argument isn’t that we’re complaining about the number of people — not that the families aren’t getting told. It’s why the Government isn’t giving the correct dead count to the news forecasts.

There was a lieutenant who came into our quarters. I was on duty that night. He came in at 7 o’clock be exact because I had to log it in the book. And he asked for the total dead count for a couple months, because he was doing an investigation. And he showed me his papers. Well, I hadn’t the authority I was told not to give any kind of information like that out. Additionally, we had received word that this Lieutenant had gone up to Don Ha [phonetic] and Fu By [phonetic] and they had kicked him him out. Well, he came down to Danang and got permission. He already had permission. The general had refused him. But he did it anyway. He came down to our headquarters in Danang and wanted to see some kind of figures. I couldn’t give them to him I gave him to the gunnery sergeant. I called up the gunnery sergeant and the gunnery sergeant came up and kicked him out.

Mr. Lowley.  Sir, people tried to discredit our testimony by bringing up the fact that {13110c2} we were psychiatric medivacs. Both Kip and I were psychiatric medivacs. I’d like to add that, and so were most of gravesmen. You can only work dead bodies for so long before you go a little — what they say.

Mr. Kypriandes.  Another thing that we would like to talk about is the bounty that was on our heads. Every person in graves registration had sworn too, the way we were treated. I’d like to tell you the way that we were treated but—

Mr. Findley.  About the bounty, what do you mean by that?

Mr. Kypriandes.  They placed a $200 bounty on our heads dead.

Mr. Findley.  Who did that?

Mr. Lowley.  Some of the servicemen.

Sir, I’m sure that you’re familiar with the word “fragging”.

Mr. Findley.  Yes.

Mr. Lowley.  It does happen. We were one of the people who had prices on our heads.

Mr. Findley.  You were a target.

Mr. Lowley.  Yes, we were afraid to go out in the field to pick up dead.

Mr. Kypriandes.  There was an operation in Danang and they had finished the operation and then they had left bodies. They had buried some of the Americans, some Marines, three Marines out in the field because they couldn’t get them out. And I refused to go out in the field when I heard this. I almost had a nervous breakdown and I couldn’t believe it was true.

I told the gunnery sergeant I wasn’t going out. He could do what he wanted with me, but I refused to go out to the field. So he sent out a sergeant and the sergeant came back and said that he was shot at.

Mr. Bingham.  I don’t understand why there would be resentment against you on the part of other American personnel.

Mr. Lowley.  Sir, because when we do get sent out in the field we do have bodyguards and we do go out with a unit. Now, if you were an — infantryman or if you’re familiar with infantrymen these men are waiting to be lifted out to possibly a fire fight, and possibly death. And here we are just sitting on a log next to them. It’s sort of like sending the grim reaper out next to you, because our only business being there is if you happen to die.

Mr. Kypriandes.  Another thing is that when we see a body we tear off their clothes, we cut off their clothes, we wash the body and after that we fill out a chart. Well, the bodies have to be identified and their buddies come in and they see us tearing off their clothes and going through their pockets. And right off the bat they think wrong. They think that we’re stealing money. Another thing that I should bring up. We were accused a number of times of stealing. And I can honestly and truly say, may lightening strike me dead and I’m serious about it, that none of the personnel in graves administration ever stole anything from a dead person.

We had a safe and we had a twenty-four hour watch in the morgue.

Mr. Lowley.  It’s just the fact that their buddies come in to make positive identification of them and we’re on the ground with razor blades, slashing like this [indicating] clothes off dead people. They don’t like it.

Mr. Bingham.  How long — first of all, were you assigned to this—

Mr. Lowley.  It’s a voluntary unit.

Mr. Bingham.  And how long is it customary to serve in that unit.

Mr. Lowley.  Oh, you can serve as long as you want.

Mr. Bingham.  Well, thank you very much, gentlemen.

Mr. Lowley.  Thank you.

Mr. Bingham.  Mr. Vinny Giardina, is that correct?

Vinny Giardina

Mr. Giardina.  My name is Vinny Giardina, and I was with the 108th Artillery, F26 in Northern northern I Corps at Dan Ha. {13110c3}

Mr. Bingham.  Where do you live now?

Mr. Giardina.  Astoria, New York.

First I’d like to say something that I think should be made very very clear. There is no Vietnamization in Vietnam. It’s an Americanization of Vietnam people. But I don’t think the Congress of the United States really really knows.

We are trying to make them Americans, and this is a military command policy. First I’d like to say since if I don’t somebody will say I didn’t say it — or maybe I’ll lead up to it. First of all I was against the war before I went to the war. I became a college graduate because of the Vietnam War. All through my time in the military any time an American stands up for his rights as an American citizen in the military he is suppressed because it seems like once you enter the military you’re no longer an American citizen with constitutional rights.

I was sent to see a psychiatrist because I probably couldn’t conform to the regulations that make you less than an American citizen. It was recommended in Atlanta Georgia that I have a 212 discharge, which says that you re unable to adjust to military life. It is not a medical discharge and can only be given by your commanding officer.

I never received this in Atlanta. I received a courtmartial for it. Then left the United States for Vietnam in September of 1969, was scratched off the flight in Okinawa, did not have any records, because I couldn’t carry them for getting a courtmartial for missing KP, which nobody could prove whether I missed it or not. In Okinawa I was again recommended for a 212 discharge — by the way I’d like to add you go one time and you see a psychiatrist and he recommends you for this. And I was never asked to come back or anything like that.

On three occasions in Okinawa since I was on orders for Vietnam the Army tried to send me to Vietnam and couldn’t because of some regulation that says you can’t fly from a foreign country to another foreign country without a certain fun code. I don’t know exactly what the regulation is or why it is.

I then was in January, about January 19 of 1970 illegally sent to Vietnam without new orders cut for me, while a request was sent to the Department or wherever it’s sent, Department of Army, for a request to remain in Okinawa as a Finance Specialist since I am a college graduate with an accounting degree.

I was put on a manifest to fly to Vietnam without new orders cut. I was then taken under armed guard during a civilian labor force in the middle of mass confusion and forced under armed guard to go to Vietnam. When you can’t be sent when you have a request to the Army, I guess, the Defense department to remain in one place. You’re not supposed to be able to be moved until that is either denied or granted.

So I was put on a manifest by the — the whole command just calling up and saying, Hey, Harry, put him on a manifest and Harry puts you on a manifest and then when you get down there everybody realizes their mistake but they can’t do anything about it.

I was then sent to Vietnam and because of all that had happened, I had been trained before I left the States to work in a Depot. I went to Atlanta, Georgia Army Depot to learn how to run depots as a specialist. I was never sent there. I was sent eight miles from the DMZ. I assumed [this was done] for standing up for my rights.

I have been threatened by the CID and the CIA. Now I’d like to get into what I saw in Vietnam.

Mr. Findley.  Could you abbreviate a little bit? I think we’ve run over the eight minutes.

Mr. Giardina.  Okay.

I sat on the demilitarized zone from January, 1970 to June 1970 and saw American B52 bombers bomb North Vietnam and Laos while the American people weren’t told that we {13111} did this. Not every day, I’d say four times, five times, sometimes seven times a week. And the people back here when I wrote home and asked if they were told this — because when I left the states this was the policy that we were not doing these things. And we did these regularly.

Now, our outpost was Kay Sahn and others around there. I’d see indiscriminate firing over the borders for no reason. I’d see our soldiers crossing the borders when we were not supposed to be doing this, and I’m talking about before the American people were told we were doing these things. And I guess that’s about all.

Mr. Bingham.  Thank you very much I have no questions.

[Applause.]

Mr. Bingham.  The next witness is Michael Paul McKusker.

Note: Although spelled correctly above with a “C”, his name is misspelled, here and below, with a “K”. I’ve substituted the correct spelling: McCusker.  CJHjr.


Michael Paul McCusker

Mr. McCusker.  My name is Michael Paul McCusker, and I’m from Portland, Oregon.

My serial number in the Marine Corps was 1671684. I served six years in the active reserve in an outfit called Fourth Force Reconnaissance which was parachute and scuba qualified. Before reenlisting into active duty for two years in 1966 to go to Vietnam, where I was in 1966 and 1967 with the First Marine Division Informational Services Office, I was a Sergeant E5. My prior experience with this type of business had been close to two years on a paper in Pasadena, California and another almost year on another paper in Monoga [phonetic] California.

So I was pretty well versed in the newspaper business prior to going over to Vietnam as a newspaper correspondent. I was a field infantry correspondent which meant I was basically an infantryman walking point with a camera and a rifle. So I had two duties to fulfill.

These atrocities that you’ve been hearing all day today concerning especially atrocities in the field, torture of prisoners, the absolute contempt toward Vietnamese and Vietnamese society, the degrading and humiliation of all Vietnamese within the I Corps area which ranged from the DMZ down to Duck Pho [phonetic] — basically I was stationed in the Chu Li area before the Army came in — all of these things, these atrocities, were never reported upon. ¶

Even if I were to write them, and sometimes I did, they were redlined and completely out of all copy that I wrote. ¶

Pictures, though the word was not called censorship — and Larry Rottmann brought it out — they were not cleared for release. But he was an officer. He did send his stuff off to MACV and got it stamped. Whereas in my case I had staff NCOs stand on every picture, every picture I developed or had developed, and they cleared those pictures before they were ever sent out of Chu Li to the Danang Combat Information Bureau, which was the Third Marine Amphibious Force clearinghouse for all journalistic endeavors.

My stories went through a battery of at least four people in the Chu Li First Marine Division Office before being cleared to go to CID in Danang, and there they went through another battery of about eight people. ¶

So about the time you saw any of your copy it really was not recognizable. All of the things, and even subtlety that you tried to sneak in there, really never got through either.

Also you could not write under military regulation to any newspaper in the United States without being a correspondent accredited by the military. In other words, you would have to be a military correspondent.

The Marine Corps burned a lot of guys in Vietnam who were fed up with what they were doing, and they would write home to their newspapers and their newspapers would sometimes publish them, and that man was in trouble.


Al Lorentz, “Why We Cannot Win (September 20 2004). Eric Boehlert, “Operation American Repression?: An Army officer in Iraq who wrote a highly critical article on the administration’s conduct of the war is being investigated for disloyalty — if charged and convicted, he could get 20 years” {copy} (Salon, September 29 2004). Karen Kwiatkowski, “Roadmap for the Prosecution” (LewRockwell.com, September 27 2004).  CJHjr


In the year that I was there I went on several — I went on several major operations, {13111c2} most of the time being on the small operation, squad patrols, the small unit stuff, where your everyday atrocity, your everyday contempt for the Vietnamese really manifested itself.

I can’t really elaborate more than Rottmann did on the policy itself, because it was essentially the same. It was generally unwritten, the written policy being the cover for the actual things that were being done. ¶

The politics of torture you’ve heard from intelligence agents, nevertheless they never got very far with the prisoners themselves because eventually they would tell everything that you wanted to hear. ¶

Whereas the politics of torture actually are to implicate you even more into the crimes themselves and make it easier for you to do it the next time. ¶

It escalates your contempt. It escalates your desensitizing.

As a reporter in the field I had the experience of all these things. I can give you specifics if you ask for them. They’re in my testimonies both at the Citizens’ Inquiry in December here in Washington, D.C. Citizens’ Inquiry into American war crimes in Southeast Asia. They’re also in the Congressional Record of April 6th and 7th, both days because I testified twice in Detroit for the War Soldiers at the end of January and the beginning of February. ¶

So I really don’t need I don’t think, to elaborate on those farther, because my Senator was the one who introduced them into the Congressional Record.

I do know that the testimony I’ve given, the testimony that all of us gave in both places, the pertinent testimony of those who have not given testimony before, who are giving them now here this week in D.C., there are still, like within the state of Oregon where we held the Winter Soldier Investigation in the State of Oregon. We held the Winter Soldier Investigation in support of this past week and Tuesday. And there were more soldiers who testified that had not testified previously.

And I believe you’re going to find this within the next several months a mushrooming thing. Because each state sees Vietnam Veterans Against the War holding more and more and more testimonies as more and more veterans come out and speak. This body count that you see here camped out on the Mall just across the street over here in only representative of the great numbers of Vietnam veterans who remain behind in their states for one reason or another, on the average to put on actions in support of this.

So actually we’re token representation. We’re not too worried about a body count. I would like to add before I finish this testimony — and if you want to ask me any questions — I won three out of six writing awards, the first three writing awards of the Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association for the Vietnam War in 1967 in the Mayflower Hotel. I got to shake the hand of Wally Green who was then Commandant. It was an exciting evening.

As a matter of fact I was hosted and toasted by all the hawks who thought I would make a good speaker around the United States which I imagine they’re quite disappointed now.

If there’s any questions?

Mr. Findley.  Mr. McCusker, what did you think that you would accomplish by coming forth this week? ¶

What would you say was your major objective? ¶

Did you really expect something to be different, and if so, what?

Mr. McCusker.  No, I personally didn’t expect anything to be different; but we still have a few liberals in the group.

My particular politics do not avoid any way of getting things done, I guess. ¶

A lot of men who have come here have realized the futility that I learned on the McCarthy Campaign in Chicago, where a lot of guys I was in Vietnam with were fighting another war, {13111c3} and we got clubbed on the head. ¶

We never did make any braid for the Battle of Michigan Avenue.

What we hope to accomplish here is many-pronged, one of which was finally a visibility and recognition as veterans involved in the anti war movement. ¶

It’s only been within the past less than a year, perhaps beginning with the Peoples Army Jamboree in Portland Oregon that we put up against the American Legion and there was news value there. ¶

The press probably had to swallow its not wanting to identify veterans in the movement because there was a story of veterans against veterans. ¶

And so, therefore, finally, irrevocably the participation of veterans in the anti war movement in such numbers was spread out across the country.

And then directly afterwards was Operation RAW from Trenton, New Jersey to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania where the organizers ran into the same problem that General Washington did 200 years ago, where the city fathers didn’t want to give him the park. Except we didn’t rip off the people like Washington did. Because we did finally get the park.

Then of course were the two investigations in Washington and Detroit, leading up to this now. Again, we thought — we had a lot of sympathy locally. ¶

We’ve had perhaps a few precedents set, one of which was a judge lambasting a legislative body concerning illegal laws that the judiciary has to follow up on, has to enforce. That was an interesting concept.

I think a lot of men here learned that they are free, that they can be free if they take those freedoms that are supposedly guaranteed them. ¶

We participated in some civil defense, as you are aware, this week on a low key level, but on a level that we term to be successful. ¶

As a matter of fact, this afternoon at the meeting I’m going to propose the Vietnam Veterans Against the War send a letter of thank you to the Judiciary and to the Executive Branch for their support, because they’ve made it all a success.


“ On Friday, 16 April 1971, the Justice Department sought an injunction in District Court to prevent the VVAW from establishing a base camp on the Mall incident to their proposed demonstration of 19-23 April 1971.

Judge Hart granted the injunction. A Quaker Action Group v. Morton, C.A. No. 688-69 (D.D.C. 1971).

The order therein defined the terms “overnight camping” and “campsite” as “sleeping activities, or making preparations to sleep (including the laying down of bedrolls or other bedding), or making any fire, erecting any shelter, tent, or other sleeping accommodation structure, or doing any digging or earth breaking, or carrying on any cooking activities ....”

Judge Hart ruled that the VVAW could demonstrate on the Mall only from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.

After oral argument on the VVAW’s motion for summary reversal, this court on Monday, 19 April 1971, modified Judge Hart’s order “so as not to prohibit appellants from utilizing [the Mall] at night as well as by day, for the purpose of a so-called campsite base as an incident to or as part of their public demonstrations and gatherings, and for the purpose of sleeping in their own equipment, such as sleeping bags, on that portion of the Mall.” A Quaker Action Group v. Morton, No. 71-1276 (D.C. Cir. 19 April 1971).

Thus, when the VVAW members began to gather that evening on the Mall, they proceeded to erect their now legal symbolic encampment.

The next morning (20 April), the Solicitor General presented an emergency application for a stay of this court’s order to Chief Justice Burger, acting as the Circuit Justice for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The Chief Justice issued an order at 6:00 p.m. on 20 April vacating this court’s order of 19 April and reinstating Judge Hart’s prohibitory injunction.

The VVAW remained on the Mall that evening at sufferance, pending the petition to the full Supreme Court to review Chief Justice Burger’s action.

Late on the afternoon of 21 April, the full Supreme Court, Mr. Justice Douglas not participating, upheld the Chief Justice and by order vacated the order of this court and reinstated “with full force and effect” the preliminary injunction of the District Court. Morton v. Quaker Action Group, 402 U.S. 926 (1971).

That the injunction was ultimately dissolved because the Justice Department declined to enforce it does not affect the quality or finality of the judicial determination of the rights of the parties.

Since the Supreme Court held in 1971 that the Government could enjoin the VVAW from camping on the Mall in violation of 36 C.F.R. § 50.27, the VVAW is obviously not entitled to camp on the same section of the Mall in 1974.”

Vietnam Veterans Against the War/Winter Soldier Organization v. Morton, 506 F.2d 53, 56 n.9 (D.C. Cir., No. 74-1667, June 28 1974).


“ Several hundred protesting Vietnam Veterans Against the War defied the full U.S. Supreme Court last night and bedded down on the Mall.

After an early evening rain, the veterans crawled under ponchos and other makeshift shelters hours after the high court affirmed the order Tuesday of Chief Justice Warren E. Burger banning overnight camping as a violation of Interior Department regulations. ...

“We’re not going in there at 1 in the morning and pick up some wounded veteran and throw him into the street,” said Police Lt. William R. Kinsey.” ...

Meeting earlier in the evening in individual state caucuses, the antiwar veterans voted 480 to 400 to reject the advice of their lawyer, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, and violate the High Court’s order.”

William L. Claiborne, Sanford J. Ungar, Vets Disobey Court Order, Sleep on Mall (Washington Post, April 22 1971).


“ U.S. District Court Judge George L. Hart Jr., at the last-minute request of the Justice Department, reversed himself last night and lifted a ban on the encampment of antiwar veterans on the Mall near the Capitol.

At the same time, Hart lambasted the Nixon administration for “degrading” the federal judiciary by taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court and then refusing to enforce the ban that the high court {illegible}.”

William L. Claiborne, Sanford J. Ungar, Judge Lifts Ban on Vets, Scolds U.S.; Judge Lifts Ban on Antiwar Vet’s Camp on Mall (Washington Post, April 23 1971).

______________________

For a contemporary commentary on these events, see Editorial, “Peace Demonstrations, 1971” (The Nation, May 10 1971). For an eye-witness memoir: Nancy Miller Saunders, Operation Dewey Canyon III, part 3 of a four-part series: 20th Century Winter Soldiers (Online Journal, July 6 2004), excerpted from Combat by Trial: A History of 20th Century Winter Soldiers (forthcoming).  CJHjr

______________________

“ We went willingly, for the most part, to a war in which the collapse of the officer corps, the racism of our society, and an overzealous reaction to the fear of communism put incredible firepower into the hands of nineteen-year-old young men with far too little supervision.

What we learned as a nation, thanks to the honesty of VVAW and the courage of a handful of war correspondents, is that atrocities result from unchecked power — not limited to dictatorships.”

William F. Crandell, “They Moved the Town: Organizing Vietnam Veterans Against the War,” excerpt from William D. Hoover, Melvin Small (editors), Give Peace a Chance: Exploring the Vietnam Antiwar Movement (Syracuse University Press, 1992), an account of the VVAW demonstration in Washington D.C., April 19-23 1971.


We don’t stop from here. ¶

I can see where we might be catered to, to some degree to make us think that we have accomplished something so that we go home, we pat ourselves on the back and think we have done nothing and do nothing more. ¶

But this really is only the opening curtain. ¶

After three long years of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War being in existence, and I’m one of the first members, this is, let’s say, the first curtain finally. ¶

We’ve been building the stage for a long, long, long time. ¶

And now we’re on stage and it’s not going to stop.

And I think increasing pressure from Vietnam Veterans both in and out of the military is going to increase, because we’ve heard for years what people have said, how our boys feel about such things and what their morale is without consulting our boys, expecting them to return as Boy Scouts instead of men who have killed, and who have killed in the name of one thing and they can do it again in the name of another. ¶

You’re not playing with Boy Scouts anymore. ¶

This Administration is not. ¶

We are tough.

Now what we do with this toughness depends. ¶

We’re on all spectrums of political ideas, from men who believe in this system, who would like to see it work, who are attempting this week to try to get it going, men who think that the Administration has been of good will and that they’re only made mistakes and that they only need to have those mistakes pointed out to them; to men such as me who do not believe this war to be a mistake, who believe it to actually have been policy going a long way even before Diem. ¶

Because my involvement in the war past the guilt and confessional trips I went through for a long time, I did a lot of research. ¶

Unfortunately I did it belatedly. {13112}

But I’ve done a great deal of research. ¶

And the pattern manifests itself. ¶

The most important thing about our testimony here and the testimony that was given in the past is the redundancy of it.v

But you’ve got men who were in Vietnam in ’61, you’ve got men who were in Vietnam in ’71 and all those years in between. And they’re saying the same things. ¶

All those years, all those units in all of those places in South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. ¶

And somehow you have the same picture.

These men which you see here are doing the same thing all these years. It becomes almost boring. And these atrocities, the contempt for the Vietnamese. ¶

Also, one point I would like to make concerning the press. ¶

That is, we were never given an opportunity nor were we ever encouraged to look at Vietnamese from the Vietnamese way of life. The Vietnamese civilizations, Vietnamese ideals, their culture, their religion, their whole outlook of life has never been presented or was ever considered in our policy toward Vietnam or toward us even in the field. ¶

We were never encouraged — and as a matter of fact I wrote several stories. They were always rejected, concerning the Vietnamese themselves through an interpreter, of course. My Vietnamese was quite nil. ¶

You send a generation over not understanding the language. ¶

They don’t know the culture either. ¶

Only intelligence agents and interpreters for intelligence purposes are allowed to learn the language. ¶

You just pick up what you can in the field.

Those stories I wrote and stories that friends of mine wrote concerning Vietnamese — and it was again through interpreters, both South Vietnamese and American that we got these stories and these points of view from themselves and their way of life, were always cancelled and redlined. ¶

We could never submit those stories. ¶

We submitted them, I should say, but they were never accepted.

So in other words, the Vietnamese were never given the chance, either through our organs in the military who dealt with them everybody to explain themselves.

Michael Paul McCusker previously testified at the National Veterans Inquiry on U.S. War Crimes in Vietnam (Washington D.C., December 1-3 1970), and he testified twice at the Winter Soldier Investigation (Detroit Michigan, January 31, February 1-2, 1971).  CJHjr


Mr. Bingham.  Thank you very much. The next witness is William W. Lemmer.

William W. Lemmer

Mr. Lemmer.  My name is William W. Lemmer. I am presently on active duty, U.S. army out of Fort Benning, Georgia.

I am a representative of not only the Arkansas Delegation functioning with the Georgia Delegation with the VVAW. I also represent 113 members of the Armed Forces from Fort Benning, active duty and one dependent of a man who’s in Vietnam right now.

I can’t feasibly go into war actions that I’ve been involved in by nature of my active duty status. However, since this is a hearing on censorship, military censorship, I thought it would be appropriate to come to you with what I have here.

113 of us last Saturday got together and signed a petition, a legal petition directed toward our members of Congress. And it was to be an open petition. One of our people stood up, a PFC Dave Richardson from the Stidder [phonetic] Brigade, 40th Company, Fort Benning, stood up and read publicly this statement which reflects the sentiment, the feelings of 113 veterans and future veterans, people who are on levy for Vietnam right now. The war does directly concern us. However we feel that crimes are actually being committed against us, as they’ve already been committed against me. We’re subject to harrassment, undue harrassment from military intelligence sources, from our local command elements simply because we would stand up and voice our opinion here. PFC Richardson is now confined to Fort Benning, Georgia indirectly because of this. He made {13112c2} the statement that this was to be brought to Washington for presentation to Congress.

However, he was retained at Fort Benning under the pretense of having possessed illegal anti war — underground, if you will — literature. GI Press Service, various GI directed or servicemen directed underground literature. It was for this reason that they detained him.

I was told before coming up here that if I in any way reflected any discredit upon the United States Army or made any statement detrimental to the morale of our people there, which is about as low as it’ll get right now, that I would be suffering for the next three months. And it took a great deal of courage for 113 men to sign their names to this petition. It took a great deal of courage for one active duty member to come up here and present this.

One man who was involved in this movement some months ago received a permanent change of station. He was sent to Korea for his actions as far as GI rights go. He was actively participating in programs outside the base trying to get information to the GIs who are grossly misinformed as to their rights under the UCMJ, and apparently the military establishment I know at our post will do anything that they can to see that we can’t distribute literature simply informing them of their rights, even if it’s an abstraction directly from the UCMJ itself. Recently we submitted a letter to General Orwin Talbot, the commanding general of Fort Benning, Georgia asking permission for distribution of GI rights pamphlets, which as I said are extractions directly from the UCMJ. It was turned down on the basis that no one of authority had actually signed their names to the petition, not a petition, but to a letter. It was declined.

Okay, the statement that PFC Richardson made read — read, rather publicly last Saturday is completely legal. It is a legal petition to Congress; in detaining him directly or indirectly they did interfere with an appointment with Senator Vance Hartke, his Senator from Indiana, and he feels that he was done an injustice here and asked me to come forth before some group of people. And I think this is an appropriate group of people right here to come before, and let this fact be known.

I’ve been intimidated. A lot of us have. I was threatened. I can’t be sent to the field on operations. I can’t be assigned to Vietnam again. I’ve been there twice already. I made my second trip — I was in Vietnam twice last year. I was Medivac the last time after 32 days because they didn’t bother to look at my medical records. I have asthma. That was ignored for 11 months in Vietnam the first time. I kept going to them trying to get a profile for it. I was denied this. 32 days after my second tour was initiated I had to be Medivaced for an acute bronchial asthma attack. I think this qualifies me to speak as a Vietnam veteran. I am a combat veteran.

If I may, I’ll run over the highlights of the petition, if I may, to assure you of our feelings here and what we’re being suppressed for, for presenting to you. Okay. In this petition presentation before you we sound one collected voice directing it toward the highest office available for our purposes.

We who have fought and supported and we upon whose shoulders the burden falls to continue the war come to you in confidence that you will now take whatever action may be necessary to right a decade of wrongs.

We feel that any hopes of a military victory in Indochina will serve only to prolong the system of fruitless invasion and further killing of civilian populations on both sides. The pushing of South Vietnam forces across one border after another constitutes {13112c3} a crime both against the country whose forces are intimidated by their actions and against the ARVN troops who are wasted in eventual defeat.

The statement by the GIs simply states: End all hostilities involving Americans. This is what they’re asking, not just ground actions but air operations as well, stating that we feel that as long as America supports such actions Americans will die unjustly.

Article 2: The Nation has been asked to decide whether our effort over the last ten years has been just or not. Okay. We won’t go into MeLai. I sat in on the MeLai case of Lieutenant William Calley for five witnesses. It came as a shock to me to find that they actually convicted him, God knows, of murder.

Okay, the statement from the GIs says that there can be no differences when it comes to wholesale killing, whether it be point blank in the case of MeLai or miles high as in the cases of the bombing of the North. We are involved in wholesale killing and these 113 men right here ask that this petition be brought before you, asking their members of Congress to do something to stop it. That’s all that this petition states.

Article 3: The crimes against the American youth. If a man chose to resist the draft on grounds that the nation was waging an illegal war he has up until now been branded a traitor. And if a man chose to flee the service, this being his only alternative to going to the war he opposed, he was either exiled or imprisoned; rather than correcting only the wrongs done to the people of Indochina please move to right the wrongs done to those who are forced to leave their homes in America to live in exile outside our borders and in the cells of Federal prisons.

We do hereby call, plead, if you will, for action leading to an unconditional declaration of amnesty for all war resistant exiles and prisoners for it was they who saw years before now that our presence in Southeast Asia would lead to the United States being where it is today, and the effects of this conflict and the anxiety upon this generation whose choice of war and persecution has lead to a torn sense of moral values. We feel that it will be felt throughout the remainder of this century.

Stating their position as far as war resistors, having no hard feelings, as it is, toward those people who chose to resist the draft and refused to put themselves in the same positions that we voluntarily and involuntarily put ourselves into.

Okay, Article 4 pertains to us. And us alone at Fort Benning. And this is the right of the serviceman to dissent. The nation is divided in its opinions concerning the Indochina War. Since we are in Army made up of members out of the same population there are divisions of personal opinion among the military ranks. But because we are the ones who must go into the actual battle we are expected to be in support of the war and we’re not supposed to speak against it or the system and the attitudes that serve to perpetuate it.

Anti war mail can be seized in Vietnam. This is a fact. But, it is being seized here at home, too. And those among us who would organize ourselves to make our opinions known are persecuted.

Imprisonment, confinement of those who would speak their sentiments amounts to nothing less than the taking of political prisoners. Under the excuse of fighting Communism our leaders have begun to use unjust tactics, in the name of justice and national unity. We are denied the same rights that we are told that we are fighting for, freedom of speech and freedom to dissent need not tear down the nation. And I feel that we’ve seen it right here with the VVAW demonstration, a very, very constructive demonstration. And this is in support of {13113} VVAW, and we want the right for active duty members to be able to conduct ourselves in this same manner without being unjustly persecuted, simply because we can no longer go along with the attitudes that have been carrying the war — carrying along the war, and have been sending us to the war.

The people who would resist the war are persecuted. The ones that try legally to get out of going, those with legitimate medical rights, are either ignored or harassed until the best decision that they can make is to go on to the war, and God knows, get out of the situation under which they are subjected right here in stateside duty.

Mr. Bingham.  Mr. Lemmer, could you wind it up You are over the eight minutes.

Mr. Lemmer.  Okay, what we’re asking right now is that something be done to help the members of the active duty armed forces, those that are members or veterans of combat status that don’t want to be combat veterans but who are about to be, those who would speak out against the war be allowed to, as is their right. As long as they remain within their rights keeping them from being persecuted. And their sentiments are being silenced forcibly. We are not even allowed to read what we want to.

Underground literature, anti-war literature has been declared illegal, that is, a prohibited item on our post. Our post alone. I can’t speak for the others. But for our post antiwar literature is supposedly a prohibited item. And they’re being seized illegally. The people who would stand up and speak out against what they feel is being done to us are being persecuted indirectly, or perhaps directly. Just like I had a number of people who wanted to come this weekend but who are now confined to post, simply because their leaders knew that if they came here they’d participate in something like this, and for real fear of reflecting discredit on their individual unit. And because some captain was afraid that some colonel would jump on his back. And because one of his privates participated in an anti-war demonstration these people were kept from coming here, from seeing their Congressmen, their Senators, and from participating in a totally legal method of dissent.

My justification for being here was to deliver this petition. And if I may, I’d like to present it to you right now, and my mission is accomplished. [Applause].

Mr. Findley.  Mr. Lemmer, could you come back to the witness table for a moment, please?

Mr. Lemmer, do you feel that you are in violation of Government regulations in being here today?

Mr. Lemmer.  No, sir I do not. Otherwise they wouldn’t have given me leave to come.

Mr. Findley.  That was my next question. In view of the action taken to keep others away, why do you suppose they permitted you to come?

Mr. Lemmer.  Okay, recently it came to light my involvement with the Underground GI Rights Movement. For instance, they went to a lot of trouble to find out something that if they had come to me as such and asked me I would have told them anyway. It’s completely legal.

I do a number of contributing pieces of artwork for an underground press which can’t be legally prohibited. That action right there is legal. Mass distribution of underground literature, anti war literature on a military installation can be.

Okay, I was told that I was pinned to the wall by military intelligence. I myself have been told that I am under surveillance, which I resent simply because I draw for the underground press. Well this is fine. Okay, my action here was to give me in my opinion enough rope to hang myself, to see what I’d actually do, if they could get me in a civil disturbance case turned over to military authorities, arrested, as it were, by {13113c2} civilian authorities and perhaps lead to action toward my discharge.

When I go back I’m going to receive some type of harassment, I know, from my presence here. I expect it. Other people got the harassment simply because they didn’t make their feelings known prior to that.

Mr. Findley.  Mr. Lemmer, the petition that you presented to us contains a good many names I feel a little bit hesitant about publicizing that list of names without some positive assurance that these men knew that this would be made public.

Mr. Lemmer.  Okay, it was announced publicly the same time this petition was read. It was read aloud last Saturday at a peace rally which was organized by our people for the purpose — okay, we told them before they even signed it that this was going to Washington, and if you wanted your voice known, if you wanted it heard please put your name on here. It is a legal petition. And we made it known to them that it would be coming on to Washington and that it would be made known publicly here. And it is in this understanding that these people signed their names and asked us, Please, get it to Washington.

Mr. Bingham.  In terms of war policy your main criticism is that we aren’t getting out fast enough, is that a fair statement?

Mr. Lemmer.  That is one of the complaints.

Mr. Bingham.  What would be the other couple or three?

Mr. Lemmer.  Okay, for one, we’re committing crimes over there. MeLai, okay, that right there was an admission that crimes have been committed, one at least. As a veteran I know and a number of other people know, people whose names are on that petition right there, know from first hand experience, from actually committing said crimes — and I can’t go into it any farther than that. Once you’re out now the Supreme Court says well, fine, you can’t be fined for something you did then. Beautiful, I’m not out that so I’m not going to say a word.

Crimes have been committed. This is one of the things we object to. Another thing we object to is what is being done to the American youth, the anxiety that’s placed upon a man as to whether he should perhaps go to college or whether perhaps he should not, forget about it, just go on into the military, take his chances. If he’s opposed to the war and you can’t be opposed to one war, by law, you’ve got to be opposed to all of them now. You can’t just pick the Vietnam War.

Okay, a lot of people would love to serve their country, but not in the Vietnam War. A lot of us, I myself when I first came into the Army I was very very conscientious. I couldn’t find an actual motive for dissenting against the war as a civilian, and refusing the draft or induction of any type. And because I couldn’t form an opinion and I knew I should I had to get first hand information.

And so I thought I owed it to somebody to go and see. I turned down an OCS class date. I rather violently turned it down, as a matter of fact. They were going to make me go anyway, before I changed things. But I didn’t want to see it from the viewpoint of an officer; I wanted to see it from the viewpoint of a private, and 11 Bravo, a light weapons infantryman, the man whose responsibility it was to look into the eye of the enemy, pull the trigger, kill the man, get mud all over him, in the jungles, the paddies. I’ve been in both. Get himself dirtied, get mud on his hands. Because this is the man right here above all other people, this is the man, what we call the boonie rat, the light weapons infantryman has more qualification to speak against the war if he feels like it than any other man there can be in the war.

[Applause]

Mr. Bingham.  Mr. Lemmer, I would like to compliment you on your courage in coming here and as far as I’m concerned I will certainly do anything I can to see that you’re {13113c3} not arrested. We will put this statement in the Record, Congressional Record, accepting your assurance, that this is a petition to the Congress and that the people who signed it presumably knew what they were doing.

You’re a draftee, Mr. Lemmer?

Mr. Lemmer.  No, sir. I enlisted. Three years M1, I went through a portion of Special Forces Training. When they found out I was about to try and received a legitimate medical discharge, they offered me a discharge on the grounds of psychiatric disability for some ungodly reason I never found out. And told me that if I wanted to get out that they would get me out I turned it down. They said, where would you like to be reassigned? And I said Vietnam. In three days I had orders for Vietnam. I had a 16 day leave before I went to my first tour.

Mr. Bingham.  And you were sent back there a second time?

Mr. Lemmer.  I was sent to the 82nd Airborne Division after my return from Vietnam the first time. We were terribly understaffed as far as TONE strength, that is the standard strength that’s supposed to be maintained in an infantry unit.

All of a sudden, and I could go further into what I believe was behind this big levy, that is, this big withdrawal from the states and putting all these people — we had 5900 men from the 82nd Airborne Division alone. Within one month there was a series of three levies sent to Vietnam, during the months of July and August of 1970. We were told, however, that we wouldn’t be spending a full 12 month tours. We were going to spend 10 month tours.

Mr. Bingham.  Were all these men going back for the second time?

Mr. Lemmer.  I — a lot of us. One man in particular, a man named Private Henning, he came back from Vietnam an E1, received orders for Vietnam, unsolicited orders. He didn’t even request it. Eight days after being in the replacement station of the 82nd Airborne Station, he received orders to go back to the Vietnamese War. And when we got to Cameron Bay, which is the incoming station there, the dispersal station, replacement, if you will, they wired Long Binh as to this man’s status. They were going to send him to a unit known as the 5th Meck, up on the DMZ. He wanted to go back to his old unit which was my same unit, the 173rd Airborne Brigade. They told him that even though he was a second tour personnel he was on levy, therefore he did not have any choice in the matter of where he was going to be reassigned. That they would assign him where they felt that he was needed most.

He presented the fact that he was in Fort Bragg eight days before he was given orders to come back. Immediately they wired Long Binh, and Long Binh came back with an ITT or a teletype message saying, Send the man where he wants to go and for God’s sake, keep him quiet. Just get him there and keep him quiet. They sent him where he wanted to go but they didn’t keep him quiet. He did manage to get a letter off to his Congressman.

Mr. Findley.  How much longer do you have to serve?

Mr. Lemmer.  I have three months, Sir.

Mr. Findley.  Do you happen to now know who your Congressman is in Arkansas?

Mr. Lemmer.  Yes, sir. It’s J. Paul Hammerschmidt. I contacted him when I had a reassignment problem this last time in Cameron Bay. I contacted him. I wasn’t in time, however I was forced to go on to my next unit where I spent ten units {sic} before I was Medivaced.

Mr. Findley.  Mr. Lemmer, when you get back to Fort Benning, would you please pass the word that you have presented the petition and that the intention is to place it in the Congressional Record. And do your best to get the word to all of those who signed it, so that if any of them have second {13114} thoughts and don’t want their name in the Record they can get in touch with Mr. Bingham’s office and get their names off.

I worry about the possibility that some of these men really may not want that publicity

Mr. Lemmer.  Sir, I’ll do my best. And I, if I’m not able to go through the Army’s PIO system to do it I wouldn’t worry about it because I feel that our underground news publication gets a wider publication or circulation anyway. Thank you very much.

[Applause]

Mr. Findley.  Okay, Mr. Bingham. I believe we have four remaining. And that will conclude our list of witnesses. ¶

The next one on the list is Alex Prim.

Note: Throughout this document Alex Primm’s name is spelled with one “m”. I’ve substituted the correct spelling (Primm) everywhere it appears, except just above this note.  CJHjr.


Alex Primm

Mr. Primm.  My name is Alex Primm. I live in St Louis, Missouri. I was drafted in September, 1967 and I went to Vietnam in the end of September, 1968. I was released from service in June, 1969.

In Vietnam I served with the first logistical command with Headquarters at the Information office. I first was assigned after arriving in Vietnam as a rewrite man in the Information Office.

I then became a regional correspondent, and traveled around Vietnam as a correspondent covering a variety of stories.

After this I became editor of our newspaper. ¶

My testimony concerns the changing of news and the ineffectiveness of the military information policies of assisting American citizens in understanding what Vietnam is like for military people assigned there, and what the war is, as such I think most of us who have been to Vietnam, one reason that we are here today is because our fellow citizens have a very slight idea of what the war is like. ¶

Most of the civilians don’t realize that the Vietnamese regard the Americans as forming an army of occupation. They do not see us there as assisting them.

I can give an example which has been given before but I’ll make it brief this time. It’s in the Congressional Record for the Winter Soldier Congressional Investigation. ¶

But it’s the only incident that I have to relate that can get in across clearly. It’s the only incident that I have to relate because most of the news that I had to report on was of a trivial non news nature.

There just wasn’t much news. Our office covered such things as reporting on the amount of turkey that would be served in Vietnam on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas. We also gave — sent out a special team to cover the Bob Hope Show. We also covered the arrival of a Christmas ship at Cameron Bay. These were major projects that were covered. ¶

And I did hear stories of how the logistics were in a real snaffoo {sic: SNAFU}, how there were supplies coming to Vietnam that would sit in warehouses for months and then be returned back to the United States because no one knew what they were there for.

But I knew nothing about this. These were just rumors. ¶

And Vietnam is such a large operation that no one man, especially an enlisted man like myself, can really see the whole picture. ¶

And that’s why investigations such as this are so important, because each man can say what he did and what he saw, and then perhaps someday, the whole picture can be told by each person having his say.

This one story I’d like to relate came to our headquarters from the Quinyan [phonetic] support command. It was a story that was written by a military correspondent there about a pipe line repair team that was repairing pipe lines that would carry oil from the coast to air bases further inland.

These pipe lines were constantly being hit, being sabotaged by the Vietcong. Also Vietnamese women would take apart the pipe lines. I gather they were sort of portable light pipe lines. They would take them apart and {13114c2} take the oil. So when this pipe line repair team would be called out to investigate a reported break they didn’t know if they’d be running into an enemy, or they might just be finding some Vietnamese women taking a little oil to cook with.

They had suffered quite a few casualties, and it had also been a highly decorated unit which is unusual in that district. I was given the story. It was about seven or eight pages long and I was told to cut it down. I reworded it making the lead deal with the number of decorations that these men had won. And also mentioning that there had been men killed and wounded. I turned the story in after I rewrote it to my information officer a lieutenant. He gave it back to me and said, Delete the fact that there had been men killed and wounded and delete the fact of their decorations they’ve won. ¶

He wanted the article to sound like the men had no troubles doing their job.

I said I felt— ¶

I persisted I felt it was important that these decorations be mentioned at least I could understand why the military would not want the casualties mentioned. It’s bad publicity even though it is the truth. He agreed and he let me put the fact about the medals won in the story and it appeared at the end of the article. It was published in our unit newspaper.

This is the end of my testimony.

Mr. Bingham.  Are you Alexander Primm, Junior?

Mr. Primm.  The fourth, Sir.

Mr. Bingham.  I believe your father and I were classmates. I have no questions to ask, but I would like to thank you for coming today and giving us this information.

Mr. Findley.  Mr. Primm, as a result of our earlier conversation I know that you are the coordinator for Illinois and Missouri. ¶

One thing that troubles me — and I know it places you in a difficult position of being introspective about this — is the possibility that the veterans here in Washington this week are really not giving President Nixon credit for what he has accomplished. ¶

Would you examine that? ¶

Do you really think the veterans are giving him the credit he deserves in light of the troop reductions which have taken place?

Mr. Primm.  I think we’re all glad that the President has started to reduce the number of troops. ¶

I think if there were no reductions we wouldn’t be here I mean, there would be much more violent confrontations taking place. ¶

I think most of us, we are glad that they’re taking place, but we feel that the President has not been making a basic change in policy. ¶

Like one man testified here, there is — what is happening now in Vietnam is not a Vietnamization but an Americanization.

We are just changing the color of the corpses. ¶

There is no basic change in policy. ¶

The bombing is still continuing at a similar rate or perhaps even a higher rate. ¶

So we feel that while a slight change has taken place, the basic policy, we feel, has not been changed. ¶

And the basic policy, we feel, been that we have to support a non Communist Government, and that Indochina is essential to the security of the United States.

Most of us who have been to Vietnam have seen that the Vietnamese do not want us in their country and we’ve seen that the war — and this is hard to document — but the war is a civil war. ¶

It’s not a war where the Vietnamese, or where the enemy — what we’ve seen — has any desire to come over to country and take over us. ¶

We have seen that this idea that we’re fighting in Vietnam because soon we’ll be fighting on the shores of California. ¶

This idea is not true at all. ¶

The Vietnamese just want us out of there, and we had this feeling every day, because the average Vietnamese people hate us. ¶

They do not want us in their country. ¶

If they wanted us there the war would be over in several months because the Vietcong and North Vietnamese would have none of the support of the average civilian. {13114c3}

But now they obviously do and that’s why they’ve been able to persist for so many years against the might of our military.

Mr. Findley.  Do you have any way to know the extent to which your attitude reflects that of the Vietnam veterans? ¶

Have you taken a poll or are you engaged in it? ¶

Can you give us a progress report on any efforts that are being made to really determine the attitude of Vietnam veterans?

Mr. Primm.  That’s very hard to do. ¶

I’ve been spending most of my days for the past five or six months — well, the last three months — working with Vietnam veterans and trying to get them organized to come here to Washington, and trying to get them organized to work in their own homes to end the war.

I have run into Vietnam veterans who do think that the war is a good thing. Most of them feel — those who feel the war is a good thing they feel that we’re helping the people. This is their opinion and it’s very definitely in the minority.

Most Vietnam veterans cannot be organized. It’s hard to find them. They come back and they do not want to join a veterans organization such as ours. I assume they do not want to join the American Legion or any other veterans organization. ¶

They want to get back to normal life and try to forget about what they’ve done. They want to forget about the military, they want to forget about Vietnam. They want to get this experience out of their minds and they want to go back to their jobs, their wives, their families, school and they don’t want any more to do with this. And they’d just as soon forget about it.

There are those of us here who do feel that we have a responsibility to continue being active with the military in the sense of not being in the military, but serving our country to tell our fellow countrymen that what we’re doing in Vietnam is wrong. ¶

We feel what we’re doing is patriotic coming here. ¶

And most veterans do agree with this and would agree with what we’re saying here. ¶

Ninety percent of the veterans of Vietnam are against the war, but they’re just too involved to be active.

There’s also another thing that’s taken place with Vietnam veterans.

They’ve been dehumanized in a way, and this is a frightening thing that’s hard to explain. ¶

They do not feel like full people in certain ways. ¶

They’re lost and they’re confused. ¶

Many of them don’t understand what they went through this for in the first place. ¶

It was never explained to them and they’re at a loss to get adjusted to a society which says one thing about Vietnam but which they know to be otherwise.

Mr. Findley.  I wish that the attitude of the American people on the veterans visit to Washington this week could be formed on the basis of what has been presented here today, and particularly on the very good testimony which you’ve presented, instead of the odd bits of disturbance, harrassment, violence and arrests that have occurred elsewhere.

Thank you.

[Applause].

Alex T. “Sandy” Primm previously testified at the Winter Soldier Investigation (Detroit Michigan, January 31, February 1-2, 1971), 117 Congressional Record 9947-10055, 10022-10031 (Panel: “The 25th Infantry Division and Public Information Office”) (U.S. Congress 92-1, April 6 1971, Permanent Edition). If his article disappears from Google’s cache, here’s a paid archive link to it: Alex Primm, “Anti-war veterans recall Kerry's service to peace movement” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 27 2004).  CJHjr


Mr. Bingham.  Mr. McLaughlin, Robert McLaughlin.

Robert McLaughlin

Mr. McLaughlin.  My name is Robert McLaughlin. I’m from Middletown, Connecticut. I was a staff sergeant in the United States Army. I served two tours in Vietnam in the 74th LRP 173rd Airborne Division. I have a total of eight years in military service.

Mr. Findley.  What does LRP mean?

Mr. McLaughlin.  Long range patrol.

I couldn’t possibly talk about all that I saw or did. I’m going to talk about what I did on my second tour between May ’68 and November of ’68.

I returned to the 173rd Airborne Division in Vin Dim [phonetic] Province to LZ English, which is the provincial Capitol of {13115} Bonson [phonetic]. In the provincial capitol there is an ARVN prison which is run by the Vietnamese. I witnessed Vietnamese prisoners, suspect, that were forced to work filling sandbags by the ARVN soldiers. This is against the Convention the Geneva Convention.

I became aware working with the MI attachment that any Vietnamese could be held suspect for up to two years without a trial. While I was there there were two insurrections in the prison camp in which the Vietnamese sergeant-major was killed.

I also was there when the Vietcong tried to free these prisoners from this camp. The camp was run by military personnel. If I can digress further on interrogations that I performed on various people. The important thing is that on August 12 I led a raid on a LRX prison camp called Hoyan — HOIAN, the local prison camp. This camp was approximately 2.5 kilometers from the American and Vietnamese prison camp.

Unlike the American Vietnamese prison camp, it was in an unexposed ravine with ample cover from the sun and ample water. There was no exterior security. There were six guards in the camp. In the raid I led between three and thirty civilians were killed.

We did not capture any of the prisoners. The mission that I was given was that there were four Americans in a cage in the Tiger Mountains. I wasn’t given the location. In the process of the raid we walked into the camp in which there was a large amount of Vietnamese men and women.

Because of the information given me that there were only Americans in the cage I presumed that the camp that I had walked into was in fact a hospital I thereby called artillery on what I thought was a hospital.

Two days later after wandering through — oh, excuse me. On the way out of the camp I ordered by assistant team leader to knife a man who was in a hooch for fear that he would see us and shoot us. Two days later after wandering through The Tiger Mountains it became obvious to me that that was the camp I returned to the camp and in fact found that it was a camp and I have a photograph of the camp. Would you like to see them?

What I’d like to talk about is the parallel between the American Saigon camp and this particular camp. Two days after I returned from the patrol I asked the S2 Officer, Major Stand III, if he had debriefed the documents that I had brought out from the camp? He said no, and he told me to go ahead and debrief the documents myself. I took my interpreter, Corporal Yow, went to the detachment and with another interpreter debriefed the documents as much as I could. I spent one whole day doing so. In the process of debriefing the documents it became evident to me that the camp was run by a political cadre and not as in the American and Saigon camps, by military personnel.

The plant was in a gum tree plantation. According to the documents prisoners were required to work in the morning to collect gum from the trees to support the camp. In the afternoon and evening they were required political education.

On many of the trees and buildings there were scrolls of the 11 Rules of Ho Yan [phonetic] prison camp, none of these rules were not within the keeping of the Geneva Convention. The strictest rule that I found was “In the presence of a guard prisoners in a group must squat while being spoken to.” Squatting is a typical Vietnamese custom. They don’t use chairs.

Another interesting thing I found out about the camp through these documents was that the majority of 38 men, 25 women and 4 Americans that were in the camp or had been in the camp, they were in the camp at one time. There were hundreds that had been in the camp. Most of the Vietnamese {13115c2} men were draftees who had submitted to the draft. The women were wives of the draftees who had submitted to the draft and then had been placed in another camp, another location.

These people were treated very well. I have to draw a parallel here because that sounds so harsh. In the American Saigon camps entire families are held suspect, can be held suspect and put into the camp for two years. This means men, women and children.

In the NFL camps only one person from a family is required to be in the camp at one time. Not only that, if they rotate on either weekly, monthly or quarterly basis other people in the family so it does not disturb the family of the farmer.

People on the average spent six months in the camp at which time they usually joined the NLF. In the process of debriefing these documents it became evident to me that the NLF — excuse me, I’ll have to talk about the American — there’s a great amount of documents that I did and I can’t do it all from memory.

I was told by the S2, Major Stang, that there were four Americans, two of which had surrendered, two with the NLF. I was given a description of the Americans, of two of the Americans. One was a tall blond and the other one was a short black man. In debriefing the documents and through the intelligence that was available to me, I became aware that the nurse who was in charge of the people in the camp not only kept medical records of their medical health but she also kept some psychological evidence on their mental health.

I’m afraid I’ll have to open it up for questions.

Mr. Bingham.  Will you summarize for us the significance you see in all this?

Mr. McLaughlin.  The significance is obvious. The people of Bon Son [phonetic] which is the provincial capitol of Bin Dim [phonetic] Province are aware that they can receive better treatment in the NLF prison camps than they can in the American Saigon prison camps. Not only that, the Saigon unit that’s in Bon Son is from another area of Vietnam, and the name of that unit is Kak Tin [phonetic] which means Go North.

In the province these people are very hostile to this unit, and to the American Saigon prison camp in Bon Ton.

Mr. Bingham.  I wasn’t clear of the circumstances under which you moved in on this camp. You said that one time you called in artillery?

Mr. McLaughlin.  Yes.

Mr. Bingham.  And then what actually happened? Was the camp evacuated.

Mr. McLaughlin.  No, sir. It’s very confusing. We walked into the camp at 9 o’clock in the morning on, I think, August 12.

Mr. Bingham.  How many of you were there?

Mr. McLaughlin.  Six.

The people in the camp saw us and we pulled back.

We knifed the prisoner who later turned out to be a prisoner, because I took his ID card and compared it to documents I got out of the camp. The man that knifed him — and I won’t reveal his name — later committed suicide.

I reported the camps as 30, 40 Vietcong which I believed to be a hospital and requested artillery to cover the knifing. I was at the time not in good command of my men. I moved my men to a hilltop nearby and called the artillery, The reaction force that was supposed to help me capture the prisoners was not sent in. They sent a platoon of infantry in to the camp, which I thought was a hospital.

The platoon wandered all day and did not find the camp. Finally, at 7:30 at night I was ordered to move 1000 meters to the camp and {13115c3} fire a shot so they could find the camp. I moved 1000 meters in 45 minutes. It was growing dark. I collected the documents. I still did not know it was a prison camp.

Mr. Bingham.  I don’t understand. Was the camp by this time empty or what?

Mr. McLaughlin.  When we went into it, the prisoners were on the other side of the camp talking. They would not come near us. And we had no capability of rounding them up.

Mr. Bingham.  And the VC? Was this a VC operated camp?

Mr. McLaughlin.  Yes.

Mr. Bingham.  And they disappeared?

Mr. McLaughlin.  Yes, sir. These pictures were taken three weeks after. They moved the prisoners to a town called Bin Chung [phonetic] which is about a kilometer and a half away. And they reset the camp.

In other words, there was nothing in that camp that couldn’t be rebuilt and used.

Mr. Bingham.  You called in the artillery fire. Was their artillery fired?

Mr. McLaughlin.  Yes, sir

Mr. Bingham.  In reporting this, did you indicate that this was a hospital?

Mr. McLaughlin.  Yes, sir.

Mr. Bingham.  Was that standard practice, to call in artillery?

Mr. McLaughlin.  Yes, sir.

Mr. Bingham.  On a hospital?

Mr. McLaughlin.  Yes, sir.

The reason I thought it was a hospital was because of the large amount of women in the camp

Mr. Findley.  Did you identify the day that this occurred? I don’t recall.

Mr. McLaughlin.  Yes. The patrol lasted six days and I believe it was August 12, 1968.

Mr. Findley.  Do you recall the name of your immediate superior?

Mr. McLaughlin.  What I would consider my immediate superior in this particular instance would be Brigadier General Allen who is now, I believe, a Major General.

I would also like to say that the prisoner that we knifed, the person whom we knifed and also the two, the elderly man and woman who were in our way getting to the camp — I reported those two as enemy and VC.

[Applause]

Jack Smith

Mr. Smith.  On the tour when I was there our standard operating procedure — we worked in conjunction with artillery. We had ground surveillance radar and counter mortar radar. We located enemy troop movements and vehicle movements in the demilitarized zone on the northern side of the river which is considered North Vietnam. Under the Geneva Conventions we were not allowed to fire along the demilitarized zone. However, our standing policy from the time that we emplaced there and through the entire tour was that with our ground surveillance radar which was stationed at Kontien [phonetic] we would in fact locate troop movements and truck movements along the demilitarized zone in the northern half and that we would call in artillery fire on them.

Because of the Geneva Conventions we would not call in the grid coordinates that we’d be actually firing on in North Vietnam. I would call in a grid coordinate 15 to 20 meters inside the southern half of the demilitarized zone, call in that coordinate, get clearance to fire on that grid, put one round on that grid, and then walk the artillery fire across the border into the North Vietnam half and fire on the troop movements.

We would then report any damages when the movement stopped, and any damage would be reported as having been in the southern half of the demilitarized zone at the location that we originally called in, which was entirely false, and it had actually no relation to the facts, to the target that we were originally firing on.

Mr. Findley.  Did you ever receive any {13116} written instructions on this procedure, or was it all verbal?

Mr. Smith.  The written procedures on the subject specifically stated that we would not fire into Vietnam, into North Vietnam. The DMZ control would call up every time we would fire and report that we were firing into North Vietnam. We would assure them that we had called in this grid. They would never check it out because they knew that we were firing there and we would always continue the firing into the North and then report it. There was never anything written that we would do it because we had to cover ourselves because we were violating the border.

The second incident concerns unidentified aircraft.

We were a radar unit. We had a capability at Charley 2 of 24 kilometers, and we were located right on the demilitarized zone, so we were looking effectively 23 kilometers into North Vietnam.

We had in addition to locating all friendly and hostile fire, determining where it came from, we also had to track all aircraft in that area.

On six occasions in March, April and May of 1969 we located aircraft flying from North Vietnam down the South, spotter planes and helicopters which were identified. And we identified them as unidentified aircraft and were immediately called in. I went to a briefing with my commanding officer at Headquarters, 12th Marine and we were told never again to file a report that there were aircraft coming out of the North.

From that time on anytime we had aircraft coming in from the North we called in a uniform fox trot oscar, a UFO. We would call it in as a UFO. They would call it down to the Marine Air Group down at Chu Li. They were sending up fighters from Danang and they would then escort the planes back across the border. And we were advised by — I was advised by my colonel and then advised my teams that we would never ever refer to this. It would never be released to the press that we had ever had any aircraft on the border.

Mr. Bingham.  Why was that?

Mr. Smith.  I don’t know why. As much as I would question, I was never given a reason. I was just told that we would never mention the fact that we had unidentified aircraft coming from across the border.

Mr. Bingham.  You say they were escorted back?

Mr. Smith.  They were escorted back by fighters back across the border.

The next thing was, there were three incidents, one in September 6th, one approximately September 12 or 16, and then September 2st, during the first initial pullout of the Marine troops from along the demilitarized zone.

We were in charge of mortar operations for that entire area. The first ARVN division took over the AO immediately to the right of us which was located 1 kilometer to the east of the base at Charley 2. In this AO for our operation we had plotted on our maps all the areas where the first ARVN had platoons and companies and ground forces stationed. On two occasions, on the 6th and the 13th of September, 1969 the Marine base, supply base, combat place at Dan Ha was shelled by rocket fire. This rocket fire was determined to have originated from the vicinity about 50 meters from the location of the ARVN base camp. We filed reports on it and the ARVN subsequently claimed that they had never seen the rockets take off, and there was no information that they had on it. So the information was ignored and it was put aside and we never did anything about it, no investigating. On September 21, 1969 again rocket fire landed on the base at Dang Ha. Six marines were killed. And the rocket fire was determined to have originated from the center of the ARVN base camp in the AO immediately to the right of Charley 2. An investiga- {13116c2} tion was started and we filed our information as to what we had with the regimental commander of 12th Marines that September. The investigation went on for about 2 weeks and was subsequently dropped and there was never any report filed. We never got any information.

When I requested information as to whether the ARVNs had done it, the feeling that I got when I talked to the Colonel in a briefing session on it, was that the ARVNs had in fact fired the rockets because they were very upset with the fact that marines were pulling back off the demilitarized zone and they had to take over the AO.

There had been for the initial part of that month very limited rocket and mortar attacks on the base. But there had been very heavy activity during July and August. In September it had been somewhat diminished. But his suspicions, which he related to me at that time, were that the ARVNs were firing on the base to make it look like the NVA were infiltrating across the border, and firing on us so that we would not in fact continue to withdraw at the rate that we were. There was never any more filed on it. The records of that incident are all located with Headquarters Battery, 12th Marines with the 3rd Marine Division on Okinawa right now. They’re located with the counter mortar radar section with the full documentation of all the locations, exactly the grids where they were fired, exactly where the ARVNs were located, it’s all located in those records.

The next thing was on July 17, 1969, a tunnel was located half way through the mine field at the base of Charles 2, being burrowed from outside the mine field in toward the counter mortar radar location.

It was discovered and two men were discovered in it. The tunnel was exploded and destroyed. The two men were killed in the ensuing fire fight. That evening at the briefing the ground commander who was the company commander for Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division called us into a briefing and explained that their feeling was that the Vietnamese civilian woodcutters, the refugees who had been relocated from villages in that area and who made their living by scrounging wood and garbage from our garbage dump right outside the base, that these people as such had been forced by the NVA to carry off the dirt in their little baskets that was being excavated from this tunnel.

He sent an order that evening that the woodcutters would no longer be allowed into this area, which was a free fire zone, to collect — the wood. To implement this he ordered three 55 gallon drums of CS gas dropped from helicopters on that area. That evening it was implemented and we had three 55 gallon drums of CS gas dropped on the garbage dump. The next morning on July 18, 1969 19 civilian woodcutters, three of them men — and they were all men of over 50 years old — the remainder old women, young women and children came out as was their usual activity, came out to the base and started scrounging for fire wood in the garbage dump.

As they went to the garbage dump and turned over the garbage, they released the gas which had been trapped under the garbage. They immediately started vomiting, becoming noxious and sick and started fleeing from the dump.

The company commander, the base ground commander, then ordered the third platoon of Kilo Company along the perimeter — the platoon commander and the platoon sergeant were there. There were two men with M79. grenade launchers who fired CS gas grenades over the heads of the Vietnamese and behind the Vietnamese to force them along the perimeter and in towards the wire on the outside of the mine field. {13116c3}

As they went along and got in front of the base where the men were lined up the men inserted a magazine into their weapons and on command of the platoon commander opened fire on the civilians.

They opened fire initially on the dirt immediately in front and to either side of the civilians to make them dance. And the Vietnamese started scurrying around and hopping up and down as the bullets bounced around them. They then shifted their fire and the bullets started striking them in the legs and the arms and several fell. I went over and requested that the platoon commander stop this because they, were unarmed civilians. He refused and I went into my bunker and reported back to my commanding officer that the incident was going on.

When I returned the firing had stopped. There were no more civilians there. The bodies had all been dragged off. This is what I was informed. I did not see the bodies dragged off. I do not know how many were killed, but there were 19 that originally were out, there. And my report was never filed, never went up the chain of command. It stopped at Headquarters Battery, 12th Marines.

Mr. Findley.  Could you identify the officer to whom you reported the request that the firing halt?

Mr. Smith.  I did not know his name. He was the third platoon commander of the 3rd Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines. And the date of the incident was July 18, 1969.

The report is again with the Records of Counter Mortar Radar at Headquarters Battery, 12th Marine, 3rd Marine Division on Okinawa.

Mr. Bingham.  You filed a report and you know that nothing further happened to that report.

Mr. Smith.  Nothing further was done. Every time I went in to request it, they said that nothing was being done, that they were only gooks anyway.

Mr. Findley.  This certainly is a terrible incident which you reported to us, and I will do the best I can to get the facts on it.

Thank you very much.

[Applause.]

Mr. Bingham.  David Maize.

David B. Maize

Mr. Maize.  My name is David B. Maize. I served in the United States Air Force from May, ’66 to January, 1970. I received an honorable discharge. But I speak not only as a vet but as an ex GI dissenter who was courtmartialed indirectly, similar to the other testimony.

I was courtmartialed for the expression and participation in an anti war activity, and I think I can speak for all the vets here in saying that we agree that fighting a war in which such a man as Ky, a Massachusetts resident, is sent over to head a presumably free government, a war in which a whole population is either locked up in what seems to be concentration camps or enlisted into the Army, a war in which hundreds of thousands of reluctant GIs have turned to drugs to escape, a war which was instituted in the spirit of Nineteenth Century diplomacy.

The dissenting veterans here feel that members of Congress are responsible for implementing a foreign policy here which is resulting in such a grievous war.

That policy-making is a mere extinction of the morality of the people who are responsible for implementing this policy. We address members of the Congress in order to what we feel to be rectified, the morality and the policy-making that’s responsible for wars such as Vietnam.

I come from the State of West Virginia and our state has lost more GI fatalities than any other state across the country on a percentage basis. And I think I have the right to speak for a lot of GIs who aren’t here today {13117} as a result of the war that is causing so many social problems that we see today.

I think even the veterans here today are the result of this war, of the policies that perpetuate this war, the policies which perpetuate the society in which we live. We believe that society is changing and we’re here to peacefully demonstrate against the policy in which we do not believe. We are here to make an attempt to change the morality which is responsible for this war.

I think that in the last week or so a lot of Americans have been affronted with concepts of the very people who fight the war and who are now protesting against it in force.

And I think that public opinion is gradually changing. I think the public doesn’t really support the war anymore. And I think that the war should be put to an end and I can speak for the vets against the war in saying that we feel that the war should be stopped today.

We think we have more urgent problems here at our home, and we think that the society that produces a generation of people who can’t believe in that society anymore needs to examine its morality, its purpose and its laws.

We feel that our presence here will help to demonstrate this. Speaking for myself I witnessed quite a few atrocities in Vietnam like the everyday abusement of Vietnamese prisoners, or just Vietnamese people in general, like GIs—

Mr. Bingham.  I don’t think you told us what your rank and position was.

Mr. Maize.  When I was in Vietnam I was Airman first class and I was on a mobility team traveling through Vietnam for a period of three and a half to four months from Bangkok, Thailand, 6th aerial force squadron. I was at various locations in Vietnam. I was at Kheson at the Kheson conflict. I was at TruBi (phonetic). I was at Danang, Cameron Bay, Tansuhut (phonetic), SongBi (phonetic). And at SongBi I witnessed — well, I didn’t actually witness, but I observed the Air Force wipe out a whole full village. Because reputedly there was one VC prisoner loose in this village. The artillery of the 101st Cal. or whatever artillery battery was stationed there, aided in the destruction of this village, and there was only — as a matter of fact there was only one structure which was left standing after the raid. That was the mayor’s house and the only reason it wasn’t destroyed was because it had two banana trees in it, in which there was an agreement with the United States that destruction of banana trees requires a payment of $75, I believe; $50 or $75. And that’s the only reason this was left standing.

I think there’s been a lot of incompetence in this war. I think the GIs and the veterans, especially the people who have been to Vietnam really don’t support this war, and that’s why we have what we do in Vietnam today. We have a lot of veterans coming back who result to a different life style. We have a lot of GIs in Vietnam who don’t support the military commanders who actually do everything in their power to obstruct military progress in Vietnam, and these people here — I think we’re a good representative group of these people who have come here to speak against the war — So speaking for the Veterans Against the War, speaking for the active GIs who oppose the actual war and suffer consequences, I think I would be correct in saying that we feel this war should stop now and that we feel like the injustice of the war should not continue any further. We feel that — for a group, we have been slighted in treatment. For instance, at Walter Reed Hospital yesterday they have an insufficient number of beds — not Walter Reed, but the veterans hospital in Washington — and they have an unacceptable, insufficient number of beds, numbering I think 10, in which to handle drug cases resulting from Vietnam which total into the thousands. {13117c2}

And this is characteristic of VA hospitals throughout the United States.

The hospitals also are incompetently staffed as far as their drug treatment programs go. And I think this is a major problem. I think it really hasn’t been pointed out what major proportions that it has reached. And I think that if — I think only in part it can be corrected by drug rehabilitation programs. I think that the actual policies of Congress, the morality of the people who form the policies and the Government itself is responsible for turning out these people who have rejected society and indeed, have been rejected by society themselves.

And that’s all I have to say.

[Applause.]

Mr. Bingham.  First of all, were you courtmartialed in Vietnam?

Mr. Maize.  No, I was courmartialed — I was actually anti war in the — when I was overseas; I think I became that way in 1967 while stationed in the United States. I was sent to Thailand and for expressing my views I was sent to Vietnam. Of course which I didn’t mind. I had a pretty good time there, although I did see a lot of gruesome sights.

And we traveled around a lot and I got what I think is a good perspective of how the war operated, you know, because of the many travels — like I was constantly traveling around from one place to another.

Mr. Bingham.  Can you tell us about your courtmartial?

Mr. Maize.  Well, I was courtmartialed at San Bernadino, and that’s Norton Air Force Base. And I don’t remember the month now. At any rate—

Mr. Bingham.  On what charges?

Mr. Maize.  On charges — I was currently at that time, engaged in public speaking, like at demonstrations or organizations against the war. And I was being persecuted for my participation in these activities. For instance, I was given a lot of details, you know, constantly harassed: So I spoke at one large rally in Los Angeles, and after returning one time I was told that — to mop up the floor in the office where I worked, which I mopped. And after much harassment, constant daily harassment, I refused to mop the floor after my regular duty hours. In other words, they didn’t have any right — as a matter of fact it’s in military regulations — they have to have reasons for assigning a troop like me who’s been in for three years and six months, I think at that time, a detail in which the detail lasted past his normal working hours. I refused this. After many of these harassments I was courtmartialed for disobeying a direct order. I think I presented my case very well, at the time. I got a lot of publicity and I think it helped the incident — it helped to show that GIs weren’t getting the constitutional rights that they deserved.

Mr. Bingham.  And what was the disposition?

Mr. Maize.  I was convicted; and I was busted down to the lowest grade and discharged as such. I refused to be promoted. I — they offered to promote me twice after I was busted and I refused.

Mr. Bingham.  Did you have an honorable discharge?

Mr. Maize.  Yes, I had an honorable discharge. I had a completely clean record other than this.

Mr. Bingham.  I’d like to ask you again about objections against the war. You speak of a great many as being dislocated or lost in society.

Mr. Maize.  Not necessarily—

Mr. Bingham.  Would you say that is true of a high proportion of those?

Mr. Maize.  No, I’m not speaking of the ones here. Usually those are the ones who are dislocated — the ones that are dislocated from society are the ones who are completely apathetic; they have no interest in any thing anymore. Usually these people are on the unemployed list, I think most of the people here at this demonstration are strongly moti- {13117c3} vated. As differentiated again from people who have no motivation, who have come back from the war, whose morality and own motivations have been destroyed by the war.

I think these people over here, the great majority of them are either students or employed in steady jobs, like myself. I go to school.

Mr. Bingham.  I’d like to ask you another question relating back to your experience that I’m really disturbed about. I noticed, having been at the encampment and having seen many of you around, that a very high proportion of the group here wear beards or long hair. Is their any significance to that?

Mr. Maize.  I think there is. I think a lot of veterans would deny that. But I think they’re so repulsed by what they’ve seen that they want to identify themselves with people who are generally those held to be against the present establishment, whatever that is. But I think these people at the same time have different motivations; these veterans have different motivations than just the average dissenter. I think as a general rule they know what they’re talking about and they know what they want; where a lot of people don’t. There have been a lot of people in the past who didn’t actually know what they did want. And I think the veterans do. I think we — there’s a consensus on the fact that we support the government of the United States, that we don’t want to undermine it. We just want to help direct here the policies of the country which in the past years which we feel led us astray as a society and as a nation.

Mr. Bingham.  I’d like to make a comment. I think, Mr. Findley and I have been tremendously impressed by the testimony today. You came here to influence the Congress. You also wanted to influence the American people. Did you ever consider the fact that your influence on the Congress, and on the American people might be lessened by your appearance? I think it misleads a lot of people, frankly. I think some reference was made there to the fact that a lot of our colleagues think that this is sort of a rappist crowd, riff-raff. And there’s a lot of questions about the validity of your status as veterans.

I’m just curious to know whether this matter of your physical appearance has been discussed, and whether then you thought this thing through, so to speak?

Mr. Maize.  Yes, I’ve discussed it with a lot of people that I’ve been associating with, closely with, since I’ve been here at the Mall. At first perhaps I felt the way you did; but now looking back on it and trying to get a historical perspective of it, basically I believe that this will help to rectify the appearance today for dissenters in America. You have all of the students with long hair and beards and these people have been the — the public has been annoyed by them to a certain extent. They feel that they’re only attempting to undermine the country. Now, today, this week, you have GIs coming with long hair and beards, who are doing the same.

The American public will be shocked at first; but then on their second consideration they’ll see that the people who actually fought this war can’t be differentiated from a lot of other people who reject the war and its consequences.

And I think this will help to cleanse the image of the American dissenter, at least I hope it will.

Mr. Bingham.  Well, that’s a very interesting statement. I’d just like to say — and I think that this concludes our hearing — that I deeply regret that more of our colleagues didn’t come here today. And I’m particularly regretful that no member of the Armed Services Committee came, although they were invited.

We’ll do the best we can through the Congressional Record, and by referring matters that have come up here to the proper authorities for report, to make use of this material. {13118}

As far as I’m concerned, it’s been a most successful hearing, and I’m very grateful for all of you appearing.

Mr. Maize.  Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

[Applause].

[Hearing recessed.]

_____________________

 

Source: Congressional Record (cited below).

By CJHjr: Photocopied, scanned, converted to text (OCR: FineReader 6.0), formatted (xhtml/css), links, text {in braces}, text beside a green bar (   ), text in yellow boxes, bold-face, bold-italics, highlighting, added paragraphing (for ease of reading) marked with this trailing paragraph symbol: ¶ . The Congressional Record is formatted in three columns per page, and I’ve marked the beginning of each column {in green braces} (page number, column number).

SuWho? SuDoc CIS   DL

This document: House Ad Hoc Hearing for Vietnam Veterans Against the War (U.S. Congressmen Jonathon Bingham and Paul Findley, presiding, Friday, April 23 1971, Venue: U.S. Congress, House of Representatives), transcript, 117 Congressional Record 13104-13118 (U.S. Congress 92-1, May 3 1971, Permanent Edition (red bound)) {SuDoc: X.92/1:117/PT.10, ISSN: 0883-1947, OCLC: 05058415, LCCN: 12036438, GPOCat, LL: paper, microfiche, DL, WorldCat}. Witnesses: Larry Rottmann, Forest Lindley, Les Johnson, Arthur Egendorf, Kip A. Kypriandes, Phillip Lowley, Vinny Giardina, Michael Paul McCusker, William W. Lemmer, Alex Primm, Robert McLaughlin, Jack Smith, David B. Maize.

See also:

Senate Ad Hoc Hearing for Vietnam Veterans Against the War (U.S. Senator George McGovern, presiding, Friday, April 23 1971, Venue: U.S. Congress, Senate, Room G-103 New Senate Office Building), transcript, 117 Congressional Record 15392-15405 (U.S. Congress 92-1, May 17 1971, Permanent Edition (red bound)) {SuDoc: X.92/1:117/PT.12, ISSN: 0883-1947, OCLC: 05058415, LCCN: 12036438, GPOCat, LL: paper, microfiche, DL, WorldCat}. Witnesses: Scott Camil, Vinny Giardina, Melville L. Stephens, Basil Paquet, Joe Nielsen, Dale Granata, Everett Carson, Forrest Lindley Jr., Samuel Miller, David A. Lamenzo, Jon Bjornson, Ken Provan.

The first Phoenix hearings: Vietnam: Policy and Prospects, 1970: Hearings on Civil Operations and Rural Development Support Program (U.S. Congress 91-2, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings, February 17, 18, 19, 20, and March 3, 4, 17, 19, 1970, and Appendix, 7+750 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.F 76/2:V 67/17, CIS: 71 S381-2, OCLC: 119418, LCCN: 76610214, DL, WorldCat}.

The second Phoenix hearings: U.S. Congress, House Hearings: U.S. Congress, House Hearings, U.S. Assistance Programs in Vietnam (U.S. Congress 92-1, House Committee on Government Operations, Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and Government Information, Hearings, July 15 {a.m., p.m.}, 16, 19, 21, and August 2 1971, 4+362 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.G 74/7:V 67/4, CIS: 72 H401-3, OCLC: 235387, LCCN: 71616178, DL, WorldCat}. Ensuing report: U.S. Assistance Programs in Vietnam (U.S. Congress 92-2, House Report No. 92-1610, House Committee on Government Operations, October 17 1972, 5+107 pages) {SuDoc: [Y 1.1/8:]92-2:H.RP.1610, Serial Set: 12976-6, CIS: 72 H403-19, OCLC: 540690, LCCN: 72603272, WorldCat} {Full text: pages 1-46 2.4mb.pdf, pages 47-97 2.8mb.pdf, pages 99-107 501kb.pdf, omitting page 98 and repeating page 107, instead, at the start}.

The third Phoenix hearings: Nomination of William E. Colby to be Director of Central Intelligence (U.S. Congress 93-1, Senate Armed Services Committee, Hearings, July 2, 20 {a.m., p.m.}, 25, 1973, 3+186 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.AR 5/3:C 67/3, CIS: 73 S201-27, OCLC: 800312, LCCN: 73603022, DL, WorldCat}.

Vietnam Policy Proposals: Hearings on nine proposed items of legislation to end the U.S. war in Vietnam (U.S. Congress 91-2, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings, February 3, 4, 5, and March 16, 1970, 5+405 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.F 76/2:V 67/16, CIS: 71 S381-7, OCLC: 78825, LCCN: 74606991, DL, WorldCat}.

National Veterans Inquiry on U.S. War Crimes in Vietnam (Citizens’ Commission of Inquiry on U.S. War Crimes, Washington D.C., December 1-3 1970), transcript, 117 Congressional Record 4238-4271 (U.S. Congress 92-1, March 1 1971, Permanent Edition (red bound)) {SuDoc: X.92/1:117/PT.4, ISSN: 0883-1947, OCLC: 05058415, LCCN: 12036438, GPOCat, LL: paper, microfiche, DL, WorldCat}. Witnesses: Robert Bowie Johnson Jr., Mike McCusker, Daniel K. Amigone, Greg Motoka, Kenneth Barton Osborn, Norman Kiger, Gail Graham, Steve Noetzel, Edward Murphy, Daniel Alfiero, Louis Paul Font, Robert Master, Peter Norman Martinsen, T. Griffiths Ellison, Ed Melton, Chuck Hamilton, Lee Meyrowitz, Gordon S. Livingston, Greg Turgeon, Richard Altenberger, Bob Connelly, Robert Lifton, Chaim Shatan, Donald Engel, Gary Thamer, Steven Hassett, Kenneth Campbell, Sam Rankin, Phillip Wingenbach, Tod Ensign, Larry Rottmann, Robert Osman. Citizen Soldier (New York City) is the present-day successor to the Citizens’ Commission of Inquiry on U.S. War Crimes.

Winter Soldier Investigation (Vietnam Veterans Against the War Inc., Detroit Michigan, January 31, February 1-2, 1971), transcript, 117 Congressional Record 9947-10055 (U.S. Congress 92-1, April 6 1971, Permanent Edition (red bound)) {SuDoc: X.92/1:117/PT.8, ISSN: 0883-1947, OCLC: 05058415, LCCN: 12036438, GPOCat, LL: paper, microfiche, DL, WorldCat}; 117 Congressional Record E 2825-2936 (U.S. Congress 92-1, April 6-? 1971, Daily Edition (green bound)) {SuDoc: X/A.92/1:117/???-???, ISSN: 0363-7239, LCCN: 80646573, OCLC: 02437919, GPOCat, LL: paper, microfiche, DL, WorldCat}.

American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia, 1971 (U.S. Congress 92-1, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on National Security Policy and Scientific Developments, Hearings, March 23, 24, 25, 30, 31, April 1, 6, 20 {vvaw}, 1971, 9+583 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.F 76/1:P 93/4/971/PT.1, CIS: 71 H381-9, OCLC: 15634210, LCCN: 77612471, WorldCat}, witness: Larry Rottmann (volunteer coordinator, Vietnam Veterans Against the War), April 20 1971 hearing, pages 353-423 {3.2mb.pdf}, at pages 406-423. CIS: “Description of charged mistreatment of prisoners in South Vietnam by American forces; report of receiving Officers Candidate School instruction on the use of torture.”

Legislative Proposals Relating to the War in Southeast Asia (U.S. Congress 92-1, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings, April 20, 21, 22, 28, May 3, 11, 12, 13, 25, 26, 27, 1971, 7+726+12 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.F 76/2:AS 4/13, CIS: 71 S381-18, OCLC: 198272, LCCN: 79614140, DL, WorldCat}, witness: John Kerry (VVAW: Vietnam Veterans Against the War), Thursday April 22 1971, 11:05am-1:00pm, pages 179-210 {3.1mb.pdf}.

Ad Hoc Hearings on Command Responsibility for War Atrocities in Vietnam {copy} (U.S. Congressman Ron Dellums, presiding, April 26, 27, 28, 29, 1971, 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., Venue: U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Caucus Room, Cannon House Office Building), transcript, The Dellums Committee Hearings on War Crimes in Vietnam: An Inquiry into Command Responsibility in Southeast Asia (New York, Vintage Books, 1972, 13+355 pages) {LCCN: 79039897, ISBN: 0394717678, WorldCat}. Witnesses: Five West Point graduates (Fred Laughlin, Gordon Livingston {Iraq, copy}, Robert B. Johnson, Greg Hayward, Ron Bartek, Michael O'Mera), five former military intelligence special agents and PoW interrogators {to come: omitted from the linked source}, ten former Americal Division members (Gary Battles, Charles David Locke, Terry Mullen, Steve Padoris, Daniel S. Notley, John Beitzel, Guadalupe G. Villarreal, Daniel Barnes, Thomas Cole, William Toffling), overview of air war, pacification, and forced urbanization (John Sack, Kenneth Campbell, Randy Floyd, Elliot L Meyrowitz).

Bertrand Russell Tribunal, “International War Crimes Tribunal” (Stockholm Sweden, May 2-10 1967; Roskilde Denmark, November 20 – December 1 1967).

Tiger Force: “Buried Secrets, Brutal Truths: Tiger Force, an elite fighting unit in Vietnam, left a trail of atrocities in that country that have been concealed from the public for three decades.” (The Blade, Toledo Ohio, October 22 2003, February 15, March 28, April 6, May 2, May 12 2004).

This document is not copyrighted and may be freely copied.

Charles Judson Harwood Jr.

CJHjr

Posted Sept. 1 2004. Updated Feb. 4 2008.

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