Vietnam: many more US atrocities than My Lai

Vietnam, victims of My Lai massacre

From History News Network:

Declassified papers show U.S. atrocities in Vietnam went far beyond My Lai

Source: LA Times (8-6-06)

A once-secret archive, assembled by a Pentagon task force in the early 1970s, that shows that confirmed atrocities by U.S. forces in Vietnam were more extensive than was previously known.

The documents detail 320 alleged incidents that were substantiated by Army investigators — not including the most notorious U.S. atrocity, the 1968 My Lai massacre.

Though not a complete accounting of Vietnam war crimes, the archive is the largest such collection to surface to date.

About 9,000 pages, it includes investigative files, sworn statements by witnesses and status reports for top military brass.

The records describe recurrent attacks on ordinary Vietnamese — families in their homes, farmers in rice paddies, teenagers out fishing.

Hundreds of soldiers, in interviews with investigators and letters to commanders, described a violent minority who murdered, raped and tortured with impunity.

Abuses were not confined to a few rogue units, a Times review of the files found.

They were uncovered in every Army division that operated in Vietnam.

Retired Brig. Gen. John H. Johns, a Vietnam veteran who served on the task force, says he once supported keeping the records secret but now believes they deserve wide attention in light of alleged attacks on civilians and abuse of prisoners in Iraq.

“When somebody asks, ‘Why do you do it to a gook, why do you do this to people?’ your answer is, ‘So what, they’re just gooks, they’re not people. It doesn’t make any difference what you do to them; they’re not human.’ “And this thing is built into you,” Cpl. John Geymann testified almost 44 years ago at the Winter Soldier Investigation, held in Detroit, which was sponsored by Vietnam Veterans Against the War. “It’s thrust into your head from the moment you wake up in boot camp to the moment you wake up when you’re a civilian”: here.

The contradictions of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s The Vietnam War: here.


190 thoughts on “Vietnam: many more US atrocities than My Lai

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  27. In the midst of the Tet Offensive, US and South Korean soldiers, acting on explicit orders from US commanders, carried out massacres in several south Vietnamese villages.

    On February 8, 1968, Company B, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry, came on a nameless hamlet near its position in Hoi An in Quang Nam province, where it had recently lost five men to National Liberation Front attackers. Infantrymen recalled their commands. “The order of the day was to search and destroy and kill anything in the village that moved,” one soldier told army investigators. Another said that the commanding officer said he “did not want to see anything walking when he came through.” A third remembered the instruction, “kill everything that breathed.”

    After a number of the soldiers gang-raped a teenage girl, the entire village was brought together and gunned down. It is not known how many were killed, but as many as 19 such US mass murders took place in the period in Quang Nam alone.

    Four days later, troops of the Republic of South Korea—part of the American “coalition” to drown the Vietnamese Revolution in blood—carried out another massacre in nearby Phong Nhi and Phong Nut, brutally killing perhaps 80. Writer Nick Turse describes what American soldiers found in the village when they followed the Koreans in: “clumps of corpses, burned houses, a woman—still alive—whose left breast had been hacked off, a ditch filled with the bodies of women and children.”

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